“A Foreign Place,” the February Reflections essay by Barbara Sosman, delves into one patient’s experience of the sometimes inscrutable, sometimes terrifying, sometimes humorous events and encounters in one small corner of a hospital.
Below are the first two paragraphs, but as always, it’s worth clicking through and reading the entire essay (the PDF version is best). This one would be particularly hard to summarize; it takes us to unexpected places.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor
The flow of life and death in a hospital is mysterious, like the sound of a foreign language, and the mysteries that bring us here are profound. Stretched out in an unfamiliar hospital bed, I suppress realities, aware that tomorrow a scalpel will remove an enlarged node for a biopsy. The biopsy will show what I sense, a cellular chaos that threatens my life. Soon my disease will be presented like an offering. What will I do with it?
A room can become a universe and time there an infinity. This room is inhabited by women, of whom I am the youngest by decades . . .