Reading Response 3

Right away, this article addresses one of the main things that makes living in quarantine a struggle—the uncertainty. The quote they provided from the CDC source does little to quell worries regarding uncertainty, as it is a vague estimation (“many people in the US will at some point…get exposed to the virus). Even though it’s not possible to predict the exact outcome of the virus, it is certain that if we don’t follow protective measures, our healthcare system will be overwhelmed. 

Early on, when the coronavirus hadn’t hit the U.S and it seemed like a faraway topic of conversation, there were some things said about it that doesn’t ring true anymore. Two of the big ones I heard were “Oh it’s just like the flu” and “It’s only been affecting elderly people so far”. These initial conceptions have caused young people to not take social distancing precautions as seriously. This showed in a major way over spring break, with thousands of college students traveling and gathering in large groups. 

However, this article focuses more on the numbers regarding the capacity of the healthcare system, which is scary. In class and on the news, there have been parallels drawn to other pandemics, notably the Spanish flu in 1918. Thinking about a pandemic in 1918, I initially thought how great it is that we have the resources and are better equipped to handle a pandemic now. But, as this article shows, that isn’t entirely the case.

I hope there will be some big, across the board changes when life is able to resume again.


Barclay, Eliza, and Dylan Scott. “How Canceled Events and Self-Quarantines Save Lives, in One Chart.” Vox, Vox, 10 Mar. 2020,

Academic Institutional Racism

The United States was created on the basis of racial inequity. Although, there has been improvement over the past 100 years, it is clear that there is a need for change. In Tweedy’s books, Black Man In A While Coat, He describes how racism effects black peoples lives across the USA. In this essay I will argue that racism presents itself in institution. To strengthen this argument, I will use an example about academics and higher education in Tweedy’s book.

Institutional racism is in no means a novel idea. It is clear that black Americans face issues that white Americans rarely, or never have to worry about. One of the more complicated and controversial topics Tweedy discusses in his book, are scholarships to the black community. The scholarships are in intended to ensure diversity and equity in universities. However, Tweedy describes how this can lead to academic inequality in the classroom. Tweedy states, “It is often said that the hardest part of an Ivy League education is getting admitted. But for a significant group of black students, surviving medical school is a real hurdle” (Tweedy 23). Tweedy is stating that majority of black people who enter into prestigious colleges are not academically prepared for the rigor of the school work. This leads to an increase in black students who have to repeat courses. This is an example of institutional racism. Although no one is outrightly being racist. The system (academia) is set up in a way that helps disadvantage individuals receive a quality education. However, it puts people from diverse back grounds on an uneven playing field when it comes to succeeding in school.


Work cited

  1. Tweedy, Damon. Black Man in a White Coat: a Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine. Picador,






Katie Welsh RR#2

Katie Welsh

Anth 272-

Grant Glass

A Dogs is a Man’s Bestfriend

            In class we have discussed how metaphors can be helpful and limiting when it comes to describing a person’s experience with an illness. Throughout Dunlap-Shohl’s graphic medical novel My Degeneration, he uses metaphors to explain his journey with Parkinson’s disease. Dunlap-Shohl uses Philippee Petit’s, walk on wire between the twin towers, as metaphors to explain what it is like to live with Parkinson’s disease. In this essay I will argue that the strengths and weaknesses of the metaphor mentioned above and finally I will explain how the dogs in this novel are also a metaphor for living with Parkinson’s disease.Image 1 Pages 4, 23 and 78

The second metaphor, Dunlap-Shohl uses is Philippee Petit’s walk on wire between the twin towers. This metaphor does a great job at capturing the fear and the important decisions he has to make every step of the way. Similar to how Dunlap-Shohl has to be careful which the decisions he has to make while having Parkinson’s. For example, Dunlap-Shohl has to make tough decisions like, taking medicines at a certain time of the to avoid unwanted side effects or withdrawals, deciding whether or not to get neurosurgery (Dunlap-Shohl 72), or simply relearning how to walk (Dunlap-Shohl 35) etc.. The task of doing these things are simple, but the emotional stress it puts on individual is similar to the idea of taking the next step on a wire. One lapse of good judgement while walking on wire can lead to a serious injury or death. Similar to the decisions Dunlap-Shohl is taking.

It is important to note that the wire metaphor has weaknesses. Dunlap-Shohl states, “The only way is forward,” but this isn’t true (Dunlap-Shohl 92). Someone could choose to jump off. Which is what Dunlap-Shohl considered doing at the very beginning of the book. Many people who struggle from chronic illnesses die by suicide. Also, most people realize that having a chronic condition is scary, but Dunlap-Shohl brings up the positive things that come out of it (Dunlap-Shohl 42-44). One might argue that getting to the other side of the rope is a positive experience but with Parkinson’s there is no “end of the rope” except for death. Meaning, the disease is chronic and it does not stop so once one reaches the end of the “rope” with Parkinson’s, there isn’t much to celebrate. Whereas in real life, there are many things to celebrate along the way, or on the journey through Parkinson’s disease.

Of course, there are many valuable pieces to the wire metaphor, but I think the strongest and most subtle metaphors in this book are his dogs. Image 1 shows three different dogs that he interacts with in more than one drawing. The dogs represent what it is like to live with Parkinson’s disease. All dogs are dogs, just like everyone with Parkinson’s disease has the disease but it doesn’t look the same on everyone. Just as none of the dogs in the book look the same but they look similar. When Dunlap-Shohl was diagnosed with the Parkinson’s he had to relearn how to take care of himself. At first it was difficult and he had to accept help from his friends and family. This is similar to what it is like when someone gets a puppy. The owner has to take care of the puppy, get to know the puppy and teach it to behave. Teaching a dog to behave can be similar to learning new triggers/symptoms from a disease. It takes times to identify what they are and it takes a medical staff (help) identifying what the triggers are and how to make them stop. With practice and patience, a patient learns the new tricks to taking care of themselves and they can begin to enjoy their new way of life. They may have flair ups but they have mostly got it under control. A person with Parkinson knows they will eventually die from the disease, but they can keep a positive light on it because they are learning that living with a chronic disease is about enjoying each day and not counting to the days they die.  This is similar to the life of a dog. Eventually the puppy grows up and it is trained properly, but sometime the dog has accidents inside the house  (like flareups with Parkinson’s disease). Dogs do not count down the days to they die, they live one day at a time. Of course not everyone is dog person and this might by synonymous to the people who are not as lucky as Dunlap-Shohl  to have the resources to seek the same treatment he had. However, the metaphor works.



Work Cited

  1. Dunlap-Shohl, Peter. My Degeneration: a Journey through Parkinson’s. The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2016.


My Degeneration reading response (4)

There is a light-heartedness in using the medium of a graphic novel. In Peter Dunlap-Shohl’s My Degeneration, comics open the door for more people to engage with and understand the experience of Parkinson’s disease. Because of the stigma present in our society, long-term illness is not spoken about often – in My Degeneration, things that would be potentially awkward or embarrassing to talk about are laid out in a visually engaging and accessible way. Dunlap-Shohl uses images and words to convey movements, emotions, sounds to create a humorous and personal memoir which made me understand and deeply appreciate the graphic novel.

In the two frames on top of the page on the left (p.69) Dunlap-Shohl represents his body and its movement in relation to other people, “the non-Parkinson world”. On the left, he is the only sharp, coloured-in figure while the other people are blurry, suggesting movement. He is frozen in time. Alternatively, his medication causes rapid movements and convulsions: on the right, he is the arms of his body drawn repeatedly, the image of his body blurry, distorted. The real world is drawn in two frames, while the drawing of the underwater world beneath has no borders – a world inside his head. The overall image suggests Dunlap-Shohl feels like he is falling from the “normal” world into the deep waters of Parkinson’s and depression. “Unemployed”, “angry”, “anxious”, “frustrated”- the words describing him he draws in clouds – like spots on his consciousness.

In Image 2 (p.77), the lack of borders around the image again suggests that we are in Dunlap-Shohl’s mind. The drawing depicts his perception of the post-surgery events: windows in the darkness reveal the distorted image of the doctor, rendered by his brain while recovering from anaesthesia. The text is the commentary within the brain of Dunlap-Shohl. Not communicating with the doctors, he is stuck in the dark frame and simply looking out of the windows. He is lacking freedom and control over his body during the procedure which is supposed to give him exactly that.

Spaces between frames in a comic imply a change of location or time: as a reader we understand that something happens between them. I found the image on the left (p.8) particularly interesting because of the use of frames, which Dunlap-Shohl uses to fragment his body. On the page before, he is crushed by a falling piano, a representation of the feeling of finding out about the diagnosis. In this image, frames of the comic disconnect his limbs from each other: space and time comes between them. Conveying the feeling of confusion and fragmentation upon hearing the news, the image also predicts the changes his body will go through due to Parkinson’s: him limbs not responding in the way he wants them to, leaving him feeling disconnected from himself.

Source of images:

Dunlap-Shohl, Peter. My Degeneration. The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2015.

Emma Kikerkov RR2 : Villarosa and Structural Competencey

Structural competency is defined by Metzl and Hansen as the “trained ability to discern how a host of issues defined clinically as symptoms, attitudes or diseases… also represent the downstream implications of a number of upstream decisions…”,  or in other words, how a patient’s disease may be a result of social determinants such as race, gender, etc. (128)

One issue that illustrates the need for structural competency is the high maternal mortality rate in black women, as seen in Linda Villarosa’s article.

The way that Villarosa’s article is written effectively demonstrates the need for structural competency because both facts/figures and personal narratives reveal different aspects of the black women maternal mortality crisis.

The facts and figures demonstrate that there is undeniable proof that black women are disproportionally die in childbirth through research that indicates “an inescapable atmosphere of societal and systemic racism can create a kind of toxic, physiological stress… that lead directly to a higher rate of infant and maternal death.” (Villarosa)These statistics also indicates how little progress is made by the states in terms of maternal mortality because there are no maternal mortality review boards, none of these deaths are being properly investigated. (Villarosa)

Something that facts and figures fail to do, however, is show how healthcare providers facilitate this phenomenon. Villarosa’s and Simone Landrum’s personal experiences as pregnant black women show how black women are given lower quality care, whether is intentional or not. This discrimination can be seen when Villarosa was accused by her perinatologist of drinking and doing drugs, and again when Landrum was dismissed by her patient when asking why she was given an incorrect dose of anesthesia. (Villarosa)

With the use of personal narratives in this article, this matter is made more tangible and statistics provide evidence for the maternal mortality crisis in black women; with both of these components, Villarosa effectively provides an example of an issue where structural competency is needed.



Jonathan M. Metzl, and Helena Hansen. Structural Competency: Theorizing a New Medical Engagement with Stigma and Inequality. 2014, pp. 126–33.

Linda Villarosa. Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis. Apr. 2018,

Reading Response 2

The graphic memoir is a narrative genre that uses the visual comic strip format as a medium to convey a personal account. More specifically, Dunlap-Shohl uses his expertise as a cartoonist to convey his journey through becoming diagnosed and living with Parkinson’s Disease in his “pathography”, My Degeneration. Particularly, the use of visual metaphors and personification allow Dunlap-Shohl to communicate the different aspects of Parkinson’s Disease in an easily digestable and relatable manner to the reader.

On pages 24-29, Parkinson’s Disease manifests itself as a nefarious green man dressed in business attire with the arrogance of a businessman and gives Dunlap-Shohl a visit. Instead of seizing all of his assets, Parkinson’s Disease instead attempts to seize Dunlap-Shohl’s life, from his motor skills, to his job, relationships, and sense of self. By creating a physical representation of Parkinson’s Disease, Dunlap-Shohl allows the reader to envision what it’s like to have Parkinson’s. It’s hard to imagine and convey life without precise motor skills, but the sheer gravity of the fear associated with it can be relatable through a businessman trying to screw your life over and take everything from you. This also creates an image of a villain or something to fight and “beat”, similar to how people say they’re “fighting” or “beating” a disease.

On pages 86-89, Dunlap-Shohl literally takes on this fight through playing interactive video games and creates a fantasy of him boxing the aforementioned physical manifestation of Parkinson’s Disease. The various treatments and lifestyle changes Parkinson’s patients can take to try to “fight” the disease. However, there are limitations to this personification, as in reality, there is no green man to beat up and instead, Parkinson’s patients are fighting an abstract, nonphysical disease, allowing the reader to understand the struggle a long drawn out “fight” against Parkinson’s can be, as treatments improve and patients are living longer and longer.

On pages 90-92, Dunlap-Shohl creates another metaphor for Parkinson’s through Philippe Petit’s World Trade Center walk. Dunlap-Shohl conveys the perceived loneliness of the disease as only the Parkinson’s patient has to walk the tightrope, but taking another perspective at the disease, the patient is surrounded by a support group of family, friends, and medical professionals to help their journey through living with Parkinson’s.

  1. Dunlap-Shohl, Peter. My Degeneration: a Journey through Parkinson’s. The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2016.