Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing. To be healed we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation
-Wendell Berry, “The Body and the Earth”
Thanks for checking out Trousseau Syndrome. It’s a novel about patients and doctors in Baltimore that explores themes of class, community, health, and spirituality. Just imagine if Flannery O’Connor wrote Season 6 of The Wire and replaced all the drug dealers with physicians. If none of that intrigues you, you’re probably not going to like this story unless you just want to read about physicians behaving badly.
How it works
I will release one new chapter on the first of every month along with a separate post for discussion. It’s under a fairly generous Creative Commons license; just don’t sell anything with it, please. If I develop any continuity errors in process of writing and editing I may decide to go back and revise earlier posts, but I’ll let you know if I do this with any major details. I encourage you to comment and share your thoughts; the work so far on this book has benefited greatly from the careful attention paid to it by other writers and readers. I’m not charging anything at the moment because I want as many people to read it as possible at this time, although I do believe that you should pay writers for the things that they’ve written and I would direct you to The Rabbit Room as one of my favorite places to do so.
I’m a family physician who trained in and around Baltimore; I now work in South Sudan at a hospital for women and children. My wife and I used to live in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood and were heavily involved with New Song Community Church (and still are, as much as we can be from across the world!) You can follow the links on the sidebar to learn more about me, the experiences that have influenced this story, and the things I have found instructive regarding health and development.
This novel is a work of fiction and, as such, contains characters that I made up and a plot that I invented entirely out of what I know to be true and lies I have been told. It has content that may not be suitable to everyone: this story contains the sort of language that doctors use when they think no one else is listening, incidents of violence that occur nearly every day in Baltimore, scenes of human intimacy that leave much to the imagination, and points at which characters gratuitously and graphically attempt to proselytize one another. There are a few very brief references to (but no descriptions of) sexual violence and abuse for anyone who is triggered by such things. I have included each of these because I think they tell the story in the most effective and authentic way, but I respect anyone who wishes to avoid them in their reading.
A word of gratitude and a statement of intent
I am deeply indebted to the many teachers I have had over the years in the classroom, the hospital, and the neighborhood. It has been a privilege to live in Baltimore and study medicine. While I hope that this story creatively elucidates the faults and foibles of the systems and institutions I have encountered so far (and steps on some of the right toes along the way), I hope even more that it captures the wonder of living in Baltimore, the joy of learning about the human body, and the privilege of working with patients.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy it.
Part I: Things Are Looking Up For Solomon
Part II: Things Are Looking Up For Hannah
Part III: Things Are Looking Up For Gainers
Part IV: Things Are Looking Up For Adam
Part V: Things Are Looking Up For Jessi
Part VI: Epilogue
Click here to get each new chapter delivered to your inbox every month.
Image Credit: University of Maryland Baltimore Digital Archive Original English Elm Tree at the University of Maryland