I am inside, swaddled in my favorite blanket,
lounging in the chair, feeling like death
is coming for me.
What is it about Winter that causes
it to bring the worst cases of sickness with it?
I am Thera-flued, honeyed, and zinced up
to my nose, trying to keep my senses in tact.
Old-Man-Winter is waving his cane
in our faces, cackling at our woes.
He is having fun while our bodies
are betraying us.
First snow, then sleet, then freezing rain
and I think to myself, “make up your mind
The stillness of my home shocks me.
I am even more quiet than normal
and if I attempt to speak, my voice disappears.
If the blues have come in search of me,
they will find me catering to a stuffy nose,
watery eyes, a sore throat, and painful ears.
I hope they bring good company.
Bad influences are not welcome.
I prepare for life as it comes knowing that I have a companion who has been steadfast for ten years. I enjoy peace and quiet and am mostly calm and my surefire supposed “Yapper Mixed Breed” is calm too. Anything one can think of to want in a pet, Jernee is it. She hangs at my heels, my shadow, tracing my steps. I’m severely anemic. I have been for years. Separate from that, I’m one dubbed as “a carrier for sickle-cell anemia”. I.e., I have the trait.
I do not plan on having children, so worrying myself silly about my mate’s health is not a concern. Not in that realm. Plus, there’s no mate. Bloodwork is a normal part of my life; having it drawn every three to six months has been my normal for the last eleven years. If ever I change physicians (which is rare), my medical records accompany me. There’s a lot of history to report and I make certain the new physician is “in the know”. I lack the essentials needed to maintain normal levels of iron and ferritin. At one point, specialists thought I was bleeding out. I had several procedures done to search for the bleed in question. When they could not locate it, they wanted to refer me to yet another specialist, one well-versed in hematology. Just a head’s up, telling someone you believe something is wrong with their blood is a frightening thing to hear.
I was younger and a bit more of a spitfire then, so I told my Gastroenterologist that I was done with all the testing. I felt like a guinea pig, like someone to poke and prod until a resolution presented itself. I wanted a normal life. One with no needles, research, procedures, etc. But now my body still isn’t producing enough iron on its own. My MCV level is almost always at least four points lower than the norm and my iron and ferritin levels struggle to make it just over the normal range. If I do not take my iron pills and eat the appropriate foods, those levels drop significantly.
Jernee is my little helper. Years ago, I would be so fatigued, I’d nearly pass out. Prone to letting me know when I needed rest, Jernee would hover near me without fail. She was like an alert. Nowadays, she follows me around more than she has before. It makes me believe that something is off-kilter. My next appointment for bloodwork and a checkup is at the end of July. I feel great. I do not feel odd, fatigued, nor do I feel as if I am lacking anything. But, Jernee is never wrong. She senses things well before their reality shapes in front of me.
I will not worry, though. I am doing what I should and I am also staying out of the heat when it is far too hot. Staying hydrated is important too. “By the book”, when you live with an illness and you want to be compliant, that phrase and implementing it, is key. “By the book”. As the dog years pile on, I am living my life knowing that not only do I have my health in good hands, Jernee takes it into account too.
She is sitting in a pale, dust-ridden chair, rocking herself to obtain a deeper sense of calm. Her Primary Care Physician believes she is showing signs of Bipolar Disorder. She wants to refer her to a therapist, someone she trusts. The air in the room is thick with guilt. A faulty door swings open and a nurse in tattered scrubs alerts the doctor to her next patient who has been waiting for fifteen minutes.
“Danielle, I have to go. I have another patient waiting. I will call Dr. Dominguez myself and schedule a consultation for you. Are Fridays still best?”
But, Danielle is drowning. The rocking chair is now a carousel and she cannot halt the spinning. There is no sound. The muffled words of Dr. Norman attack her ears but leave no depth. She is trapped within herself, bracing for glory that does not come.
“Danielle?! Are Fridays still best for you?”
“Yes. I’m sorry, Dr. Norman. I didn’t hear you. I was…”
“I know, you were not here. *sighs* We will get you better in due time. I will call Dr. Dominguez this evening. Make a follow up appointment with Clara at the checkout desk for three months. I want to check your iron and ferritin levels at that time. And… your weight.”
Danielle shifts on the plastic bed in the paper thin gown. She gathers her things one by one and returns her outfit to her body. Facing the world is never easy. At least today, someone listened.