Nov 28, 2012

Poetry for POTSies

A friend recently reminded me of one of my favorite poems from my childhood that my second grade teacher, Mr. Markey, used to read to us in the most animated way possible.  Shel Silverstein's "Sick" is one of the many funny poems from his fantastic children's poetry book, Where the Sidewalk Ends.  Upon reading this poem for the first time in about 20 years, I had to laugh because this character sounds like a dysautonoma patient. My commentary is in blue.

"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps, (these were really hives from MCAD and parotid gland swelling from Sjogren's)
A gash, a rash and purple bumps. (delta-storage pool bleeding disorder, more MCAD and those purple goosebumps are a Midodrine side effect)

My mouth is wet, my throat is dry, (trench mouth is really a candida infection, probably caused by persistent dry mouth - dry mouth and throat are caused by low parasympathetic tone failing to stimulate salivation)`
I'm going blind in my right eye. (she had a grey out/pre-syncopal episode)
My tonsils are as big as rocks, (latent EBV infection)
I've counted sixteen chicken pox (it's not pox, it's more hives from MCAD)

And there's one more--that's seventeen, (that one is a Lyme, Babesia and Bartonella infected tick bite)

And don't you think my face looks green? (she's going to puke because of her gastroparesis)
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue-- (poor wound healing from EDS and that bleeding disorder, and evidence of northern european ancestry which seems to make her more prone to this stuff)
It might be instamatic flu. (or pheochromocytoma?)

I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke, (glossopharyngeal nerve hypersensitivity)
I'm sure that my left leg is broke-- (from all that klutzy fainting)
My hip hurts when I move my chin, (myofascial pain - it's all connected)
My belly button's caving in, (IBS/gastoparesis, or just the scar from her amyloidosis stomach fat biopsy)

My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained, (EDS double whammy!)
My 'pendix pains each time it rains. (not her appendix; it's recurrent autoimmune pancreatitis)
My nose is cold, my toes are numb. (Raynaud's and sensory small fiber neuropathy)

I have a sliver in my thumb. (happened as she slid down wooden stairs on her tush to get herself a glass of water, because she couldn't stand up)

My neck is stiff, my voice is weak, (EDS, kyphosis and more glossopharyngeal nerve stuff)
I hardly whisper when I speak. (acid reflux)
My tongue is filling up my mouth, (anaphylaxsis or hereditary angiodema)
I think my hair is falling out. (hypothyroidism or vitamin deficiency - if it's the hair on her legs, it's severe small fiber neuropathy)

My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight, (more EDS)
My temperature is one-o-eight. (oh shoot, she's got a PICC line infection)
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear, (CCSVI?, hearing loss is due to temporary effects of cerebral hypoperfusion)
There is a hole inside my ear. (the one and only normal thing about her)

I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what? (hangnail due to fragile EDS skin and she was just about tell tell us about her upright tachycardia)
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!"
(malingering or it must have all been in her head!!!!!)


Now don't everyone get all mad at me for the ending.  I think we have to take a look at ourselves and laugh sometimes.  We really are a bunch of hot messes.  Every single one of those blue comments is something that happened to one of my POTS friends, and many of them have happened to me.  Sometimes, when your body really is falling apart or not cooperating the way it should, a good sense of humor is all you have to get you through the day.  I hope this post made you smile and laugh.  I had fun writing it.


  1. I actually recited that poem for an oral interp competition in elementary school (4th or 5th grade). Little did I know how true it would all become someday.

  2. I remember this poem! I especially used to like it because I hated school when I was younger and I could identify with the little girls perspective Haha id try anything to get out of going and my speeches wouldn't differ much as I pleaded my mom to let me stay home..It was always pretty humorous to me. And now I actually do have pots, so I get to use all those excuses anyway with some degree of truth now!. It sure can be tough sometimes but I agree laughter is the best medicine and its important to maintain a sense of humor through it all :)

  3. Hello I have Lyme Disease and POTS. I live in NYC. I am not responding fully to antibiotics and my doctors have recommended IVIG. They have suggested Dr L at New York hospital for IVIG as a next step. I wanted to see if you had any information you could share with me in terms of IVIG. I am very ill but a bit scared of IVIG also...Thank you