Zachary Reese ~
"Does a rock float on water?" I asked the haggard woman lying in the ICU bed.
I was an intern, in the first rotation of my medical residency, and Mrs. Jones had been my ICU team's patient for the past week. Over that time, she'd looked more and more uncomfortable, constantly gesturing for her breathing tube to be removed.
Mrs. Jones tried to form words in response to my question, but the plastic tube in her mouth prevented it. Her chest rose and fell in rhythm with the ventilator's hiss as the machine pumped air into her lungs; her muscles were too weak to do the work themselves.
After several attempts at speaking, she gave up and shook her head. No.
Lisa Burr ~
It was another simmering-hot Texas day, and the AC was faltering in the family-practice clinic where I worked as a family nurse practitioner. Most of our clients were poor and spoke only Spanish.
My nurse, Eliza, approached, wide-eyed.
"There's a new patient--a woman named Maraby. She seems really angry," she murmured. "She's the color of Dijon mustard, and she's wearing a long, heavy wool cape. She looks like she's nine months pregnant with triplets. There's a man with her, but he's not saying anything."
Gingerly, I entered the exam room. Maraby, a tall woman, sat staring at the floor. Her partner, Darren, stood to one side. When I glanced his way, he anxiously averted his eyes.
Ruth Bavetta ~
One and a half tubes of smörgåskaviar, most
of a jar of blueberry jam, a full jar of lingonberries.
Four sets of blue plaid pajamas--God forbid
I should have gotten him red. Six pairs
of reading glasses, going back
in five-year increments. Hearing-aid
batteries stashed by the lamp.
Three packages of adult diapers.
Our marriage certificate.
The rest of the morphine.