A play about Syrian refugees – it’s right up my alley, I thought when I saw the notice online. It ties in nicely with my research. I should see this. I emailed my friend Pattie and told her about it. It’s called The Opposite, I said. The playwright is a Syrian now living in Calgary – Sleman Aldib. It gets you thinking about what it would be like to be a refugee. Pattie was game.

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  I’m dressed in scrubs, wearing an upside-down surgical mask, peering between a medical student and a surgeon, straining for a glimpse of an anal fistula. The patient, whose maleness is undeniable given the angle of my view, lies flat on his back, legs bent at the knee and encased in devices that look like a cross between gynecological stirrups and medieval knee braces. You shouldn’t be looking at this, I tell myself, and move

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I’d like to tell you about my visit to the intensive care units at the Rockyview and Foothills hospitals in Calgary. But the story really begins last fall, in a cozy café in Kent. I met a friend of mine there who spends part of her year in India.  With rain streaming against the windows and steam rising from our teacups, I asked what drew her to India. In India, she said, you see death.

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  Dear gentle readers: I’ve recently developed a sort of pen-pal relationship with someone who’s been mentoring me as I perform the role of writer-in-residence at the University of Calgary medical school. He is an unusual mentor. Is that the right adjective for an adviser who has been dead for twenty-four centuries? Nevertheless, the man is alive and well in the letters below. I recently shared these epistles as part of a presentation on empathy,

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  Three weeks into my residency at the U of C medical school, I feel overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the generous welcome extended to me by faculty, administrators and students. Overwhelmed by the shockingly concrete but cerebral nature of the medical world. Overwhelmed at my inability to navigate the medical school administration structure (my kingdom for an org chart!). Overwhelmed by the volume of information that can be passed on to students in one short hour.

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Finding Hippocrates

Posted by janeechamberlin on January 24, 2018
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Category : Uncategorized

“Where there is love for the man, there is also love for the art.”    Hippocrates; On Precepts   I am late for my first meeting as writer in residence for the Cumming Medical School. As I spiral through the TRW parkade on the Foothills campus, my windshield blanketed in condensation, I crank the heat, peering through the tiny crescent of clarity at the bottom of the windshield. The parkade must be full. Have I missed the

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A perfectly imperfect day in London

Posted by janeechamberlin on November 26, 2017
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Category : Uncategorized

Gentle reader, I have a confession. It is Sunday morning (not quite afternoon) and I am sitting (okay lying) in my cozy bedroom in Canterbury, with the electric heater on full blast. I am on my second cup of tea, and have read only 14 pages of Iris Murdoch. I have read only 1.5 articles in The Globe & Mail. I began an in-home yoga session which lasted for approximately four minutes, at which point

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A trip to the weekly outdoor market. Not a big deal, right? Some produce, some clothes. Maybe the odd bargain. Nothing to get excited about. But at LM Village refugee camp, when the bus pulls up to take residents to the market, there is a mob of people shouting and pushing, sneaking tickets back and forth and arguing and getting in your face. This is kind of crazy, isn’t it? After all, it’s just a

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Barking dogs. The incessant barking of dogs who wander the streets. This is probably the sound I will always associate with the LM Village refugee camp and Greece in general. Right now, outside my hotel room, it sounds like ten thousand dogs are barking themselves hoarse. I picture two teams – maybe the short haired vs the long haired? – facing off à la West Side Story, the Jets versus the Sharks, dancing around each

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The week of  October 23 was a week of smallness. Name calling. Presidents tweeting schoolboy taunts, seemingly unaware of what’s at stake. Hollywood dotards dominating the news. Women around the world revealing that they, too, have been sexually harassed or abused – this last act, though, is only small in that each woman’s voice is a small drop in a large, shameful bucket. So it was a week that did not restore my faith in

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