Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spring and My Doctor Wears Cowboy Boots

What a gorgeous Saturday in New York. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think most people look forward to winter's end. To me, winter is great in the beginning. I love the holidays, the winter wonderland, the coziness... I really do. But after a while - as soon as the slushy/brown/grumpy phase of the season hits - enough is enough. Today it's like the city is alive again. I woke up to birds chirping, people whistling and kids laughing. But when winter ends, I believe I feel a sense of gratitude much greater than the average bear. I am thankful for Spring in every muscle, joint, tendon and ligament of my body.

My body is usually ecstatic about the lack of precipitation and cold - it means greater mobility, less pain and having the ability to be active for the first time in months. However, due to the infection in my toe a few weeks ago I had to stop taking my Humira shots. Unfortunately, that's the trouble with the medicine. While it keeps the inflammation at bay and stops the progression of my disease, it also makes me extremely susceptible to infection. Because of this, it's almost impossible to stay on the shots for an uninterrupted period of time and then I get these bad periods. So that's where I am today. One week of missed shots is okay, but four is trouble.

Luckily, my toe is all healed up now and I just got the "OK" from my doctor to start back up again, but by now the Humira is out of my system. So I'm having trouble with basic tasks like bending over, opening doors, breathing deeply or walking. When I'm feeling this way, it's easy to forget that I'll feel better again. But I always do. It's a cyclical disease and I have to believe this is just a phase - otherwise my mind will go nowhere good. And I wont let that happen. Not only am I spending the majority of the weekend with John, but my parents are visiting the city this Sunday and will bring the shot then. So I think the combination of my boyfriend + parental love + meds will do the trick. I'm really looking forward to being out of this pain soon.

In the meantime, I thought I'd keep on the subject of poetry and share another piece - this time about my illness. Interestingly enough, the end of my senior year of college was the first time I was able to write about my battle with Spondylitis. It went through so many drafts that I lost count (the way it should be, of course). It's the first time I tried to describe the nature of the pain, so I'd be curious to hear if it resonates with other people who might be dealing with chronic pain. And by the way, my doctor does wear cowboy boots. Every day. I still don't know how I feel about this piece, but thanks for reading and enjoy this beautiful weekend :)

Following An Unpronounceable Diagnosis
From A Doctor Wearing Cowboy Boots

I’m sure I was plucked from some infant
field in the sky with wild limbs set to scare
my young parents. I wish I had warning

for pain like dry stones knocked together,
blue joint-flint, always angry fires
never burning low, about hands

like cut–string puppets or this ragged body
I’d drag behind. But after so many years
of needles and coddling, I understand

now that when you plunge pink
and needy into a world that’s too afraid,
all you’ll ever hear until you forget

what health tastes like is: Forget
this pain, child, your name means flowers.
You’re our undulating miracle.


  1. Thank you for visiting my blog! Yes, your poetry piece resonates with me - I often like to write poetry to purge the thoughts that race like horses on a never-ending track. Please feel free to write to me anytime you like...not just for blog reasons.

    P.S. - My doctor wears cowboy boots, too!

  2. I LOVE COWBOY BOOTS! I always trust anyone in that a problem? Nah! Beautiful, beautiful post...I love that poem. ox Olivia

  3. Janice, thanks so much for your comment - I hope you'll add me because your blog has become a favorite of mine. I'm curious who your doctor is now!

    Thanks Liv :) Your support means so much

  4. I belong to the HLAB27 Club as well. With a healthy dose of Ankylosing Spondylitis, Psoriatic Arthritis and a large dose of Osteo-arthritis just in case the other stuff doesn't knock me on my posterior. I've just 3 wks ago had my 26th surgery. With the exception of 5 procedures, they were all skeletal or joint related. This last one was a 'remodel' of the shoulder joint, with 4 anchors placed to help repair a torn rotator cuff, reshaping of the humerus and a trim of the clavicle. That was the 4th procedure for that shoulder. Sigh However, it is less painful than the 3 sets of total knee replacements I've had.

    I'm very clumsy in my attempt to tell you that I cried reading your poem, I cried knowing you were going thru so much of what I have gone thru, and still do experience.

    I applaud you for deciding to take another year in order to achieve your Masters. Learning that people like us do not move on the "usual time" frame that others use to manage their lives is a BIG step ahead!!! I've had to work hard at learning my new limitations with each procedure or development in my life. I've had to work even harder to give myself permission to do nothing when required. I used to push thru the pain, and suffered greatly because of it. I found if I'm not paying attention, I hurt myself.
    Enough about me, thank you for your words.
    Mary Ellen

  5. Mary Ellen,

    You don't know what your comment means to me. Only this week when SAA decided to write about my blog have I actually started hearing back from people that aren't my immediate family and friends. Before that my words were just going into cyber space and I just hoped they'd reach someone like you. It especially touches me that the poem resonated with you. It was one of the only pieces I've been able to write about Spondylitis, but I'm trying for more...

    So from the bottom of my heart, thank you for reaching out and sharing your story with me. I am so sorry that you do understand what I've been through firsthand and that you've gone through so much. I give you endless credit. it sounds like you're an incredibly strong person and have learned many lessons of your own along the way.

    I truly hope you'll check back periodically - I would love to hear from you again! Take care of yourself, new friend.

  6. perfect posting.
    Really nice writing.
    As always your posts are very helpful.