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Hearing Impaired

“Pick up the phone, Mom,” I said, dashing into the kitchen after answering our landline in the living room.

“Who is it?” she asked.

“Dunno. I can’t understand what they’re saying,” I said.

When she picked up the receiver, the caller—her father—got right to the point: “She can’t hear.”

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The Visible-Invisible Divide

Editor’s Note: This piece was a finalist in the Pulse writing contest, “On Being Different.”

Most days, people don’t see my disability. I don’t generally wear a brace or use a wheelchair or even crutches.

“I would never know that you’re in constant pain,” a kind professor once said. “When I see you, you’re always smiling.”

“You don’t look sick,” friends always tell me.

I’m twenty-three. I want to be like my peers, but for me, every

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Nontraditional

Editor’s Note: This piece was awarded an honorable mention in the Pulse writing contest, “On Being Different.”

I have always been different. As a nurse I was a late bloomer, though I’d always felt passionately drawn to the profession.

I was born to nurse. This was evident even when I was a young child; I bathed my grandmother’s amputated leg while the other kids played in the yard. Although I had planned to go to nursing school

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Being Different: My Struggle and My Motivation

Editor’s Note: This piece was a finalist in the Pulse writing contest, “On Being Different.”

When I was in elementary school, I was bullied by my peers into believing that being different was bad.

I grew up thinking that speaking my mind was undesirable if my thoughts didn’t mirror those of others. To my peers, liking the “strange” foods of my parents’ Haitian cuisine, such as tripe or oxtail, was weird. I wore my older

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Saved

It was a spring afternoon in Kottayam, Kerala, India, and I was a seventeen-year-old student, doing my final two years of high school at a local college, as could be done in India. I was the student-body president, with just two months to go until graduation.

And in another five minutes, I was going to end my life.

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The Last Beat

It was midmorning at the hospital where I was a clinical medical-surgical instructor. I was standing at the medications cart with Sally, one of my third-year nursing students. One of the floor nurses approached.

“You have Anna in Room 44, don’t you?” she asked Sally.

Sally nodded.

“You better go in there,” continued the nurse. “She doesn’t look too good.”

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My Abortion Story

I am a seventy-year-old Jewish grandma and a retired women’s health nurse and educator. I’ve enjoyed many blessings.

And I had an abortion in 1974.

Three months ago, the constitutional right to abortion was reversed. Reflecting on that Supreme Court decision led me to share my own experience. I hope my story will help other women considering an abortion to know that they are not alone.

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How Poetry Broke My Heart

On June 2, 2010, I was giving a poetry reading at the faculty club at Columbia University Medical Center in New York as part of their “Literature & Medicine” series. I still have the list of poems I read that day, poems that spoke of my work as a nurse practitioner. One poem described my examination of an abused woman; another recounted the experience of a young teen, raped by her sister’s boyfriend. Other poems concerned

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When Worlds Collide

Malcolm sat in the ICU bed, propped up on pillows to ease his breathing. At seventy-five, he had suffered respiratory complications after open-heart surgery. He’d been on a ventilator for several weeks before gradually being weaned from it.

Malcolm’s blue golf cap hid a bald pate surrounded by a fringe of silver hair. He always seemed to be smiling, comfortable with himself and what life had thrown his way. His smile had grown even warmer

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Caught in the Middle

One day several decades ago, after morning rounds, Dr. Prescott slipped into the ER where I was the cardiac nurse. She did something a doctor would never do: She placed her leather medical bag on a stretcher instead of on the desk. Her eyes locked onto mine.

“I’m having a heart attack,” she said calmly.

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Not What I Expected

Not What I Expected

As I struggled my way through nursing school, I never expected my first job as a nurse to feel like this; I was too busy dreaming of the day when I could hold the title of Registered Nurse.

I never expected to come home crying. I never expected that, at times, I’d mumble the words “I hate my job.” I never expected many of the challenges I face daily–but here I am, six weeks

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Birth of a Midwife

Birth of a Midwife

As a nurse, I was brand new to labor and delivery–and I was on my third night shift in a row. Walking back from a quick break, I was called over by the charge nurse.
“You have the next admit from triage,” she told me. “She’s a live one–and so is her family. They’re carnies.”
“What’s that?” I asked, bewildered.
“You know, the people who do the circus and carnival circuit–gypsies,” she said, innocently using

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