Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick.--Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor, 1978 Poetry and medicine share a long history, dating back to the Greek god Apollo, who was responsible for healing and … Continue reading November 4, 2018: Medicine & Metaphors: Communicating Illness
This past August, when I first began writing this blog, I invited readers similarly diagnosed to write about their experience with heart failure--and other serious heart conditions. Whether my attempts to express this experience have motivated anyone to write, I have no idea, but I am hopeful that some of you who follow this blog … Continue reading October 22, 2018: If You Don’t Tell Your Story, Who Will?
He said it doesn't look good he said it looks bad in fact real bad. (From: "What the Doctor Said," by Raymond Carver; In: A New Path to the Waterfall, 1989) They were words I never thought I'd hear: "You have heart failure." Heart what? I couldn't comprehend what the doctor was saying. I first … Continue reading For October 9, 2018: When the Doctor Said…
When the heart speaks, take good notes.--Joseph Campbell I admit it. Writing from a personal experience of heart failure is far more challenging than I imagined. I've tried to understand why, especially when I've found relative ease in writing a continuing blog about cancer. I've had long discussions with my husband, mulling over the differences … Continue reading September 24, 2018: Communicating the Experience of Illness
The heart is the locus of physical and spiritual being, and represents the "central wisdom of feeling as opposed to the head-wisdom of reason" (Cooper, 82). It is compassion and understanding, life-giving and complex. It is a symbol for love. Often known as the seat of emotions, the heart is synonymous with affection. "The heart...represents the "central wisdom … Continue reading September 9, 2018: Searching for the Metaphors of Heart Failure
What you fear will not go away: it will take you into yourself and bless you and keep you. That's the world, and we all live there. (From: "For My Young Friends Who are Afraid," by William Stafford, In: Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems, 2014) It was the suddenness of it, the disbelief and shock, … Continue reading August 25, 2018: Fear
Most patients with chronic illness, like the rest of us, live quietly and unremarkably in the daily struggle of living. Our pains, like our joys, are small, interior, simple. There is no great moment to the illness or the life. Yet illness...sometimes brings a kind of passion and knowledge of the human condition, giving an … Continue reading The First Question: What Does it Mean to Live with Heart Failure?