Friday, October 4, 2019

Medical Appointment Rant

I really wasn't going to post this, but I'm fed up, specifically with the western medical system.  When I go to acupuncture (thank you Jill Stevens) I always feel supported in a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing environment.  I am also fortunate to have a compassionate and caring primary care doc.  But there are times....  Know what I mean?


Entering those white impersonal rooms,
antiseptic, paper sheet over the “bed”
where you will uncomfortably sit and
where you are therefore defined
as “the patient,”
do you shrink, fade back, become as
colorless as the walls?
Are these rooms meant
to make you feel small? 
They are clearly not intended
for your comfort or reassurance.
They are designed to inform you
that you are to be treated,
dictated to, or put in your place.
If your practitioner is compassionate
and willing to see you as a person
(a rarity, it seems, these days),
you may receive assistance or even relief.
You may walk out reassured or hopeful.
Or, you could get attacked with
an unwished for diagnosis.
Your emotional reaction is
seldom their concern.
They are mechanics.
You are broken.
They will fix you.
In any case, you seldom leave feeling
like a partner, a collaborator
in your body’s wellness.

Today, I saw a nurse-practitioner.
She was efficient, thorough, pleasant.
She knew things.
She prescribed things.
And I left with tears welling up.
I left feeling like a problem,
like a ticking time bomb.
One number is the highest
she has ever seen.
Does it help me to know that?  
My blood pressure, 
never a problem,
was high, too.
And let’s not even talk about
my blood sugar.
On top of it all, none of
these invisible “problems”
was the reason for
my visit.

This is not a poem.
I know that.
It looks like a poem, but really
it is a rant.
I hate the medical establishment.
I am beholden to it.
Has it helped me?
Yes.
Has it harmed me?
Yes.
There must be a better way
than having to spend
the rest of my day recovering
some peace of mind and the knowing
that I am not a statistic.
There must be a better way
of healing.

My SoulCollage® card for Hygeia,
goddess of healing

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Some Days - A New Poem



Some days
you wake up
and discover
that you slipped
into the underworld
during the night.
The body aches and
the mind is haunted
with doubts and fears.

Some days
you watch a spider
drop down on the
window pane, and
you envy its deliberate,
graceful dance, its
simple, steady work.

Some days
when age is
what you feel,
when all you see
is fog or gloom,
then it is time
to straighten
your spine and
your resolve.

This day
is the day
to raise
your hands
and greet
whatever comes
out from the depths.
This day
is the day
to sing to
the morning light.

Monday, August 12, 2019

A New Poem - At a Restaurant in Berkeley


Birthday dinner
with friends.
Companionable.
Good Italian food,
artfully presented.
Across the way,
an old couple sits
side by side,
with a friend
across the table.
The wife’s long white hair
is pulled to the side
in a high ponytail.
So Berkeley - I think -
she perhaps an artist,
both perhaps old
academics.

Cocktails arrive
at their table, hers
in a full, wide 
champagne glass.
She struggles to lift it
with two trembling hands,
and I hold my breath,
concerned for imminent spillage.
Although it takes a torturous time,
she manages to raise it to her lips
without mishap.
He serves her tomatoes, basil,
mozzarella cheese from
a shared appetizer plate,
then turns away,
letting her attend to herself.

From time to time,
in silent spaces in
our own conversation,
I glance at her
and see how stalwartly
she makes her slow
and shaky way
through her dinner.
I think – This is her life
every day, and his
to cope with as well.

My friends and we
are all past seventy ourselves,
yet still preserve a modicum
of vitality and elan,
despite complaints
about our bodies’ failures.
But soon, I know,
that could be us.

If I were more courageous,
I would ask them -
How do you find the fortitude
to live with your infirmities
and challenges?
In my mind I imagine
them responding -
What is the alternative?

And yet, here they are,
in this vibrant town
by a gleaming bay,
eating at a fine restaurant,
together, and with
companionship.
This is the work then –
and the gifts -
of living into
a privileged old age.