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A Doctor’s Visit

My new doctor enters the examining room where I have been waiting for him, seated on a rumpled paper sheet at the edge of a brown leather lounge chair. Behind the doctor’s blue mask, he is wearing a furrowed brow of worry.

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OCD: What It Takes and What It Gives

It started because of the news, or because the heat made me sweat, or because of neurotransmitters. Or my environment. Or nothing at all.

California was in a drought (as now), and in college I started to worry.

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At Three O’Clock

Running to make my Tuesday biopsy appointment, I tripped, landing viciously on my hands and knees at the corner of Madison Avenue and 79th. Embarrassed, I was helped up by a gray-haired lady in her eighties. For an instant, I wondered if I’d get to be her age.

Walking into the clinic, I saw my husband, who’d insisted on meeting me there. My beige pants were slightly ripped and bloodstained, my knees tingling and smarting.

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COVID Birdsong

Once I spent days, which became weeks, which become months, by myself in a small house in the village of Oshikango, Namibia. Two years prior, I had arrived there as a newly minted college graduate, eager to begin my new NGO job of teaching high-school science and HIV education.

It didn’t take long for the bubble of confident competence to burst.

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Another Kind of Healing

Editor’s Note: In the midst of last summer’s COVID pandemic, medical student Jordan Berka interviewed patients at a Bronx family health center, collecting personal stories from its diverse community. Today’s issue of Pulse is the product of one such interview. Rev. Rocke’s words are her own, approved by her for publication.

My name is Reverend Hyacinth Rocke, and I reside in the Bronx. I was born in Barbados. My husband died a little while ago,

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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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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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