Redux: Watkin’s Lethal Elixr

This post first ran on March 13, 2015.  On September 27, 1937, Susie Mae DeLoach caught her leg on a strip of barbed wire. The wound festered, and the infection spread, eventually reaching her heart. None of the remedies DeLoach’s doctor recommended seemed to have any effect. And by the time her family called Dr. Johnston […]

Guest Post: The Non-Simplicity of Mental Illness

ONE OCTOBER DAY in the fall of my junior year of college, I found myself sitting in a chair across from a small blond woman with a look of deep concern on her face as she stared into mine. She had something to tell me, she said, and it was clear she knew that the […]

Redux: Physician, Screw Thyself (Or, Um, Not)

The internist I’ve been seeing my entire adult life recently retired. This essay, which originally appeared here in 2014, was not about her. But it did concern the sometimes—maybe always—precarious relationship between medical professional and medical naïf, one that I will now need to renegotiate with a new internist while bearing, believe me, this experience in […]

The Placebo Test

Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to a number of groups about the power of belief in medicine as a part of promoting my book, Suggestible You. It’s been a fascinating process and I’ve loved hearing about people’s individual experience with placebos, self-healing and alternative medicine. But I often asked a simple question: what […]

In Defense of the Antivaxxer

I am a man of science. Okay, perhaps not of science, but certainly near it. I’m science adjacent. But regardless, I consider myself to be bound, in the end, by logic and facts. As such, I like to think that I eschew my beliefs for what the facts tell me. As a very young man, I was […]

Sketches of Panels

Every year, Johns Hopkins Medicine runs a boot camp for science writers in Washington, D.C. They cover some topic in science. For science writers, it’s a free introduction to a hot area of science (with breakfast, lunch, and tasty snacks). For Hopkins, there’s a chance someone will decide to use one of their experts in […]

Kiss of the Assassin Bug

    I was bitten the other night. I would have taken a picture of the turgid, blood-filled bug that stuck its rostrum inside of me for a liberal helping of hemoglobin, but my girlfriend smashed it with a rock and spattered the thing while I cheered her on. It was hard to resist the killing. Normally, I try and treat other […]

My Liver’s Bloody Buddy

Periodically, I get an MRI to confirm that all is well with my internal organs. It’s because at one point some years ago all was not well. As a result of my bodily dysfunction, I now have no spleen, a tailless pancreas, plus ulcerative colitis and weird chronic pain and the beginnings of arthritis in […]