Bodyscape: Isolation, Health, and the Woman’s Voice
can catch it.” Lorraine clarifies, “Yeah, but it helps to be poor and live in a shack and
think everybody coughs.” The medical establishment’s approach to TB is to identify
the infected individuals, isolate them in sanatoriums, then defeat the infection. A more
relational approach would be to also work to correct the issues of poverty and education
that Lorraine addresses.
Ghosts of medicine past also inform another of Sapergia’s radio plays entitled
Grandma's Foot (1980, 20:00). It also deals with the rift between town and country and
immigrant encounters with “the establishment” in Saskatchewan's pioneer era. The play
opens in a shoe store. The use of a “Shoe-Fitting Fluoroscope”68, at their height in the
1940s and early 1950s, places the play’s “present” timeline in that era. A grandmother
is shopping with her granddaughter and having trouble finding a comfortable pair of
shoes. Granddaughter's questions lead to Grandma telling her tale of foot-woe. As the
story is told, the listener travels back in time into the memories of Grandma Luba as a
young woman. Most of the play is spent in her memories, with occasional questions
from the granddaughter bringing the listener back to the play’s present.
When Luba was a young woman in Sweetwater, in the Dirt Hills, she injured her
foot. She was scared of going to town to see the doctor. When she can no longer bear
weight on the foot, her husband insists she seek medical attention. Her fears seem
warranted when she is in the hospital, for the doctor refuses to listen to any of her
opinions on her own health. The doctor even rewards her falling silent with a
68 This high-tech sales device that was eventually outlawed due to fears over the danger of radiation. For more information, seek out: CBC Quirks & Quarks for March 31, 2001 found at http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/archives/00-01/mar3101.htm. There, in MP3 form, Dr. Jackie Duffman talks about the fluoroscope. Based on her article, with C. Hayter, Baring the Sole: The Rise and Fall of the Shoe-Fitting Fluoroscope. Isis, vol. 91 (2000). 260-282.