Ben Utter, one of the founders of Vital, reflects on how we–doctors, scholars, parents, everyone–can improve each other’s health by listening.
The lark sings loud and glad,
Yet I am not loth
That silence should take the song and the bird
And lose them both.
—D.H. Lawrence, “Listening”
The doorbell rang in my dream the other night, and I opened our front door to find a food deliveryman. Without a word, he handed me a cooler and walking back toward his car. Inside the Styrofoam container were several slices of fugu, the infamous, highly toxic pufferfish, the kind prepared only by highly-skilled Japanese chefs, lest a residual trace of poison kill a diner. In the dream, I handed these morsels to my young daughter and son and watched—unreflectingly but, as is often the case in dreams, with a suffocating sense of imminent danger—as they slurped them down. I awoke with a gasp, disoriented, still wondering whether or not this dangerous dinner was going to send my children into renal failure (turns out that on this count, at least, I needn’t have worried, since tetrodotoxin kills by paralyzing the lungs—an unsurprising error on the part of my mind’s dream production company, which had no more data to draw on than what I knew about fugu from watching that episode of The Simpsons). Continue reading →
What compels a well-educated and reasonably well-off person, presumably awash in the physiological, safety, love/belonging, and esteem levels of Maslow’s pyramid, to throw a leg over a bicycle and ride for days in the cruelest heat, cold, and rain? Why do something so clearly unnecessary? Continue reading →
Rev. Lee Ann Pomrenke argues that the fear of being called “too political” is holding back faith communities from advocating effectively on matters of public health that should certainly be their concern. This is a powerful call to faith communities to reclaim at home the essential work that many congregations are already supporting internationally.
Continue reading →
If you’re an avid reader of Vital, you probably know that we like bikes a lot around here. First and foremost, it’s fun to ride a bike. And also, it’s good for your health and the health of the planet. With this in mind, I interviewed Randy LoBasso and Ashley Vogel of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia about what it means to advocate for bikes and their riders. Here’s what I learned. Continue reading →
In our second article of the Racism in Science series, Vital editor Lesley Curtis interviewed researchers Bethany Johnson and Margaret M. Quinlan concerning the connection between racism and infertility.
Your research focuses on how perceptions involving race influence women’s health and the care they receive. Since race is a socially constructed category, let’s begin by noting the actual statistics about infertility and women of color in the US.
Sure. In the US, we have an inaccurate, wide-reaching, offensive stereotype of the “welfare queen” with numerous children. This stereotype is often racialized to support the idea that African-American women are somehow more fertile or more likely to need government assistance. This is, of course, not true. Yet, it often informs thinking about fertility. Continue reading →
With the power that inevitably accompanies a professional role like that of physician or teacher comes the responsibility not to take advantage of others’ relative vulnerability.
Infertility problems are not something my life partner and I have had to worry about in our marital and procreative relationship. After giving birth to four of the most wonderful, near perfect children on God’s good earth, we decide that it could only go downhill from here.
So one of us has to do something about it. I draw the short straw and find myself in a family practice doc’s office a few weeks later. I don’t know this physician, nor does he know me. My regular primary care physician has referred me to this man because of a Chinese surgical procedure for vasectomy that his partner has just studied. He has not mastered it, however (I will discover rather too late), and will be trying out his new skills on me. Continue reading →