Non-Fiction Saturdays

beneath

a haibun, 3 parts

Photo by Sébastien Conejo via Mixkit.co

The wonders of the world lay deep beneath her hair. The very essence of what there is to gain from a stressful day full of anguish and the sounds of beasts rapping at closed doors is nothing. I tell her to press forward and find her strength in the pulse of a tiger’s breath, but she is not interested in climbing up the optimistic ladder tonight. I smell safety around the corner. She runs for cover. I stand with my hands held high — raised above my head. I surrender to the depth of this defeat. She claims my trust.

beneath her red locks
is a star-spangled blue moon
a wondrous new world

Broken babies and haunted Mamas wield their way into our midst. We shield ourselves from their pressure. The room is ice. There is no fire for warmth. I rub my hands together and watch the steam sift in through the cracks. She takes two steps forward, purses her lips against the air, and lets out a sigh of relief. The floor is empty. Patients are packing up — discharged by their residents or attendings. We dance alone. A tango. A foxtrot. A waltz. I simmer in the darkness with her.

lonely in this place
of impatience and patients
dancing the foxtrot

Big Pharma called the shots on the drug saving his life — it’s no longer covered. He’s in room 213 of the ICU. Death is standing by his door. She pulls a mask on to her face, laces her hands with gloves, and walks in to oversee the cleanliness of his space. He is barely breathing. The sun skips on the open blinds — his hair never touches the pillow. There, in the silence of the room, she prays to a God who walks the halls but forgets to open the doors.

on-call patient care
fills up her nightly duties
death is still coming


Author’s Note: I wrote this piece as a reflection on the most recent book I read which was In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope by Rana Adwish, MD. If you’ve not given it a read and you’re interested in knowing what a physician has to say about being the patient who dies, is brought back to life, and lives to see just how medicine needs transforming — this is a book I’d recommend for you. Peace.

*Originally published in The Junction via Medium.

The Funny Bone 

Me, an hour ago. I always fall asleep in my chair, with the remote close by and my glasses still planted on my face. The only thing missing is Jernee.

I do not watch much television, but on my days off and at night, you can find me in my big chair, in a relaxing position, watching cartoons or a few movies. I almost always fall asleep before 9:00 pm, telling myself that I’ll just close my eyes for a bit, get a few winks. Tonight… I had to shake myself awake so that I can get my nightly dose of Thera-flu with honey into my system. 

I want to be able to breathe without struggling to do so and this regimen is necessary. Why is the body so leaky? We have too many spaces in which fluids go in or come out and when one is sick, certain fluids are icky. I am looking at you mucous, yeah, you! Ick! Now that I am awake, I am filling myself with a liquid that always helps. It’ll surely give my enemy mucous a run for its money. 

Hey, when you’re sick, there’s gotta be some type of humor shuffling about. The old funny bone has to be tapped a few times if you wanna survive. 

*Taps funny bone*

Ouch!

In Dog Years 

Jernee: back from the Groomer’s, about to head to the park for a walk.

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.