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parkinsons man terry practitioner nurse

Clinical experience, poetic expression


A registered nurse since 1982, Terry A. Hess has worked as an Adult Nurse Practitioner at the Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee for 14 years. He is a Primary Care Provider for about 650 veterans, ranging from ages 22 to 90.

Commenting on his creative writing process, Terry says, “I am often surprised by the words that appear on the page, unsure from where they arise. But when they come together in the right way, it’s a savored moment.”
“Parkinson’s” is based on his work and a personal experience.


Paint a picture of Parkinson’s disease
Rock-stiff legs on a 56-year-old man
Who is locked inside his body
A convict on death row

His muscles as ornery
As a trapped badger
With hind leg bloody raw
Mind twisted by doom

Religious truisms fall flat
Unpredictable as the pills he swallows
Each night his wife’s wedding vows
Claim another room of her soul

Mornings she awakens
To the beggar in his first floor cell
His children watch helplessly
Cling to a hope that birthed them

Friends stop by
Step gingerly
He may be contagious

How are you?
How is it going?
How are you feeling?
Words created for his hell.

Sometimes it happens
Medication strikes
The trap opens
Offering a freedom carrot

Those days he listens
Death beckons him
He begs it to pass
Hates the sound

Other days Death appears different
Slides down easier than pills
Softer than his wife’s touch—
And waits for him

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