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Tag: coping with illness

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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Genevieve Yates

I tried to focus on the chart in front of me, but it may as well have been written in Russian. I’d been awake for thirty-two hours, and my brain, thick with fatigue, refused to cooperate. I knew I shouldn’t be working, but I was too proud, too stubborn, too something to admit that I wasn’t coping. 

On the first day of my neurosurgical rotation, the resident I was replacing had told me, “Ten-to-fourteen-hour days,

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Life, Preciously Poured

Kate Benham

You pour a cup of pecans
Like a kid catching raindrops
In a bucket.
Careful not to spill,
Your fingers playing tremolo on a 
Violin-string cup measure.

Your bed-tucked
Mouth, warm, with
Tongue searching the lips
For forgotten first lines of bedtime stories
Like misplaced glasses, resting on your head.
I read to you, now,
In hospital beds.

Forehead wrinkles stacked 
In three creases–
Your crossword face,
Mouth-chewed pencil between your lips,

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Falling in Love With My Doctor

Judith Lieberman

The other doctors I consulted called him brilliant. His past patients praised his compassion. He actually responded to e-mails. And, lastly, he was known as the best-looking doctor at the cancer center. What more could I ask?

On the other hand, what choice did I have? After twelve years, I was facing a recurrence of a relatively rare oral cancer, located inconveniently at the base of my tongue. The treatment options were not

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Sweet Lies

Marilyn Hillman

I can sense the question before it comes.

“How are you doing?” 

I want to answer, How do you think I’m doing, with my husband morphing into a ghost? I’m dying here. But thanks for asking.

Instead I clench my fists and deliver a cheerful response: “I’m good.” Which is, of course, a lie.

My husband is demented.

I cannot say these words out loud. Pushed to

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Death at a Distance

Your message hung on the phone line

like his striped shirt blowing
in the last wind of his life:
softly and with dignity.
His facial bones,
and body contours
he allowed to be chiseled
to an insubstantial sharpness
by the flow of chemicals and
the relentless labor of his disease:
both polished his body to dust.
Your life that has breathed that dust

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Steep Sledding

Jonathan Han

“Don’t worry,” my doctor said.

I barely heard what he was saying; lying there in the hospital bed, I was caught up in contemplating the diagnostic procedure I was scheduled to have the next morning.

“With these anesthetics,” he continued, “you won’t feel or remember a thing after it’s over.”

“Okay,” I answered weakly, signing the consent form with unaccustomed legibility. But could I really forget the emotional trauma of

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To My Left

Anne Herbert

I walk down the airplane aisle, scanning the rows. My eyes finally fall on 15F. My seat.

My nightmare.

This window seat means only one thing to me: someone to my left. A man, to be exact–middle-aged, reading the New York Times and snacking on a bag of peanuts. He doesn’t notice as I shove my purse under the seat and sit down. My only thoughts are of blending in–with the other passengers, with the

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Chemo? No, Thanks

Elaine Whitman

“If I were you,” said the radiologist, as I sat on the gurney discreetly wiping goo from my right breast, “I’d make an appointment with a breast surgeon as soon as possible.” His somber tone of voice, the white blotch radiating ugly spider tendrils on his ultrasound screen…neither of these made me nervous. If anything, I felt mild interest: “How very odd. He must think I have breast cancer. Or something.”

Ten days

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