I ushered at a play last night with my husband. It was Wit a one-act play written by American playwright Margaret Edson, which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Some of you may have seen the 2001 HBO version with Emma Thompson which is worth watching if you have not seen it. But I can tell you the play version by the Lambs Players in Coronado, CA, in their intimate small theater setting, is superior. But then live theater almost always is for me. It is about a very accomplished and somewhat erudite professor who is diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. The play besides seeing in depth into her experience and the transformation wrought by it could also be an open door to anyone’s experience who is brought down by a debilitating illness. I am a hospice Chaplain by occupation and it inspired me to give a voice to my patients and to many others perhaps even yourselves.
I Am Not My Disease
I want someone to stop
taking my vitals long enough
to see me.
To empathize what it is like
to have one’s conversations
reduced to discussions of
fluid intake and outtake
I am not my disease,
just a person desperately trying
to find out who I am
now that I cannot walk well,
now that someone must change my diaper.
I was the protector, the bread winner.
I was the caretaker now taken care of.
I try to smile for my family
now overburdened and struggling.
People keep asking me how I feel
and I don’t want to say “like crap”
so I just say fine and because they
do not really want to know they accept this.
If I have faith then I am not afraid of the end
only the unknown journey there.
If I don’t have faith then I am wondering
whether death is a ”comma ‘” or a “period”
and afraid of the unknown journey there.
I am mostly stoic and not a complainer
who is wondering how much I can endure,
who gets tears in their eyes when
someone holds my hand or strokes my head
and says it will be alright.
I know it’s a lie but still I am comforted.
Thank you for listening to my stories,
thank you for sharing some of yours.
For taking this journey from life
to perhaps death with me,
for touching me with care
and not making me feel like
another generic patient
you must treat and document.
As, someone who was seen
and if the end comes will be missed.
For taking the risk to see me
and be seen.
Diantha Zschoche 10/13