Time to See

I’ve been waiting years, so long I don’t even know when it all started. 

I mean I know when I started wearing glasses. I was in first grade, and my teacher took my parents aside. “I think your daughter has a learning disability.” She probably used different words, this was 1968 after all. My parents weren’t convinced and sought out another explanation as to why I was having difficulty in school. Ultimately, they took me to an ophthalmologist who gave them an answer. Within a few months of wearing my new pink princess glasses, I was moved up a grade. 

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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.

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Sitting Alone

I was one of two managers covering the hospital one quiet Sunday morning when my pager beeped.

“Cafeteria,” said the voice that answered my call.

 “Hi, this is the nursing manager.”

“A child’s alone down here.”

In the cafeteria I approached the bevy of workers huddled by the phone.

“The little girl’s over there,” one of them said, pointing.

A small child was sitting quietly at a table. She had a round face and light brown hair pulled back with a pink barrette, soft curls falling below her ears. There were no toys or food in front of her. 

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The Waiting Game

 סַבְלָנוּת. The first Hebrew word I learned when I spent the 1972-1973 academic year in Jerusalem was “savlanoot”—patience. I added the word to my Hebrew lexicon, but I never incorporated it into my daily life. I am not a patient person; whether standing in line at the grocery store or checking my mailbox for the results of my mammogram, waiting causes me angst and anger. When I want something, I want it now.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, however, waiting has become an integral part of my life. I must patiently await the November 3 election, hoping that my

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An Editor’s Invitation: Waiting

Dear Pulse readers,
We are waiting.
Waiting for an election that is very close–already happening in some states–but still feels far off.
Waiting for a pandemic to come under control.
Waiting for systemic racism to be fully acknowledged and met head-on.
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For Some Ills, There Is No Pill

Fatigue comes in many forms. Physical fatigue. Compassion fatigue. Emotional fatigue.

I should know about physical fatigue, the kind I experience when I realize that I can’t jog for more than three minutes without taking a break. Then I remember that I am overdue for my iron infusions. Way overdue. I blame my poor self-care on my recent move–in the midst of a pandemic–and how the circumstances were not exactly conducive to getting under the care of new physicians, despite being a physician myself.

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Moonshine

I wake when the sky begins to darken. As the sun buries itself beneath the horizon, the hospital beckons.

Nights bring a kind of calm. I find that wakefulness, while others sleep, grants me something sacred—time, untouched.

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Ennui

“There’s no hurry. Take your time,” the wife said patiently.

“Time, that’s all I have since I’ve retired,” the physician-husband said. “What do you have?”

“I’ve finally figured it out,” she replied. “What I’ve been feeling since the COVID-19 lockdown. It’s ennui.” She hadn’t used that word in many decades, probably since college French, nor even thought of it. “It just came to me,” she marveled.

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I’m. So. Tired.

Tired doesn’t even begin to describe it, actually. Exhaustion. Weariness. A deep, gut-wrenching physical ache that fogs my brain and fills my body with despair. I can feel the ache arise somewhere in the vicinity of my stomach, worm its way past my heart, and drive deep into my forehead. I close my eyes and imagine the bliss of sleep.

I’m so tired.

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Sleep Deprivation

Jeez, I’m tired! Hope I make it home without falling asleep! Okay, windows wide open, radio blasting. Here we go.

I had just finished working the 11 p.m.-to-7 a.m. shift at a hospital in Burbank, California. Now I was facing an hour’s drive home. Because I was afraid of falling asleep at the wheel, I always kept my right hand at the twelve o’clock position. That way, if I nodded off, my hand would relax, fall off the wheel, and awaken me. I was thankful the freeway congestion kept my speed slow.

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Breathless

In B.C.—the “Before Covid” world—I always woke up before my alarm, set for 6 a.m., rang; by the time I was ready to teach at 9 a.m., I had often done laundry, dashed to the grocery store for a few necessities, and dusted at least one room of my apartment. If I napped, which I rarely did, it was always a brief respite to get a second wind. When I finally retired for the night—usually at 9 p.m., with time set aside for reading—I slept well, confident that I had led a productive, rewarding day.

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Editor’s Invitation: Fatigue

Dear Pulse readers,
Our More Voices theme this month is Fatigue.
Many are feeling fatigued these days. Fatigued by grief, by isolation and by worry brought on by COVID-19, a murderous guest that arrived in January and is still among us.
Fatigued every time an unarmed Black man is killed by police. “I’m weary,” a friend wrote to me shortly after George Floyd’s murder, “Simply weary. In every sense, spiritually, physically, emotionally…”
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