Hypochondriacal by Vivi Steels

Posted on May 18, 2018 at 4:55 AM

I was listening to a programme on the radio about Hypochondria and it reminded me of this poem I wrote called 'Hypochondriacal'.  When I was 28 I had a very nasty virus, which never cleared up and developed in to M.E. I also had severe symtoms of Endometriosis and an underactive thyroid.  I was constantly told by doctors I 'was imagining my symptoms', I was 'perfectly well', I 'looked so well', and was made to feel neurotic and a nuisance, though I knew something was wrong with me.  After 4 years I was eventually rushed into hospital as an emergency for surgery for Endometriosis and 6 years later after that I had a hysterectomy for the condition.  It took a change of doctor and 7 years before I was given a diagnosis of M.E. (and Fibromyalgia) and 11 years for a diagnosis of hypothyroidism after a test survey conducted through the Endometriosis Society, of which I was a member and I ran a group in Nottingham for women with the condition. 

I was also a contact for women with M.E. and Endometriosis through Action for M.E. for a number of years.  I created the cartoons for the Endometriosis Society Newsletter for several years and I have included one below entitled 'The Doctor's Appointment - a.m.' regarding my treatment by doctors!  It could also be entitled 'Dr Superficial'!  You can also follow this link to see an article by me on the M.E. support website entitled 'Endometriosis and M.E.' @


“The best seller in my conjunctive eyes

is the inedible medical dictionary

lying at my swollen right hand –

it’s very difficult to swallow.

I turn, with the encumbrance

of a new plaster cast,

to the page about ‘ears’.

My hearing is not too sharp today.

A foreign body, I’m sure,

is lodged there, talking incoherently.

My tongue is numb.

Pins and needles sew up my jaw

and my neck is starched-collar stiff.

Something is telling the muscles in my back

to weld steel plates.

My breath finds it hard to fill lungs

once balloons, now bellows.

Of course my heart beats,

but it skips to an unfamiliar tune.

My abdomen gurgles with reminiscences

of vindaloo and my bowels, well –

their syndrome is irritated

to the point of anger.

My thighs are attached to my knees.

(Thank goodness something works!)

But seven seas of cod liver oil

can’t mask the creak when I bend

to pick up a BUPA note

fallen at my flat feet, which says:

‘You’re a marvellous creation –

We want you to stay that way.’ “

© Vivien Steels

Categories: None