Radiation Fatigue: A Poem (13 October 2016)

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Radiation Fatigue

There’s an ache,
a soreness of the muscles,
a deep down, next-to-the-bone weariness
that sets in
about thirty minutes
after you finish a job well done –
swinging a hammer,
pulling a saw,
laying bricks or tile,
moving a pile of dirt,
digging a trench –
it’s an earned exhaustion,
a deserved worn-out-ness
that wants a cold drink
and a comfortable chair
and a hot shower.
And it passes,
that deep-seated, well-deserved fatigue;
it passes as you rest.
I have known that lassitude;
I have had that attitude
of inertia
drained of energy
spent on good work.
That was not what I
expected of cancer’s
radiation therapy!
You’ll be tired, they said.
Sleepiness I anticipated,
not this bone-weary feeling as if
I’d thrown bags of concrete
all day
today
and yesterday
and the day before
and look forward to more
to doing it again
tomorrow and the next
and the day after that
and then the day after that
again.
It’s that bone-deep exhaustion
but unearned, not deserved;
one shouldn’t feel this way
from simply lying on an x-ray
table, one hasn’t the right!
And it doesn’t pass;
it doesn’t go away.
No drink,
no chair,
no shower,
no long night of sleep,
nothing
sends it away!
It hangs on and on
and on and
my body asks guiltily
when will I feel . . .
normal
rested
human?
When will I feel like
swinging a hammer,
pulling a saw,
laying bricks or tile,
moving a pile of dirt,
digging a trench
again?
When therapy is completed
they answer.
I wonder if I believe them.

= C. Eric Funston
14 October 2016

(Photograph borrowed from website of Susan Forshey, PhD)

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