Linda Koebner ~
For eight years I have endured intense pain in my left jaw. While having four surgeries, I have also undergone Botox treatment, acupuncture and physical therapy; taken a variety of medications prescribed by pain doctors, neurologists and my primary care physician; and used specially made creams, ice and heat on the affected area. Nothing has worked.
When my friend Madeline turned seventy, she celebrated in a big way: She walked a half-marathon; she hosted a cabaret for family and friends at which she sang and told stories; she traveled to China. Now, six years later, this dynamic woman has become a virtual prisoner in her apartment. She has undergone back surgery, suffered a nearly fatal intestinal infection and, after a fall, had bolts and screws placed in her
I awoke one Saturday morning to a terribly familiar feeling–a tight, barky cough, fast breathing, severe shortness of breath and burning in my chest. Another severe asthma attack. I knew I was in trouble.
Twenty-three years ago, when I was an internal-medicine resident, I went to be evaluated for recurrent pneumonia. I wound up being diagnosed with cough-variant asthma. Most asthmatic patients wheeze; when my asthma is bad, I cough.
I now realize
Once the weeks of morning sickness subside, I feel as if I’ve grown wings.
Even with the fatigue, it’s as though someone has pressed a great “reset” button on years of inflammation. That elbow joint that hasn’t straightened fully for years suddenly rediscovers its full range of motion. My knees, too, become straighter and stronger than they’ve been in many years.
Even without the meds, ditched in honor of my
I have a dance routine all in my hands, with steps
To take to make them bend again, at least to stall
The stalk of past abuse, of joint and sinew overuse
This jig more intricate, more complex, more diffuse
Than simple shuffles of the well-shod foot, requires
Both patience brute and gentle force to stake its worth
I dance five times each day twice daily bathe in wax
Or wrap socks full
“What’s going to happen to Catie when she grows up?”
I was driving with my son, Nick, to the store when he asked this about his fifteen-year-old cousin, Catie. Nick, age eight, had just spent his spring break at Catie’s home. Blind, she was now losing her ability to talk, but she always recognized Nick’s voice. She
I have never told this story to anyone.
It all started one night about ten years ago, three months into my internship. I was on call, having just admitted a man with a possible meningitis.
He now lay curled up in fetal position on the bed in front of me, looking thin and ill. Preparing to administer a lumbar puncture (a diagnostic test that involves removing fluid from the spinal canal), I gently
We used to trade off,
He hated trees dying in our living room.
I always loved the blue spruces
decorated on my December birthday
But his father fell near theirs
dying in their living room
one childhood night.
So we’d have a year with tangled lights, a crooked stand
he sometimes helped me put together
Then a year with presents stacked on the corner table,
with no dry needles to sweep.