Inclusion and Exclusion in Our Daily Lives
PART VI: PARENTING
THE DRS. SO AND SO AND THE FINE ART OF EXCLUSION
In the jungle of Intensive Care In Isolation, our daughter lay, struck with the Unknown Affliction stealing her oxygen
X-rays of her lungs disturbing, even to the experts; a somber congregation of two centimeter nodules chanted a haunting chorus into our fears
Calls to Johns Hopkins to Australia seeking the world experts on pediatric pulmonary disorders, one of which was residing, unnamed, in the sweet young lungs of the very very interesting case in room 621
OK, I don’t look or act my age and I don’t dress like a business woman … so, or not so, the pediatrician on the case blew me off—barely acknowledged me as no more than an older sister and the surgeon solemnly expressed his deep concern about excessive fluid accumulation to my Husband the Cellist
Come to think of it, I must have been wearing my invisibility cloak! The more they talked to the man sitting next to me holding my hand, the more I wasn’t there
‘Hey—ask him about Bartok string quartets or late Beethoven, but talk to me about your medicine. I’m the one with the Masters in Molecular Biology,’ I wanted to scream.
I am not a screamer so instead I took a deep breath …
and said quietly to them,
“It seems to me that the rapid change in the nodules’ morphology would preclude the possibility of a neoplasia.”
A power surge visibly went through both of them, a rapid change in the morphology of their attitude, as they re-evaluated me, their diagnoses of me and of my daughter and addressed me in a new manner, temporarily expanding their narrow vision
But I still felt the burn the constriction the singeing of their prickly dismissive proclivities
How does the narrator effectively include herself in the conversation about her daughter?
Does inclusion of this kind ever satisfy us?
What inspired you to write this poem? When I read the subject presented in the call for work for the anthology, I immediately thought of this moment in my life and saw this as an opportunity to release, to revisit a festering memory.
How true to life is it for you now? As if it were yesterday...the intensity of that time can rush back too easily.
How did writing the story change your understanding of the situation and of yourself and of the dynamics of inclusion or exclusion?
Writing the poem about this experience was a release, but also provided insight into the situation's imbalance: the understandable concern of the parents weighted against lack of bedside manner. I also realized how much stronger I was than I felt in a time of crisis, and the depth of hurt I experienced at such a vulnerable time, pressed down by the magnitude of the medical situation. A quiet pointing out was effective in building better communication, critical at this point in the illness, and the instant astonished respect I got from my question showed the depth of their exclusion. They would have never imagined . . .
From this point, having written the piece, what freedoms might you give your characters or yourself that you weren't able to see before writing the story or poem?
If I were to be given an opportunity to relive this moment, I would now quietly state my background, and point out that I needed to be addressed as well. Guess I'm older, stronger, and wiser.
KATRIN TALBOT’s first collection of poetry, St. Cecilia’s Daze, is to be published by Parallel Press. Her poetry and photographs will appear in the upcoming anthologies Empty Shoes: On the Hungry and The Homeless (Popcorn Press) and Ragged Sky Press’s Clothing Anthology. Her poetry has appeared in Free Verse, Anew Magazine, many Wisconsin Poet’s Calendar’s, in the Epidemic Peace Imagery Project, and in several photography exhibits, including Symphony in Black and White, an exhibit she created, sponsored by the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Visions of America, a multi-media classical music show and exhibit she has developed with trombonist Mark Hetzler of the Empire Brass Quintet. Born in Australia, she received a B.A. from Reed College and an M.S. from UW-Madison.