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For Nicole

By Yu Fang

Nausea was the first herald - a queasy

Unease - subtle peculiarities


Suffocated, choked

By noxious fumes, disguised it

As anxiety.


Second and third came hand-in-hand - vicious

agony, bulging out from stiffened limbs



By stress and violent malaise

A coup from within


A hundred changes to daily routine

The fourth, Fatigue, is a disruptive fiend


Understanding comes

Rougher still - accused of Sloth,

A sin falsely gleaned


Can’t jump, can’t run, can’t carry too much weight

So much crossed out on an expanding list

Swallowing colourful pills, I just wished

That one day, this pain could abate.


The medication

Works at a leisurely pace

Oblivious and late




Five years to nurture gentle empathy

Peers and family, caring and learning


Peanut, Potato

My cute dogs waiting for me

As I stand, aching


I test my limits, I plan my schedules

And the list shortens, just a little bit


Alone, I travel

And meet people, young and old

The freedom is sweet


Hardships are dime-a-dozen for humans

My condition is like any other

In having to deal with the hands we’re dealt

Day-by-day, trying - a little further


Podcasts and Youtube,

The Try Guys are my fav, but

Humour? That’s my bae


Uncertainties and unease still exist

About myself, what I want to do

Yet, as far as what normality is

I’m a regular person, that’s what’s true

Author's Note

With the painful inflammation from her condition — Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Nicole’s life started to change. She needed to plan for activities she once took for granted and challenge the misconceptions surrounding her condition, all while dealing with mental health stressors that plagued her even before she was diagnosed. 

But she fought to keep moving forward with her life. She learned how to plan around her condition, and built support systems through addressing misconceptions of RA and other autoimmune diseases. Through all this turbulence, she also kept her desire to travel alive.

As she shared, her challenges in life “it’s no different” from anyone else’s. Everyone, inevitably, must struggle with ups and downs in their lives. She is just another person, dealing with hers.  

Through the poem, I wished to portray her experience of living with her condition, but also her firm conviction and willpower. I hope the reader will see a bit of themselves through her, and gain the motivation to surpass or deal with their struggles, as she has. 

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