Awkward

I haven’t been in public much the last decade or so,

my social interaction freezing in a lost tableau.

When I did get back out there, I was thinking of it wrong.

But I should know that nothing stays the same for quite that long.

Since I have lived with chronic illness, nothing is the same.

At times, I do not recognize this person I became.

The changes were involuntary, yet I can’t go back.

So, helplessly, I’ve seen my life careening off its track.

The Sick Me is so different than the Healthy Me had been,

which means I oft feel awkward, even here, in my own skin.

But being out in public is far worse than when alone.

When out there, I must live as though my woes are unbeknown.

Here, in my home, I don’t pretend that I am not in pain.

I don’t pretend my illnesses aren’t clouding up my brain.

In fact, I don’t pretend at all. That’s why I’m staying home,

and working out my feelings in another silly poem.

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Unsolicited

We all really hate when you give us advice.

It just undercuts our attempts made thus far.

We know that you think those suggestions are nice.

But bear in mind I earned each IV and scar.

You don’t know each treatment that I’ve ever tried.

Two decades have passed and I’ve been through it all.

It’s not just your words, it is what they’ve implied.

What’s lacking in wisdom, you make up with gall.

I’m so very glad things worked out for your aunt …

and yes, she had symptoms that sound just like mine.

Your grasp of my illness is naive and scant.

Your words are not helpful; they just undermine.

See, I don’t tell you how to do things at work.

So, don’t think you have any right to tell me,

’cause this IS my job, you magniloquent jerk,

as anyone ill as I am would agree!

Parallel

 I never said that I was more important than you are.

That’s just what your wild imagination chose to hear.

My explanations start, but you won’t let me get too far.

Please back off and let me talk. I’ll make my feelings clear.

I am no more special than another on this Earth.

That’s the first thing you should listen to and understand.

When it comes to others, I’d say I’ve an equal worth.

All I mean is that my trials and woes are just as grand.

With my plight dismissed I make a point to plead my case,

making it appear as though I think that I’m the best.

If I hadn’t had to struggle just to keep my place,

I’d remain here waiting for my turn, like all the rest.

Asking For Help

askingforhelp1

Asking for help can be harder than not,

because both cause a pain that is real.

I hate to admit this is all that I’ve got,

and that this is the best I might feel.

askingforhelp2

I’m a young woman and shouldn’t need help

since most strangers assume that I’m fine.

I feel like a dog squeezing out a sad yelp

’cause I realized this body’s now mine.

askingforhelp3

At once, overnight, I became old and weak,

so I didn’t have time to adjust.

Suddenly, I couldn’t chew food, see, or speak,

and into Sick’s midst I was thrust.

askingforhelp4

 A placard at 19: admitting defeat!!!

It’s a thing I was so loathe to do.

I’m now twice that age, and perspective, my seat,

as I look back on what I went through.

askingforhelp5

I so wish that back then, I’d let ego go.

I wish I’d not cared what they thought.

I wish I knew then what I’ve since come to know

and the truth that the future has brought.

askingforhelp8

It’s not a character flaw to be sickly.

It’s okay to ask for a hand.

I’ll get there eventually, slowly or quickly.

Who cares if the world understands?

askingforhelp6

Sometimes I’m weak and I need extra time,

and sometimes I park by the door.

Sometimes I can’t talk, and it’s not a crime,

and some days, just to eat, is a chore.

askingforhelp7

But here, from my seat, in this tower of age,

with the wisdom I’d hoped would shed light,

I see the intensity’s not been assuaged.

Still, to make myself ask, is a fight.

The Best Plan We’ve Got

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I received a sharp blow yesterday.

My insurance will no longer pay.

My nurse called to give me the news:

the right medicine, I cannot use.

My doctor tried all that he could.

The response to his pleas was no good.

“It is way too expensive,” they said,

“but if she’s in a hospital bed,

we’ll accept the claim, and we’ll pay.”

I’ve been told I must do it that way.

We all know it will cost them much more

when I’m jailed on the third or fourth floor.

 They’ll spend more than they would in a year

if they’d kept it from getting severe.

Yes, the medicine does cost a lot…

though in my case, it is all I’ve got,

’cause the others aren’t options for me.

They’re as bad as my illness could be.

All traditional treatments have failed.

In the end, illness always prevailed.

So, I must steer toward death and then flirt,

tempt disaster, risk my life, and hurt.

I must point straight and drive down that road

to encourage catastrophe, goad.

Once that sick, my life’s so tough to save.

It’s so hard to keep me from the grave.

And yet nobody asked what I thought.

I’m just told it’s the “best plan we’ve got.”

Chronic Illness Blues

Nowadays, we’re everywhere: sickies who look fine.

With a glance, it seems that there’s no reason we should whine.

But if the world could have a trial living in our shoes,

they would find, most certainly, they had the chronic blues.

Friends and loved ones try and try, but never understand

the challenges and energy our illnesses demand.

It’s because we look just fine. They cannot see what’s wrong.

Only test results can prove we’ve been sick all along.

It’s hard for us, who lead sick lives, to say we’re not depressed.

We know the hell will never end, “not terminal,” at best.

You can’t forget it, any day; you never get a break.

It goes on while you’re sleeping, it’s here when you’re awake.

Decades pass, the illness lasts, and yet we trudge on through.

People sometimes say, “You’re brave.” But what else can we do?

Illnesses and hospitals, insurance and blood,

urine samples, EKGs, and feeling, still, like crud…

plastic tubing, IV kits, patient charts and scrubs,

pumps and poles and stools on wheels, and purple, nitrile gloves,

pharmacies and sharps containers, clipboards, tape, gauze pads,

waiting rooms, referrals, too, and still you’re feeling bad…

ugly gowns they make us wear to access us with ease,

meaning when we do stand up, we’re flapping in the breeze….

The space they leave on intake forms is laughable at best.

I always have to find more space so I can list the rest.

Those mere four lines aren’t adequate to splay my sordid past.

I require plenty o’ room for the horrors I’ve amassed.

I never know from week to week how good my health will be,

so many times the best I do is plan to wait and see.

I don’t want to be the one who ruins family plans.

And if they want to still go out, I would understand.

But they won’t, which means I feel a guilt (that I don’t need).

So I suggest it every time and someday will succeed.

But though I get frustrated, and I wish they understood,

I hope they never will (the way that only sickies could).

Tomorrow I may find that I can’t get up out of bed.

My symptoms overlap and get all jumbled in my head.

I try hard to keep them straight, the things to ask my doc.

I’ll see him soon: tomorrow, well, that is, if I can walk.

Life for us is day to day, filled with good and bad.

It makes me much more grateful for the healthful times I’ve had.

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