The new stability
Before I become your doctor, you have been intubated for weeks. I am a point in time, unattached to the greater narrative. I call your husband each afternoon, tell him you are stable. He asks about the medicine that props up your blood pressure. He calls it the levo, acquainted by now with the slang of intensive care. It’s true, we have pressors to assist your failing heart, a ventilator to breathe for you, venovenous hemofiltration to do the work of your kidneys. “Your wife is very sick,” I say, “but stably sick.” None of this is anything new.
Your name is a poem I’m required to keep to myself. Who were you before the virus, before you were this — this list of failing organs run in despair by a repurposed trainee neurologist? Do you have children who smile at the sound of your voice? What was the last thing you were allowed to tell them, before you came alone into the hospital, before the breathing tube, the drug-induced coma?