A haiku or two: symptoms

A young woman exhales under water.
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

The time has come! As promised, I’m back again, asking you to share your experiences of heart disease through the fun (if slightly random) format of haiku!

Quick reminder… A haiku has 17 syllables in all: 5 in the first line, 7 in the second, 5 in the third. For our purposes, that’s really all you need to know – just don’t tell the haiku police I said so!

Now, I’ve had quite a few people get in touch to say they find identifying the number of syllables in a word tricky. I have two things to say on this:

1: I do not mind if your “haiku” has the “wrong” number of syllables entirely, or even if you make no attempt to adhere to syllable count or three lines or whatever. You’ll notice previous editions of the zine feature contributions that are not haiku. If you respond creatively to the monthly prompt, I will be delighted to read it and consider it for inclusion in the zine, haiku or not.

2: If, however, you do want to have the “right” number of syllables, there are some handy techniques to help. This video is aimed at children, but has four very useful and easy ways to make breaking words down into syllables super simple. My favourite is to talk like a robot – you will naturally break words down into syllable sections by doing so 🙂

A male torso, hunched over, with hands clasped to the chest.
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

This month’s theme is SYMPTOMS, as chosen by popular vote over on Twitter. What are the symptoms of your heart condition? How do they make you feel? What impact do they have on your life? Are other people aware of your symptoms? How do they respond? Or are your symptoms invisible? If not, do you wish they were? Have you found an ingenious way to manage your symptoms? Whatever your thoughts about the symptoms of heart disease, I want to hear them!

The main symptoms of my heart condition (heart failure) are exhaustion, fatigue and breathlessness. Sometimes I also display the “classic” symptom of fluid retention, but not so much. I would also add depression to that list, as well as irritability and brain fog. Here are a few examples of haiku I’ve written that address the symptoms of my heart condition to some extent. (I’m not going to include those I’ve written about depression, only because I feel like we should probably have mental health as a zine topic in its own right some month.)

Two pairs of socks attached to an outdoor washing line with clothes pegs.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The stupidest jobs

Can become impossible

On a bad heart day.

Hanging up washing,

Reaching for the highest shelf –

Arms lose all power.

View of an escalator from the bottom.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Running on empty –

A broken escalator

Has brought me to tears.

Sometimes my lungs burn

Or my legs feel so heavy

That I can’t lift them.

Stairs like a mountain.

I start to climb – my heart sinks

Like my oxygen.

A man holds his head in both hands as if he is supporting its weight or holding it steady.
Photo by Wallace Chuck on Pexels.com

Keeping my head up –

Insurmountable challenge

When my heart won’t play.

Early bed / late rise –

I might spend more time sleeping

Than I do awake.

I’ll ask a question

At the bottom of a hill

To hide breathlessness.

A hand reaches out from fog or smoke.
Photo by Rubenstein Rebello on Pexels.com

I sigh much more now –

Not to express annoyance,

Just for lack of breath.

I forget my words

And I lose my train of thought

Think…I need some air.

I’m really looking forward to reading what you all have to say about your symptoms. If, like me, you get breathless and sigh a lot, you might be interested in the project Life of Breath and this recent post about sighing from Heart Sisters.

Happy haikuing!


    • Wait, isn’t this what your original comment DID say?! Oh, I see – ill/I’ll 🙂 Gah, autocorrect often does more harm than good, I find. Thanks, as ever, for your contributions!


  1. Here comes my heartache

    Spasms are labour in my heart

    No baby in the end

    The pain comes and goes

    The air squished out of my lungs

    My heart starved of blood

    The pain grows and grows

    It’s deeper longer stronger

    Cutting through my chest

    My bra feels too tight

    I cannot think speak or move

    Then the pain has gone

    Liked by 1 person

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