This Isn’t Worth It

While sitting on the exam room table in my cardiologist’s office, I began thinking about the many years we’ve had these semiannual appointments. I’ve had not one but two emergency open-heart surgeries.

In a few months, it will be exactly nineteen years since my first surgery, I thought. That means I’ll be starting my twentieth bonus year of life!

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A Doctor’s Visit

My new doctor enters the examining room where I have been waiting for him, seated on a rumpled paper sheet at the edge of a brown leather lounge chair. Behind the doctor’s blue mask, he is wearing a furrowed brow of worry.

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The Fight of His Life

During the early months of the COVID pandemic, the Utah medical school where I teach asked me to facilitate a small group of first-year students in Layers of Medicine—a course that covers what you might call the “messy” side of medicine, including end-of-life discussions.

Just after the course started, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. All at once, I felt my personal and professional responsibilities intersect, unexpectedly and powerfully.

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More Voices

Every month readers tell their stories — in 40 to 400 words — on a different healthcare theme.

Drinking
How Can I Help?
Showing Vulnerability

A Question

Having told me you’ve had low energy
and decreased interest
in the things you used to enjoy
(reading, Canasta, sex),
I ask you,
because I believe we have enough rapport—
though how can one ever be certain—

Have you had thoughts of killing yourself?

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Womb in Waiting

              “Yes, death will make the poem end.” – Danielle Chapman

              i History

Fact: my mother had a hysterectomy at age 80.
Fact: she had birthed six children, miscarried one.
Fact: she told us she did not need those parts anymore.
Fact: she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 94.
Fact: her sister was diagnosed at 98.
Fact: my aunt chose a mastectomy,

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encounters 20sept geneva

Encounters: “I have been so blessed…”

I had my first baby when I was thirteen, and my mother died when I was thirteen. I’ve been through a lot in my life, but when my faith is not consistent, that’s when I start getting all those crazy thoughts, like “Oh, my life, my life…”

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Felipe's Story

Felipe’s Story: “I’m going to the U.S. I’m going to see who detained the clouds and how they detained them.”

“There was a time [in Mexico] that it didn’t rain and there wasn’t a lot to eat in the country. There were no crops. People started to say that the Americans stopped the clouds so it wouldn’t rain, because they are very powerful. I said, I’m going to meet these Americans — I’m going to go to the U.S. I’m going to see who detained the clouds and how they detained them. I was about 15.”

“[Hubo] un tiempo que no llovía y no había mucho que comer en el campo. No hubo cosechas. Empezaron a contar los señores que los Americanos detuvieron las nubes para que no lloviera porque son muy poderosos. Dije, voy a conocer los Estados Unidos. Voy a ver quienes son los que detienen las nubes, como las detienen. Tenía como 15 años.”

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Fatima's Story

Fatima’s Story: “I want them to be better than me. I’m here, stuck.”

“I tell [my children], you don’t have to do anything for me, just go to school and do what you have to do. On the weekend I take them to the mosque, because jeu can learn Arabic and all that. And I just want them to study. That’s all. That’s the main thing. If you want to be someone tomorrow, you have to work hard right now.

I want them to

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