Touch: The Journal of Healing



The ologies

    by Sarah Bigham


I am a teacher and a writer and an artist and a gardener and a cook and a reader and a piano player and a compassionate friend. I dream and sing and wrap myself in words, comforted by the many ways to express situations, thoughts, remembrances, and feelings. My sentences are long and my thoughts ping from one subject to another while I do crossword puzzles and talk to family members on the phone. My world runs on emotion and how I feel at any given moment, life-altering decisions being made in an instant.

My wife is a scientist.

She does not dream (she says).

She likes clear communication.

She prefers concise language.

She thinks rationally.

She uses data.

She lives in a world of science and her work involves terms I do not understand and instruments I do not know how to operate, let alone turn on. (She insists on the use of “instruments” when I try to say “machines.” The word instruments makes me think she spends her time surrounded by piccolos and snare drums.) From the first time we met, I found her ways interesting and loveable, quirky really. I loved her calling in science because I loved her. Science was not a part of my world, not a component of my thought process.

And then I got sick.


She spoke the language of experts

in cardiology, dermatology

hematology, gastroenterology,

gynecology, neurology,

ophthalmology, pharmacology

and urology.

She became my interpreter, my guide, in this land of the Big Science, as I often think of it, a place where I frequently feel overwhelmed and unworthy, bumbling and rushed, easily confused by the clipped, unfamiliar language devoid of the nuance and lyrical cadence normally swirling around me.

She navigated routes to appointments.

She made solutions for treatment instillations.

She calculated half lives of meds.

She read research papers.

She collected data.

She charted my pain.

I saved my words for my sisters and my writing colleagues and my close friends and the people next to me in line at the pharmacy, as well as the acupuncturist and the counselor and the cranio-sacral massage expert and the yoga instructor and the meditation leader, whose services I needed just as much during this medical odyssey. But they were more of my world, and not the Big Science. I cried and we talked and they assuaged my pain in different ways.

I have learned the importance of both worlds.

I need and love the Big Science.

I need and love my wife.

They both have saved me.

She holds my hand.

And I am healing.

© 2016  Sarah Bigham

Sarah Bigham reads, teaches, and writes in Maryland where she lives with her kind chemist wife, three independent cats, an unwieldy herb garden, and several chronic pain conditions including interstitial cystitis.

Copyright © 2015

Touch: The Journal of Healing

All rights reserved.

Editor’s Choice