Link Roundup: March 1st, 2019

Hi all! It’s Jay. I do a link roundup (almost) every Friday. If you encounter a link you think I might want to share, please tweet it at me or Chronically Lit.

Chronically Lits link roundup
Image text: Chronically Lit’s Link Roundup: the best illness writing online

[Selma] Blair admitted that she was “a little scared of talking” during her [Multiple Sclerosis] flare-up, but that her neurologist encouraged her to speak out and “bring a lot of awareness” to the disease.

“No one has the energy to talk when they’re in … flare-up,” the actress said, adding, “But I do ’cause I love a camera.”

This video interview of Selma Blair sure made me cry. Of course it’s sad that she’s suffering with chronic illness, but it’s so wonderful that she’s talking openly about it, and showing up to the Oscars looking beautiful and carrying a cane!

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“I knew when I became a physician that I was entering a boys club of a certain kind, in the sense that all the levers of power for the most part were controlled by men,” says Jane van Dis, MD, Ob/Gyn, Ob Hospitalist, and one of the steering committee members of Time’s Up Healthcare. As a woman in her early career, she says she felt lucky to have been let in. “You want to adapt to the culture and climate, and you want to succeed. That means you’re going to ignore the pat on the butt, the hand on the leg, and the comments — so many comments — about one’s breasts and sex life, one’s fertility plans, and loss of virginity. It’s like the locker room, but it’s the halls of medicine.” Operating rooms, she says, are the most scatological places of all.

The Time’s Up movement has arrived in healthcare, and Laura Norkin wrote about it for InStyle. Talks with seven different women healthcare providers interspersed with research give a picture of the sexually harassment, discrimination, and sometimes assault healthcare workers face from other workers and from patients.

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Thanks in part to the medical humanities movement many medical schools will now have tutors suggesting students read classic literature or modern novels to gain insight into the human condition. I think is high time that graphic fiction was taken as seriously: comics and graphic novels could be used as a resource for health professionals, playing a valuable role in:

Reflecting or changing cultural perceptions of medicine
Relating the subjective patient/carer/provider experience
Enabling discussion of difficult subjects
Helping other sufferers or carers

Graphic Medicine is a website that “explores the interaction between the medium of comics and and the discourse of healthcare.” The number of links in their weekly roundups made me realize there is much more graphic medicine in the world than I knew about!

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There is a stain in the shape of a human body on the hardwood floor. This is where he died; this is where the tree — his body — fell and lay for a week. I laid down on top of it, my head where his head lay, my torso and legs with his torso and legs. His blood-stained glasses, upright, in the bathroom sink. A constellation of blood droplets on the walls. A small lock of his hair, blonde and gray, congealed in the shape of a quarter moon. When I lay down on top of this shadow, it was like I was a socket, and the lights were turned back on, briefly.

Lillian Slugocki reflects on death in this powerful Longreads essay.

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“Do you have any idea how many bullets I pull out of corpses weekly? This isn’t just my lane,” Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist, responded [to the NRA] on Twitter. “It’s my fucking highway.”

Other medical professionals also challenged the NRA, sharing gruesome photos and anecdotes about what it’s like to be on the front line of gun violence. Four of them told BuzzFeed News on Monday via email that the toughest part of their jobs is speaking to the families of victims.

This article is from November of 2018, but it’s still worth sharing. It isn’t often that medical workers take public political stances, but many did just that in regards to gun control, as Remy Smidt documented for Buzzfeed.

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So, in the late ’60s, with a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, Motto devised a research project. He would track patients who had been discharged from one of San Francisco’s nine psychiatric facilities following a suicide attempt or an extreme bout of suicidal thinking—and he would focus on the ones who refused further psychiatric treatment and therefore had no relationship with a doctor. These patients would be randomly divided into two groups. Both would be subject to a rigorous interview about their lives, but the control group would get no further communication after that. The other one—the “contact group”—would receive a series of form letters.

This Huffpost Highline article by Jason Cherkis is a deep dive into communications that prevent people from committing suicide. My favorite part is a section that comes later, about a research study that found typed, mailed form letters asking patients how they were doing resulted in half the number of suicides compared to a control group. Communication is so, so powerful.

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I learned I was autistic in 2015, when I was 45 years old. I had been autistic my whole life, of course—why did it take so long to find that out?

For Broadly, Laura James writes about how sexism in medicine contributed to her not receiving an autism diagnosis until middle age.

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At the age of 17 – the same age my mother was when she experienced her brain aneurysm – I stepped up into the parent role. I worked as a manager at a nearby grocery store, where I’d shop for our groceries. I was the one who made sure Lindsay finished her homework as I drove us to school each morning, and forged our mother’s signature on any school forms that required it. I took us to the doctor when we got sick. With each day that passed, I collected more resentment toward my mother. She didn’t understand how cumbersome it was for us to navigate daily tasks without her, how painful it was to not have our mom around. She couldn’t seem to grasp that we still needed her, and I was too stubborn to admit I wanted her to come home.

For Narratively, Shelby Vitek writes about how working with Traumatic Brain Injury patients helped her become more empathetic toward her mother, who had suffered a T.B.I. at a young age.


Jay Vera Summer is the Editor in Chief of Chronically Lit.