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Medical Humanities Section Newsletter - August 2007, Vol 3, #4


circle_arrow From the Editor
circle_arrow Section Announcements
circle_arrow Defining Moments
circle_arrow No Fanfare
circle_arrow Logic
circle_arrow The Death of the Conjoined Twins
circle_arrow Photography
circle_arrow Photography

Newsletter Index

Medical Humanities Section


From the Editor

Hans House, MD, DTMH, FACEP 

It is really hot in Iowa right now. Painfully hot. And humid. The kind of oppressive, relentless heat that smacks you in the face when you step outside. Call me crazy, but I hate it when the air is so thick that you actually have to make an effort to move through it. The demon Azrael in Kevin Smith’s masterpiece Dogma quipped, "There is no greater sin than central air." I have been spending much of my recent days relishing in that great sin, longing for the autumn and the comfort it promises.

As I look ahead to the fall, I think of cool weather, raking leaves, planting bulbs, crisp apples, grilled sausages, warm cider, and wonderful, long, glorious days of college football (USC: consensus pre-season favorite, Go Trojans!). I also think of the annual ACEP Scientific Assembly and all the education, interaction, networking, activism, and general chaos that it brings.

We look forward to seeing you in the Emerald City this year, October 8 – 11. Dr. Seth Hawkins has organized this year’s ACEP Artistic Expressions Gallery. It may be a little smaller than previous years, but what it lacks in quantity it will excel in quality. Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell has organized the Open Mic event, which will take place on Tuesday, October 9th, from 7 – 10 pm in the Willow A room of the Sheraton Seattle. And don’t forget the Section of Medical Humanities annual meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, October 9th from 1:00 to 2:30 pm in room 401 of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. See the section announcements portion of this newsletter for more details on all of these Scientific Assembly activities.

The theme for this month’s newsletter is poetry. Not just the written poetry that we all know and love (thanks to Dr. Meghann Kaiser and Dr. Jay Kaplan), but also the visual poetry created by the snap of shutters by section members Dr. Jeremy Orvik and Dr. Carolyn Annerud. Enjoy.





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Section Announcements

Annual Section Meeting
Tuesday, October 9th, 1-2:30 pm, Washington State Convention and Trade Center, Room 401, during the annual ACEP Scientific Assembly. Please plan on attending if you will be in Seattle.

Section Elections
We will be selecting a new chair and secretary/newsletter editor at the annual section meeting. If you are interested in either position, please notify Tracy Napper c/o as soon as possible (no later than September 4). You should include a short blurb explaining your interest and qualifications for the position. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO ATTEND Scientific Assembly to be considered as a section officer. The duties of the section chair and secretary are listed below.

Duties of the chair of the section:
5.1.1 May be appointed by the College president to serve as a voting member of a related College committee, if one exists.
5.1.2 May attend Board of Directors meetings at his/her own expense. Will receive minutes of meetings of the College Board, Council, Steering Committee, etc.
5.1.3 Shall keep the Board of Directors and executive director informed of section activities via copies of correspondence, agendas, minutes of meetings, etc.
5.1.4 Shall submit an annual report to the College president and executive director, which consists of a list of achievements and activities of the past year and goals and objectives for the coming year.
5.1.5 Shall submit to the Board of Directors for approval all section plans, goals, objectives, budgets, and meetings before they are implemented by the section.
5.1.6 Shall preside at the annual meeting of the section and at any other meetings of the section. If absent, the chair shall assign this function to the chair-elect.
5.1.7 Shall appoint chairperson and members to any standing and special committees of the section to carry out section activities.
5.1.8 Shall have the privilege of recommending the appointment of section members to committees of the College.
5.1.9 Shall be an ex officio member of all standing and special committees of the section.
Duties of the secretary:
5.4.1 Shall take the minutes of the annual meeting of the section.
5.4.2 Shall provide the Board of Directors the names of the elected section officers.
5.4.3 Shall assist the section chair in the preparation of an annual meeting and the chair of other committees of the section, as requested.
5.4.4 Shall distribute to the membership via the section newsletter: The minutes of the annual meeting of the section. Such information as shall from time to time be of interest to members of the section.
5.4.5 Shall notify members regarding their appointment to any committees of the section and shall send copies of such notification to the executive director of the College.
5.4.6 Shall give due notice of all meetings of the section and the Section Executive Committee to the membership of the section and the Board of Directors of the College.
5.4.7 Shall serve as editor of the section newsletter.
5.4.8 Shall carry out such other duties as are assigned by the chair of the section and the Board of Directors of the College.

Open Mic Night
This year’s open mic is being organized by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell. We welcome more singers, musicians, poets, writers, comedians, and even magicians. We had a wonderful show last year and we expect another amazing stream of performances this year. Please write to Dr. Mitchell in care of Tracy Napper ( if you are interested in participating.

Artistic Expressions:
This section’s most creative and most important contribution to Scientific Assembly is happening again this year, led by the efforts of Dr. Seth Hawkins. So far, Seth has collected 17 contributions from 9 artists, including 2 paintings by Dr. Rick Blum, ACEP past president. Other works include paintings, a clay pot, and several photographs. Look for the gallery in the exhibit hall, open on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, October 8 – 10.



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Defining Moments

Jay Kaplan, MD

close off and stay still
it's easier that way
  hoping not to be noticed
  or chosen
can I not see
can glasses alter the vision
no Daddy can save me now
I am Daddy
to shirk or shrink
from what is mine
to hold
  give hope
  help dream
even amidst the terror
  of the now imaginable
never the same again
so many defining moments
crying all the way to work
  but not at work
  and all the way home
  but not at home
anguish and anger
have the same beginning three letters
  a n g
the first denied full expression
  translates into the second
  and pushes away
I can't allow you to see my pain
I can't allow me to see my pain
and so more alone than ever
the sadness grows
  courage begins long within
  and long before
  visible acts
and so I look in front of me
  and feel helpless
but then gaze beyond
  and feel my feet beneath me
and my stance square
and my back straight
and my arms strong
and my thoughts determined
  to make a difference
  and my heart emboldened
  to give whatever gifts I have
and whatever hope I can muster
  being touched
no one can save me and tell me it's okay
that is my task
  dare I say our
to hold
  give hope
  help dream
not just wife and children
  amidst the pain and fear and grief
  of the present moment
we will see our way through
we will move ourselves and help others through
we will hold hands as we travel
grateful for the legs which carry us
  and the hands which connect us
thankful for every moment of the preciousness
        of being alive




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No Fanfare

Jay Kaplan, MD

I want to live in that holy place
where souls touch
the caress so soft
surprises abound
there is no try
magic as it is meant to be
  nothing hidden
no deceit
    no fanfare
no applause
just pure joy
in the instant
moments to die for
  and in
here and then gone
  leaving a legacy
  of love and honor
profoundly changed
  I awake
was it a dream
does it matter
I have been given a gift
  by God
  and you
a sacred reminder
time is passing
now is not the time to sleep


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Meghann Kaiser, MD

is merely moral chaos
written into the laws of thermodynamics

is more than a divine scorecard
tallying the equation of the cosmos

the Golden Rule
is not so simple as we once believed
and kindness felt, only the probability
of kindness done,
by each of us.



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The Death of the Conjoined Twins

Meghann Kaiser, MD

Twenty nine years already and I have never looked her in the eye
Nor seen her smile
Save within the frame of a mirror.
You accept this fate for your own face,
You spend your life with the memory of reflections
And a certain degree of numbness. Self-realization
Is easily reneged.
But I want my sister to know me.

          And I want to know
When the doctors said I bled out for forty-six minutes, would they believe
How grossly they underestimated my existence?
I didn’t always drip on plastic drapes and stainless steel:
Before they stitched, pinched and burned the writhing vessels still
I gushed to her, or because of her, or for her,
And with her. Into her.

Sustained only by promise of reciprocal wounds
And self-same suffering in a sister,
Returning life.



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Jeremy Orvik, MD


Hands in Body

This was taken during one of my surgical rotations at the Medical College of Virginia. Surgery, when done properly, is really an organized, precise cacophony. All of the activity in that one square foot of space can sort of blow your mind, and I thought this image captured that pretty well.


Taken in Chipokke Park in Virginia



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Carolyn Annerud, MD


Passages, Self Portrait


Passages to the Past, Denmark





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This publication is designed to promote communication among emergency physicians of a basic informational nature only. While ACEP provides the support necessary for these newsletters to be produced, the content is provided by volunteers and is in no way an official ACEP communication. ACEP makes no representations as to the content of this newsletter and does not necessarily endorse the specific content or positions contained therein. ACEP does not purport to provide medical, legal, business, or any other professional guidance in this publication. If expert assistance is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought. ACEP expressly disclaims all liability in respect to the content, positions, or actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this newsletter.

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