Imagine you are floating in water. The water represents your past and the future is represented by the air. The space you occupy between them is now. It’s possible to hold your breath and stay under the water but only for a short time, stay too long and you will drowned and consumed by it. The same is true if you spend too much time worrying about the past. It’s said worrying about the past is depression. With a lot of effort you can kick and jump into the air, but you will only splash back into the water. On the other side you can try to spend too much time in the future.
We all exist in this watery in-between for some it’s a calm mountain lake, others it’s an undulating ocean, or it could even be a fast moving river with eddies and rapids ready to pull you under.
At times in life we feel as though the waters of life are too turbulen, we can barely stay afloat. When we are struggling in the water it can feel as if we are drowning, but often the thrashing and splashing are what the cause of our stress. If you can let go of the struggle, find your calm center, you will realize you are the reason the water is so choppy, when you become calm, the water becomes calm as well.
viral disease brain Risk of developing infection identified
potential side effect, treatment disease modifying drugs natalizumab
a common infection completely normally under control
immune system, causing no problems. immune system weakened
virus can reactivate cause serious potentially fatal
inflammation and damage to the brain progressive
damages nerves, some weakness
visual problems impaired
speech and cognitive
The text of this found poem is taken from the Multiple Sclerosis Trust Website (MSTrust). It is a description of Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). This is a personal topic for me because my mother died from the debilitating disease of the brain. PML is a condition that affects the brain in random ways. Each patient has a different experience along the path to an almost certain death. I wanted to capture the progression of the disease and regression of person afflicted with it. When creating this poem I focused primarily on two elements, word choice and the structure to convey a declining terminal path. To start the words in this poem have negative connotations “problems”, “weakened”, and “damage”. I also wanted to remove expectation of recovery or promise return to a normal life. PML has a survival rate of less than 1% over 1 year. It would have been helpful for some of my family to be able to relay the weight of the situation my Mom was in. Some people took any slight improvement as a sign that she was going to get better. The structure of this poem highlights the path of this disease. There are a few ups and downs through the progression, but your cognitive function begins to slip away, to an eventual death. I tried to represent this by beginning with longer lines, representing the better and higher functioning days. And as with the disease stealing cognitive function, in my Mom’s case her ability to talk, each line has fewer and fewer words. Adding strange breaks also illustrates the trouble my mother had communicating. Like what can happen stroke victims, my Mom had aphasia, an inability to say the correct words. This found poem represents my efforts to deal with my mother’s death, through the negative and harsh words, I wanted to convey the cruelty of this disease, and using the structure I worked to reveal the path to an ultimate terminal. When dealing with a sick parent or loved one, it is important to have hope. It is possible for people to recover and they may get better. But we are often blinded by hope, and only hear what we want. Doctors will often give a grave prognosis, with a tiny glimmer of hope, and we response so there’s a chance. Relying on this chance has a heavy cost to be paid in the form of disbelief and crushed spirits.
We all live our lives as rivers, the banks keeping us on track, always flowing the same way. But can a river change? Absolutely, they can be dammed or redirected. But more importantly, the river can change course on its own, slowly eroding one bank and adding to the other. You can see this in rivers all over, they create small isolated Ox bow lakes, that are now disconnected from the main river. So when asked if people change, yes, yes they can change, but it takes time and diligence, slowly building good habits, eroding old ones, until the old is not longer part of the new streamlined you.
I decided it was time to get an updated Profile shot for LinkedIn, so I asked Heath to take a few pictures of me. The results are far better than I expected they would be. Thanks Heath, www.quietcrow.org
It’s with great sadness and some relief that I say goodbye to my Mother, Jean Schappet. She had been battling a rare condition called PML, Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy. Jean passed away, July 28th at 7:30am she was 61 years old. Continue reading “I love you, Mom!”→