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 [...]
Mom tells the story with a smirk on her face and an eyebrow raised, as if she's revealing something wicked. “It was late, sometime after midnight. I was on the phone with my boyfriend and all of a sudden I felt a cold draft. I thought I left a window open.” The words coming out of Mom's mouth are suspended in the air, waiting for a reaction. I'm listening, but not really; I have heard her tell this story countless times.
“All I know is that I tried to turn around to see where the cold was coming from, but I couldn't move. I was frozen! I was laying in [...]
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 [...]
Sandwiched between a hulking grey backpack and an expandable bag on my chest, I stand on the shoulder of a steep road that winds up from a surreal aqua lake. I’m on the edge of the pristine Aspen-like town San Martin de los Andes in Argentina’s northern Patagonia. I have a purpose here. I just decided one hour ago: I am hitchhiking to Ushuaia, the southernmost tip in South America. I am hitchhiking to the End of the World.
I’ve been in the country for a month and only hitchhiked once before. I don’t know what I’m doing. "Stick out your thumb higher,” two passing Chilean hitchhikers call out [...]