Not only is Hillary Clinton creating a frenzy of 2016 election speculation and my favorite internet memes, but she’s also brought blood clots into the media spotlight. While the buzz has gone down, and you rarely hear commentators on CNN analyzing deep leg thrombosis anymore, the incident stuck with me. I, too, have blood clots.
In April of 2012, an unusual set of symptoms put my dear Bubbe, a retired oncology nurse, into a strange panic. She demanded daily, “Go see a doctor!”, as she was increasingly worried about my high fever, swollen glands and other symptoms that were unbeknownst to me as signs of lymphoma.
I, of course, remained completely ignorant of what my illness could be, only calling the doctor to avoid incessant nudging that had now spread to my mother. You’ll do anything promptly at the urging of two Jewish women.
It was only when my doctor told my grandmother it was not what she feared that I finally realized what all the fuss was about. I burst into tears and exhaled a sigh of relief all in the span of about five minutes in the waiting room, before I was strapped in for a series of precautionary blood tests. Keep reading »
It will never get worse than this.
I’m thinking that to myself as I rock back and forth on a toilet in a noisy bar. It’s Saturday night, a table full of my friends is wondering where I ran off to, and I have a potential date/booty call in a couple of hours. I’m sweating, I’m shaking and I’m trying to figure out what did it this time.
It, of course, is another horrific bout of diarrhea, one of the charming effects of irritable bowel syndrome. I felt it coming on as we walked to the bar, and made a beeline to the gas station across the street. I had to wait while the cashier bullshitted with a cabbie, shifting weight from one foot to another while cramps amped their way up my abdomen. Keep reading »
Given the Gawker mandate to be glib and ruthless, whether or not they know what they’re talking about, I won’t pretend to be shocked by a dashed-off remark in Monday’s post on Kate Middleton’s pregnancy:
The Palace also reported that Kate was admitted to the hospital today with “hyperemesis gravidarum,” which is what they call regular old morning sickness when you are a princess.
Nor, for more or less the same reasons, was it surprising to watch the ladies of “The View” dismiss the duchess’s condition with a flurry of bubbly interruptions, ignoring a nurse’s earnest response to Barbara Walters’ half-hearted question about whether HG is serious: “It can be,” the nurse said sheepishly. (In an open letter to the duchess, HG sufferer Betsy Shaw gives Kate “permission to slap” Walters.)
I have no idea whether Kate has HG or not. But the fact remains that it can be a brutal, crippling condition that goes largely ignored and untreated, partly due to its overlap with ordinary pregnancy sickness and partly to our attitude toward suffering and the suffering of pregnant women in particular. As Atul Gawande noted in an indispensable 1999 New Yorker piece on nausea and vomiting, “A surprising number of doctors still believe in the discredited Freudian theory that hyperemesis is due to an unconscious rejection of pregnancy.” Little seems to have changed since the last century — or the one before, for that matter. Keep reading »
At first I thought there were pimples on my vagina. That was when they were only hard, tiny lumps. I noticed them when I was in the ladies room at work. The next time I went in the bathroom, they were much, much bigger, and I started to get worried. And was it just me, or were they really starting to hurt? By the time I went home they were so painful I couldn’t sit down. I started to think that somehow, this meant I was going to die. This had never happened before but I, ever the optimist, went to bed sure my vagina would be back to its old, sexy self when I awoke the next morn.
It wasn’t. The bumps were larger and even more painful, and examining my naked body that morning, I was sure that, for the first time, I was seeing what a really pissed-off vagina looked like. She was screaming at me, she was aching and tired and red and troubled. When I discovered I couldn’t even wear pants, I called the doctor and they told me they could squeeze me in two days later. (Here is the part of the story when you learn an unfortunate character trait of mine that will come up several times in this story — I am a truth avoider/denier.) I didn’t want to be pushy or impose, either (I am from Ohio, if that explains anything). So, I accepted my appointment and lived the next two days enduring an increasingly excruciating pain in my crotch. Keep reading »
This piece is presented as part of The Frisky’s How To Deal Week, in which we’re focusing on mental health issues.
I have five fingers on each hand. I use them like this: I hold up my thumb and whisper, “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.” Then my pointer finger. “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.” Then my middle finger, my ring finger, and my pinky. I give small kisses in between each “Thank You.” I do this five times for a total of 125 “Thank Yous.” Then I say “Thank You” for specific things, like how bright the sun is today or how soothing it is to feel my wet hair on my back. These I repeat just once for each finger. Then I thank G-d for his infinite wisdom, infinite grace, infinite compassion, forgiveness, and honesty—one accolade for each finger.
This is the prayer I say when I get on the subway in the morning. I have to say it.
“Or else…?” asks my therapist. Keep reading »
When I was 32, I started feeling something heavy in my stomach when I lay in bed at night. Something, I wasn’t sure what, pressing on my bladder. I knew I couldn’t be pregnant, since none of my recent dates had led anywhere special. I reasoned with myself. It was probably a urinary tract infection. I’d never had one and I figured it would be simple to fix.
I waited a few days to see if I was imagining the discomfort – and sometimes I thought I was. There were days when the pressure went away. Then it would return, and I would constantly feel like I had to urinate, throughout the day and night. I knew I had to see my gynecologist right away. Keep reading »
When I first started taking Adderall, it wasn’t prescribed to me — it was my boyfriend’s. It was 2006, and I had a fun but creatively unfulfilling job at a men’s magazine. On the weekends, I was determined to grow a freelance career that, god willing, would allow me to quit. Freelance writing, especially when you’re starting out, involves a lot of pitching, in particular pitching editors who don’t know you. It’s a lot of coming up with ideas, proposing those ideas, and waiting, hoping and praying, that someone, anyone bites and is willing to pay you a decent sum to write it. To be a successful freelancer writer, you have to be extremely motivated and focused.
I had the motivation. But focus was out of my grasp. I felt stuck literally and mentally. And being stuck make me anxious. Keep reading »
Kate is just like you or me: She is 29, lives in Ohio with her husband, holds down a job, and is the mother of a 3-year-old son. But for the past few years Kate has been living with the knowledge she is HIV+.
Kate blogs about HIV+ life at A Girl Like Me, a group blog written by women who are living with HIV. The blog is a program by The Well Project, a non-profit started by a woman living with HIV/AIDS which focuses on the needs of women living with the virus.
On the occasion of World AIDS Day 2010, Kate has generously opened up to The Frisky about how she contracted HIV, what her day-to-day symptoms are like, and how others treat her when they learn she is positive. — Jessica Wakeman Keep reading »
When I was a kid, I never chewed gum. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see who could blow the biggest bubble with my friends. I loved all the fruity flavors gum had to offer; it was a tropical fruit world that I longed to be a part of. No, I didn’t chew gum for the same reason I didn’t eat whole apples—mine were always sliced. For as long as I can remember, eating simple things like this hurt my jaw. It clicked and cracked and was painful to the point where I didn’t want to eat. To this day, the idea of opening my mouth wide and wrapping my mouth around a big, red, juicy apple gives me pain. Keep reading »
Don’t even bother trying to pronounce what I have, because I can barely get it right and I’ve had it for 11 years. It’s called Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a rare autoimmune vascular disease that primarily eats up your sinuses, lungs and kidneys. It can also chew through your joints, ears, eyes, skin and internal organs as it pleases. It’s in the same autoimmune family as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, except invitees at this family reunion might seem kind of bummed when you and your unpronounceable German disease show up at the door. When I was first diagnosed, I said, “Weg-huh-nuh-what? That sounds like a Nazi disease or something!” Turns out, Friedrich Wegener was a Nazi doctor who named my form of vasculitis back in the 1930s. He wasn’t even a Nazi by force. He was a Nazi for fun. Wanted for war crimes and everything. No wonder there’s a movement afoot to change the name to something zippy like “ANCA-associated granulomatous vasculitis.” But let’s just go with WG for now. Keep reading »