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Stories

What Makes a Good Therapist?

I thought she could help me with night terrors, this nice new therapist. The night terrors started a few weeks after my son went to prison–five words I had never thought I would string together.

I’ve had nightmares since childhood, but these are extraordinary. I tumble into slumber, then wake myself screaming bloody murder, like the woman in Psycho.

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Contented, Though Demented

The last two years of my father’s life were interesting. Our previous roles were reversed: Dad was now the child, and I the adult. I moved him to a new city and state, getting him close enough to keep an eye on him. He was already suffering from dementia, a realization I came to after he had forty thousand dollars stolen from him.

That’s right. Forty thousand dollars.

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The Eye of the Beholder

One winter morning in 2020, I was called to the reception desk to meet my patient Esther and her husband Hertzel. Some time earlier, I’d asked Esther–somewhat awkwardly–if she’d be willing to talk to me about her experience of being diagnosed with and treated for advanced breast cancer, and she’d willingly agreed. Today was the day.

Eighteen months earlier, Esther, in her sixties, had come to my hospital’s ER at her rabbi’s urging.

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Food Fight

My name is Ronna, and I have an eating disorder.

Saying the words is easier than treating the disease. Change has never come easily to me. While my disorder is rooted in my past, it has flourished in the years since COVID infected the world.

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My Abortion Story

I am a seventy-year-old Jewish grandma and a retired women’s health nurse and educator. I’ve enjoyed many blessings.

And I had an abortion in 1974.

Three months ago, the constitutional right to abortion was reversed. Reflecting on that Supreme Court decision led me to share my own experience. I hope my story will help other women considering an abortion to know that they are not alone.

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The Role of a Lifetime

In our first week of neonatology, my third-year classmates Jay, Em and I donned PPE and filed like ducklings into an operating room on the birthing unit.

A young woman sat slouched on the operating table, her unbuttoned hospital gown revealing the S-curve in her spine. Her name, we learned, was Elise.

Beside her stood the anesthesiologist, Dr. Lane. He put a hand on her shoulder.

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Mouth Piece

When I was five years old, more than sixty years ago, I was playing on the top rung of a swimming-pool ladder near our home in what was then Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe). I lost my footing.

Being very thin, I slipped between the pool ladder and the wall and knocked my chin hard as I fell. Just as in the film Jaws, the blue water (acrid with pool chemicals) bloomed red.

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Almost Normal

His steps are wobbly. Our children hold their father’s hands to steady him as they move through the sand toward the ocean. I remain far back on the shore, shading my eyes to make out the three of them as they stand in the shallow water.

I am thinking that he looks like a ten-year-old child from this distance. My sight turns blurry, a combination of sun, sand and sorrow.

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Look Me in the Eye

I was new.

Seventeen days earlier, a discerning pediatrician had recommended tests to untangle my five-year-old son’s cluster of puzzling symptoms—headache, vomiting and double vision. The alarmed face of the radiation technician in the booth during the CT scan was my introduction to a world where I didn’t know the rules, the language or what was expected of me.

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