0 Items

The Sun Magazine

Body and Mind

Physical Health

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

When No One Is Watching

I’ve come to love this island. Hawaii has mostly been subdued by human habitation, but there are still pockets of wilderness, like this one. A trail from our land leads to where I’m sitting on a tablecloth beside the stream with my laptop. When I look at my computer screen, I see my reflection, in which my bald head is hidden by a scarf. I’ve had no hair for six months now, a constant reminder that I have breast cancer.

The Sun Interview

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Daniel E. Lieberman On How Civilization Makes Us Sick

There’s growing attention to the importance of nutrition and physical activity, which is a cause for hope, but my concern is that these trends are very much class driven. Wealthy people tend to be able to afford to be physically active and to eat healthy foods and to reduce stress and to get enough sleep and to stop smoking. There have always been disparities in health between classes, but I worry they are going to widen. Just as we have income inequality, we’re heading toward a world in which we see an increased burden of noninfectious chronic diseases in the lower classes.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

The Good Patient

I placed a check mark next to the box on the insurance form that said “pre-existing condition.” I placed a check mark next to “nonsmoker.” I placed a check mark next to dog owner, homeowner, married, employed, college educated, drinks socially, and has no savings or family members with money to turn to for help. I placed a check mark next to I want to live to be twenty-six.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

My Left Eye

You’d think at my age I might realize that the spinning bottle of medical fate would eventually stop and point to me. I have known too many people who have passed away: diseased hearts, prostates, and colons; the effects of Agent Orange; or just plain bad luck. As I approach sixty, Why me? is evolving into Why not me?

Fiction

Stethoscope

I am always asking doctors about their medical equipment, so I know that the stethoscope was popularized not because it improved a doctor’s ability to hear a heartbeat — although it had that effect, too — but because in nineteenth-century France it was considered improper to put one’s ear to a man’s chest or, especially, a woman’s bosom. The amplified heartbeat was secondary to the stethoscope’s main function, decorum.

The Dog-Eared Page

excerpted from
Still Here

Recently, a friend said to me, “You’re more human since the stroke than you were before.” This touched me profoundly. What a gift the stroke has given me, to finally learn that I don’t have to renounce my humanity in order to be spiritual — that I can be both witness and participant, both eternal spirit and aging body.