Sunday, 24 November 2013

Flare Up

The poem below describes what it is like to experience and overcome a flare up in pain. When a flare up lasts for more than two days it is known as a set back. This week has been dominated by a set back. Flare up or set back, neither are pleasant and I thought I would re-post this to help raise awareness of Chronic pain.

If you are a sufferer my thoughts are with you.

Flare Up

The tormenting ache is obscured
replaced by searing agony.
I feel the flesh melt,
Imagine the blisters as they bubble,
blacken and crisp over.
The edges split and retract
to reveal red tissue below.
It blackens and the cycle starts again.

My mind tells me it’s not true,
burnt nerves can’t feel.
but this is no ordinary fire
no water can quench these flames.
Born deep within neural pathways
they burn as intense as
the a charcoal maker’s kiln
consuming all reason and sanity.

Bed covers lie thrown back
the soft linen had burnt;
as its folds crept like molten lava,
and scorched everything in their path.
The mind fights for control
looking to stem the flow
as if closing the sluice on a stream
but the gate valve is stuck

Thoughts are marshalled,
challenged and found wanting.
Well-rehearsed counter points are delivered.
Slowly control is regained.
Unhelpful thoughts rally for a final push
but once again the mind delivers a ‘coup de grace’,
another battle is won
and the leg will bare weight today.

John Carré Buchanan
19th August 2011


  1. Really like this John (your writing not you personal experience of the subject matter). Was not sure at first but loved it by the end, fantastic on a second read through.

    1. Tom, Thank you, I am glad that you found the poem grew on you as you read it, that is what I was hoping to achieve when I wrote it.

  2. John, reading this is uncomfortable and it succeeds in getting across the agonies of things usually so comforting. Linen and bedding that normally provide sheltering comfort have now become tormenting rasps and blades, as every nerve and sinew screams. I salute your courage and resolution to overcome these episodes of raw pain and I hope you'll keep writing and fighting!

    1. Ian, Thank you for your support. Writing on this subject is always tricky as people don't really want to read / hear about it in too much detail. The problem is that whilst pain is a disability that affects as many people as diabetes in the UK it is invisible and as such is greatly misunderstood and to a large extent unrecognised.

  3. No one really understands, when a person can look so well, just how much pain they can be in.

    I hope your pain had abated since you wrote this John.

  4. Karen, Thank you, the last few months have been particularly unpleasant, hopefully I will get things a bit more under control soon. Hope all is well with you too.


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