Month: June 2019

The Making of an Activist

 
As a medical student, I was covered by my mother’s health insurance plan (thanks, Obama!). At that time, however, her (my) insurance carrier and my university’s health system were in the midst of renegotiating their contract–and therefore my insurance was not accepted at the university-affiliated gynecology practice. In need of a pap smear and a refill of my birth control prescription, I turned to Google and found there was a Planned Parenthood clinic within walking distance of my apartment.

Encounters: “Who am I to tell someone facing disease how to feel?”

I’m caring for my sister, who’s very ill. When I feel like I’m coming up short, it kind of creates a depression for me. I’ve learned to establish boundaries for myself, because when people become ill like that, they become bitter and mean sometimes. And I’ve really, really, really had to struggle.

I’ve been trying to help my sister, but I’ve also got to help myself. Some people, when they feel that they’re near their end, nothing really seems to matter to them. No one knows the exact time, day or hour when you exit this realm, so you might as well enjoy yourself. If you’re not busy living, you’re busy dying. But who am I to tell someone facing disease how to feel? I can’t.

Somehow, I understand what she’s going through. I don’t want to understand, because I don’t want to accept that this is happening to her, or to me and my family. But I’m starting to accept that, hey, know what? I’m not going to be any help to her or to anyone else if I’m just down on myself and in the blues all the time.

Before, whenever I encountered difficulty, it used to feel …

Encounters: “Who am I to tell someone facing disease how to feel?” Read More »

An Editor’s Invitation: Abortion

This month’s More Voices theme is Abortion.

For a long time, we’ve resisted posting this theme out of concern that it would generate more heat than light–more vitriol than compassion. But recent legislation that would make abortions illegal in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and now Louisiana has made us think that we need to find a way to broach this subject and talk about it with kindness and respect for one another.

Might we start that conversation by sharing our personal stories about abortion?

I hope so, and I’d like to share two experiences.

A patient of mine, I’ll call her Sandra, came to see me, thrilled to be pregnant with her second child. All seemed to be going well, but then an ultrasound at twenty weeks showed something alarming: the fetus was missing vital organs.

While there was a slight chance that Sandra could continue the pregnancy to term, there was no way that an infant born in this condition could survive.

Sandra was devastated. Truly. She wondered whether the ultrasound could be wrong–and wanted it repeated. She wanted to know what could be done to save this pregnancy. Could a brand-new infant receive organ transplants?

An Editor’s Invitation: Abortion Read More »

A Son’s Death, A Mother’s Love

On March 11, 2017 I lost my beloved twenty-five-year-old son to the disease of addiction. He was a beautiful, creative and compassionate person with enormous potential. Receiving the call from the police that he was dead from an overdose was a nightmare no parent should have to experience. Driving to his drug dealer’s apartment to identify his body was not close to any situation I had read about in parenting books as he was growing up.

Encounters: “You know…sometimes I don’t remember that I have it.”

Should I talk about the bad stories or the good stories?

Okay, the bad part is hearing that something’s wrong with you. That burns me.

I don’t want doctors bothering me–just leave me alone. I don’t know why I’m afraid of doctors. Sometimes I just don’t like to hear them talk. I just found myself going more to the doctor after I was diagnosed. Before, I didn’t have to go to the doctor. I was healthy.

I don’t like hospitals. My father died in a hospital. My mother died in a hospital–she was brain dead when she passed away, in 2002. My sister died in a hospital. To see somebody’s tongue out their mouth, and hooked up to those machines–I’ve always told my daughters that I don’t want to die in a hospital, that I want to fall asleep in my house.

I love all five of my daughters in a different way. They know what I’ve got. They know who gave it to me.

They used to like him, but they don’t care for him too much now, after, you know, what he done. They felt that he took my life, and he could have told me. When it …

Encounters: “You know…sometimes I don’t remember that I have it.” Read More »

Choice

It is 1989. My earliest memory of myself is of riding on my dad’s shoulders and holding a placard that reads “Pro-Choice.” Chants of “Her Body, Her Choice” reverberate around me. I’m barely four years old, but this is not my first protest. In my family, abortion has never had a question mark after it.

The Lightness of Choice

Abortion was not a concept that played a role in my life. I never imagined that rape would leave me with an unwanted pregnancy; I refused to consider that any future child would face multiple disabilities that might diminish or eliminate his or her quality of life. Instead, I married and, nine months later, found myself pregnant.

Unfortunately, I discovered my pregnancy after getting special vaccinations for a trip to Greece. The doctor feared that one of the shots he had given me might affect the fetus, leading to birth defects in my first child. I remember his looking directly into my eyes and reciting my options: remain pregnant or abort.

An Editor’s Invitation: Abortion

This month’s More Voices theme is Abortion.

For a long time, we’ve resisted posting this theme out of concern that it would generate more heat than light–more vitriol than compassion. But recent legislation that would make abortions illegal in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and now Louisiana has made us think that we need to find a way to broach this subject and talk about it with kindness and respect for one another.

Might we start that conversation by sharing our personal stories about abortion?

I hope so, and I’d like to share two experiences.

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