A Story Told in ASL

bacterial meningitis
as an infant
demanded that he spoke with his hands
a sequelae of his genes
rendering his world silent
he lacked the capacity
to form any immunologic memory
so infections were destined
to repeat themselves
“X-linked Agammaglobulinemia”
as it is written in the textbook
“immunocompromised”
as it is written in the news
my goodmornings
were scratched with sharpie on a legal pad.
Monthly
he needs a bag hung from a pole
to deliver what he’s incapable
of producing himself
That is, until he switched jobs
And now his new Insurance told him
he needed to prove
that these bags are truly a necessity
In the meantime
he could go without
said the voice over the phone
Don’t mind the pandemic
they said
translated with quick and articulate gestures
But things go the way they go
as they say
and he turned up in the hospital
with his lungs more cotton than air
his body on fire
Similar to so many bodies burned that year

He could’ve used that bag
We said

Katie Panushka is fourth-year medical student at the University of Utah School of Medicine. She was born in Ogden, UT. A few miles south at Westminster College in SLC, UT she obtained her B.A. in English Literature. She plans to pursue a career in ObGyn. She is inspired by narrative medicine, reproductive justice, comprehensive women's healthcare, and health equity. In addition to her expanding interests in medicine, she enjoy spending time with her cat, Alice and her dog, Ishii, adventuring outside, drinking a cold beer, and cooking delicious pescatarian food.


Rubor Participation
2021 Poem, "A Story Told in ASL"
2018 Staff