Things I’m So Tired Of

I’m always surprised at the feeling
when I lay this body down.
In my head, I still feel 19,
I feel 23,
I feel 35.
Where’d this extra decade sneak in?

But my head, settling on the pillow,
contains epochs of fear and grief,
desperation and dull aches of sorrow,
(Even without that extra layer of lies
my illness spreads across the top
like an oil slick).

You don’t see it,
unless maybe there’s a hint in my eyes:
I’m filled to my core
with endless white nights
and mornings waking in the grip of the beast,
and knowing when my illness takes me
that he’s seen the signs and
hidden the weapons without saying anything,
— and the hollow in my chest
when I silently agree
it’s wise.

I’m heart-sick of hearing:
“Promise you’ll still BE here when I come home,”
and how it makes me cry after he’s gone.

How can I know my age,
my span in time,
so full-up with all these
goddamn lifetimes of tireds?

Tired of hospital lighting and
dry-mouthed vigils on sadistic chairs,
of being told “the doctor will swing by later,”
of paying $20 for a pair
of ugly socks with rubber nubs.

Of one arrogant pissant night shift doc
making petty power plays, all unseen,
and the completely avoidable danger and panic he caused,
risking the life of someone
he couldn’t be bothered to even look at,
and why put us in the damn cardio wing in the first place?

Tired of expensive mail-order meds
they won’t let us obtain locally,
but then they put on back order —
(No we can’t wait, you idiot,
they’re anti-rejection pills …
or do you happen to have a spare kidney,
and a really good insurance plan?)

Tired of blood smudges on the bathroom counter,
and used test strips that find their way
into every nook and cranny,
of cupboards full of pill bottles and boxes,
of vials in the fridge, syringes and lancets,
the pong of insulin,
of giving up what’s needed
to get his blood sugars up:
treats, meals, sodas, the last banana.

Tired of crying in the kitchen,
silently, on the floor,
of sitting, helpless to my own
brain-chemistry storm,
as he cares for me so patiently,
while I want to
scream at myself, hurt myself,
run away, give up, just stop the pain,
and needing him to tether me to reality
till the tempest passes.

Tired of choking down pills and pills and pills,
of the “rare” side-effects that seem to seek me out
and lay me low for days on end,
of thinking up excuses for why we can’t make it.
Tired of being told, “You have “good veins.”

Tired of the heartbreak of watching
this smart, funny, loving man
stumble and go thick and plodding
as he bludgeons his starved brain
for the right carb-to-blood-sugar equations
before he’s too far gone
to remember how to eat,
of moving the knives out of his fumbling reach,
and handing him a spoon,
and making him focus: sit here. eat.
of frantically digging out the glucose pen
when he’s gone too low
and fumbling the mix into the needle
(at least by then he doesn’t feel it).

Tired of two-shirt nights from
the insulin-reaction sweat-storm,
the truly bad nights when I even
have to change the sheets,
and lay down towels,
while he’s barely coherent,
and I must rush to get
his numb body under covers
before the deep chill sets in …
then, wrapping my small body
around his as best I can
I will my warmth into him.

Tired of the numb terror of ER drives,
of the surprisingly gentle black humor
of paramedics at 2 am.
Tired of agonizing calls to the doctors,
the nurse-practitioner, the labs,
the fertility clinic
(okay, gave up on that one),
the endocrinologist,
the carpal surgeon,
the physical therapist,
the psychiatrist,
the transplant clinic.

To the neurosurgeon.

To the pharmacy,
The insurance company,
The pharmacy,
The insurance company,
The pharmacy —
where they greet us by name at the drive-thru,
and fill our arms with white paper crinkles and rattles,
like treats with unwanted prizes inside.

Tired of swallowing it all,
of keeping this all to ourselves,
because people either treat us like invalids,
or just think we’re exaggerating.

I’m so damn tired of being told:
“There are lots of people who have it worse.”

Please don’t get me wrong.
I love my sweet, smart man,
and I love my life (when
my brain-chemistry lets me),
and while I wouldn’t wish all this
on anyone else,
it’s our life together;
it’s who we are,
the trial by fire that tempered
the strength of our hearts.

It’s just that so many — God
so insanely many dramas and devastations
should make me feel
a hundred years or more,
a medical Methuselah
(or maybe his wife).

Instead, I feel 35 —
23 on a good day —
and I feel my own venerable age only
when I am weary.

Like now.
I lay this small body down
and settle my head full of epochs
on the pillow
beside my smart, funny, loving man,
and my heart swells.

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