This poem was prompted by stories I’ve heard of paternalism in medicine where the lived experience of patients is often not accounted for during decision making. The decisions are, therefore, invariably lopsided and it’s no surprise that patients drop out or experience no benefit at all.
The tattoo on your forearm…
I see it – I see it change shape as you pen
the referral that will send me
to the place I don’t want to go.
You don’t see. You don’t see what I need.
The frown on your forehead…
I notice it – I notice it appear as I try and explain
that my shortened limb doesn’t need an orthopod;
it’s my anemia that’s brought me to your OPD.
You don’t notice. You don’t notice my lost autonomy.
The irritation in your voice…
I hear it – I hear it and it silences me;
you know better than me about anemia
but I understand better what I need.
Your experience doesn’t want to hear about my experience.
unseen, unnoticed, unheard.