Monday, February 21, 2005

Disease, Fatigue, and Poetry

If you have ever heard of polycythemia vera, and chances are you haven't, you know that it is a rare blood disease marked by an abnormally high red blood cell count and blood cell volume. For some patients, including me, the disease causes abnormally high platelet and white cell counts as well. It is as if my bone marrow has no sense of moderation, and simply creates cells as fast as possible all the time.

One of the symptoms of this disease is fatigue, something I manage every day, but which sometimes becomes crushing. For the last several weeks I have been laid up with the kind of painful bone-deep fatigue that is disabling. This is why I have been absent from my beloved blog. Sometimes I get too tired to even think, let alone write.

Now I am on an upswing again, back to doing yoga, laundry, socializing, and blogging. I found a new site,, and did a search for "tired" to see what might come up. I found this lovely poem by Amy Levy. I love the way it describes the end-of-day fatigue as something positive, something to look forward to, something that forces our minds and souls to rest

The End of the Day
To B. T.

Dead-tired, dog-tired, as the vivid day
Fails and slackens and fades away.--
The sky that was so blue before
With sudden clouds is shrouded o'er.
Swiftly, stilly the mists uprise,
Till blurred and grey the landscape lies.

* * * * * * *

All day we have plied the oar; all day
Eager and keen have said our say
On life and death, on love and art,
On good or ill at Nature's heart.
Now, grown so tired, we scarce can lift
The lazy oars, but onward drift.
And the silence is only stirred
Here and there by a broken word.

* * * * * * *

O, sweeter far than strain and stress
Is the slow, creeping weariness.
And better far than thought I find
The drowsy blankness of the mind.
More than all joys of soul or sense
Is this divine indifference;
Where grief a shadow grows to be,
And peace a possibility.

Amy Levy


Billy said...

cool poetry site.

Kristina said...

Have missed your words. I'm glad you're starting to feel better.

Anonymous said...

I also have polycythemia vera and I know exactly what you mean by that end of the day fatigue...
Amy from Massachusetts