Sunday, February 11, 2007


Photographic art and text © 2007 by Julius Lester

I spent much of Saturday in excruciating stomach pains, with almost continuous diarrhea and some vomiting. Around seven that evening I had my wife call 9-1-1 and was taken to the hospital. The ER doctor thought I had contracted a virus, but later she wasn’t sure that it might not be a bacterial infection. I won’t know which it is until the results of the stool culture come in tomorrow or Tuesday.

The doctor wanted me to stay in the hospital overnight. If there’s one thing I know it is that a hospital is no place to try and get well. And I mean that seriously. Experience has taught me that a hospital is not even a good place where you can get a decent night’s sleep. So I decided to go home. The wisdom of my decision was confirmed when the doctor said, “Are you willing to sign a form saying that I advised you to stay but you chose to leave? The hospital is always getting on us to see if we did our best to get the patient to stay.”

This is what happens when hospitals are for profit corporations. Was the doctor’s advice a medical judgment, or was it motivated by the need for the hospital to turn a profit? Maybe it was a combination of both, but I felt sorry for the doctor having to also be a sales rep for the hospital.

It is sad that we live in a country where we sometimes feel we must question a doctor’s recommendation. What is paramount in American medicine? The patient’s well-being or the hospital’s bottom line? I think the answer is obvious.

P.S. I am feeling very well.


From the New York Times, Sunday, February 11 -

A few months ago a man walked into a pharmacy in Madrid, pulled out two toy guns and told the attendants to hand over all the Viagra in stock. Two hours later, in what was perhaps a show of gratitude, he returned with two bouquets of roses, before being arrested.


“Illness is the most heeded of doctors. To goodness and wisdom we make only promises: pain we obey.”

Marcel Proust


A few years ago I had a project of photographing every building I went into. This is a photograph-based art piece of a hospital recovery room.