Encounters: "I take so many medications..."
Francie Camper ~
Parkway, three a.m. Ambient light.
Try to shake off the sleeping pill.
Open car window. Rock station 104.3
Watch the divider, the white line.
Count the other cars on the road,
make up stories to stay awake.
Don’t miss the exit for the Interstate.
Don’t miss the Willis Avenue Bridge.
Twenty-six minutes to a parking space.
Forget to read the parking sign.
Shoulder heavy bag: water, apple,
book, journal, healthcare proxy.
Kristen Lee ~
On TV shows, therapists decorate their rooms with leather lounge chairs, throw pillows and organza curtains that let in the light.
But Dr. Hassan's office is in the clinic basement. The fluorescent lighting is sterile. She has a gray metal desk--I think every doctor I've shadowed as a medical student has had that same desk.
But I'm not here as a student.
I've been anticipating this appointment for a month. In March, I started to take an online physiology exam for school, but instead spent twenty minutes staring motionless at the computer screen. I eventually input the answers and passed the test, but I'd stopped caring.
A week later, I had a panic attack while riding the 6 Train through Midtown Manhattan at rush hour. I'd already been feeling trapped by the tightly scheduled lifestyle of a medical student, and getting sandwiched between strangers inside an underground tube of concrete didn't help.
Arlen Gargagliano ~
Aisha is lurking in the kitchen just outside my home-office door. I hear her rattling dishes and speaking to herself in Twi, a language of her native Ghana. I know that she wants my attention, but I've told her that I need time to work. I try to focus on grading my college students' papers, but I'm distracted.
Aisha is one of my mother's aides. My mother requires care twenty-four/seven, and Aisha is one of several women, primarily foreign-born, who care for her in shifts. Mom's had this arrangement since 2012, when several ministrokes disabled her brain and self-care abilities, and a broken leg left her mostly bedbound. My father's recent death, ending their marriage of more than five decades, prompted my husband and me to bring Mom into our home. She's been living here with us for the past five months.
In Mom's younger days, the word "dynamo" wouldn't begin to describe her. She orchestrated countless gatherings and large-scale fiestas at home for our family (my parents, my four siblings and me), our large extended family and friends and Dad's Mad Men clients. She bossed us all around with prep tasks, and delighted guests with tales of her exploits as one of the youngest female art directors at the iconic ad agency Young & Rubicam, and her adventures in the worlds of painting, children's book illustrating and teaching ("Every child is born creative, you know!").