Abnormal

by Amy Crees

Abnormal

"And then Dad said that he didn't want to be seen with me in public because people would know we're related. He said I'm abnormal." The woman becomes smaller on her chair and the room closes in around us. Outside, it is raining. Inside, it's dark and grey; she closes her eyes from the world and sits on her hands to hide the vicious red. Fingers curl around the edge of my chair.

Inside, her body is fighting itself. The signs are semi-secret - you have to know how to look. Junk from her cells collects in the vessels, the nerves, her fingertips end with misplaced purpuric kisses. In places, the secret is revealing itself in red: her mouth ulcerated, the angry outline on her face, fever. The scars of alopecia hidden by a sweep of hair, long sleeves, guarded posture. It is an artfully concealed battle. Every movement is with pain, but it is not always like this. Sometimes, her hands grant her a few days of peace. On these days, she plays the piano.

We can calm the red with drugs, soothe the skin, and ease the ache of lupus. We cannot make her feel better, make her father understand and care again. No tablet to induce love, no steroid for affection. No cure for this pain. Because the truth is, the overwhelming truth, is that nothing hurts more than when those who are supposed to protect us, hurt.

Amy Crees

 

 

Reflection

This piece is based on a patient* I saw during my residential GP attachment who has had systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE). The condition had been well-managed with long-term steroid therapy for most of this time, but stress seemed to precipitate more acute "attacks". She had recently 'come out' and her father had reacted badly to this, refusing to have anything to do with her.

The piece is meant to allude to the similarities between the woman's physical disease and the underlying problem with her father, both reflecting a reaction to something/someone which is 'normally' protective.

Whole Person Care

*details have been altered to maintain patient confidentiality

Whole Person Care