Autoimmune Diseases

After Surgery

By Sean Thomas Dougherty

Forget the red berries on the snow. Forget how you were hungry but couldn’t eat, and the nurse who never came soon enough with the morphine. Forget the pain. Your pale face like a small moon. Your hair unwashed and unbraided, and all the papers they made us sign like citations. And the long walk from the parking lot in the snow, nervous I would not see you again, as I drove our daughters to school then rushing back across town to hold your IV’d arm. To wipe the drool from your mouth. And then more doctors, and the veins they couldn’t find. The holes they left in your arms. And the tests that told us nothing. And then another surgery, and another, and another then it was time to go home, because we had one. With lists of appointments like citations, your limbs bandaged and bruised. Before we left, I glanced out that seventh story window, down at the street of strangers rushing off to the normal world.


Author’s Note: My life partner, Lisa Akus, suffers from a rare auto-immune disease that has caused her great and constant pain for many years, and more than once brought her to near death.  Without the help of the State of PA and its healthcare system she would have died long ago, leaving our two daughters without their mother.  But she is tough and brave and goes on despite those in this country who would kill her and the millions of our bravest and most vulnerable citizens, kill them for pocket change for the rich.

Some of the poems in my next book The Second O of Sorrow due from BOA Editions in 2018, directly address Lisa’s illness and the daily struggle of it.




Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author or editor of 15 books including the forthcoming The Second O of Sorrow (BOA Editions), Double Kiss:  Contemporary Writers on the Art of Billiards (2017 Mammoth Books), All You Ask for Is Longing: Poems 1994- 2014 (2014 BOA Editions) and Scything Grace (2013 Etruscan Press). His awards include two Pennsylvania Arts Council Fellowships in Poetry, and an appearance in Best American Poetry 2014.   He works as a med tech and caregiver for people with brain injuries in Erie, PA.


For more information about autoimmune diseases in general, please click here and here. For information about autoimmune diseases specifically in women, please click here.

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