The secret to lessons in illness, they said, was to find the story.
Patients became stories, with background, foreshadowing, and crisis.
Sometimes, they were complicated stories about spots, sore throats, and dialysis.
Their bodies became stories, often difficult ones with pages smudged, or missing.
Once, a man became a long story about fatigue with murmurs, and dyspnea.
He was stalwart, with irresistible optimism, a pleasant mood, and kind.
He was too weak even to wash his own hair, or face.
As he told me his plans for the future, oxygen helped him smile.
His story was a lesson about the strength of a heart.
- Copyright © 1999 by American Heart Association