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More Voices

Every month More Voices invites readers to contribute short nonfiction prose pieces of 40 to 400 words on a healthcare theme.


I am sipping the foam off my café latte, holding the cup with both hands because they're shaking so much. It is early morning and very cold, even for New York, but the waiting room at Mount Sinai Hospital is warm and open to a 10-story atrium courtyard. The Starbucks on the ground floor seems to be the hub of the hospital, as, from the balcony of the waiting room, I watch doctors in scrubs, patients in wheelchairs, Hasidic Jews (identifiable by their curls) in black coats standing in a line that snakes through the lobby.

Our family is in the surgical area, where my son Michael, soon to be ordained as a rabbi, is having brain surgery to treat symptoms of generalized dystonia. Mike was 12 years old when he was diagnosed with the movement disorder, which contracts and twists the muscles of his body. Today, electrodes will be implanted deep in his brain; he must remain awake during the long surgery.

Later, the electrodes will be hooked up to battery packs. We all hope when it's over that Mike will be able to walk without turning his leg and foot inwards, be able to pick up a spoon with his right hand to feed his infant son, be able to walk down the aisle of a synagogue carrying a Torah without falling.


Rachel, Mike's wife, is also a rabbi. Sitting in a white plastic chair in the waiting room, she pretends to read People magazine, but I think she is praying. I see her purple Converse sneakers jumping up and down. My first husband, Mike’s dad, dozes in another white plastic chair. My second husband reads his Kindle and looks up at me to see how I am doing.


My coffee has gone cold, but I still hold the cup for comfort. Maybe that’s why there are so many people still in line at Starbucks. Coffee comforts us and reminds us that there is a normal world beyond these walls. I am still holding my cold coffee cup four hours later when the phone rings and they tell us they are halfway through the surgery and all is going well.

Karen Ross

Los Angeles, California




# sheila krasnoff 2016-06-04 14:10
Thank you Karen, your description of this difficult time in your life was very real and I could feel the emotion that went along with it. I'm happy that this turned out well for Michael.
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# ann kashuk 2016-05-27 10:53
Hi Karen,
thanks for the article,,I can hardly imagine what that day must have been like for you... Hopefully Mike is doing well these days... Take care..ann
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