Anonymous

“I Would Lose Everything”

My boyfriend and I were both pre-med students, about five years after the Roe v. Wade decision. We were studying for the MCAT. I was using a diaphragm for contraception.

I was, admittedly, a knucklehead, but boys can be knuckleheads in this arena without much in the way of consequences, while girls cannot afford to take chances. Right around the time that I realized that my boyfriend didn’t really love me, my period was late.

Tough But Fair Decisions

Prior to going to medical school, I worked part-time as a nurse practitioner for Planned Parenthood with a kind, caring, and responsible group of women. We provided counseling and classes on various contraceptive methods, basic gynecologic care, pregnancy and STD testing, and private counseling for abortions.

A Painful Decision, Without Regrets

Twenty years ago, I became pregnant after having a condom break during sex with my then-boyfriend. This, despite also taking the morning-after pill. I learned about the unwanted pregnancy two weeks after graduating from college and three months before I was scheduled to leave the country for work as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

An Untold Story

I am unvaccinated. Am I the only such first-person voice here? I am not an anti-vaxxer or anti-masker. I am not anti-science or anti-social. What I am is a member of a neglected minority in the U.S.: those with underlying health conditions.

Talking with Family

I have a health condition that puts me at risk for complications from COVID, so when the vaccine came out I was eager to be vaccinated as soon as possible. My immediate family was supportive and on the same page. However, one family member, my aunt, remains unvaccinated.

The Tempest

“Saturation” is a word used to describe an overcrowded hospital, where every bed is full, as is every gurney in the emergency department and every waiting room—and there’s a line of ambulances waiting outside to offload still more patients.

“Saturation” also refers to a swelling riverbed, to color devoid of light, and to the cotton-rag–like lungs of someone with COVID pneumonia.

It’s been almost nineteen months since the first case of COVID was declared in the United States. Since then, health-care workers have endured surging cases, periods of eerie calm, more surges, and, now, a hurricane.

Exercise and Diet Obsession, COVID-Style

I retired from critical care nursing in the wake of the COVID pandemic. I had been an avid runner prior to my retirement, and I was then able to start a rigorous exercise program as well. While I had been thin prior to retiring, my new regimen became an obsession, as I focused on exercising, running, and eating “right.”

Storm Shelter

After his wife died, he changed his mind. “No ventilator,” he told me, shaking his head. “No ventilator.”

And so, I thought, now we wait. He had been prepared to wait for his wife to get better when it was she in the hospital alone. No visitors were allowed, so he talked to her by phone for hours each day, even when neither of them would speak, even when she couldn’t speak; he would listen to her breathing, willing it to ease, to settle into the pattern he knew so well from years by her side.

Hospital Near Dublin

I tiptoed into the slippery hallway of the hospital near Dublin where I’d stayed for three weeks as a baby, trying to find some answers as to why I had been there. I still expected to be reprimanded by sisters—what nurses are still called in Ireland—with raw faces and pursed lips.

The walls were awash in institutional sea-foam green. My boyfriend at the time took a picture of my frightened face, the flash bleaching me out to only dark eyes.

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