Month: February 2019

My Love Affair With Jude


Larry Bauer ~

In August 2016, our daughter Rachel and her husband Alberto traveled up from Memphis with their two children, Noel and Jude, to visit my wife and myself in Dayton, Ohio.

One afternoon during their stay, I was sitting in my favorite reading chair beside our kitchen area. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw seven-year-old Noel playing. Beside her, lying tummy-down on the floor, was three-year-old Jude. He was in a trance, fixated on the screen of his LeapPad computer tablet, his “most favorite toy in the world.”

Seeing Jude there triggered something inside me. We’d always gotten along well. He would come to me, and I’d pick him up, cuddle with him and carry him around. He enjoyed being gently tossed in the air or having me hold his legs and raise him so he could touch the ceiling. He loved the water, and playing with him in the pool was always a great time. But now, something told me that I hadn’t really reached out to connect with him at his level.

Phototherapy

Jessica Faraci

About the artist:

Jessica Faraci is a family physician who treasures her family, her patients, writing and creativity. She had identical twin girls while in residency. 

About the artwork:

“Caring for newborns and giving phototherapy was just part of my job as a physician. But when it was my own little girl–suffering from jaundice as a result of twin transfusion and polycythemia (an excess of red blood cells)–phototherapy took on a whole new meaning. This is what intensive phototherapy in a neonatal isolette looks like. It was terrifying to see as a parent.” 

 

Visuals editor:

Sara Kohrt

What I Did for Love


Amy McVay Abbott ~

My husband, who’s had type 2 diabetes for twenty years, had been struggling for a long while to lower his hemoglobin A1C–a number that measures how well he’s managing his blood sugar over time. When he and I finally investigated the issue, it turned out that someone close to him was thwarting his efforts.

This person is an addict. Her drug of choice is sugar–often candy no self-respecting adult should want, like Milk Duds or Necco Wafers. She’d order a lemon-drop martini and be just as happy if it came without the vodka.

Houston, we have a problem. That problem is me: a wife who couldn’t fully accept her spouse’s health problems.

I Give

 
I give her my sympathy: my self-control and dignity as I listen to her story of how her ear has been hurting for one day and she just can’t take the pain anymore.

I give him my patience: my knowledge and my experience as I put together the puzzle of his complex, nine-month hospital admission in a fifteen-minute acute visit.

I give her my compassion: as I politely but firmly tell her that I am not willing to prescribe chronic opiates for her fibromyalgia and depression.

Requiem

I am fourteen. I am in a children’s hospital waiting room to see a plastic surgeon. I am here because of a surgical scar on my abdomen that has caused pain while doing sit-ups. This has not prevented my father and me from making a requisite number of jokes about the type of plastic surgery I am to receive.

Faulty

Cathie Desjardins ~

Rusted nearly through at the base
of their pale green throat,
the amaryllis buds are trying to bloom,
like a person with a tracheotomy
trying to say a poem.

I snip off the buds, leaking dark red
from their diseased wound, trimming
them to clean pale stubs to put in water.

Day to day, the largest furled bud
is loosening into white wrapped wings.
The other three buds are tinier versions
of each other like Russian nesting dolls.

They are plumping with white petals
veined green but their nubs
are softening in the water and I don’t know
if they can ripen without earth.

Lying next to you on a sleety day
I look over at them for a lesson
I might learn, wondering
if I should furl my body closed

Uncertainty Pic

Uncertainty

Richard Wu

About the artist:

Richard Wu is a Eugene McDermott Scholar majoring in biochemistry at the University of Texas at Dallas. In his spare time, he can be found drawing, writing and/or composing music. Richard’s work draws on inspiration from medically related experiences. 

About the artwork:

“The practice and art of medicine can sometimes involve a great deal of uncertainty. While a clinician may hope for the best for a patient, it is not always possible for every patient to get better. This painting expresses that feeling of uncertainty–while the path behind the person is visible, the path ahead is not.”

Visuals editor:

Sara Kohrt

Letting Him Go

 
My mother held on to hope until my father took his last breath–hope that he’d overcome the debilitating effects of hemodialysis, the toll nine years of kidney failure had taken on his once-muscular frame; hope that he’d have more time with her, his two children, his six grandchildren. 

Holding On for Dear Life

Dad came from a family of smokers consumed by emphysema, and now it was his turn. Barely out of my teens, even I understood there was no hope of improvement. Only death would bring relief from suffering.

Our family took turns keeping vigil at Dad’s hospital bedside, always in pairs for moral support. During each of my stays, I offered a silent prayer: Please don’t let me be here when it happens and, especially, don’t let me be alone. I was scared to death. Mostly, I was scared of death.

Waiting for What’s Next

By the time the blood vessel burst in the back of my dad’s brain, my nine siblings and I had multiplied to a mob of in-laws and twenty-three grandkids. We clogged the waiting room as we paced, switching from seat to seat, talking to one another and making sure our mom was okay.

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