When All The Words For ‘Tired’ Feel Reserved For The Able-Bodied



By  in The Mighty.


I’m sitting in my doctor’s office with my hand on my chest and my face twisted in a fisted grimace. I’m searching for the right words to describe the strange, heavy ache around my sternum. I know I only have on chance. Saying the wrong thing gives the doctor, who hasn’t looked at me since I entered the room, the opportunity to cut in with a lecture about how, despite all evidence to the contrary, I’m actually just an intensely anxious person.

Finally, I say, “It’s difficult to describe.”

Not quite a pain or an ache, it really is difficult to pin down. It boogies somewhere in between the two. I see the doctor roll his eyes as he continues his vigil of the computer screen, I see that light shake of the head, and he tells me – without looking at me – for the umpteenth time, “It’s probably just stress.”

It’s the cartilage around my sternum. It’s a common complaint in chronically ill patients and one of the major causes of our chest pain. It’s a recurring problem and I’ve not come for a diagnosis, but to see if there’s anything I can do to ease it. Perhaps, had he deigned to examine me, he would have had some suggestions: some light massage maybe, applying heat or cold, rhythmic dance; something. But to him I’m not longer a patient, if I ever was. I’m an unwanted obligation – a plant he’s been asked to look after that’s wilting untended.


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