As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve had my fair share of medical issues which took some time for my doctors to diagnose. Celiac disease is a tricky beast that can present with any number of symptoms and is often misdiagnosed as other conditions or simply overlooked altogether. It can also lead to further complications when it goes unrecognized and is left untreated, which was the case in my situation. On top of this, I also experience frequent, sometimes debilitating migraines which my doctors as of yet have been unable to find a suitable medication or treatment plan to prevent them from happening. I mention all this not to complain or to seek pity. Rather, I want to give some context for the poem I’ve decided to share and to tell my story, if only to let others working through their own health issues know that they are not alone.
Over the course of the past 5 years, my doctors ran every test imaginable on me trying to rule out worst case scenarios: MRI’s to check for brain tumors, spinal taps and more MRI’s to check for MS, and even exploratory surgery to rule out other conditons. I kept expecting, or rather hoping for, that “Aha!” moment when they would find that one diagnosis that would explain all my symptoms. Clearly, I had watched one too many episodes of House. At times, I didn’t know which was worse, the pain I was experiencing or being left in the dark as to what was causing it all.
In the midst of all this, one of my doctors explained to me a guiding principle in medicine called Occam’s razor. This is a concept borrowed from philosophy which essentially boils down to the idea that the simplest answer is often the correct one. My doctor brought this up to dispel any notion I might have had that she would, like the plot of a House episode, come up with one rare, seemingly unlikely diagnosis and be able to cure me of all my ailments. Instead, I had to accept the simpler, yet seemingly incongruous explanation that I had several medical conditions which would take time and committment on both our parts in order to treat them. It was not exactly what I wanted to hear, but it did prompt me to do more research into the origins and applications of Occam’s razor and to make serious lifestyle and dietary changes to improve my health.
Like so many things in life, I’ve had to work hard at maintaining my physical health and continue moving forward as best I can. Even when I can’t see the road ahead, and especially when I feel like I have nothing left to give, I have to remind myself to soldier on and that there are other people going through much greater trials than my own. All the same, it helps to vent sometimes and writing has been not only an outlet for my frustration, but a means of processing and working through my struggles. Occam’s razor has come to my mind during other challenges in my life when I have searched for answers to questions that seemed impossible to unravel. With that, I present you with the following poem. Take care of yourselves and I wish you all good health.
If you beat my chest with your fist
The hollow tone that echoes back
May offend your ears
There is nothing here for you
No tears left to shed
The doctors said that Occam’s Razor
May cut to the heart of the matter
But I find there is no easy answer
To explain away the host of maladies
Plaguing this now empty cavity
I steel myself for the next wave
Another onslaught from the firing range
Of youth and beauty
Arrogance and dignity
The quiet touches that melt and sting
Yet I welcome them all the same
Standing in my armor
Determined to test its strength
I walk once more between the twin fires
Of my soul and the battle plain
Mistaking the roaring din
For a heartbeat