Joe Burns ~
"Did you have heart surgery?"
The shy seventeen-year-old girl's question caught me completely off guard.
Her name was Sarah. Everything about her seemed perfectly organized--her long black braid falling ruler-straight between her shoulders, her folder with all of its documents sorted by date, her matching shoes and shirt, her entire wardrobe without a single wrinkle.
Her health was a bit less perfect. She'd been born with an atrial septal defect (ASD)--a hole in the wall separating the heart's right and left chambers. Tomorrow she was to have an operation to repair the hole, so she'd come in today, accompanied by her parents and brother, to sign the presurgical consent forms.
Betsy Willis ~
Many months have passed since the spring day when I was hit with the news from my yearly mammogram, but those typewritten words are forever etched in my memory: "The density appears greater in left breast."
My doctor comforted me with statistics showing that mammograms aren't 100 percent accurate--but she also lost no time in sending me to a surgeon, Dr. Prewitt. Upon meeting him, I immediately felt sure that I would be in good hands. He explained the procedure he'd use and answered my questions with clarity and a very welcome gentleness.
He too expressed doubt about the diagnosis, but said, "I'll schedule you for a parking-lot appointment with the traveling MRI-guided breast-biopsy machine." (I pictured a brain on wheels.)
"The biopsy is minimally invasive," he explained, "and it can locate the suspicious area precisely and remove cells that we can use to make a clear diagnosis. Based on what we find, we'll make a treatment plan."
Dianne Silvestri ~
The corridors seethe with nocturnal predators,
their voices low.
My door latch coughs, a figure hisses,
I’ve come to draw blood,
wrenches my arm like a lamb shank,
rasps it with alcohol, plunges her spike,
pops one after another color-coded
rubber-stoppered vial into the sheath,
unplugs each loaded one to add
to the crimson log pile weighting my thigh,