I have been sick for most of my life. This is both incredibly simple and incredibly complicated. Here is the short version: my immune system does not know how to protect me. My body attacks itself and I become inflamed. I am always in some type of pain.
I was 14 when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease with no known cure. Countless medications, several surgeries, a handful boyfriends, and a few periods of remission later, I was unexpectedly thrust into a new kind of sickness. At 27, without warning, I experienced crippling lower back and hip pain. After months of failed treatments and tests, I [...]
At the age of 29, my mother taught me how to bake a pie. That she was in her kitchen, proving how easy it was—how pleasurable it was to master this most domestic of tricks—was a shocker. “There’s more to life than getting married, you know!” she’d said when she caught me walking a Barbie down the aisle in a make believe game of wedding when I was young. “There’s art and work and travel,” she said slowly, clearly trying to make an impression.
But it all sounded boring, coming from her. I already knew I could become an astronaut, a lawyer, or president of the United States if I [...]
When I was eight years old, the only thing I wanted to be was president, and Tommy Hanlon told me in front of everyone in my class that I couldn't be.
One plank arm, square in my face with a noodly little finger: "If you weren't born here—you can't be president!" he squealed, a proud look in his eye.
At the time I was ostracized and lonely and distinctly un-American. I was, by the Southeastern Pennsylvanian definition, a "normal looking" eight-year-old, with a whole lot of love to give, but I had an untrustworthy accent that I'd brought over from England and a few other Victorian ticks like asking a [...]