Sick with Desire: A Conversation by Lisa Kerr

In my poem “Borrowed Car,” I suggest that life-threatening illness may transform the body into an unfamiliar vehicle over which a person no longer feels she has ownership or control. This loss of perceived ownership may begin with the naming that comes with diagnosis, an act of labeling that seems a necessary part of the treatment process. However, as Arlene’s Weiner’s speaker demonstrates in “Line of Beauty,” a patient may ultimately resist certain labels and perceptions of her body as a means of reclaiming authority and determining what the literal and metaphorical scars of illness will signify.

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The Paradoxical Role of Paradox by Jeffrey L. Brown, MD

Moral and ethical considerations can greatly increase the complexity of medical decisions. The dilemmas described in Ellen Kolton's essay (“Ethics Consult: To Tell or Not to Tell;” The Intima, Spring 2015) and those that I experienced as a military doctor (“The Moral Matrix of Wartime Medicine;" The Intima, Fall 2015} share a similar frustration – the inability to find “correct” answers for difficult questions. 

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We All Suffer by April Brenneman

In the Intima Fall 2013 edition, Dan Luftig confesses a secret: he wants an anonymous person to have a stroke during his first hospital rotation. In his Field Notes piece: “Paradoxical Wishes,” Luftig describes this furtive hope. It seems a logical way of attaining every ounce of knowledge and skill through first-hand experience. He recognizes his inner quandary as he “hopes” to rid himself of the “hope” that his patients have a specific diagnosis that he, because of his education, suspects they have. He struggles with the disconnect between his wishes as a doctor and his patient’s wish for health. What a strange juxtaposition.

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The Body Public by Holly Schechter

When I was twenty-one and not pregnant, a stranger on the subway congratulated me on my pregnancy.  It was so presumptuous.  Preposterous!  A decade later, in my own medical narrative, I again experienced unwanted public intrusion.  Marcia Butler’s “Cancer Diva” and Katherine Mcfarlane’s “Flying into Jerusalem” illustrate this particular public quality of women’s bodies, especially during illness.   

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A Round of Tea by Ellis Avery

I was moved by the beauty of the writing in Susan Ito’s “Rounds” as well as by its subject matter: the centrality to her life of the hospital where she worked for years which is also the place where she met her husband, lost her first child, and, most recently, brought her 92-year-old mother to the emergency room.  It’s a profoundly resonant place that deepens in meaning as Ito passes through the different stages of her life.  This piece has inspired me to attempt a similar essay, albeit about a less obviously freighted topic, and I’d like to use this short blog assignment to sketch it out.

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Clearing the Thought Dishes  by Priscilla Mainardi

Two pieces in the Spring 2015 issue of the Intima illustrate how fiction and poetry enable a writer to range widely in search of an emotional truth.  In Stephanie Reiff’s affecting poem, “Emergency Department,” a woman’s mind fills with images of a miscarriage in the emergency room while she cleans her house.  In Kimberly LaForce’s short story, “Emerging into the Light,” the nurse recording and assisting with an autopsy imagines the life and death of the dead man.  These works show different ways caregivers cope with death.  

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When Timing is Everything: Knowing When A Story Should Be Told by Richard Sidlow

My essay "Christmas Day" was written almost twenty years after the incident it describes. Besides the common excuse of being too busy, one of the many reasons for the delay in writing it was the sadness that permeates it. I would periodically visit my notes describing that day and tears would well up in my eyes every time. I knew this story had to be told—the question was when would I be able to.

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