Healthcare Crisis

What it’s Like to Live on a Machine

Visit ECHOBROWN.COM for more information

It begins with the catheter, a device surgically implanted in your chest. Two tubes dangle awkwardly over your right breast. Scars form at the top of the tubes, the skin trying to heal a perpetual, open wound. The grey machine, cold and austere, purrs quietly at your side, waiting to clean toxins from your blood that your kidneys, functioning at only 11%, are no longer capable of removing. Now, only the device and the machine can keep you alive.

Your blood, beet red and warm, takes this voyage through an elaborate maze of plastic tubes…


When Survival Skills Are Not Enough

I try not to think about drowning. Failing kidneys. Finding a donor. Thousands of dollars in medical debt. My family trapped in an endless cycle of poverty, addiction, and mental illness. My fledging career as a Black artist in America. The looming threat of COVID, which was supposed to be over by now. Whether I will live to see another year on dialysis.

I focus on the mechanics of staying afloat. A singular goal propels me forward: reaching the shoreline, where comfort and stability reside. No one in my family has ever stood on…

Echo Brown

Author and performer. Echobrown.com for more information.

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