Month: September 2015

Going Solo

Amanda Anderson

I softly scrub blood from the teeth of a man who died moments ago. From the chair where I sat quietly writing nursing notes while he quietly ended, my patient’s sallow skin and sunken cheeks looked so peaceful. But the weeks of stagnant residue on his teeth bothered me.

To brush the teeth of someone who was in the process of dying would have contradicted my orders to provide comfort care, and my own good sense. So I waited until he took his last breaths before I closed my computer screen and gathered my tools–washcloth, water, toothbrush.

I brush now, so briefly, for the pride of this man I didn’t know, and I brush for the family that I wish was here to care about him. He does have family–it is they who authorized removing his life support, in keeping with the wishes expressed in his living will. Their brief go-ahead over the phone satisfied their legal obligations, but their absence during his actual passing has left me feeling oddly confused.

graffiti stumbar

Through Our Eyes #4 (Beauty)

submitted by Sarah Stumbar

About the series: 

“From August through December 2013, as part of a social medicine project I met with a group of four teenage girls in the third-floor conference room of a Bronx family health center. Over healthy snacks we discussed topics relevant to growing up as a girl in this Bronx community: obesity, violence, exercise, access to green spaces, relationships, body image and sexuality–complex issues which gave them an opportunity to voice their dreams for themselves and their community. Each girl was given a disposable camera and asked to take photographs of her neighborhood. This photograph is one of these. The collective voice of these young women teaches us that, even in deserted streets and playgrounds, they are able to find beauty and hope. They remind us of the importance of giving all young people a voice as a way of fostering their growth and resiliency.”

About the artwork:

Through Our Eyes #4 (Beauty) Read More »

Night Call

Heidi Johnson-Wright

When I was nine years old, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that triggers an inflammatory response of the joints, causing swelling, stiffness and severe pain. The disease sped through my body like wildfire.

By the time I was fifteen, my hip joints were utterly ruined. Just getting out of bed was a slow, carefully choreographed sequence of movements, with frequent pauses to allow the pain to subside. When I walked, my hips emitted sickening crunching sounds, bone grinding on bone.

I kept denying how bad my hips were, because I knew that the only solution was joint-replacement surgery. The thought of having my joints sawed through and torn away, and then having metal replacements hammered down into the bone shafts, petrified me. So did the prospect of a long, painful recuperation. But one day I tearfully confessed to my mother that I couldn’t take it anymore.

Special Delivery

Deborah Pierce

I first met Marie five years ago. A petite, soft-spoken woman in her thirties, she was the patient of one of the residents whom I supervise at our community hospital. Marie worked in housekeeping for a large corporation; she and her husband, a bus driver, had a six-year-old son. Now she was twenty-six weeks (six months) pregnant with their second child.

Marie’s blood pressure was markedly elevated (168/120), she had fairly high amounts of protein in her urine, and her baby measured small on the ultrasound. These pointed to severe preeclampsia–a serious complication that can quickly worsen, leading to kidney damage, seizures or even death for mother and child, and that can only be cured by delivering the baby.

The resident and I reached a swift, unanimous decision: Marie’s pregnancy was far too high-risk for our hospital. She needed to be transferred to the University Hospital across town–“the U,” as it’s known. And the baby would need to be delivered soon.

clear and peaceful stumbar

Through Our Eyes #3 (clear and peaceful)

submitted by Sarah Stumbar

About the series: 

“From August through December 2013, as part of a social medicine project I met with a group of four teenage girls in the third-floor conference room of a Bronx family health center. Over healthy snacks we discussed topics relevant to growing up as a girl in this Bronx community: obesity, violence, exercise, access to green spaces, relationships, body image and sexuality–complex issues which gave them an opportunity to voice their dreams for themselves and their community. Each girl was given a disposable camera and asked to take photographs of her neighborhood. This photograph is one of these. The collective voice of these young women teaches us that, even in deserted streets and playgrounds, they are able to find beauty and hope. They remind us of the importance of giving all young people a voice as a way of fostering their growth and resiliency.”

About the artwork:

Through Our Eyes #3 (clear and peaceful) Read More »

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