Lectures

The “macrobiotics friends association”: nurturing life amidst chronic disease in Vietnam

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“I will never return to that Zone of Death! You too should try to follow this diet to nurture life.” Aunt Minh[i](Fieldwork notes, February 2018)

We first met Aunt Minh and Aunt Khai a few days after the Vietnamese Lunar New Year in early 2018 during our first field research trip to “Xóm sống vui” (“Happy life village”) …

Lectures

Punctuated Lives – Staying Healthy with Lynch Syndrome

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Every two years, a letter from the Gastroenterology unit drops into Maria’s mailbox. It is a call to attend her regular surveillance colonoscopy to check for potential precancerous polyps which are very likely to grow in Maria’s colon. Maria has Lynch Syndrome, an inherited genetic mutation in one of the mismatch repair genes (MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2) that significantly …

Lectures

Running on Borrowed Life

This article is part of the series:

On a cold January afternoon in 2018, 18-year-old Sara locates me in the crowd at the train station. Together we take the bus to her home in a small village in rural Denmark. Sara tells me that she is excited to be training for her driver’s license. However, she is worried that her application for the license will be scrutinized …

Lectures

Chronic living against all odds in Honduras

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Yesenia was born with congenital heart disease in 2000, a time in Honduras when heart defects meant certain, if not sudden, death for most children. Owing to surgical advances dating back to the 1950s, most children in more resourced countries could by then be diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, significantly improving their chances of long-term survival. In Honduras, …

Lectures

Pains, pleasures, and a new electric wheelchair

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A Wednesday in May 2017, Vienna, Austria

The door opens. Behind it is Frau Schöbel, a tiny woman in her early seventies.[1] Through her glasses, her eyes are piercing. Her lipstick is impeccable and matched to the scarf tied around her neck. 

Frau Schöbel is one of the people I met on the dialysis unit at the City hospital …

Lectures

The ‘chronic’ lives of failing organs: afflictions of ambivalent care in Mexico

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Life has always been difficult, Maria del Rosario told me, but she coped. That was before all the sickness. When her mother’s kidneys began to fail, she felt traumatised, utterly overwhelmed. No matter what she or anyone else did to help, it was no good. Their lives simply fell apart.[i]

Maria, a single mother of two, lived in Balcones …