I Am Not My Disease


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

bowel movements,

fluid intake and outtake

and pain.

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