Karen Hitchcock

Karen Hitchcock is a doctor and writer. She is the author of a collection of short fiction, Little White Slips, and the Quarterly Essay ‘Dear Life: On Caring for the Elderly’.

Articles by this author

Notes from the flu-season frontline
A bad case of the flu
If you work in a public hospital, you know that winter will bring overflowing wards, staff shortages and incessant phone calls from the infection-control unit until you finally...
 
How is it possible for an emotion to be expressed in an eyeball?
The eyes have it
I’ve been thinking about eyes a lot lately, mainly because mine are defective. I am what they call a “high myope”, so without really strong glasses or contact lenses the world...
 
What happened to Australia’s publicly funded dental system?
A pain in the tooth
We spend a lot of time in queues. People will wait in line for a seat at a momentarily hip ramen joint, to secure a trickle of government assistance or some discount Louis Vuitton...
 
Dissecting dietary fads and habits
The next big thin
I once read a book called Eat!, which I vaguely recall claimed you could eat as much as you wanted as long as the food had zero fat. I wasn’t overweight, but I was 21 and thought...
 
Sickness can be debilitating but it also offers escape
Sick day
I once slipped while running on a treadmill. It was eight years ago, but I still clearly remember the sickening feeling of my right foot gliding backwards instead of connecting...
 
A stint in a remote Western Australian hospital brings its own challenges
Working regional
Late last year, I resigned from my full-time city-hospital job. I still work there – a clinic or two each week, a few months on the wards each year – but not every day....
 
Our minds and bodies have a complicated relationship with what we eat
The war on food
One mid-winter ward round, in an overflowing, under-pressure hospital, I was given a dressing-down by one of my patients. She was in her 80s and in pretty good nick, apart from...
 
Illustration
It was championed by women’s groups, but Addyi is not the “female Viagra”
Sex and pharmaceuticals
Towards the end of 2015, in a third-time-lucky bid by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, the US Food and Drug Administration gave its tick of approval to a new drug called flibanserin. It...
 
How should doctors be assessed? And how should they assess themselves?
Performance check-up
Christmas Day, early morning, and I’m walking deserted streets to my PO box to collect a few weeks of mail. I was in my first year as a fully qualified specialist, working in a...
 
How do doctors manage when there are more patients and fewer resources?
Preparations for the storm
I’m not fond of the heat. I’ve toyed with the idea of moving overseas my entire life. Greenland was my country of choice as a kid. Then Alaska, Iceland, Hobart. For the past...
 
Why do we do so little of something so good?
Precious sleep
Legend has it that Margaret Thatcher needed only four hours sleep each night. It’s probably not true that that’s all she needed, though like some kind of sleep anorexic it may...
 
Illustration
How do we decide who will make the best doctors?
The student lottery
A few years ago, at a friend’s barbecue, a worldly and usually quite articulate man I knew in the way you know a friend of a friend stopped telling me where to buy and how to cook...
 
Illustration
Having a baby and having a medical career
The gentlemen’s club
Every hospital has a “residents’ room”. A place only the junior doctors can enter, where posture and politeness are discarded, naps are stolen, bosses are demolished, hook-ups are...
 
Illustration
The ethical dilemmas of medicine
Doing the right thing
Nineteen years old, crawling through a BA, and I’m sitting in a crowded theatre listening to the hippest philosophy lecturer on campus. She looked like a sexy elf: tiny, with...
 
Illustration
The effectiveness of plastic surgery is a matter of perception
A fine line
I once worked with a doctor who spent six months preparing for her high school reunion. She went on a diet, joined a gym, had her boobs done, got her face resurfaced, filled and...
 
Public health and personal responsibility
Germ welfare
In my first year of medical school we had a term of lab-based microbiology specifically designed to make us hyper-vigilant about germs. The teacher knew she had to make it...
 
Medical professionals can be hypochondriacs too
When the doctor needs a doctor
Early Friday morning, I got cancer. Bad cancer, the kind that can colonise your bones. Mine had spread to one bone in particular: a rib in the middle of my chest. To diagnose...
 
The argument against euthanasia
The right to die or the right to kill?
Celebrity is our religion. Celebrities are our gurus, teaching us what to wear, what to buy, how to look and, now, what to think. They front campaigns for human rights and animal...
 

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