*Chronic

October 30, 2018

two empty bottles of Advil lying askew, another only a quarter full sits upright

an ice pack long gone warm slouches against a dirty mug

an empty pack of menthol juul pods perches on top a mound of dirty cotton pads,

smudged and smeared with mascara that was supposed to be waterproof

blackened Yankee candle jars, pots filled with dry dirt and the

remnants of neglected plants. countless medical bills

scattered across the imitation wood desk, harsh white envelopes

shrilling for attention against the chestnut-colored grain

canvases sporting vulgar but encouraging phrases stick firmly to the walls

“you gucci bitch,” “head up, tits up”

a duct taped phone that needed replacing two years ago

lights up briefly with a notification, important calendar event marked “intake appt. #3”

drops of dried blood, when the pain was too great and nails sunk into flesh

like how warriors’ blades sink into their enemies during war

taped to the wall underneath the window, polaroid pictures of a girl

cheekily grinning span the sill

ratty ace bandages and other joint bracers pool around the door and bedside table

a book of poetry, dog-eared and cracked open to a page titled, “2 PM”

clementine orange bottles cluster around the desk,

all with labels too difficult to pronounce

a few with tops popped off, little white pills scattered about like

spilled candy

glinting from the light in the window

a glass bong with a bowl half empty fractures cobalt and periwinkle across the papers

(unfortunately not all good medicine is legal)

a scuffed pair of crutches leans against the desk,

washcloths on the underarm rests tattered and frayed from years of rubbing

the floor underneath is sticky and spotted with dust,

most hard to reach corners in the room are

slips with phone numbers for physical therapists stacked on top of ones for counselors

a well-loved stuffed rabbit lies slumped on the pillow,

the comfort of home a needed respite when

living day-to-day with chronic illness

 

*note from the poet:

most people don’t know i have a disability. it’s called Ehler’s Danlos syndrome; essentially my body doesn’t produce enough collagen, ...the most abundant protein in your body," according to Healthline: "It is the major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, skin and muscles. Collagen has many important functions, including providing your skin with structure and strengthening your bones.”

what i do produce is off-brand, grade-D quality. so you can see how my genetics kind of said “fuck you.” EDS is a tricky thing, because while there are five major groups of “types” (how EDS manifests in the body), no manifestation is exactly the same. my brother and i both have the condition, but he got most of the hyperflexibility and i got all of the pain.

it’s hard sometimes, having to bury shame i know i shouldn’t feel but can’t help feeling when i can’t do what everybody else can. in high school, shame reddened my cheeks when i had to step out of sports conditioning because my joints were screaming obscenities. now, it sheathes me in solitude when i lie in bed, unable to walk to class, incapable of even shuffling to the kitchen for an ice pack.

i wanted to write a poem about the effect of disability on my space because most people don’t even know i’m not able-bodied. it’s frustrating when you have to say no to certain activities, sacrifice a night of heels for a morning of agony, or stay home on days when you want nothing more than OUT. but we all have our metaphorical crosses to bear. mine’s just woven between my bones.

this isn’t a pity poem or a cry for help, just so we’re clear. treat this poem as a reminder. way too often we forget that disability doesn’t always come with wheelchairs or visible differences, and it’s not always physical. a lot of us suffer invisibly and in silence. check in on your friends. treat your peers with kindness, share with them your understanding. remember most of all: some of us are fighting everyday just to survive our own bodies, let alone the rest of the world.

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