Body Electric | Spring 2017 Body Electric | Spring 2016 - Page 21

Body Electric / Spring 2016 21

January 24th, 2015: Yesterday I scrubbed on an AV fistula transposition in the arm and the chief held up the vessel in his hand and asked if I wanted to feel and I held it and felt the strong, hurtling forward, the insistence and presence of it, this man’s literal lifeblood rushing (on and on and on) beneath my fingertips.

It was so alarming I dropped the vessel back into place. (We can all laugh at me now.)

It was the culmination of every poet’s metaphor at my literal fingertips. It was music pounding out a lively andante delivered straight through my nerve endings. It was amazing, so amazing.

March 17th, 2015: A 33 year old patient was visiting this neurology clinic today for the first time after a year or two of falling frequently, of not being able to lift things at his job anymore. He smiled like my little brother, with his head shyly turned to the side, knowing he’s funny but humble all the same.

The doctor told him his diagnosis and started explaining the prognosis – “it progresses over 10-15 years rather than just a few, unlike some similar diseases; some people even live 20 years after diagnosis.” She said it like good news but it landed like bad, a snake that left the neurologist’s mouth and curled in the patient’s lap, conspicuous and mottled­-dark.

This disease is a kind of murder weapon, a knife that turns limbs to lead and lungs to cement and throats to iron pipes. He smiles like my little brother even while he wipes tears from his eyes, even while his feet drag on the ground when he walks and he helps himself out of a chair and his mouth struggles to form itself around the words that take up a lot of space. I wanted to hug him and tell him it was going to be okay even though it wasn’t, it never would be. Instead I cried in the bathroom, later.

May 21st, 2015: “You guys, I can’t do this! I can’t do this!” She had meant to get the epidural but there hadn’t been enough time, and now she was pushing through her first delivery unmedicated and I had no idea whether she could do it and was starting to feel panicky myself, on my first overnight on labor and delivery; but what I said was, “Yes, you can!” and she did. I watched the look on her husband’s face when he met his daughter for the first time, the tears welling in his eyes (and hers, and mine) – the miracle of life hits you hard, suddenly; it’s an explosion of light that makes time stop.

June 19th, 2015: I think there’s a whole new heart that’s grown in my chest now, full of the experiences I’ve collected, the people I’ve seen, the hardships I’ve witnessed. I feel I’ve been broken apart to fit this new beating part of myself. Broken open, though, my fire burns hotter to heat all the rest.