It's for My Own Good is a Poem by Liz Whiteacre relating to spinal injury and disability.
Liz Whiteacre is an Associate Professor of English at College of DuPage and a recipient of the 2010 Inglis Poetry House Award and 2008 Fesle Fenstermaker Prize awarded by Indiana University.
Her poetry has been published in Wordgathering, Etchings, The Prairie Light Review, and is forthcoming in The Survivor Chronicles.
Liz suffered a spinal injury in 2000, which is the catalyst for the poems she has written.
It's for My Own Good
I lie fetal on the table, and you squeeze my hand,
stroke my temple. Your job today is soothing
me - I can't believe I've agreed to this - I didn't
want to seem ungrateful or that I wasn't trying
to get better or that I didn't care, so I said, "OK."
Now, I'm letting this doctor stick long needles in me.
I'm pinned in this thin paper gown, tense, and you,
a stranger, stroke my head as my mother's done
while this doctor pushes each thick needle
into my hip and back and his assistant who smells
of spearmint pushes and pokes my skin as each slides
in to help find "just the right spot." Each needle burrows
a tender tunnel - I'm a cheese grater now, filled
with so many ragged holes stuffed with saline - tracts
throb when the metal's removed. The doctor does it again
and again. The Venus Fly Trap extract this doctor said
would numb the pain doesn't help at all, but you,
a nurse who looks like my fourth grade teacher
Mrs. Goulding, gaze at me and whisper how brave
I am and how much you know it hurts and how after
it's over, it will be better - it's for my own good.
And I find myself really soothed by you: I will survive
these slow invasions; the therapist's kneading
of liquid that ought not exist; the workouts and shots
to follow and follow. Your voice hypnotizes - I believe,
finally, this bulky saline solution designed to tear tissues
binding muscles together will dissolve as we rebuild myself.