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Easy Listening

“I’m really sorry,” the audiologist said. From her expression, I could see that she meant it.

It was the winter of 2012, when Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were about to become their parties’ nominees for president, and the case that would legalize same-sex marriage was on its way to the Supreme Court.

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Living on the Edge

“How are you adapting to your diagnosis?” the specialist asked. “What changes have you made in your daily life?”

“I take the phone with me to the barn,” I told her. “That way if I need help I can call.”

She looked at me gently, as one might regard a confused child. Even then, I didn’t expect the heavy blade of her answer:

“There wouldn’t be time.”

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Perspectives on COVID-19: Bonds of Marriage, Part 2

Editor’s note: This two-part series presents the stories of Wim and Jo, a husband and wife whose lives were profoundly impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Jo’s Story

My name is Jo Ann, and everybody calls me Jo. I’m seventy-four years old. I’ve enjoyed teaching grade school for forty-two years and plan to return after COVID-19–if they let me.

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Perspectives on COVID-19: Bonds of Marriage, Part 1

Editor’s note: This two-part series presents the stories of Wim and Jo, a husband and wife whose lives were profoundly impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Wim’s Story

My name is Willem, and I go by Wim. I’m seventy-five years old. I moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, as a young man with plans to go into seminary. That’s where I met Jo, my wife. We didn’t go together too long before getting married. She supported me while

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A Real Family?

A few years ago, a Chicago-area fertility clinic ran a series of radio ads at the same early hour each morning. For weeks, I woke to a woman’s energetic voice cutting through the fog of my semiconsciousness, announcing her gratitude to the center’s reproductive specialists. “Without them,” she proclaimed brightly, “my baby wouldn’t have my blue eyes and my husband’s wide smile.”

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Corona, Contagion, Confusion

Corona, Contagion, Confusion

My husband Joel, age seventy-six, has tested positive for the virus–the new big C.
Joel developed a low-grade fever on March 1. We were in San Francisco, visiting our ten-month-old grandson and his parents. They’d all had bad colds, and our grandson was still coughing and producing large amounts of sticky nasal stuff, so I wasn’t surprised when Joel got sick. (I figured that I eventually would, too.)
We went to a local urgent-care clinic.

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The Cedenos 2 14 20

Lovebirds

Editor’s Note: During a summer internship with Pulse, medical student Kristen Lee had the opportunity to interview Mr. C, who comes to a Bronx family health center for medical care. He was accompanied by his wife, who never goes to the doctor for herself but frequently joins her husband to make sure that he’s giving his doctor accurate information. They are both immigrants to the Bronx–he from the Dominican Republic and she from Puerto Rico.

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King of Pain

King of Pain

I am a retired union plumber with the state of Illinois. I’ve had laparoscopic surgery on both knees, a lower back surgery that required two stainless rods and I’m not sure how many screws, and three cervical fusions. I now suffer from neuropathy (nerve dysfunction) in my feet. They’re painfully numb: A shoe could come off, and I wouldn’t know it. I find it difficult to get around–not to mention embarrassing when I go back

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Shock Treatment

I sat in the cold, sterile examination room, anxiously awaiting my new orthopedic doctor–the fourth in two months. I was losing hope of ever finding a doctor who would listen to me. The first three had suggested that my pain was all in my head
I want someone to take me seriously, I brooded. I don’t want to be brushed off as the stereotypical hysterical female. My pain is real, and I’m not crazy. I

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Unexpected

Christine Loftis ~

“You’re twenty-seven-and-a-half weeks pregnant.”

As I lay on the exam table, time froze.

How can this be? I wondered dazedly. I’m a second-year medical student. I’ve just completed a course in female reproduction and endocrinology. How could I have missed the signs?

I attribute my obliviousness to the surgery I’d gone through only months before: the removal of a twenty-seven-pound, mucus-filled ovarian cyst. My lack of menstrual periods

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Elephants: Another Day with CFS


Linda Koebner ~

Two elephants won’t leave me alone.

Every morning, as I struggle into consciousness, my brain makes plans. I will get up out of bed, go pee, find my way to the kitchen, put water on to boil, fit the paper into the coffee filter, grind beans, slow-pour over the grinds….

In my mind’s eye, I visualize that the coffee is hot, that the news I read is upsetting

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I’m Still Here


Inez Martinez as told to Erin McCoy ~

Editor’s Note: Having just finished her first year of medical school, Erin McCoy became a summer intern for Pulse and embarked on a project to collect patient stories through interviews. One day, a family-medicine resident at a Bronx family health center told her about an interesting lady in Exam Room 8. “I go there,” Erin says, “introduce myself and explain my mission. She agrees to speak

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