Confessions From The Sick Bed

Before I was sick,
I counted the days and hours,
not because of drudgery –
I loved my job –
because I had stretched myself
beyond normal limitations.

Before I was sick,
I wore responsibility
like a superhero,
and defined by work,
prioritized tasks
above well-being.

Before I was sick,
I joked with others
about the disabled
lounging around,
living the life of leisure,
usurping the system.

Before I was sick,
I prided myself on saying “yes”,
being dependable,
loyal to a fault,
a friend to all.
I thought I was invincible.

When I started to get sick
I trudged from doctor to doctor,
underwent tests,
and humiliation,
learned to doubt myself,
and turned the blame inward.

When I started to get sick,
I chastised myself
for being overweight
and not exercising enough,
and stopped eating carbs,
and pushed harder.

When I started to get sick,
I ignored my body,
failed to set boundaries,
continued to eat on the run,
and felt ashamed
that I had let myself go.

When I started to get sick,
I was wracked with guilt
for the compromises
I had to make,
failing to juggle
so many obligations.

Now that I am sick,
I value more than ever
the importance of priorities,
recognizing that well-being
always proceeds well-doing,
and appreciate my body’s voice.

Now that I am sick,
I understand that work
does not define me,
and disappointing others
is a reality in life.
I am not invincible.

Now that I am sick,
I’ve learned that richness
is a quality of living
and not a figure
in a bank balance.
Happiness, the same.

Now that I am sick,
discernment defines
the relationships I desire,
no longer willing
to negate self
for the love of others.

Now that I am sick,
I no longer pretend,
or reach to meet standards
that fail to sustain me;
I have a new set of expectations
and am learning to be.

Now that I am sick,
I see with compassion
how insecurity
and a longing for approval
drove me to demise,
always failing in my mind.

Now that I am sick,
I pray that wisdom,
and humility
will guide my recovery,
and that life will await
this metamorphosis in me.



  1. When chronic illness shrinks your palace of life experience to a single room, you become very choosy about what you want to furnish it with. It’s painful to discard activities, places and people that you always assumed would be there. But, there’s a settled satisfaction in knowing that your life has (finally) been distilled down to the rock-hard substance of your existence. Your poem traces the metamorphosis beautifully. I would want you to know that your poems are like gifts to me. I have to stop myself from unwrapping them one after the other, or else I would get nothing else done today.


  2. Jan, you don’t know how much this means to me! Often I feel like I am writing into a void. To know that someone is gleaning something from my writing inspires me to keep going – although, truly, it is my lifeline right now.
    I love your description: “distilled down to the rock-hard substance” – eloquently said.


  3. I really like this one. I can identify with it so much. Everything changes when we get sick. I was a lot like what you describe in the before and the changes I have seen in myself are just like what you describe. You are a great writer, keep writing there are Many of us out here and it really helps to read others experiences and feelings.


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