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Poetry and Medicine
July 19, 2006

The Prognosis

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to jamapoems@jama-archives.org.

JAMA. 2006;296(3):258. doi:10.1001/jama.296.3.258

They stick pins in me.
Force me to walk a tightrope without a net.
Spin my head like a world globe.
They bake me in an oven till I glow
Hot as a black coal in a dying fire.
They measure my blood into tiny cups
Telling me there is too much or not enough.
They tell me my exam findings are worrisome.
My breath sounds like butterflies
Beating their ragged wings.
My liver is mottled and weary.
My heart is full of holes
Like an old tire leaking air.
My bones are crumbling to dust.
I need a new set of everything.
They tell me I’m permanently impaired.
That the cause is unknown,
Prognosis uncertain.
They tell me to “wait and see,”
Follow it closely.
They tell me it's nothing.
It's harmless,
Not disabling,
Possibly curable.
I should let it go.
Not struggle,
Never give up hope,
Fight to the end,
Accept my fate,
Swallow the bitter pill.