The C2S blog draws on the arts, the social and biological sciences to explore the many meanings of health and "dis-ease." Designed to be a locus where patients, their families and professionals can meet on a level playing field, it is the natural off-shoot of the Cell 2 Soul Online Journal. We encourage the submission of ideas, essays, poems, stories, humor, and timely reviews relating to the humanities and health care.
As a 16 year-old, Reginald Dwayne Betts was a good student in a magnet school. However, he veered off-course when he and a friend carjacked a man at gunpoint who had fallen asleep in his car. Betts was charged as an adult and spent more than eight years in prison, where he completed high school and began reading and writing poetry. After his release he attended Prince George's Community College in Largo, Maryland and currently is a student at Yale Law School.
Betts, has published a memoir, A Question of Freedom, and a book of poetry, Bastards of the Reagan Era. His powerful, cautionary and inspirational story was featured by Terri Gross’s on Fresh Air, December 8, 2015.
A corollary story is Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. (A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.) If Betts had had Stevenson as a lawyer, he may not have been sentenced as an adult.
Ranjana Srivastava has a memorable essay in the New England Journal of Medicine about listening to patients. Her piece, entitled “Nourishment” speaks to all of us in health care.
She writes that a patient, former pastor, told her “The gift of silent communion is the greatest gift you can give someone.” She learned that with some patients “instead of listening in order to reply, I [now] listen to understand, shielded temporarily from the pressure of performance.”
This reminded me of some lines Andre Dubus wrote in a short story that described how often people confessed their problems to him “and I listened and talked a lot and and never helped anyone at all. So now if someone comes to me I offer what I know I can give: the friendship of a listening face.”* Srivastava has some remarkably insights in her Perspective piece in the November 26, 2015 New England Journal of Medicine. It’s a keeper! Download Nourishment.Srivastava
*Andre Dubus, “We Don’t Live Here Anymore” appears in the collection “Separate Flights.”
"In every corner of the world, there are people who are flagrantly ill, people who mutter to invisible others and box at the air. But because the cultural texture is different in different settings, the experience of madness can be quite different, too. That is true even of such a blunt assault on human feeling as homelessness."
This is a profound Op-Ed peice by the anthropologist T.M. Luhrmann. If you are interested in mental health, homelessness and cultural differences in care you will find much in Luhrmann's "Where Homeless Meets Crazy." Among other things, Luhrmann compares the approach to the homeless in Chennai, India and Chicago.
This is a photo of Banyan, an Indian NGO, that, since 1993, has been an integral part of the chain of care for people with mental illness in Chennai. Their projects have changed the lives of over 5,000 people by providing services to support them in reaching their definition of recovery. They have taken over 1500 homeless women off the streets and started the rehabilitation process.
In spite of the Affordable Care Act there are many people in our country without health insurance. "The remaining uninsured are primarily in the South and the Southwest. They tend to be poor. They tend to live in Republican-leaning states. The rates of people without insurance in the Northeast and the upper Midwest have fallen into the single digits since the ACA’s main provisions kicked in. But in many parts of the country, obtaining health insurance is still a problem for many Americans."
The states with the lowest percentage of uninsured tend to be the ones that have expanded Medicaid coverage. However, it can be difficult for Medicaid patients to obtain health care, especially from specialists. See: Cherry Picking in the Aina.
It's hard to believe there are still so many health care unequalities.
The Tokyo Olympics organizing committee’s proposal to including surfing in the 2020 Summer Games gets William Finnegan anxious. His Op-Ed piece in the NY Times, “Surf for Love, Not For Gold” is a keeper.
Finnegan’s recent book Barbarian Days is a masterful piece of writing, a paean to the surfing life. “People surf for love. The pastime lends itself to obsession,” he testifies.
The Op-Ed piece and the book will appeal to surfers and arm-chair athletes as well. I have attached notes from Barbarian Days for those whose time does not allow them to read a > 450 page tome. (Download Barbarian Days by William Finnegan.)