Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 56, No. 4, May 2014, Page 166 Editorials

A number of events in recent months have caused me to recall the old saying, “Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.” Perhaps more accurately, they have caused me to feel myself getting old. In this regard, the writing has been on the wall for a few years now—as I mentioned 2 years ago in my editorial on retirement (BCMJ 2012;54:118-119). Since then the hair has thinned and grayed even more, the middle has expanded even more, and the vim and vigor have become a little less exuberant. I am, however, not mourning the passage of time. On the contrary; I am very happy with my situation in life and feel truly blessed to be where I am.

I remember my parents when they were my age and I certainly don’t feel as old as they seemed to me at the time. Now it is our children who love to joke about their old parents and will probably say the same things about us in years to come. My parents joked recently that their social life seems to consist of visiting friends in hospital or care facilities and going to funerals and tombstone unveilings.

With our younger son coming to the end of his first year in high school, and our older son about to graduate and start his tertiary education at UBC, I am definitely feeling the years pass. Having said that, my wife and I celebrate our boys’ increased independence, and we are enjoying each other’s company even more because of it.

One of the key events that led me to feel nostalgic (old) was the 25-year reunion of my medical class of 1988, which I attended in Cape Town this past December. When we graduated from the University of Cape Town as doctors, Nelson Mandela was still imprisoned on Robben Island. Our reunion was held 1 day before Mandela’s funeral in a very different South Africa from the one that existed in 1988. The reunion was an amazing experience. Most of us haven’t changed much in 25 years and were easily recognized by our peers and friends, despite the addition of weight and subtraction of hair. It was fun to catch up with old friends and people we had studied with for 6 years. I was impressed by the great contributions to medicine my classmates have made all over the world—South Africa, North America, Europe, Australia, and a remote outpost on a mountaintop in Papua, Indonesia. The accomplishments of our graduating class include transcutaneous aortic valve replacements, radio frequency ablation of renal carcinoma, world-class research, drug development, and the establishing of an international charity to help African children living with HIV.

The other event from this past year that signified the passage of time for me occurred in my professional life. After working in the same community for over 20 years, I had the huge privilege of delivering the baby of a baby I had delivered years ago. The newborn has very proud parents and grandparents, as would be expected. It was a joy for me to deliver my first baby of a baby. Her birth turned a young lady into a mother, and a mother into a grandmother. I wonder if that makes me a grand-doctor and how many other grand-doctors are still practising!

David B. Chapman, MBChB. Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. BCMJ, Vol. 56, No. 4, May, 2014, Page(s) 166 - Editorials.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Leave a Reply