Category Archives: Diseases and injuries

Revisiting Hemingway’s homes

This past summer my husband and I visited Michigan for the first time and stayed in a charming little town, Boyne City.

 

 

While visiting friends there, we learned that Ernest Hemingway’s family owned a cottage on near-by Walloon Lake. Unlike his home in Key West Florida, Windmere, the Michigan lake house ,is still a private home and not open to public visitors.

Ernest Hemingway cottage on Walloon Lake, Michigan
Ernest Hemingway cottage on Walloon Lake, Michigan John Scott Mendinghall • Public domain

 

The discovery was interesting none the less, and we understand why his family enjoyed living in the area. The towns are old and historic, the architecture quaint , the landscaping beautifully tended, and the lakes and boats beckon even land lubbers like us. Here are a few photos from this recent trip, followed by a past post where I explain what I learned from visiting Hemingway’s Key West home.

Dr. Aletha 

Hemingway’s study- chaos and creativity

Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his popular novels, including To Have and Have Not, in the study of his Key West Florida home.

The house, on the National Register of Historic Places, has been preserved as it was when he and his wife Pauline lived there and is open to visitors, like myself, when I visited there a couple of years ago.

the study of Ernest Hemingway, with a cat sleeping on the floor

Chaos

This entire house, and especially the narrative of his life (as related to us by our verbose tour guide) is itself a study of a man whose life and career was largely shaped by mental illness.

Ernest Hemingway displayed mood swings and abused drugs and alcohol. Despite numerous psychiatric hospital stays where he was treated with ECT, electroconvulsive therapy, he struggled with chronic depression.

He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head in 1961.

CATWALK

Creativity

While dealing with mental illness and traumatic brain injuries, he continued to write prolifically and successfully, winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954 for The Old Man and the Sea.

photos of Ernest Hemingway displayed at his Key West home

He wrote acclaimed novels, several of which became major movies. His personal life was not so successful; three of his four marriages ended in divorce.

Ernest Hemingway’s novels and movies 

(an affiliate link, if you use it, at no additional cost, this blog will earn funding.)

The challenge of mental illness

Mental illness often runs in families. Ernest’s father, Dr. Clarence Hemingway, a gynecologist, suffered from manic-depression and died by suicide.  Ernest and his siblings likely inherited it from their father.

2016-06-16 10.05.16

Sadly, it did not end with him. His granddaughter, Margaux Hemingway, a fashion model and actress, dealt with depression, alcoholism, and bulimia.

She died from an apparent intentional drug overdose at age 42.

Her sister Mariel reflected on her family’s troubled history in

Finding My Balance 

Finding My Balance

“A lonely life”

Ernest Hemingway could not attend the ceremony to receive his Nobel Prize. He wrote a short speech which was read by John C. Cabot, the Ambassador to Sweden. In that speech he wrote, SOLITARYWRITER

“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.”

HEMINGWAY'S STUDY-CHAOS AND CREATIVITY

Hemingway’s cats

At least 40 to 50 cats live on the grounds of the Hemingway House;  many of them are descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s cats. They live peaceful, serene lives, far different from the people who lived there long ago.

What you should know about suicide from the NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

  • Suicide is the tenth most common cause of death in the United States.
  • People may consider suicide when they are hopeless and can’t see any other solution to their problems.
  • Suicide may occur with  serious depression, alcohol or substance abuse, or a major stressful event.
  • People who have the highest risk of suicide are white men.
  • Women  and teens report more suicide attempts.
  • Therapy and medicines can help most people who have suicidal thoughts. Treating mental illnesses and substance abuse can reduce the risk of suicide.
  • If someone talks about suicide, you should take it seriously.
  • Urge them to get help from their doctor or the emergency room, or call the

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at

1-800-273-TALK (8255).

It is available 24/7.

A psychiatrist, Dr. Melissa Welby says this about managing bipolar disorder(a form of chronic depression).

“A key to managing bipolar disorder is to recognize early relapse warning signs. Medication will minimize, but not eliminate, mood swings for many people coping with bipolar disorder. “

On her blog she offers offers these Keys to Coping with Bipolar Disorder

Understanding mental illness

I hope you will use the following links to resources to help you, your family, or anyone you know who does or may suffer from mental illness. There is help and most importantly, there is hope.

Warning signs of mental illness

“Major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder rarely appear “out of the blue.” Most often family, friends, teachers or individuals themselves begin to recognize small changes or a feeling that “something is not quite right” about their thinking, feelings or behavior before one of these illnesses appears in its full-blown form.”

Technology and the future of mental health treatment

“Excitement about the huge range of opportunities has led to a burst of app development. There are thousands of mental health apps available in iTunes and Android app stores, and the number is growing every year. However, this new technology frontier includes a lot of uncertainty. There is very little industry regulation and very little information on app effectiveness, which can lead consumers to wonder which apps they should trust.” (affiliate link used)

Suicide prevention

“The most important thing to remember about suicidal thoughts is that they are symptoms of a treatable illness associated with fluctuations in the body’s and brain’s chemistry. They are not character flaws or signs of personal weakness, nor are they conditions that will just go away on their own. “

Thanks for joining me to tour the unique home of Ernest Hemingway, using photos I took myself.

Please consider helping support this blog by using my affiliates. You’ll find links in the side bars, on the home page, and on the resource page.

Thank you for following  and sharing Watercress Words.

always exploring the HEART of health ,  Dr. Aletha 

man and woman with Key West visitor sign
My husband and I upon arriving in Key West, Florida the farthest south city in the U.S.A.
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Exploring health in fiction-3 books to consider

I hadn’t planned on writing book reviews when I started this blog. I love to read so  I started recommending health and medical books that I thought sounded interesting. After reading one myself, I thought it would make a good blog post, so my first book review was Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and The Making of a Medical Examiner- a review of words worth sharing

After that, I assumed I would review  non-fiction medical books, and most of them have been. I have reviewed  memoirs  and biographies,  medical history, health advice, dying, vaccination, nutrition, and medical care. I didn’t expect to review fiction, but I have.

That shouldn’t have seemed strange, since most fiction is based on real life, which is full of twists and turns related to our health and well being. Much if not all of what we do is based on our health, which can change suddenly and unexpectedly, and turn our lives upside down. Consider how many TV dramas are based in hospitals, involving health care workers, and sick or injured people.

Here are excerpts and links to 3 of my reviews of books that

explore health in fiction

EXPLORING HEALTH IN FICTION -www.watercresswords.com

My Sister’s Keeper a novel by Jodi Picoult

Now I didn’t actually review this book. I used an excerpt  in a post about hair loss.

Effective solutions if you experience hair loss

 

The book tackles several cutting edge health technologies that can create touchy ethical issues that I haven’t dealt with here, but if I do, I’ll revisit this book.

Here is what I did write about My Sister’s Keeper ,a novel that touches on  several medical themes including cancer, genetic engineering, organ donation, and medical autonomy. The book was also a movie which I haven’t seen yet.

 

 

The story is about Kate, an adolescent who as a toddler developed a rare form of leukemia, and has spent the majority of her life either in the hospital getting treatment or recovering from them. After yet another chemotherapy regimen, she has lost her hair.

One day her mother, Sara, offers to take Kate and her younger sister Anna to the mall for a day out. Kate refuses.

“Don’t say it. Don’t tell me that nobody’s going to stare at me, because they will. Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter because it does. And don’t tell me I look fine because that’s a lie.” Her eyes, lash-bare, fill with tears. “I’m a freak, Mom. Look at me.”

Sara looks at her and says, “Well, we can fix this.”

“She walks out of the room followed by Kate and Anna. She finds a pair of ancient electric grooming clippers, plugs them in, and cuts a swath right down the middle of her own scalp.

“Mom”, Kate gasps.

With another swipe of the razor, Kate starts to smile. She points out a spot Sara missed. Anna crawls onto Sara’s lap. “Me next,” she begs.”

As Sara later remembers:

“An hour later, we walk through the mall holding hands, a trio of bald girls. We stay for hours. Everywhere we go, heads turn and voices whisper. We are beautiful, times three.”

Say Goodbye for Now- a novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I was drawn to this book because the main character is a woman physician. I started it just for pleasure, but once drawn into the story, I knew I wanted to review it for the blog. Here’s how my review starts:

In 1959, Dr. Lucille Armstrong, or Dr. Lucy as she is called, practices medicine of sorts in a small Texas town. Although she is a “doctor of human beings”, she spends most of her time taking care of stray and injured animals.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW- A Novel
SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW by Catherine Ryan Hyde

To support them and herself, she occasionally treats people; “ it’s not a hobby, I do it for the money.” But because “people there didn’t take well to a woman doctor”, her patients are not always the town’s model citizens.

Dr. Lucy lives alone except for the menagerie of injured animals she has doctored back to life. She likes her life the way it is, until she opens her home to three  unexpected and unlikely guests.

Continue the review here-

Say Goodbye for Now- a book review

Labor Day-a novel by Joyce Maynard

Leaving for a trip, I bought a book to read on the airplane. After reading a few pages, I realized it was also a movie I had seen. So my subsequent review was a book/movie review. The medical themes in this book/movie were subtle, but no less real.

Here is some of what I wrote:

Henry, who narrates the story, lives with his divorced mom in a small town. At 13, Henry seems more mature than he should need to be, while his mother Adele seems childish and naive for a grown woman. As the story unfolds, you begin to wonder  if Adele’s eccentric behavior is due to something more than immaturity.

Adele and Henry are in their small town store buying clothes for school when a man they don’t know approaches them asking for help. Frank seems nice enough and asking for help might not be a problem except for the fact that is is bleeding, and evasive about why.

He asks Adele to take him to her house and either due to fear or poor judgement, she says yes. Both she and Henry seem to realize that something dramatic is about to change in their lives, but what it is, they can only guess at this point.

You can read the entire post here.

Labor Day, a book more interesting than the holiday

 

 

 

 

You can probably borrow these books from your local library- I do. But if you do decide to buy books, please consider the affiliate links here and on the resource page. Purchases through them help support this blog and help share the HEART of health.

Happy reading! Dr. Aletha


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