Consumed In The City
Observing Tuberculosis At Century'S End
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: Temple University Press
Download PDF (15.9 KB)
Download PDF (24.4 KB)
More than a decade of my life was consumed in the process of producing this manuscript, from beginning to end, so naturally there are a few people to thank. At Loyola University of Chicago, Professors Anne Figert, Emily Ignacio, Peter Whalley, Judith Wittner, and Talmadge Wright all offered valuable criticism and advice concerning both the research and the writing process. At the hospital, Robert...
Prologue: A Day in the Life, Chicago, 1998
Download PDF (41.8 KB)
It is the last day of September, two years before the end of the twentieth century. I am sitting on a milk crate cushioned by a dirty old jacket, under a tree in an empty lot at the corner of First Street and Jefferson Avenue on the West Side of Chicago (these are disguised names, so don’t try to find them). I have been stopping by here every morning lately, usually...
Introduction: TB and Sociology
Download PDF (59.1 KB)
The man was 54 years old, short and slight of build, a heavy smoker, and a habitual drinker. One day in early winter, while working in the detached garage outside his small home, he slipped and smashed his chest against the side of the car. When the pain in his chest did not go away, he went to the doctor. He was told that he had a tumor, that it was most likely cancer, and that he needed surgery. It was...
1 Bugs in the Big Apple: Chasing TB in NYC
Download PDF (80.5 KB)
I remember several works of popular culture distinctly influencing my decision to move from Laramie, Wyoming to New York City in the summer of 1992. First was the 1991 Terry Gilliam film The Fisher King, a surreal story about a radio disc jockey who is suddenly plunged from the heights to the depths of life in 1990s Manhattan, where the streets were haunted by living...
2 Slow Motion Disaster: Postindustrial Poverty and the Return of TB
Download PDF (90.0 KB)
Tuberculosis in the 1990s was like a fire burning in the wrong part of town, a flood in Bangladesh, a famine in Sudan. It was something to be driven past, to be seen on TV or perhaps in a movie. For the average American, it was somewhat exotic because it was so segregated, so walled off from the mainstream middle-class majority. It was a Third World disease, and in the United States of the 1990s...
3 The Public Hospital: Battles on the TB Frontier
Download PDF (102.4 KB)
No matter how noble their intentions, medical institutions are not immune to social prejudice. Just as muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems are intimately bound within the same human body, so is the medical system embedded in a larger social body, and it is afflicted by the same problems that perplex the society as a whole (Freund 283). Among these are the everpresent maladies of poverty,...
4 Cavities of Contagion: Networks and Nodes of TB in Chicago
Download PDF (100.9 KB)
In New York, my buddy Spanner and I used to joke about “jacking into the matrix” every morning when we hit the streets of the city looking for lost TB cases. We had taken the phrase from William Gibson’s cyberpunk novel Neuromancer, where it referred to the process of entering the virtual world, a world that was dependent on the “real” world, existing in parallel to it, subordinate and separate, but nonetheless...
5 Welcome to the West Side: Hanging Out in TB Alley
Download PDF (112.7 KB)
One day I was eating at a soul food kitchen located beneath the “L” tracks on the West Side. It looked like a shack that had been swept up by a tornado in Mississippi and plopped down in between two brick tenements. There were a couple small windows facing the street, and in the winter these were always steamed over and only dimly translucent. Inside, the peeling walls were adorned with...
6 Hard Case Histories: Narratives of Tuberculosis, Homelessness, and Addiction
Download PDF (120.2 KB)
A familiar phrase among black Chicagoans is: “I’m going through changes.” Its implications are nearly always negative. When we heard this statement from a patient in the clinic, we knew that a litany of woes was coming. If things were changing, it usually meant they were getting worse. Martha, my supervisor, would laugh and recite the line from the old blues song,...
7 Difficult Negotiations: Coercion, Care, and Compliance in TB Therapy
Download PDF (135.4 KB)
In the winter of 2000 I attended a citywide meeting of tuberculosis care providers, in honor of “World TB Day.”1 The Chicago Health Department was celebrating some of its success in controlling tuberculosis, and deservedly so, as disease rates had once again been reduced to record low levels. Most interesting to me, however, was a skit performed by the staff of a public health...
8 Sheep’s Clothing: Lessons Learned from TB in the Field
Download PDF (83.7 KB)
In October 2002, I visited New York City. Exactly one decade had passed since my TB training first began. Clearly, much had changed since then. But the autumn sky was blue and clear, and the city felt the same as I remembered it from ten years before, in spite of the gaping hole in the downtown skyline. The streets were full of life, and people of every possible derivation and affiliation mingled...
Conclusion: Implications of a Marginal Epidemic
Download PDF (51.0 KB)
Though much smaller than a flea, the tuberculosis bacterium has wreaked more havoc on the human race throughout history than any white whale, hurricane, earthquake, flood or war. Tuberculosis has cut down millions of people in the prime of life, and continues to do so. The story of this illness, therefore, encompasses many great themes: suffering,...
Epilogue: Back on the Corner, Chicago, 2002
Download PDF (40.2 KB)
Rick was a tough, aging thug with one eye and an attitude. When I first met him he was homeless, and I used to find him every morning, sitting on a bench in front of a low-rise housing project on the West Side. But we hit it off, and after he finished his TB treatment, he asked me to help him manage his monthly disability check. I agreed, and we got him a room in a nearby hotel. Then...
Download PDF (48.9 KB)
Download PDF (63.8 KB)
Download PDF (52.4 KB)
Publication Year: 2004