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Tag: coping with illness

Fateful Encounter

Amy Eileen Hiscock

I cannot take my eyes from his face.

It has been destroyed in the wreck, along with the rest of his body. His head is misshapen, bloodied. Someone has tried to staple together one of the larger lacerations–extending diagonally across his face and under his chin–but there was little point. They gave up partway through.

I have never seen a dead body. I am twenty-five and in the second of five terms

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Lightheaded

Ellen Cole

Lightheaded, as I so often am
when leukemia fevers sweep over me,
I fail to notice when I begin to rise,
feet bidding the floor goodbye,

I say, Brian, but you,
your eyes shut,    
Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
whispering in your earphones,

do not see me wink out the window
like lamp light, the lawn glittered
with glow-worms, echoed above
by the stern slow music of stars.

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The Pros and Cons of Living with a Terminal Illness

Ellen Diamond

Before I retired in 2000, I worked in a state agency as a peer counselor, or more formally, an employee assistance program (EAP) coordinator. The “coordinator” part was there because my job description wasn’t actually to do counseling; it was to assess the problem and refer the client for help.

But of course both of those processes involved counseling. We just couldn’t call it that.

In 1986, shortly after I’d begun the job,

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Saving Grampa

Alia Moore

You were supposed to die of cardiac arrest as you circled toward home plate. Or of a brain aneurysm in the summer during one of your countless hikes through the mountains.

You weren’t supposed to die here. Not in a hospital bed, inhabiting this fragile new body, with an oxygen tube in your nose and tumors in your lungs.

Two days before you left us, I traveled home to visit you. I’d last

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Cover-up

Carol Scott-Conner

“The plastic surgeons tell me that women who like to swim do much better with reconstruction than with prostheses,” says a young breast surgeon at our weekly Breast Cancer Tumor Board, the working conference where we discuss every new breast cancer patient before starting treatment.

There’s a slight note of surprise in her voice; to her, it’s simply another consideration when advising women before mastectomy.

For decades, the only option after a mastectomy

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Observations

1.  Mom spends all her time saying thank you.

Casseroles
whole dinners
arrive at the door,
notes
phone calls
assurances of prayer
and being there
if something is needed,
offers to pick up the children
the laundry
tidy the house
run errands.

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Luca

Richard Weiss

He waited, sandwiched between an angular
housewife with a cough and an accountant
whose clothing draped his skeletal frame.
When we first met he was much younger,

bearded, heavily tattooed, dressed in black,
his bulk dwarfing my consultation room,
a school custodian recovering after a painful
divorce from a guitar-playing, nose-pierced wife

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Five Years Later

Steve Lewis

Evenings in the Sloan-Kettering ICU were starkly lit–nowhere to hide from the glare, bloodshot eyes trained on blinking lights, buzzing machines, masked men and women passing soundlessly through sliding glass doors, and little but hours and hours of bright, eerie luminosity ahead.

By contrast, the days then were dark. No comfort to be found in the sunrise or in that old salve about everything looking better in the morning. My wife and kids

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Telling Nick

Marianne Lonsdale

“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

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Five Years to a Cure

Ellen Diamond

Recently, while reading a post in an online chat group for people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), I spotted an intriguing comment. At an important conference, a world-renowned hematologist had referred to a “five-year timeline” for a cure.

This took me back fourteen years, to when I’d just been diagnosed with CLL. There was a Gilda’s Club

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Genuine Touch

Jonathan Gotfried

I was a medical student doing my fourth-year rotation on the oncology floor. The floor offered many new sights, and from the first, I was struck by the two mammoth massage chairs sitting in a corner at the end of the longest corridor. 

Their exaggerated curves were plastered with jet-black faux leather adorned with stitching details. Long, smooth armrests

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Losing My Vision

Sheila Solomon Klass

Sunday, September 26 of this past year began normally enough. I did what I do every day, first thing: I put on my glasses and tested my vision. I’m eighty-three years old, and although I’ve always been nearsighted and have lived with glaucoma for thirty years, I’ve developed a worse complaint: AMD, age-related macular degeneration, in my left eye. 

My ophthalmologist diagnosed the AMD after I told him that, when I was

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