The Verdict

I can’t say I’m surprised to get the news.

It falls in line with my unchosen course,

arriving just in time to disabuse

me of the hope that fate is not the source.

I pray that nothing changes for the worse

before I’ve time to take stock of my debts,

to pick out my own coffin and a hearse,

adorned with golden filigree vignettes.

Though … six good men can’t heft it, I’m afraid.

Regret and sorrow overload the joints,

disfiguring my final promenade

with spectacle that never disappoints.

A blaze of glory seems the better end,

the course of action I, myself, intend.

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burden

the albatross approaches

it’s far past time to run

a burdened life encroaches

the worst has just begun

caught up in sickly deluge

and straining hard to breathe

no sweet relief or refuge

the sword you cannot sheathe

your best commitment sagging

resentment breeding hate

you find forgiveness lagging

no patience to abate

you want to see improvement

the journey long and hard

no vow of upward movement

both parties spent and scarred

your lover’s reprobation

upon your heart is seared

abhorrent confirmation

as bad as you had feared

there is no good solution

except for you to die

at last the devolution

his money couldn’t buy

 

Sick, Not Dead

I am sick, not dead.

Remove the rails from ’round my bed.

I am sick, not three.

You must back off and let me be.

 I am sick, not weak.

So let me think and let me speak.

I am sick, not dumb.

Your meddling has made me numb.

I am sick, not nuts.

Your hovering consumes and cuts.

I am sick, not blind.

I’ve listened; please repay in kind.

I am sick, not wrong.

If you would look, you’d see I’m strong.

I am sick, not slow.

Don’t trap me or I’ll pack and go.

I am sick, not lost.

So keep it up, and pay the cost …

for I am sick, not dead.

Don’t make me run away instead.

–for Mya–

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.

Funkytown

haze-182966_640

Undoubtedly, I’m always in a funk,

existing in a neverending haze.

For years I’ve been accumulating junk,

the residue and scars from awful days.

I struggle to detach them from my life,

but still I am beholden to my past

emotional and health-related strife.

I helplessly obey. The die’s been cast.

Thus left with no escape, I organize,

identifying causes and effects.

I cannot win, so I must compromise

in hopes I’ll find the peace my health rejects.

Great callouses have formed and left me tough.

At times, I find they’re simply not enough.

*picture courtesy of Julianza on pixabay.com

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.”

Prednisone and I Have a Hate-Love Relationship

Infections, too much acid in your stomach and your throat,

oh yes, those steroids offer something for us all…

whether you are in the market for some nerve disease,

or you just want some bones to break with every fall.

Sleeplessness comes right away to those who have to swallow

lots of prednisone to keep themselves alive.

Your appetite is screaming and you want to eat up everything,

and then another two…or four…or five….

You will have some family members question why it is

you’ve turned yourself into a raving lunatic.

Scream out that you’re ragin’ ’cause you’re on the ‘roids you hate

and that you only do it ’cause you’re really sick.

Oops, you’re stomach’s bleeding, and you’re diabetic now…

so…those are just a few more bonuses you’ll get….

The person in the mirror’s face, enlarged and puffed and red:

she looks just like someone you never, ever met.

You could have some cataracts or dabble in glaucoma

and you may not have an age past twenty-two.

You really didn’t have a choice; you had to take this drug

because your doctor says that’s all that you can do.

So, a hump is living on your back and neck all day

and now you feel just like a camel or a freak.

Your distended abdomen has bloated up your trunk.

You watch your muscles become atrophied and weak.

And you may get hypertension or anemia,

random muscle problems or a slow heart beat.

You will build intolerances to all temperatures

until you cannot take the cold, nor take the heat.

Then there’s this annoying thing that happens where the

side effects can mirror all the symptoms that they “cure.”

So you keep on taking them ’cause you and doc lose track:

it’s disease, or side effects? None can be sure.

Sitting here today I know without the steroid doses

I have had to take to stay here on this Earth,

I’d have been a goner when I’d no more years than nineteen

from the day mine was a celebrated birth.

I could never list them all, the damages this drug can cause

while using it to maintain life and heal.

All that I can do as I throw back my daily dose

is move my fingers and write out the way I feel.

For Dr. Bradley

meadow-76358_640*

I’m not sure how many times my doctor’s saved my life.

I lost track the day it hit thirteen.

Time and time again, I’ve had to trust him with a knife.

Harder days my body’s never seen.

When I’m in his office he is always waiting there.

When I’m in the hospital, it’s rounds.

Often, he has stayed past eight administering care,

never having left the clinic grounds.

I can tell him anything and know he’ll trust my word,

something not all specialists concede.

’Cause I’m in his care, I feel that I can rest assured.

Of anyone, this man’s who can succeed.

I can tell him, “thank you,” till my face and tongue turn blue.

And he will say, “you’re welcome,” like he does.

An inkling of my gratitude…he’s only got a clue.

More intense respect there never was.

So how am I to take it when it’s he who gets so sick?

How can I endure his failing health?

Surely this is nature playing some ungodly trick

on a man who hasn’t time to spend his wealth.

It would seem, that of the two, the world is better set

having this man here, instead of me.

If one could, in lieu of him, pay off his deathly debt,

I would be the first to set him free.

*photo courtesy of Fotomanie on pixabay.com

Exercises In Futility

No position I can find will make it go away.

Nothing I can do will make it right.

I just have to watch the clock push hours into day…

through the long, excruciating night.

Sitting doesn’t help at all, nor does it to lie down.

Standing up is quite atrocious, too.

Walking is a bad idea, just like all the rest,

leaving me with nothing else to do.

Doubled over in a ball, I try to soothe myself,

huddled with a blanket ‘round my back.

Rocking to and fro’ I wonder, will it ever end?

Hoping till my brain and heart just…crack.

Should I, to the ER, go, and put myself in line?

I will have to stay and wait my turn.

Triage nurses don’t think I should get to skip ahead

when I don’t have a gunshot wound or burn.

When I get to see the doctor, he comes in resolved.

I know that he, first, made up his mind.

He’s decided I just want a source of heavy drugs,

sure he knows I’m of the addict-kind.

I can see it in the way he stands reviewing charts,

looking at the clipboard he brought in.

Glancing up and over just a bit from time to time.

Convincing him’s a battle I can’t win.

If I could count up the times I’ve tried to start anew,

I’d use all my fingers and my toes,

searching for the doctor who can conquer chronic pain,

one who doesn’t judge and presuppose.

One who doesn’t promise his procedure’s gonna work

before he’s grasped the level of my pain.

One who doesn’t send the message: it’s all in your head,

who treats me like I’ve simply gone insane.

Even on the days that I acknowledge are my best,

constant ache pervades my every breath.

Like sandpaper, coarse in grit, the pain rubs raw my soul,

leaving me romanticizing death.

Don’t Tell Me I’m Crazy

Don’t tell me I’m making it all up!

Don’t tell me that crazy’s how I seem!

Don’t tell me my symptoms don’t add up!

Don’t act like I just told you a dream!

No, I can’t locate the “source” of pain.

No, I didn’t hurt myself last night.

No, there’s not an allergy to blame.

No, don’t tell me everything’s alright.

Sigh. It’s not attention that I crave.

Sigh. I’d rather not be in a gown.

Sigh. It’s not that I just don’t behave.

Sigh. I don’t care you don’t like my frown.

Will you, once you know, apologize?

Will you tell me how you pegged me wrong?

Will you even try to empathize?

Will you say you’d guessed it all along?

See, my test results have proved my point?

See, I wasn’t making up a tale?

See, my blood and scans don’t disappoint?

See, it’s not my sanity that’s frail?

Maybe you should have yourself checked out.

Maybe you’re the one who’s lost his mind.

Maybe it’s your wisdom I should doubt.

Maybe you don’t understand my kind.

Where’d you go to get that nice degree?

Where’d you learn to treat a man that way?

Where’d you learn to let your mouth run free?

Where’d you learn the worst wrong things to say?

I think I want doctors who will trust.

I think your degree’s made you a snob.

I think I’ll move on, like we discussed.

I think you should find another job.

the infusion center

sitting in this room again

a needle in my chest

recliners neatly in a row

me stuck, like all the rest

magic liquid dripping in

to make my muscles strong

sitting in this room again

I know that I belong

sitting in this room again

we all have different woes

but we share a common thread

that only sick ones know

thrown in here by circumstance

we’re tethered to our poles

sitting in this room again

and setting healthy goals

sitting in this room again

our stories we compare

we comfort one another

it’s a safe place we can share

all our stories good and bad

there is no wrong or right

sitting in this room again

and putting up a fight

sitting in this room again

we share each other’s pain

we hug, console, and say a prayer

though it might be in vain

people in this room have caught

the short end of the stick

sitting in this room again

where we can all be sick

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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