Warren Holleman ~ 2017 was a heartbreaking year for our family. To start things off, my wife’s parents–both of them!–were diagnosed with terminal illnesses. We spent the next few months immersed in the painful, complex process of transitioning them to home hospice care and beginning to face and grieve the prospect of their deaths. In the midst of this, Hurricane Harvey began heading towards Houston, our hometown. My wife, Marsha, drove to her parents’ ranch,
Andrew Levitas ~ Retirement means downsizing. “If a thing doesn’t give you joy, throw it away,” says the current mantra, as if it were that simple. In my study closet, behind my obsolete Kodachrome lecture slides (about as necessary these days as a harpsichord), sits my little black bag. Does it give me joy? It’s much more complicated than that. The bag holds all the medical instruments I carried through my training as a doctor–internship,
Theresa Weinman ~ “So how was your trip?” ask well-meaning friends and coworkers when I return from a medical mission to Engeye Health Clinic, in rural Uganda. Even years after my first trip there, trying to find the perfect words to describe it is a challenge. I have been involved with Engeye since its founding, more than a decade ago. As the administrative coordinator with Albany Medical College’s department of family and community medicine, I
Every month readers tell their stories — in 40 to 400 words — on a different healthcare theme.
I stare at my chicken patty, the limp lettuce, pale tomato sliver, open the small mayonnaise packet, even though I don’t eat mayonnaise. I pour my milk, set the carton on the table, slide aside the red Jell-O. If I don’t look up, I won’t be where I am. Father wears a blue dress shirt, not his own, stares, not speaking, not noticing the shirt is buttoned wrong, brown stain on the front. His hair
Kim Gainer ~ In a box she waits, Neither dead nor alive, Until observed. In three months, The box opens. Tested, probed, scanned, She learns the cancer has recurred, In which case she is dead. Or it has not returned, In which case she is–not alive. Boxed in once more, Neither dead nor alive, She again awaits the allotted period Until the box is opened, A quantum superposition which only death Can collapse into a
Marianne Peel ~ The last time we talkedshe said she wantedevery bone in her bodyto break. And so I picture her on a ledgeflirting with the idea of flying,knowing she admires the flitting of butterfliesfrom one pollen hive to another I watch her wingsopen and close open and closelike they are breathinglike her wings are lungs
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Bronx, New York About this Encounter: I had my first baby when I was thirteen, and my mother died when I was thirteen. I’ve been through a lot in my life, but when my faith is not consistent, that’s when I start getting all those crazy thoughts, like “Oh, my life, my life…”
Bronx, New York About the Seeing Immigrants Series: From the time she was a medical student, Joanna Sharpless has been collecting immigration stories to learn more about the struggles and celebrations of being an immigrant in America. For a social medicine project undertaken during residency, she combined excerpts from interviews with a half-dozen of her immigrant patients with photographs of these immigrants holding something of importance to them. Three of these photos
Bronx, New York About this Encounter: I’m caring for my sister, who’s very ill. When I feel like I’m coming up short, it kind of creates a depression for me. I’ve learned to establish boundaries for myself, because when people become ill like that, they become bitter and mean sometimes. And I’ve really, really, really had to struggle.