I’ve been dealing with some UC stuff lately, and I’m home sick today, completely wiped out, sick, exhausted, and drained. I’ve been listening to Andrea Gibson on repeat during my commute to work this week, and her poem “How to Be Sick” has been playing on repeat in my head. While I would never categorize myself as “sick,” and I recognize that I have been blessed to have discovered a medicine early on in my diagnosis that allows me to take 4 pills once a day, not varying numbers of pills 17 times a day like statistics were telling me when I was first diagnosed, the days where I feel a stabbing in my insides leave me feeling weak and dejected. Andrea gets that.
After we came back from Spring Break on Monday, a few of my co-workers commented that I looked like I had lost weight, and that I should keep up what I was doing because it was working. It left me ruminating, and on the verge of laughter, because my insides attacking my body were what have left me losing weight these past few weeks.
When I was at my skinniest,
I was at my weakest.
Anemia– not anorexia–
controlled my body.
My ivory complexion
was caused by blood loss,
not natural beauty or hard work.
In fact, my body was hardly working–
the only thing it was good at, it seemed,
That was five years ago.
When I was first diagnosed,
I added chronic researcher
to my new branding of chronic illness.
The internet became my friend–
and my foe.
I tried avoiding dairy,
but I was allergic to almond soy milk.
I cut back on grains, fibers, and dark meat,
but that was all the dining hall served.
I said goodbye to sugar,
but the electrolytes I needed were in Gatorade.
When I went on the iron pills,
my doctor told me that I didn’t need
to avoid dairy,
but he told me to cut out caffeine.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay awake
if I didn’t have coffee running through my veins,
as the UC made me yearn for slumbers more often than not.
Then, my miracle occurred.
Anemia was defeated,
and I found a new found life.
Life found me,
and I convinced myself I was invincible.
My bones grew into curves,
and I reclaimed my body.
UC did not define me,
and I no longer let it define my diet.
I let myself fall into the wind,
waiting to see where life would lead me next.
The thing about being invincible is
you’re not invincible forever.
Sometimes that’s easy to forget,
and, when I do,
I’m in danger of being my skinniest–
or, as others put it,
No pain, no gain.
Beauty has a price.