Unit 42 Haiku

National Poetry Month, which takes place each April, is a celebration of poetry introduced in 1996. Those of you who follow The Teal Diaries are aware that I don’t normally write poetry, however I’ve been inspired during my cancer treatments to pen a small collection.

There are few experiences in life as distressing or traumatic as being hospitalized for cancer surgery. In December 2011, I underwent surgery and was cared for on Unit 42 at Calgary’s Foothills Hospital. Many of the events that transpired are represented in the poetry that you will read here. In this case I’ve chosen to write haiku because of the format’s simplicity and

Blue slippers and gown
An eternity passes
in the pre-op room.

When he cuts me open,
no tumour for my collection,
crave smooth healthy organs.

Anesthesia mask
A few deep breaths are drawn
on my way to oblivion.

Recovery room
The bright lights overhead.
I’m dropped into darkness.

Conscious, I arrive.
The darkness welcomes me
on a winter night.

The room is spinning.
I long for perfect stillness,
let this voyage end.

van-gogh-starry-night

I have nurse Crystal.
The post-surgery hours pass,
finally the dawn.

They manage my pain.
Senses are dulled with morphine,
the standard dosage.

Compression bandage
covers my fresh incision
my surgeon’s trademark.

First blood transfusion
My outstretched arm is waiting
for type O to come.

My blanket is thin.
Comfort of warm flannel sheets
during the still night.

This building is old,
mid-twentieth century,
these rooms are vintage.

Generations past
have walked slowly down these halls
now I follow them.

19th Century Surgery

I have a roommate,
a Dutch Lutheran woman.
Her prognosis is grave.

New complications,
nausea, fluid leaks out,
doctors seem unsure.

Hard recovery
My progress has been so slow,
a mountain each day.

My carcinoma
hides under a microscope
in some nearby lab.

The truth will ooze out.
Why conceal my pathology,
daze me with a pill?

He stops by my room.
Cancer spread to one lymph node.
The truth is laid bare.

Too much of this place.
Even the walls scream go home
find the strength to heal.

Past empty wheelchairs,
through the lobby Christmas Eve
out hospital doors.

One Comment

  1. I feel for you – I’m exploring cancer and the implications over the next few weeks – for me, writing the haiku was a release – reading yours is very inspiring!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s