This month has been peppered with fatigue. I am not a poet (though if I could choose to be anything in another life I would be either a poet or a dancer.) I am not even a writer (though having a blog allows me to pretend to be one once a month). And I probably won’t even finish this blog (because right now after 14 hours of sleep I feel I could sleep another 14).

So this is all I got. 


Fatigue (a crappy poem)

I’m wearing a snowsuit in July sun.

You talk, I try to respond

To what you said,

about your aunt

about your job

your garden's fledging bean stalks

But despite effort beyond effort,

my mind turns away-

            from our time together

            from the pastries on our plates

And returns to the polyester,

that is melting into my skin.


Few people know Olive is the poet in the family, quiet famed in canine circles. A regular master of prose. Snout facing out the east windows, she contemplates the birds, the changing leaves, the unknown dog taking a dump on the sidewalk.

But you can’t hear it. Only I can hear it. Call it a woman and her pup ESP.

Olive isn’t your regular ink slinger. She does not care to make permanent her rhymes. She writes her poetry in subtle nods and glances. With her head in the swoop of my back, she presses in deeply, as though offering a healing incantation--to relieve the pain, to supply the energy. She might repeat her little poem for hours or days as I lay curled in bed, on the couch, in a chair. Her patience is part of the performance. She writes her poems in the excited spins she twirls when I lace up my shoes for a walk, ready to celebrate and trod on our small clumps of earth. She writes her poems on the grass she rolls in, body content

Two drinks in we sometimes attempt to recite her poems to each other. We attempt to put into human words her well-nuanced pup dialect only to find that we bastardized and made humorous the whole endeavor.


i. got no heart

“You got heart, kid,” says some coach to every kid playing a sport in some small town in America.

You got heart. You are in the game. You got passion. And that passion, worn on your sleeve. That passion, worn on your face and in your tears. That passion that keeps you angry when you lose the “big game.” That passion that makes the win seem like a small glory.

I never played sports or won the big game. My sister did. She had heart. I felt the house shake from feet stomping up stares after losses. And I watched her shoot countless hoops by herself on weeknights until mom called her in. Her sweat carried the weight of her pulse as it hit the gym floor. The tall girls underestimated, at their own peril, her 5’3” frame. Nothing stopped her. She had heart.

I never had heart. The one time I tried to play basketball I felt the anxiety of the game rise. I ran this way and that. I felt the muscles in my legs tense. I felt the possibilities. We could win. We could lose. I could lose. I somehow ended up with the ball. I huddled over the ball and collapsed to the ground wailing, “I quit.” This was only a scrimmage. On the first day of practice. I never went back. I had no heart. 

a brief introduction to rhythm 

a brief introduction to rhythm 

ii. flutter

The first time it happened I dropped everything, including my body, to the floor of the chemistry lab. I had no idea what happened. But the world spun and felt like a Ferris wheel without the music. I had too much heart. It beat hard and fast. When I would stand. Walk. Go up the steps. My parents looked at me with worried eyes. My family has a lot of heart. Grandma and grandpa. Mom and Dad. They all know what it’s like to feel that heart in those ways where your eyes widen and tear with ache.

I began seeing a cardiologist. He was the first person to feel my boobs. I remember thinking that youth group lied to me — it wasn’t my husband. And none of my friends understood how exposed and vulnerable my body felt.  How could they? They had just enough heart.

The doctor said I would outgrow it. That age would soften the beat. And in time I wouldn’t notice it so much. My body would learn how to handle this beast of a beater.

What test are you here for today, Miss? 

What test are you here for today, Miss? 

iii. he’s got heart

Our first kiss was to “The Big Lebowski.” I sobbed the next day. I panicked. I realized I liked him. My heart started to flutter. I called my dad. My dad is good at common sense. He told me — go to the ER. Because an erratic, pain-inducing 180 beats per minute lying down is not normal.

I got a ride. I lay in a bed in the ER by myself. Every time he flirted with me over text I saw my heart rhythm skip on the monitor. Stress. Something more. He asked me what I was up to. “Lying around,” I responded. No need to worry him with messy details about arrhythmias and whatnot. He asked if I wanted to hang out. “Erm. Kjashkjg,” I responded or didn’t respond. The truth only yields for so long. He picked me up. And the next morning brought me coffee — because he didn’t know anything about “tachycardia” or “arrhythmias.” And when he kissed me that day, my heart didn’t flutter but settled. Because, damn, he’s got a whole lot of heart. 

The fatigue. 

The fatigue. 

iv. “tachy”

White, red, and pink candies overtake a corner of the Target. As a Kid, mom always told me that red and pink clash—such colors are tacky. But to this day, I enjoy them if only to be contrary. By the end of the month it will all be on sale. You can buy a heart full of chocolate for three dollars and some change.

After spending half a day at the cardiologist, the irony of tacky valentine’s decor and my own tachycardia feel cosmic and comical. He waits in the car for me to grab a few things. We feel like we are losing heart. Losing heart that such events will ever stop defining us. I eat a heart-shaped Reese’s. Somehow it tastes better than the normal shaped Reese’s. It must be because-- it’s got heart. 


Instagram. I am not immune. Snap that image. Hashtag it. Wait for those "likes" to affirm either photographic ability or witticism. Social media- my personal brand for the world to consume. And that small brand has become intentionally or unintentionally crafted. While not an exclusive rule, I try and keep my medical life out of social media. Keep it vague. Don't freak people out. Don't offend people with the awkward reality of this body. And so my body and my illness has remained largely absent. Small posts with a well modeled mug of tea and the words "sick day" with an appropriate, maybe comical, hashtag. 

How do I explain this body in one image. One image that will be smooshed on your ever revolving feed between a picture of someone's baby and another's leftovers? How do I post about a chronic existence in a medium that content predicates being easily replaceable (not that blogs aren't too different). But for one day. If I was to Instagram my life it might look similar to the following. 

#WaitingRoom where motivational pictures of cliffs remind you of where you are not. 

I once made a calculation. If I took a selfie for every doctor appointment I have had since all this began in high school and printed them, and then stacked these photos they would reach the top of a 2 story house. #theselfielife 


"Take everything off to your waist." She instructed. The nurse then proceeded to aggressively cover my body in magical stickers that told them what I already knew- my heart beats to a different drum. #melodramaticEKGs 

An apple a day keeps the doctor away? 

The yearly eye exam to ensure my medications do not cause visual impairment. #SideEffects

#Fridaycocktails - these mysteries that are the miracles of medicine

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Emergency Rooms. Morphine. And the love of a good man.

#Myfirsttime - it took me an hour. I couldn't press it in. But the doctor said this will help my body feel like it was 25 again. 

Fatigue. That nebulous bastard. The medication causes it. My symptoms bring it on. My daily life flairs it. And so I am always pleased when I make it 7pm and feel no quilt in going to bed. 

I took the bus to the ER. Because nothing says denial like taking a bus to the ER. 

When the male physician tells me that I need a therapist-- because internal bleeding can be made up.