February 2020

Medical Manners

“So, how much do you love the new knee I gave you?” he asked as he walked into the exam room. I stared at the doctor in disbelief. This was his introduction at my first post-op visit after knee replacement surgery? My husband had been an orthopedic surgeon himself, and I’m quite sure that, in his thirty years of practice, he never said that to a patient.


It’s still dark outside as I, a rising second-year medical student, make my way through the doors of the hospital. After changing into my scrubs, I head over to the pre-operative area in search of my preceptor. Along with the third-year resident, I find my preceptor at the patient’s bedside. My preceptor points to the ultrasound, which shows the patient’s narrowed, abnormal artery. They already completed the pre-operative debrief and have begun physically preparing the patient for surgery. As the central line is placed, the patient moans.

A Night at the Symphony

The light from the stage spilled out over the audience and illuminated the faces of my companions. I was there with my Dad, 94, and his friend of many years Dilys, 93. We were settling in after intermission. As the music started, I could feel each of them sit up a little straighter, alert to the familiar Mozart. I wondered how many times each had heard this symphony. I glanced at the two of them, their faces rapt in full attention. Their eyes gleamed and each of them smiled slightly. Bliss! I felt a rush of happiness to be there with them and relaxed into the music.

Old People

 I grew up hating old people. As a young child, I was engulfed in a sea of gray hair and wrinkles and had no playmates. Mama was forty-one when I was born; Daddy was forty-five. My siblings and cousins were older than me by at least eleven years. None of our neighbors had children. The people we visited were all in my parents’ age group or older.

Accepting the Inevitable

Simon and Garfunkel said it best: “How terribly strange to be seventy.” When I turned seventy in 2017, I felt old for the first time in my life. Nothing external changed except for a few more wrinkles and gray hairs; I kept my part-time teaching job, continued to usher at theatres, and kept up my reading marathon. However, internally, I felt mortal; most of the chapters in my life have ended, and only a few chapters and the epilogue remain.

An Editor’s Invitation: Aging

It’s recently come to my attention that I am aging.
I used to find it easy to ignore this particular phenomenon, but as the decades have passed, as my two daughters have now reached their mid- and late-twenties, and as my morning body becomes increasingly creaky, I find this reality staring me in the face–sometimes literally, as I look in the mirror.
The most disconcerting aspect of this aging business: the vanishing names.
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