As told to Kristen Lee ~
Editor's Note: During a summer internship with Pulse, medical student Kristen Lee had the opportunity to interview Mr. C, who comes to a Bronx family health center for medical care. He was accompanied by his wife, who never goes to the doctor for herself but frequently joins her husband to make sure that he's giving his doctor accurate information. They are both immigrants to the Bronx--he from the Dominican Republic and she from Puerto Rico. Their immigrant story is uniquely theirs and also typically American. See their photo at the story's end.
Mrs. C: I’ve known him for forty-five years. That’s how long we’ve been married. I was old when we got married, like thirty-three. He was seven years younger than me, but we’re still here. We met when I went to the Dominican Republic. My big sister was married to a Dominican guy; that guy was close to him. And he told him that to get to the US--
James G. Mackey ~
I am a retired union plumber with the state of Illinois. I've had laparoscopic surgery on both knees, a lower back surgery that required two stainless rods and I'm not sure how many screws, and three cervical fusions. I now suffer from neuropathy (nerve dysfunction) in my feet. They're painfully numb: A shoe could come off, and I wouldn't know it. I find it difficult to get around--not to mention embarrassing when I go back into a restaurant looking for a sandal.
I don't understand why in today's world, with medical research moving so fast, I'm in so much pain.
Daniel Becker ~
It's my job to empty a plastic bag
filled with meds both past and present
and read out loud the labels of those we stopped,
and explain why, and while we're on why
why he needs oxygen at night, and the rescue inhaler.
Between pills it's my job to ask in a generic way
about life outside the clinic? He takes out his phone
because his story needs a prop.
His ex called yesterday, Only one ex, one's enough,