Tag: health

Dying to Heal: Women and Syphilis in Colonial Lima, Peru

In the early modern world, syphilis victims suffered through four stages of disease over a ten- to thirty-year time span. The first two phases manifested on the skin, beginning with painless ulcers near the site of infection (usually the genitals or mouth), which progressed to blotchy, red rashes on the palms of the hands and… Read more →

Climate Calamity: Lice, Typhus, and Gender in Mexico

By tucking themselves away in the corners of beds and the folds of clothes, insects have long evolved alongside humans. Mites, ticks, fleas, bedbugs, lice—they all feast happily on blood, leaving humans with the itchy, irritating aftermath. In the first half of the twentieth century, rural parasitic insects gained a foothold in the largely agriculture-based… Read more →

The Weight of the Presidency

In early January, President Trump had a physical exam at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a periodic rite for US presidents in the modern era. The results were made public a few days later, with fevered public interest from popular media and television commentators. Was the President, with a height/weight ratio that put his BMI… Read more →

Take a Hay Ride: Remembering Louise Hay

On August 30, 2017, Louise Hay died. Hay was a metaphysical healer who began her journey in healing at the First Church of Religious Science in the late 1960s. Her first publication was a 1976 pamphlet that came to be called, “Heal Your Body.” She became a best-selling author and publisher in the 1980s in… Read more →

A Few Things I Need You To Know Before Getting Tested for HIV, As Told By Your HIV Tester

Welcome! Before getting tested for HIV, New York State requires me to go over a few things with you. First, testing is confidential but not anonymous. Second, testing is voluntary and can be stopped at any point. Third, I can and will stop a test if I feel you are a danger to yourself or… Read more →

Fleas, Fleas, Fleas

In September, I turned on Democracy Now! and came into a story about the mass extinction of a third of the world’s parasites. Although I made sure that my response to the story included the morally and ethically correct alarm and horror, I must admit my initial response was relief. After all, parasites are, um,… Read more →

Me, Me, Me: Millennials, Midwives, and the Ongoing History of Female Self-Care

Several articles from reputable sources such as NPR and The Guardian have recently focused on the millennial generation’s supposed obsession with self-care. On the surface, this trend seems to fit nicely with the stereotypes that millennials are entitled and narcissistic. Looking closer, however, reveals that instead of seeing self-care as a generational issue, we should… Read more →

Metaphors and Malignancy in Senator McCain’s Cancer Diagnosis

When my grandmother died from a mucosal melanoma (a form of skin cancer) in 2015, I sat around with my mother and my aunts talking through the wording of the email we were going to send round to her friends and colleagues to inform them of her death. We rejected the obvious line, “She died… Read more →

The “Right” and “Wrong” Kind of Addict: Iatrogenic Opioid Addiction in Historical Context

Last year, Kelly McEvers of NPR’s Embedded podcast introduced us to Joy. Something about Joy seems so ordinary, even familiar. She’s a certified hospital nurse, a mother of three kids, and a former Girl Scouts leader. She’s from Indiana, America’s heartland. She’s even close with her parents. And like many of us, she suffers from… Read more →

A Quiet Inquisition

When Delma Rosa Gómez was 27 years old, she was diagnosed with advanced stages of metastatic cancer. When she told her physician she was pregnant, they replied that they couldn’t start chemotherapy. “They said any treatment could provoke an abortion. And they couldn’t give me an abortion because it was penalized by law. They said… Read more →