AN ANTHOLOGY OF THOUGHT & EMOTION... Un'antologia di pensieri & emozioni

Thursday, 24 May 2018


I'll be here awhile, helping, teaching, operating.

A colleague once told me that a brain surgeon's life is never boring and can be profoundly rewarding, but it comes at a price. You will inevitably make mistakes, you must learn to be objective about what you see, and yet not lose your humanity in the process.

I attempt to find a balance between the necessary detachment and compassion that a surgical career requires, a balance between hope and realism. Thus, I hope my presence here will help doctors and students understand the difficulties – so often of a human rather than technical nature – that they will face in their profession.
Hadassah Medical Center - Jerusalem
Hadassah Medical Center (מרכז רפואי הדסה‬) 
Hadassah Medical Center (Heb. מרכז רפואי הדסה‬) is a medical organization established in 1934 that operates two university hospitals at Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus in Jerusalem as well as schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, and pharmacology affiliated with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Its declared mission is to extend a "hand to all, without regard for race, religion or ethnic origin."

The hospital was founded by Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, which continues to underwrite a large part of its budget today. The Medical Center ranks as the sixth-largest hospital complex in Israel. Across its two campuses, Hadassah Medical Center has a total of 1,000 beds, 31 operating theaters and nine special intensive care units, and runs five schools of medical professions.
(source: Wikipedia)
Chagall windows
Chagall's Windows
The Ein Karem campus synagogue is illuminated by stained glass windows depicting the twelve tribes of Israel, created by Marc Chagall. Chagall envisaged the synagogue as "a crown offered to the Jewish Queen," and the windows as "jewels of translucent fire. The windows were installed February 1962. At the dedication ceremony, Chagall said: "A stained glass window is a transparent partition between my heart and the heart of the world...To read the Bible is to perceive a certain light, and the window has to make this obvious through its simplicity and grace... The thoughts have nested in me for many years, since the time when my feet walked on the Holy Land, when I prepared myself to create engravings of the Bible. They strengthened me and encouraged me to bring my modest gift to the Jewish people, that people that lived here thousands of years ago.
Marc Chagall's windows in Jerusalem

Marc Chagall's windows in Jerusalem


For nearly 100 years, Hadassah Medical Center has been a leader in medicine and nursing in Israel, laying the foundation and setting the standards for the country's modern health care system. Hadassah has developed Israel's community health services, established the first modern hospital and medical and nursing schools, and set the climate for medical research in Israel.

The majority of medical breakthroughs in Israel have taken place at Hadassah. The first successful heart transplant was performed at Hadassah – as was the first robotic surgery and the world's First Computer-Assisted Hip Replacement Surgery.

Today, Hadassah is known for instituting and implementing "The Medicine of Tomorrow" - incorporating advanced solutions with personalized treatment.

The Hadassah University Hospital-Ein Kerem
This 800-bed tertiary care hospital treats virtually every conceivable aspect of modern medicine and serves as a national referral center for complex and challenging medical cases. With over 130 departments and clinics, Hadassah Ein Kerem provides Israel's most advanced diagnostic and therapeutic services for the local and national population and a significant number of international patients.

Opened in 1961, the extensive campus of the Hadassah University Hospital-Ein Kerem has over 28 buildings, with specialty services in the Sharett Institute of Oncology, Department of Hematology and Sidney Weiser Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cancer Immunobiology; the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Mother and Child Center; the Judy and Sidney Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine which houses Jerusalem's only Level 1-A Trauma Unit, and the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, a 19-story inpatient facility.

Some departments, such as the Department of Neurosurgery, are the only facilities of their kind in the Jerusalem area; other specialty centers, such as the Patricia and Russell Fleischman Center for Women's Health and the Marlene Greenebaum Multidisciplinary Breast Center, the Center for Brain Diseases and the Heart Institute are unique in Israel.

The outstanding research facilities include the Hadassah Clinical Research Center, the Goldyne Savad Institute for Gene Therapy, the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center, Israel's only hospital-based cyclotron, and a world class GMP laboratory.

Hadassah University Medical Center is Israel's only academic medical institution that combines teaching and training on one campus. Together with the Hebrew University, Hadassah provides outstanding education and clinical experience through its schools of medicine, nursing, dental medicine, public health and occupational therapy and enjoys a synergistic relationship in many aspects of medical research, among them Hadassah Medical Center-Hebrew University Biotechnology Park.

Hadassah University Hospital-Mt. Scopus
This 350-bed community hospital serves the heavily populated Jewish and Arab neighborhoods of northern and eastern Jerusalem, with over 30 departments and clinics.

It provides specialty services in the Guggenheim Rehabilitation Center, the Rosalie Goldberg Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the Elie Douer Family Center for Pediatric Genetic and Chronic Diseases, Israel's only Center for Familial Dysautonomia, the Center for Neuropediatrics and Child Development, the Center for Joint Replacement and Reconstruction and the Ina and Jack Kay Hospice that provides supportive residential and home care for the terminally ill.

Opened in 1939 as the first modern medical facility in the region, it was cut off from Jerusalem during the 1948 War of Independence. In 1975, Hadassah Mt. Scopus was rededicated as the women of Hadassah devoted themselves to renovate and expand their original hospital that had been ravaged by war and neglect. In 1976, Hadassah returned to Mt. Scopus, once again opening its doors to all.

Between them, the two hospitals have more than 1,000 beds, 31 operating theaters and nine intensive care units. There are six schools for health professionals, operated jointly with Hebrew University. The 19-story Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower, completed in 2012 and costing $363 million, added 500 more beds and 20 operating rooms. By its own estimate, Hadassah Medical Center treats approximately one million patients a year. It employs 6,000 medical professionals and support staff, some of them part-time. According to the center’s website, there are 800 doctors in its employ. More than half – 488, to be exact – provide private treatment.
Marc Chagall's Windows, Jerusalem

Tuesday, 22 May 2018


Rachel Joyce, I loved your book so very much! Thank you for a marvellous journey into the healing power of music.

The Music Shop is an unabashedly sentimental tribute to the healing power of great songs, and Joyce is hip to greatness in any key. Her novel’s catalogue stretches from Bach to the Beach Boys, from Vivaldi to the Sex Pistols. Crank up the turntable and let these pages sing.
The story’s hero is “a gentle bear of a man” named Frank who owns a run-down music shop on a back street in England. His establishment is something between an old-fashioned record store and a walk-in therapy clinic. “For the Music You Need!!!” blares a handwritten poster in the window. “Everyone Welcome!!” Inside are two listening booths made from Victorian wardrobes. Thousands of albums are arranged according to Frank’s private order, but you’ll want to file this book right between Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity and Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue.
The year is 1988, and CDs are pushing vinyl into oblivion, but Frank won’t abide the antiseptic sound of those shiny little disks. “We Only Sell VINYL!” the store window makes clear. “CDs aren’t music,” Frank says. “They’re toys.” His attitude is not just aggressive nostalgia (although it is that, too), it’s a determination to hold onto a way of life, a way of engaging with objects and people. “We need lovely things we can see and hold,” he tells an incredulous CD salesman. “Yes, vinyl can be a pain. It’s not convenient. It gets scratched. But that’s the point. We are acknowledging the importance of music and beauty in our lives. You don’t get that if you’re not prepared to make an effort.”
Frank’s specialty is finding just the right song to lift your spirits, quell your anxiety or exorcise an annoying earworm. No algorithms or best-selling charts for him. “If you told Frank the kind of thing you wanted, or simply how you felt that day, he had the right track in minutes,” Joyce writes. “It was a knack he had. A gift.” For a man left at the altar on his wedding day, Frank plays Aretha Franklin’s “Oh No Not My Baby.” To the frustrated mother of a sleepless infant, Frank prescribes the Troggs’s “Wild Thing.” When a shoplifter dashes off with “Invisible Touch” by Genesis, Frank chases him down and makes him listen to “Fingal’s Cave” by Mendelssohn.
Peace restored. Humanity uplifted.
Joyce populates Frank’s store with an adorable crew of fellow misfits. There’s a gruff tattoo artist, twin undertakers, a retired priest and an earnest clerk who dreams of someday wearing a name tag. (“He had a way of talking in exclamation points, suggesting everything was a marvelous surprise.”) Together, they serve as Frank’s cautious advisers and devoted fans as he carries on his crusade to save a failing neighborhood and a vanishing musical format. “When a man has the passion to stand up for something crazy,” Joyce writes, “it makes other problems in people’s lives seem more straightforward.”
Rachel Joyce
But there’s a bass line of unhappiness running deep in Frank’s spirit. His boundless empathy, his devotion to helping everyone else allows him to ignore his own festering grief and loneliness. “Frank was very much a single man,” Joyce writes. The shop is all he needs. “It was safer to stay uninvolved.”
Given the general melody of romantic comedy, you can probably guess how this tune develops, but there’s real delight in hearing variations on a classic form.
One day a young woman faints outside Frank’s shop. She recovers quickly and darts away but not before inspiring a number of questions among Frank’s friends. She was wearing a green coat; is she a doctor? Her coat had no holes in it; is she a movie star? And what about that German accent?
Frank can barely hear them. He’s smitten: Hallelujah!
The B side follows the pauses and swells of the improbable relationship between two people who had assumed they were done with love. Both Frank and his mystery woman harbor disappointments too agonizing to face, but if vinyl can make a comeback, so can they. “Real love was a journey with many pitfalls and complications,” Joyce writes. “. . . Sometimes the place you ended up was not the one you hoped for.”
If you’ve read Joyce’s best-selling debut novel, “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry,” you already know her irresistible tone. There’s suffering here, too, and a searching journey, but this is a lighter book than “Harold Fry.” It’s a story that captures the sheer, transformative joy of romance — “a ballooning of happiness.” Joyce’s understated humor around these odd folks offers something like the pleasure of A.A. Milne for adults. She has a kind of sweetness that’s never saccharine, a kind of simplicity that’s never simplistic. Yes, the ending is wildly improbable and hilariously predictable, but I wouldn’t change a single note.
Rachel Joyce, if music be the food of love, write on!
Ron Charles
The Music Shop cover for audiobook in the U.S.