Posts tagged "illness/disability"
Dear Bad One

Dear Bad One

I hate anybody’s bad dream. My newest, right now, the size of a walnut, is the complex cystic structure on my left ovary, which my doctor said has grown larger since last time. It could be nothing. Could be nothing. I hate the pain everyone is in, at least sometimes, if he or she has...
To Seize, To Grasp

To Seize, To Grasp

The first one was not the worst one, although it brought the biggest shock: my infant daughter’s irises sought the edges of her eyelids, pried open by faulty synapses. Her arms bent into Ls, and her hands fisted at her face like a fetus. An alien staccato coursed through her limbs. What seized her was...
After the Hysterectomy

After the Hysterectomy

When you meet someone at twenty-one, someone eight years older and wiser, you learn the world through her eyes. You are a blank slate, a boy who hasn’t lost enough. You adopt what she wants and her views on life. Her interests—nature, birds, the infinite flat of Illinois—become your interests. And suddenly, you, the urban...
Sex Objects

Sex Objects

The skirt was a Home Economics class project.  The hem ended up uneven, the waistband was a joke, and the pattern of green and black checks stretched into fun house mirror waves over my hips.  It was too tight.  But I liked that.  I liked the press along my belly.  I liked how I had...
Home Bodily Repair Kit

Home Bodily Repair Kit

I Hair Painting The cuticle of the hair must be opened so that dye can reach the cortex. Open-heart surgery used to require breaking the whole chest apart. All spiritual traditions say you have to lose your life to find it. My body is losing itself, my hair is losing its pigment. More than 75...
For Great-Aunt Jeannette, Who Donated Her Body to Science

For Great-Aunt Jeannette, Who Donated Her Body to Science

She was still alive when the doctors started. They first carted off her breasts. Both glands at once, after the cancer. Next, patches on her arms stippled like ostrich skin, burned a syrup-thick hazel from sailing trips in the Whooping Crane up and down the salt-slow gulf. They’d begun taking from her ages ago. Begun...
This Moment

This Moment

This is it. This is the moment our lives crack wide open like a pomegranate and all its bloody bits spread long and wide. One month before my daughter turns sixteen, I stand by the hospital bed, look her in the eye, and ask why. She stares blankly at the ceiling, fidgets with the D-rings...
Poster Children

Poster Children

1. We’re in single file, led by an American flag with stars in the shape of a wheelchair, and headed to the convention hotel that I still think we’re going to picket. I can’t keep up. Someone steps behind me and pushes. I’m jealous of Eleanor on her scooter. We arrive and the driveways are...
A Day in the Grammar of Disease

A Day in the Grammar of Disease

If pain is a language, I have the accent on my tongue. I do not yet dream in pain, but a three-year immersion has stripped my skeleton’s previous fluency. Now I am a child in this land without good parking spaces. (10:30) Today my husband and I talked about my calcified hip and aching hands,...
The Laws of Physics and Good Common Sense

The Laws of Physics and Good Common Sense

A half dozen officers gathered to swap stories in the tent that housed the one hundred or so military personnel headed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. The six of us had met just forty-eight hours earlier outside the gate area at Baltimore Washington International—our country’s main portal to violence. Our only apparent bonds were our...

That Counting Steps Nonsense

I’m planted on a cushioned wicker chair, on my grandparents’ South Jersey porch, the wind and gulls in my ears. But I’m all knuckles. Dad has come up from his latest state, Texas, with his new girlfriend to set me up at grad school. He wants me employable with benefits after seven years on the...

If

… the six pathologists at Colorado’s Air Force Academy had voted differently on the diagnosis of the biopsy from your cheek–the same cheek you popped with your thumb before shuffling cards for Gin Rummy, if they had voted four melanoma, two sarcoma instead of the other way around, if they had not voted wrong on...

The Role of Fiction in Suicidal Ideations

I get ten new suicidal adolescents a week in my creative writing class at the psych hospital where I work. Their arms are mutilated. Their minds tortured with self-hate. Some are gothic, others only misfits who are picked on at school. They’ve been taken from their homes by DHR, betrayed by drug-addicted parents. It exposes...

Mortal Grammar

Lia got sick and then died. She was young. She got liver cancer. She’s gone. So is her black hair and her violin and the car she’d just bought. So are we. We left not long after. Before she knew she came up to the city. She wanted to have supper with us. It was...

What Grace There Is

Sooner than you think, everyone will be drunk. You won’t know it, but Kenny will be upstairs banging out a punk rock rhythm on your drum set. The sticks will explode from his sweaty grip. The next day, you’ll find a neat hole punched in the surface of your wardrobe door. The boy you all...

Waiting on Cancer

I sit in a wheelchair alone in a dim hallway. I am waiting and it seems an eternity, parked against a wall, awkwardly abandoned in an anonymous dark corridor while the technician busies himself until one of the giant machines opens up. For once I have nothing to read and no one to talk to,...

Little Things

My mother’s dollhouse has become a constant reminder of something—what?—in the time we spend with her, if it could be said to be spent. At eighty-nine she remembers very little. She does not so much talk as chime, like a clock with a surreal burden: Do we have anything to eat for dinner? Yes, chicken....

Diagnosable

It comes at me through the back of the head, down by where my neck splits off, comes slicing through the skin and bone and ligaments and mixing up all the different colors of matter in my brain so it’s finally all grey stuff that hits the inside part of my face like John Henry’s...