Ann Keiffer

The Prescription

Sometimes it feels
less like
I have a disease,
and more like
the disease has me—
with deep aching pain
in muscles and joints
and chronic fatigue
that can turn into
life-crippling crashes
when my energy
plunges so low
I’m on the floor,
too exhausted
to move or talk,
just cryin’-tired,
no treatment,
no cure.

Here’s the breakdown
of the breakdown:
It’s a major disruption
in the essential function
of the mitochondria,
the tiny power plants
inside our cells
that both create
the energy
for cells to function
and drive
biological processes.

So far researchers
don’t know
what sabotages
the powerhouses —
beyond, maybe,
a roving band
of thug viruses.
But if you’ve
got this disease
or it’s got you,
the only thing
you can do
is less doing:
take your ibuprofen,
take your scheduled
daily rests and
save your energy
for what is
most important.

…But I recently
on some research
that was news to me.
It seems for those of us
with this dys-…

the best chance
for avoiding
those catastrophic
energy crashes
is to pay attention
to the pulse…

never pushing
outside our limits,
never working or
working-out so hard
our beats-per-minute
jump up into the aerobic…

There’s a
handy formula
for finding your
target number,
my number is 85…

…Fitness band on hand,
my first time out
to see what it meant
to move my body
but stay strictly
I went for a little…

A very
I hit
my cut-off,
my max, 85,
in five minutes…



…I could not.
When I hit my max
I had to


for my beats
to drop

I could

start a…

And no more
walking poles—
my pulse
even fast…

So taking a walk
was just like this






…For someone whose
default gear in life
has been set at “push,”
go fastfastfast faster,
this was a crush-…


…slap in the fate…

…The next day
my walk went
a bit better.
If I moved like a
zombie bride—
with a ridiculously
I could walk
a little longer
before I walked
out of…

..range and
had to sit…


As much as I
resented it,
I put
my butt
on the bench
to head off
any chance
of causing
a crash.
I sat there
grim, grim, grim,
watching my watch,
waiting for…

…my pulse to come…


…When all of a sudden
a chorus of birds
burst a bubble
of song above me
and I actually saw
what was before me:
the bluest of skies,
the green-grassy hills
through the graceful,
low branches of a
pink-blossomed tree
and I…

…laughed out loud. Poor me.
There is a prescription
for everything that ails me…

…be still in this beautiful life,
be here now,

March, 2024
Ann Keiffer

Image Source: Google/GAP Gardens/Photo editing by Ann Keiffer


About Ann

I am interested in the strange beauty of brokenness, in transforming possibility in difficult times, in how we heal even when we can’t get better, in the alchemy of surrender, in the interplay of light and shadow, in the bounty of everyday wonders, in the gift of laughter…and writing about it, all and everything.

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