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Showing posts from October, 2012

Six Degrees of Separation From Caring

I was in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Goose Creek, S.C. when my cell phone rang. It was my roommate from my sophomore year in college, Natalie. We hadn't seen much of one another over the past three years as her study abroad and my graduation a year before her had put literal and figurative distance between us. It stuck me as a bit odd that she was calling out of the blue and even more odd that she was crying.

"I don't know how to tell you this... Gianni was in Bali," she said. 
The statement seemed incomplete. Gianni was my ex-boyfriend. He was from Switzerland. We met at the start of the year, as Natalie, a freshman, was dating Gianni's best friend Gian who was the son of one of her father's business contacts. Gian came from Switzerland to visit Natalie. Gianni, working in Chicago, came down to see Gian. Gianni and I found ourselves often shut out of the dorm room, so spent hours sitting out on the stairwell talking. Just before he left, we traded numbers, but…

Bucket List Redux

It's been sixteen months since I began putting together my bucket list. It's a list that I harbor in the back of my mind, sometimes as a source of inspiration, sometimes as a nagging burden, as I ask myself, "What am I doing today to cross something off my list?"

All too often the answer comes back as, "Nothing." I can't help but feel that I am dawdling, that I've grown complacent in my sense of time and purpose. However, looking back on my list, there are so many things that I have done within the sixteen months since first putting the list together that I never would have thought to put on the list—but in retrospect could have, had I known they were even possible.

I am reminded of Errol Morris' New York Time's column, "The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is," which references Donald Rumsfeld's rather infamous quote from a 2002 NATO press conference, “There are known unknowns. That is t…

Lungs Like a Sponge - or - Lower Lobe Overthrown

Post-surgery, there was fluid on my lungs. They'd already threatened me with the administration of Lasix, a diuretic drug that for some reason greatly disagreed with my stomach, if I didn't make more use of my spirometer.

I hated spirometers. I'd hated them since four years prior when an eight-hour surgery led to fluid collection on my left lung. Every hour I was to suck deeply on the spirometer's mouthpiece for ten breaths, which measured my total lung capacity and tore at the limits of my swollen belly stitched together along the length of a fifteen-inch incision that traced the curves of my rib cage. Every hour I complained bitterly. Every hour my father told me to—rather appropriately—suck it up. I challenged him he could only continue to admonish me if he knew exactly what he was talking about and demanded that he perform the requisite ten breaths. A healthy lot, he consented, only going slightly cross-eyed and light-headed after the seventh or so breath. "Th…

"Tears can be easily misdiagnosed." A hurt blogger hurts back.

I don't remember how I met her—what hashtag or retweet sucked me in. I just remember the name—HurtBlogger. She'd named her condition Arthur (as in arthritis), liked the color orange, and didn't gloss over the grimy bits when it came to sharing what it was like to live as a chronic disease patient while still existing as a seemingly healthy, brilliant and funny young woman on the verge of getting married. We were cross-continent avatars, names without faces. And then, as all relationships are tend to do, it changed. I started looking for her tweets, keeping tabs on the arthritis flares, hospitalizations, and infusions.

It wasn't until I was standing in baggage claim at SFO on my way to Medicine X that I finally heard her voice. A tweet had come through asking, simply enough, if I would call her. Instantly, I suspected the problem—a family issue at home, once pressing, had become urgent. I tucked myself into a corner, dialed a strange number, and with a finger pressed in…