After my article about Violet was published in Parade this summer, I received so many amazing letters from parents of CCHD children and from several adult CCHD survivors. I read and saved every email (yes, even if I didn’t have time to respond to you personally) because it meant so much to have these total strangers reaching out to say “I’ve been where you are.”
Then I got an email from Annie Kersch, who was writing to say “I’m there, right now.” And also: “How can we make sure this stops happening?” Because her daughter Ari also did not receive a pulse ox test at birth — which meant she became dangerously and horrifically ill before her heart defect was discovered. Annie is committed to raising awareness about the importance of pulse oximetry screening (as well as improving prenatal detection of congenital heart defects), so I knew I had to tell her story. I’m so pleased that this piece is now live on the new (and very cool!) Yahoo Parenting.
I wrote the first draft of this essay quite soon after we came home from Violet’s first (22 day) hospital admission. Our life had just exploded, everything was raw, and I was filled with questions. My (excellent, patient, compassionate) midwife and Violet’s (excellent, patient, compassionate) team of doctors were endlessly kind about my questions. But they didn’t have all the answers. And during a time like that, people are quick to tell you when there’s no fruit there — you need to focus on moving forward, on being strong for what is and what’s next. They are right and I have tried hard to do that. But trying to understand why your baby’s heart didn’t develop correctly isn’t like trying to understand why your ex-boyfriend stopped calling. It’s a big, never-ending question with a million answers (depending on your faith or lack thereof) and also no answers — at least not scientific ones, at least not yet.
Getting back to my roots here, with a new feature for the August issue of Marie Claire that asks: Can you be heavy and healthy?
Longtime blog readers know that my gut response on this would be yes — but it turns out there is a decent amount of science to support that idea. Of course this is a pretty controversial claim, so let’s go over some ground rules right now:
- No, I am not saying that every overweight person is healthy (or vice versa).
- No, I am not saying that every thin person is unhealthy (or vice versa).
A lot of the time, as a writer, my job is to tell stories. But sometimes, in ways that are forever surprising me, I realize that my stories are kind of telling me. So here’s a story that I started telling over a year ago, when two assignments inspired me to learn to swim. Yes, at age 32, yes, while seven months pregnant.
And today, I’m sharing a new story, which I wrote for this month’s issue of Prevention, about how swimming has sort of saved my life. The article is part of a wonderful package on “extreme healing.” There are pieces on how to turn your home into a healing oasis, the best healing destinations in the world, and fancy healing spas. Then there are two essays that weave together the science of healing with personal narratives. One is by the utterly fabulous Judith Newman, about the road trip nobody wanted to go on.
This is one of those very tricky stories that made me think very hard about stuff that I’ve long taken as gospel. Specifically: That The Pill is the best thing that ever happened to women’s healthcare and maybe to women, period.
I know. As a good feminist and generally responsible human being, I have long assumed that being on the Pill was more or less my civic duty. I thought I had to be on it the same way I have to vote because, you know, Susan B. Anthony and Seneca Falls.
But you guys already know a lot of my back story here: Migraines, endometriosis, what have you.* And at some point along my merry way, I started wondering about the Pill. It was clear that all of my health issues were hormonal. And the Pill — which I had been taking faithfully since the age of 14 — is nothing but (synthetic) hormones. I tried lots of different kinds and ultimately got to this catch-22 situation where I couldn’t stay healthy off the Pill but I also couldn’t find one that worked for one problem without making the other one worse. In talking casually with girlfriends and many readers of this blog, I realized that lots of women struggle to find a good fit with the Pill… yet we also all take it for granted that it’s The Best Thing Ever For Women’s Health. Because choice and responsibility and empowerment, right?
The June 2013 issue of Elle is “The Body Issue,” and I contributed this essay on the science of exercise motivation and my personal quest to stop thinking of my workouts as yet another chore (to be avoided at all costs) and start being one of those people who actually craves physical activity and gets grouchy when they can’t do it.
Guys, I did the most fun radio interview this week, with Robin Shea, host of Southern Fried Fitness, a TV show and internet radio program on wsRadio.
You can read what Robin is all about in the screen grab above — and guess why I liked her immediately (hint: Fried things are delicious.) Robin wanted to discuss this post I wrote back in March, about the troubles with fitspiration. In case you forgot — Fitspiration or fitspo is a term for all the sweaty hard body images currently bouncing around Pinterest, Facebook and the like, accompanied by:
And I’ve got these delightful get well flowers* plus three cool-if-creepy holes** in my stomach to prove it.
So just a quick check-in to thank you all for the supportive comments and emails before my surgery last week. It was an intense day, followed by a blur of painful/painkiller-filled days. I’m definitely still recovering, but have turned a corner and no longer feel quite so much like death/can brush my teeth and even shower without immediately needing a nap afterwards.
Also, all of you who were so appalled to learn that I hadn’t gotten around to reading the Hunger Games yet: Good news! Read all three in three days and yep, you were right. They definitely go on the list of Brave Books for Girls (Not Princesses).
When I first came clean about my various health woes back in January, I promised this wouldn’t become a sad sack sick girl blog… and I’d say making you wait almost five months for an update achieves that goal.
So here’s the word: Tomorrow morning, Horace and all his little cyst friends are getting cut out.
I’ve been consulting with a fancy gynecologist who specializes in hard-to-treat ladyparts like mine for the past several months. We’ve tried the Pill — a low-estrogen version that isn’t supposed to interfere with my migraines. Horace is unmoved and continues to flare up with waves of stabbing pelvic pain and 12-hour migraines several times a month. The rest of the time, he wakes me up in the middle of the night, hurts when I pee, spasms when I do certain yoga poses and is generally annoying.