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Under the Microscope

I was walking into my kitchen with an armful of groceries when my cell phone rang. It took a second to register the caller’s name: Dr. James. The surgeon I’d met two weeks earlier.

I wasn’t expecting this call. My biopsy had occurred only a few days ago, and I’d been told that, because of the Christmas holiday, the results would be delayed.

Why is she calling?

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None of My Mom Friends Are Dying

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

I’m squarely in the middle of my friends, in terms of when we became “mom friends.” However, one aspect sets me apart: None of my mom friends are dying.

None had excruciating pain during pregnancy, unrelenting constipation or unexplained blood in their stool. None went septic five days postpartum or were ultimately diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer with

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A Duplexity of Maladies

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

I have a body besieged by two chronic illnesses, namely multiple sclerosis (MS) and bipolar disorder. My health profile has been described as “abnormal,” but I’ve always resisted that term in favor of “atypical,” for my poor health renders me unusual but not inhuman.

Still, the truth is that I am essentially and profoundly sick. My imbalanced body frequently aches,

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The Genesis of Forgetfulness: A Poet’s Journey

“The poet’s job is to translate unspeakable things on to the page…” – Roger Robinson

In the beginning, the Lebanese civil war barely seeped through the ceiling of our living room. It didn’t shatter windows or infiltrate through cracked walls. It became a slow fixture at our dinner table, nibbled on Mama’s delicately wrapped grape leaves, inhaled Father’s unfiltered cigarettes, listened to my older brother practice scale after scale on the upright piano

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Lessons From the Heart

This can’t be happening to me, I thought. Yet here I was, on a gurney being wheeled into a cath lab for an angioplasty and possible stent.

This can’t be happening, I thought again.

But it was.

A little background: I have always thought of myself as healthy.

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My Castle

Moving to an independent-living facility requires finding a balance between controlling the things that you can, and accepting help, or changes, with the things that you can’t. It also means striking a balance between being part of a more regimented community and being part of the outside world.

I’m nearly seventy, which is young for this move. But my hearing and balance are not what they were. I’ve had no family for twenty years, having

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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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Due Date

It’s the bright orange color that catches my eye. Nestled in a box under my home office desk, alongside unused breast pads and pumping supplies left over from the birth of my first daughter.

My first, because there should have been a second. A girl.

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What Remains From the Pediatric Ward

I wake up in a hospital isolation room, where everything smells weird. It’s 1967 in Galway City, Ireland, and I’m four years old.

The worst smell is the antiseptic—a word I don’t know yet. The second smell is the crayons and newssheet coloring books on the nightstand. Christmas is gone, so how can these be for me?

The family lore would say that I spent nearly seven weeks in that hospital. That’s forty-nine days or 1,176 hours’ worth

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Into the Unknown

On March 17, 2015, I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. Initially it was thought that I would need only a lumpectomy and radiation, but the biopsy changed everything.

The pathology report said that the tumor was HER2-positive and estrogen/progesterone positive. The HER2 protein makes the cancer more aggressive, so I would need, in addition to surgery and radiation, eighteen weeks of standard chemotherapy, a year of two other infused drugs and a hormone-blocking oral

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What Makes a Good Therapist?

I thought she could help me with night terrors, this nice new therapist. The night terrors started a few weeks after my son went to prison–five words I had never thought I would string together.

I’ve had nightmares since childhood, but these are extraordinary. I tumble into slumber, then wake myself screaming bloody murder, like the woman in Psycho.

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Food Fight

My name is Ronna, and I have an eating disorder.

Saying the words is easier than treating the disease. Change has never come easily to me. While my disorder is rooted in my past, it has flourished in the years since COVID infected the world.

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