Dial M for Medicine

One evening last week, after digesting about three times the recommended daily allowance of political news and making myself nauseous with anxiety about the state of the world, I resorted to a familiar remedy. My husband found me in the half-lit bedroom, staring at a flickering iPad. I looked up and shrugged. “Icelandic crime drama,” […]

Guest Post: The Unknown Grizzly

In the mail yesterday I received a grizzly bear skull from an acquaintance and taxidermist in Soldotna, Alaska. Expertly cleaned down to chalk-white bone and glistening, thumb-sized canines, it was the size and general shape of a football, and as smooth as sanded wood. My friend had apologized ahead of time for there being a […]


Anna Sumner’s craving for sleep began when she was an 18-year-old high school senior. She thought nothing of it. When it followed her to college, she blamed it on stress. She was working so hard, she told herself, her body just needed the extra rest. But it was more than that. She would choose naps […]

Mouse tail opens, shuts global insurance case

A container full of sterile goods left Eastern China one day and ended up, four months later, in the Netherlands. As unpackers were rummaging through packing material, they turned up a tiny mummified mouse. The goods, evidently, were not sterile. They were insured, though, and the insurance company needed to figure out who was to […]

It Started with a Cat Bite

This is the story of Massachusetts General Hospital case #31-2010: a 29-year-old woman whom I’ll call Melissa. I’m telling Melissa’s story not for its common-sense lesson—avoid interactions with cats*—but because it shows that doctor detective-work happens outside of TV Land. Melissa was a veterinary assistant at an animal hospital. One day, at work, a cat […]