als waning poem phoebe chiAll Poetry

The Waning (ALS)

You already knew.
Gaze unflinching, 

you told us to say the words.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

A. L. S.

Despite sparse questions,
your eyes revealed
an understanding far deeper
than our answers-

that with one moment,
robbed were you

of the years ahead,
of memories awaiting,
of stories belonging to you.
Now lost.

Strength dissolving,
your conviction remains

You savor
each passing sunrise.

Each caress, each step.
For you know.
As your legs cease to support,
arms stop to comply,
you still feel
your child’s touch.

Absorbing her love.
you don’t care the roles
have been reversed

as you yearn
to return her embrace.

As its hunger ascends,
You treasure
the remaining days.

Every word, every smile.
For you know.
Soon it
consumes your voice,

drains your visage,
until all that is left is
the silence
of a vacant mask.

Unable to reflect
your thought’s grin,

your heart’s laugh,
your soul tears
as you blink away the moisture.

As your breaths
increasingly betray you,

you are not defeated,
for the flames
of your bruised spirit
are not quenched,

and you give thanks
for the time you had,

even as your body dims
and you fade away.

Phoebe Chi, MD
Phoebe Chi, MD

As a physician educator and the managing editor of Health + Inspiration, Dr. Chi aims to inform, empower, and inspire the reader community. She is the author of Being Empowered for a Healthy Heart: A personal guide to taking control of your health while living with chronic conditions, a poetry-infused health guide, and founder of Pendants for a Cause, a nonprofit organization with the purpose of raising funds to fight illness, provide care, and bring awareness to medically vulnerable populations around the world.

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98 replies »

  1. This brought a tear to my eye. It’s nice to think that there are people as sensitive as you working in medicine. I also must thank you for visiting my blog. I would not have come across your beautiful poem if you had not. By a slightly bizarre coincidence, I was diagnosed with a condition similar to ALS in August 2013 – the PLS variant of motor neurone disease. It’s actually the equivalent of winning the lottery in MND terms. Mostly just affects upper motor neurones and develops more slowly – over years rather than months. Are you specialising in neurology? I’m increasingly disabled, but as your poem beautifully relates, I now appreciate the beauty of life and the simple things that were once taken for granted a lot more. There are plusses to being forced to wake up to our mortality. Thanks for your lovely poem 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, and for sharing that with me…it means a lot. To answer your question, I don’t specialize in neurology, but my inspiration came from my patients who were diagnosed with this whom I followed for several years after. What I have seen in them is amazing courage and strength…which I find both heartbreaking and inspiring.

      Thank you so much for visiting! I also look forward to reading your writing. Take care!


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