holding hands b&w

When the Hurts Don’t Show

holding hands b&w

holding both the visible and invisible wounds

The words the nurse said that day return again and again to my thoughts: “If the ulcers that are on the inside of her body were on the outside, you’d have to wonder how she’s been making it through the day.” It was a Wednesday, the day of my then eleven-year-old’s diagnosis with Crohn’s disease. The MRI left no room for doubt; her digestive tract was heavily damaged. We would need to change her diet, monitor her inflammatory markers through blood draws, and begin a regimen of steroids and other medicines in an effort to put her Crohn’s into remission.

Hers was our first appointment of the day. As soon as she had changed out of her hospital gown and back into regular clothes, we descended four floors on a hospital elevator for her younger sister’s appointment—a diagnostic test to measure the reflux in her kidneys. The test would determine how successful her latest eleven-hour surgery had been—the third major surgery in the fewer than two years since she’d been born. Read more

Bullies, Wood Chips, and God

Nancy is a woman in her 40s. She is one of the more high functioning individuals at Clover Bottom with a mentality of around a 6-year-old. She is verbal (very verbal actually!), she can walk, and she understands most of what you say to her. Nancy is, probably due to her medication, a very wary person. She always seems to want assurance of what is going to happen and she frequently talks about how someone has wronged her in some way.

When Nancy entered Studio 1 that morning, I could tell that she was having a worse day than usual. Her worn orange turtleneck gave it away. The usual Nancy who greeted me in Studio 1 loved pastels, was often dressed in pink, and had at least three long pink and purple necklaces hanging from her neck. Nancy began her usual feelings of discontent over a bully and how she didn’t like the clothes she was wearing.

Nancy began to speak in third person asking me, “Why is she so upset?” and I said, “You mean, why is Nancy so upset?” and she said, “Yeah.” Knowing that today Nancy would color nothing with her favorite colored pencils, I said, “Well, Nancy, I know that somebody pushed you down and that you’re upset you’re wearing the same clothes you wore yesterday, but what if I told you a story?” Read more

Picking the Sick Puppy

And, in the year 2007, it turns out that searching for the dog of your heart’s desire is not so different from online dating. Rather than trolling the aisles of for a man who seemed intellectual, but capable of intimacy, we were trolling for a dog with an open, sweet face who would not bite children or defecate on the floor. Rather than speed dating, we traveled to local shelters, walked up and down the aisles between kennels and rapidly dismissed dogs that did not appeal to us (not housebroken, barks too much, jumps too high, seems scared, seems aggressive).

When we finally narrowed down candidates, we went on dates. Read more