In and Out


The Medicare doctor won’t even prescribe cannabis, not that we need the doctor for that. No, she says, no Valium or Xanax, if it’s not indicated. She tells me this on the phone after her 15-minute monthly visit. She makes me feel like I have murky motives. Like I’m asking for the moon. I was hoping that in this endgame, the tiny, hazel-eyed skeleton, once known as my mother, might not have to suffer quite so much.

Doc was firm in her conviction. Definitely no morphine for the old gal, because, “she’s not actively dying.”

Dying looks like what?

Like a series of wounds.

Dying looks like shrinking.

Dying looks like empty.

Like restless. Like lonely.

Dying looks like never before seen bones that protrude from the shell.

Dying has no color or it looks whisper grey.

Dying looks like a struggle. It looks like in and out.

When I plead  for more happy drugs, sedatives, anything for my mother, the Medicare doctor has decided that “she’s not in constant pain.”

I disagree. “Oh, but she is. She’s in psychic pain,” I say.

“Perhaps,” the doctor says, waiting me out on the other end of the phone.

Would it be a problem if my mother became an addict in her last months or weeks of life?

I thought doctors were supposed to try to heal, or at least provide comfort for the living.

I guess that’s just not indicated.



Published by deirdremendoza

Deirdre is the author of the story collection, Real Lives of Married People, and the creator of DOGGED, a series about memorable canines and their human friends. Her writing has been published in Ms., The L.A. Times, Variety, WWD, and many other publications. She teaches creative writing at colleges and universities in Southern California. Coming in 2021 WG workshops!

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