That Mona Lisa Metabolic Disorder

I love what I do in part because it is so visual. We can watch things get better. And because non-healing wounds are the manifestation of practically every known disease, if it is in the Merck Manual of rare diseases, it’s in the wound center waiting room. Every morning I ask God to make me smarter than I really am, otherwise I might miss it – that “uncommon but right in front of me” thing that explains the patient’s problem. There is a difference between looking and SEEING. Sometimes I stand there with that awful feeling that the answer is right in front of me but I’m not seeing it. Perhaps that’s why this article resonated with me from the Mayo Clinic Proceedings “The Mona Lisa Decrypted: Allure of an Imperfect Reality.”

She is far from beautiful. It’s hard to say exactly why it the portrait has captivated people for centuries, but it might be because she seems so very REAL.  It also seems likely that she had very real medical problems. Millions of people have stood in line to see the Mona Lisa, including me, but Dr. Mandeep Mehra saw a woman with clinical signs of illness. He details the physical findings that are obvious once they are pointed out (thinning hair, loss of eyebrows, neck enlargement, and facial muscle weakness). Lisa Gherardini may have had peripartum thyroiditis accentuated by the low iodine diet of the region. And Leonardo DaVinci, ever the anatomist, depicted her exactly as she was, imperfections and all. In the brief article, Mehra and his colleague Campbell conclude that it is the, “allure of the imperfections of disease,” that are what draw us to the Mona Lisa. It is a reminder that we need to keep our eyes open, even at the Louvre. I don’t think we find imperfections quite so “alluring” in real life, nowadays.


Additional Reading:

Don’t Miss This – Madarosis

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