Pulse Team

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 …

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The Last Call of the Day

Why is it always the last call of the day,
Bag packed by the door, and sometimes I’ve even put my coat on,
And then I know that I have to make the call.If I was smart, I’d schedule a visit, have the nurse set up a time
To have the patient drop by after the test is done,
If only I was smart!But today it is too late for that, Friday night,
And a weekend of intolerable waiting for the patient,
So I make the call at half past 6.
The first ring means too late to hang up, the second ring raises hope that no one is home,
If I make it to the third ring, I start to rehearse a message,
But with the fourth ring, a soft voice breaks the silence.The answer is always cancer, it’s never the plague, or leprosy, or even a kidney stone,
Once in a while it’s HIV, and one time it was TB,
But cancer is the real answer.So I share the news, and I wait for the click
Of a dry tongue trying to form a response,
And …

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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 …

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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 »

Pulse Readers’ Hopes and Wishes for the New Year

Pulse Readers

Editor’s Note: Ten days ago, we invited Pulse readers to share with us their hopes and wishes for the new year. Here are some of their responses.


For my young patients who are living with HIV, I hope for relief from the stigma that shadows their lives, their health and their futures, and for acceptance and respect from family, friends, schools and society. For youth growing up surrounded by violence and poverty and by systems of education, health and human services that often fail them, I wish for empowering systems, safe spaces and nurturing adults who will help them to dream and to realize their potential.

Cathy Samples
(Director, Boston HAPPENS Program
at Children’s Hospital Boston)
Boston, MA

——————–

After watching my daughters experience three miscarriages, my wish (and prayer) for the new year is a healthy grandchild. My oldest daughter is now six weeks pregnant, and her first ultrasound is next week. We’re praying this little one arrives in August, healthy and whole. What greater gift and wish is there than new life?

Elizabeth Szewczyk
Enfield, CT

——————–

I wish that today’s medical students …

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Thanksgiving Reflections

Pulse Writers and Editors

Editor’s Note: This Thanksgiving tugs hard at the emotions. While an economic gale roils the world, our freshly chosen captain stands on deck, pointing out a new direction for our battered ship of state. At the same time, each of us has personal joys and sorrows to contemplate. We asked Pulse’s writers and editors to take a moment to share their reflections.

This year, I am thankful for my four quirky little grandsons, my three loving children and my beloved husband of almost forty years. I am especially thankful that the country we share has a chance to find its way again and to call all of us, young and old, toward a future that can still be bright and full of promise. –Johanna Shapiro

I’m thankful for my daughter, and for how she kicks and growls in delight when I enter her room at 6 a.m. –Joanne Wilkinson

As one who came of political age in the 1960s, I remember as only a young man can the losses of JFK, RFK and MLK. As an older man, I’m all too aware of the fragility of any single human life. But I will be grateful this Thanksgiving for …

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