Sickle cell chokes

From the hallway I can see
    your eyes wide with desire

You lie on your bed— asking
    for water to cool the tongue


Sickle cell chokes
    the vessels, strangles
the heart, and burns the brain

Its hand is a grip—
     wringing the limbs like a rag
until it drips with fire

Its mind is a hammer—
     a beating, blunting rhythm
to bury those who tire—

To dwell with a bone-hater—
    to lie on its bed of embers—
to climax a crescent-blessing
    with a curse—

to wait and watch a dozen
    nights in a darkened room—
to stretch your spirit in front
    of open doors and strangers—

You surrender to the blinding,
    deafening, awful now


I stand by the door
    between the hallway and your room—

holding a soldier’s faith
    and a finger dipped in water—

watching you lie on your bed— 
    waiting for me to say the word

I give the extra dose
    for our momentary glory
  1. Sickle Cell Disease – is an inherited disorder characterized by sickle-shaped red blood cells that cause hypoxemia. This can result in severe pain episodes requiring the patient to be hospitalized. Caring for SCD patients requires wise pain management as well as prevention of long-term organ damage. While people can lead productive and almost normal life spans, many struggle.
  2. Hospital utilization patterns and costs for adult sickle cell patients in Illinois. – “In Illinois the adult sickle cell population is concentrated in major urban centers, primarily the Chicago metropolitan area. These patients accounted for approximately 8400 admissions and more than $59 million in hospital charges during the two-year study period. A small group of patients used multiple hospitals and accounted for more than 23% of total hospitalization charges”
  3. Luke 16: 19-31 – “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus”; interestingly, God did send someone risen from the dead
  4. Protective Effect of Sickle Cell Trait Against Malaria-Associated Mortality And Morbidity – “We determined that the sickle cell trait provides 60% protection against overall mortality. Most of this protection occurs between 2-16 months of life, before the onset of clinical immunity in areas with intense transmission of malaria.”
  5. John 4: 1-42 – “the well is deep”
  6. Matthew 8: 5-13 – “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
  7. Calculating safe opioid dosages – “In a national sample of Veterans Health Administration patients with chronic pain receiving opioids from 2004–2009, patients who died of opioid overdose were prescribed an average of 98 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per day, while other patients were prescribed an average of 48 MME/day.”
  8. The World is not Conclusion (373) – “Narcotics cannot still the Tooth / That nibbles at the soul -“
  9. 2 Corinthians 4: 7-18 – “So we do not lose heart”

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