Friday, October 22, 2010

Stories from the Clippings

Laurel Lee: Miracle Mom

Once I had a very good friend. We had known one another for many years... let's see, I was just 18 when I met her. She left this world at the age of 58 and I was 54.

At 31, while pregnant with her third child, she contracted Hodgkins disease, an often fatal cancer of the lymph glands. The University of Oregon Health Sciences Center (one of the iterative names of OHSU) could and would treat her but she would need to make the most difficult decision of her life, to abort the child she was carrying or to take an enormous risk: keep the child and treat the cancer. No one could tell her exactly what the consequences might be.

Laurel decided to go ahead with the treatment while carrying the baby. The radiologist, Kenneth Stevens, and staff threw a thick sheild over her abdomaen while they attacked the cancer. While going through her ordeal, Laurel kept a journal in an old ledger book illustrating it with her own drawings.

Laurel showed her book to one of the physicians. He showed it to another who passed it on to a literary agent in New York. Long story short, "Walking Through the Fire" was published. Her baby, Mary Elizabeth not only survived, she thrived.

Laurel went on to write and publish many more books and to travel the world sharing her story. Her trials were not over by a long shot but she lived to raise her children and found great happiness among the tribulations.

Twenty seven years later, she contracted pancreatic cancer and died in the loving embrace of her husband, Mike Thayer, her children Matthew, Anna and Mary Elizabeth and her many, many friends.

Thank you to the kind Ken Stevens, M.D. F.A.C.R. and the staff of the Department of Radiation Medicine at OHSU for giving us so many more years with Laurel Lee, Miracle Mom.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What Have We on These Shelves?

Today I got curious to look around in some of the books in our historical book collection. Pulling a random title from the shelf near the desk I flipped to pages 332 and 333 (pictured below): Mechanical Therapeutics: A practical treatise on surgical apparatus, appliances, and elementary operations by Philip S. Whales, M.D.

Mr. Kolbe, of Philadelphia, has devised the apparatus seen in Fig. 270, for bowed leg. It is constructed of two metallic side-stems jointed at the knee and ankle, connected above to a padded metal plate inclosing the lower part of the thigh, and below to a laced boot. These stems are sufficiently flexible to be bent so that the instrument may be accommodated to the curvature of any limb, how great soever it may be.
(I think I saw this same device watching Deadwood.)

This book got even better as I looked just inside the front cover. It features the beautiful handwriting of F.A. Bailey of Tualatin Plains, Oregon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Pharmacopoeia of the Historical Variety

We recently acquired more pharmaceuticals to add to the Medical Museum pharmaceutical collection. The box of drugs pictured below was donated to us to add to the pharmacopoeia we already have. It may seem strange, but with development of new drugs, maybe in a few years we won't think to be ingesting some of our most common over the counter medications.

Would you take sodium cacodylate or calomel on a daily basis? Take, for instance, the items pictured in the Digital Resources Library. (Yes, including calomel and sodium cacodylate.) Some day our newly acquired drugs will be as historical as the other drugs in this collection.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Bit on Medical Education in Oregon

I've been doing some research on Dr. E.G. Chuinard, a Portland area orthopedist well known for his service to the state as a former president to the Oregon State Medical Society and as Chief Surgeon at Shriner's Hospital for many years.

While combing through papers, articles, obituaries, and other historical materials, I found an interesting document: an issue of Northwest Medicine that details a controversy surrounding medical education in Oregon. This newsletter, dated June, 1956, contains a report from the Mid-Year Meeting House of Delegates; an Abstract of the Committee Report from the Committee on the Study of the University of Oregon Medical School and Affiliated Institutions; Policies and Procedures for Operation of the University of Oregon Medical School Teaching Hospital; and Conclusions and Recommendations Presented by E.G. Chuinard. The entire issue seems dedicated to the controversy between the Oregon State Medical Society and the creation of the University of Oregon Medical School Teaching Hospital.

This is something that Karen wrote about extensively this summer. There was even a fist fight on campus between two doctors!

I wanted to share some of the writings on this issue. The Study of the University of Oregon Medical School and Affiliated Institutions issued 8 recommendations. Number 4 is as follows:
That the admission policies for the Medical School Outpatient Clinic and the Teaching Hospital be identical and that admission be limited to public assistance recipients, patients whose assets and income are not sufficient to enable them to provide for necessary medical or surgical care, and patients admitted for research purposes only, except in the case of a patient whose care, in the judgment of a physician duly licensed to practice medicine and surgery by the State Board of Medical Examiners and the Medical Director of the Hospitals and Clinics, requires the use of some special facility at the Medical School which is not available elsewhere in the State.

And the concluding paragraph from Dr. Chuinard's statement made on May 5, 1956 to the medical education committee of the State Board of Higher Education:
The interests of the medical school and the medical profession are so intertwined that it is axiomatic that what is not good for both of us is not good for either of us; and it follows that what is to be determined as good for one of us should be so determined in consultation with the other. Perhaps by earnest seeking we may refrain from following the path of discontent and turmoil that besets medical teaching throughout the United States, and be the pioneers of a new approach wherein all physicians will have the pleasure of working staunchly together. It is our sincere hope that a climate which permits cooperative effort toward a common goal may be restored to the medical profession in Oregon.