please, thank you

Author

Gilb, Dagoberto

Genre

Short Story

Overview

Hailing from Los Angeles, California and El Paso, Texas, Dagoberto Gilb has been publishing stories and novels since the mid-eighties. His collections of short stories include The Magic of Blood (1993), Woodcuts of Women (2001), and Before the End, After the Beginning (2011). His novels include The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuña (1994) and The Flowers (2008). Gilb has also worked as a professor of creative writing at Texas State University, and the universities of Arizona and Wyoming.

“please, thank you” is the story of a man who has recently suffered a stroke. He struggles to deal with the effects of his illness, the health care he is provided, and the expectations of his family. The piece raises questions about recognizing suffering, responding to suffering, and connections made between people through traumatic experiences.

Source

Harpers Magazine, June 2010

Type

Reading

Themes

Connection and RelationshipHealth and Healing

Big Questions

What makes it possible for us to connect to others? What gets in the way?Why is connection important? What does it enable? What does it impede?How do we respond to the suffering of others? How would we like others to respond to our own?How does healing occur? What makes it possible?Is health a private or public issue? Is it an individual or a social problem?

Publication

Taking Action

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. While in intensive care, Mr. Sanchez gives incorrect answers to basic questions about his life. He believes this is done deliberately while others think he is confused. Why does he try to confuse his caretakers? Why is it taken as a sign of his illness?
  2. Why does Mr. Sanchez feel like a “carcass”?
  3. Why is Mr. Sanchez resistant to his physical and mental exercises? Why does he think of them as the “worst indignity yet”?
  4. Why does Scott continuously say “thank you” to Mr. Sanchez when he is the one doing the caretaking?
  5. Of all his caretakers, with whom does Mr. Sanchez make the closest connection? Why does he respond well to some and resist others?
  6. When we are sick or injured, what responsibilities do we have to those caring for us? How personally involved with our caretakers should we be?
  7. As caretakers, what do we expect our patients to give? What do we expect them to reveal?
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