Category Archives: Disorder

Minty Badness

I finally broke down and paid the big bucks to see a doctor over my digestive issues. He said it’s most likely a virus, and I’m doing all the right things, but to start taking Imodium. I’d been taking Pepto, but I guess Imodium is different in that it helps slow things down and bring everything together, if you know what I’m talking about. In the last few days that I’ve been Imodiuming it up, I’ve found that it also makes my butt minty fresh; a feeling that I do not quite enjoy. I have a love-hate relationship with mint that leans heavily on the hate side.

As a kid, I really didn’t care for traditional candy canes. I’d eat them when my friends were eating them in order to fit in, or I’d eat them in the days leading up to Christmas when they were the only candy option and I wanted a sugar fix. Come Christmas morning, Santa would leave fruity candy canes on the tree to save me from my peppermint hell. Altoids came out when I was in high school, and one day at lunch, my cousin’s friend pulled out the little red tin and told us that they were the strongest mints she’s ever had, and would we like to try one? I didn’t, but I also didn’t want to look like a loser, so I grabbed one of the chalky mints and popped it into my mouth. I immediately wanted to spit it out, but I sucked it up as it burned a hole into my tongue and tears welled in my eyes.  When no one was looking, I spit it out into the bushes.

I have no transition into this paragraph: I have thick, wavy hair, and as a youngster, it ran down to my butt. While it was fun to have Rapunzel-ish hair, it also grew like a weed and had to be trimmed fairly often. To save on costs, my mom would do this herself in our bathroom.  It took forever, and because it was so long, I was made to stand throughout the entire process so that she could reach down to cut it. Despite trying not to, every single time, I’d lock my knees, and half-way through the haircut, would suddenly be filled with the overwhelming sensation of smelling mint (which is weird on its own, but even weirder considering that I have no sense of smell). As soon as mint entered my nostrils, my vision would become blotchy, or come to a pinpoint, and I’d meekly tell my mom that I was about to faint. I have never actually fainted all the way, but without fail, I always “smell” mint in the moments leading up to a potential passing out. I’ve never met anyone else who’s had that sensation, so I’m not sure why it happens to me. Must be my brain creating, what it thinks is, the worst possible scent in a moment of despair.

Here comes the part where I love mint. I had just graduated from 8th grade and was at a farm in Savannah, Georgia. We were taking a tour of the grounds, and stopped by a row of mint plants. The leader told us to pick a leaf, dig our nails into it, and take a smell.

Despite my anosmia, I went through the motions so as not to be rude. However, as I brought the small leaf up to my nose and inhaled, I actually did smell mint! I was elated, and carried that leaf with me throughout the rest of the tour, taking whiffs along the way. Within minutes, my nose remembered that it wasn’t supposed to work, and I could no longer smell that leaf no matter how hard I tried. I have no idea why I was able to smell at that exact moment, but I will forever cherish that memory and the feeling of smelling.

For that gift I was given 18 years ago, I am eternally grateful to mint. I guess I can put up with a little tingle after a poop for a few more days.

Why a company thinks “mint flavor” is a good thing is beyond me. Photo Source

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Hate to Phone

Finding a venue for my wedding is proving to be frustrating and stressful. At one point last week, I truly thought it was going to be impossible; however, I’ve recently been able to shorten the list and highlight places I’d like to visit based on information I’ve received…information I’ve received solely through email. One thing many people don’t know about me is that I do not like talking on the phone. And I don’t mean that in a personal preference sort of way. I mean it in a I get mild anxiety over the thought of making a phone call sort of way.

I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. Though I was a shy and quiet child, I did not have a problem picking up the phone to call my friend Sarah to inquire as to whether or not she could walk down the street to come over and play. I did, however, have a problem calling her if it was just to chat. We actually used to talk on the phone quite frequently, and though I can’t physically remember, I’m almost certain that those phone conversations started because Sarah called me, not vice versa. It’s not as though I didn’t want to talk to her; I did. It was the build-up in my mind prior to the phone call that would prevent me from calling in the first place. What if she doesn’t want to talk right now? What if her family is eating dinner? What if she wants to come over, but she can’t because my brother’s friends are already here? In the end, I usually just didn’t call.

As an adult, I’m wrought with the same worries and anxieties; the difference being that I actually have to make certain phone calls—like to doctors. Before I make the call, I dialogue in my head exactly what I’d like to say to the person I’m calling. Once I figure out my phrasing, I grab a piece of paper to write out verbatim opening statements, along with bulleted points or questions I would like to bring up during the conversation. I guess my worry is that I will forget what I want to ask, or come across as a bumbling moron. Even when I have my “script” written out, I will put off an important call for days until I work up my nerve and find just the right moment in my day to phone them (aka I need to be completely alone with the windows and doors shut tight). Yeah, the thought of anyone overhearing an important call scares the crap out of me because I feel as though they will be thinking that they could have made that same call a lot better and with more finesse than me. And that’s not even because I think that I’m surrounded by “judgy” people; it’s simply a self-confidence issue within myself.

Making a phone call to a friend is a whole other story. For those…well, those just usually don’t happen. It bums me out that I can’t just pick up the phone and call a friend, but unless I have some major news to share, I get all my old hang-ups over calling. It’s been months since I last called…what if they give me a hard time about that? What if she’s busy and she’s only talking to me to be nice? What if I run out of things to say?

So because of this quirky aspect of mine, I’m dependent on the wedding venues to actually email me back their details, which is not necessarily the preferred avenue of contact for some of the smaller places. Many have been great in sending me information in a timely manner, while others that I’d really like to know more about, sit overlooked on my list because I’m too scared to call. I know I’m going to have to suck it up and create my listed dialogue eventually, but what’s a few more days gonna hurt?

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My Immunes! (A Story of Yellow Toenails)

I was told that while the stitches in my ankle’s tendon are holding, my tears have likely not healed. I did not find this surprising, as my body has competed against my desire to be healthy and normal my entire life. Next week, I will be undergoing a natural healing process where my blood’s platelet rich plasma will be separated and injected into my tendon in the hopes that those beneficial growth factors will speed up the healing process. In the meantime, it’s two more months of complete inactivity (besides regular walking, and thankfully, no wearing of the boot).

While grateful for an answer, this means that I will have to forgo the marathon I had planned to race in this coming Sunday. Being that I wasn’t able to train properly anyway, it’s probably more of a blessing. Also, surprise, surprise, I managed to gain not one, but two ingrown toenails over the last week and a half that has disallowed me from wearing any shoes. (I wore a pair for three hours last week, and I paid for it horribly that night.) My toes would not have held up for 26.2 miles anyway!

I used to get ingrown toenails frequently growing up, but never as throbbing or painful as the ones I have now. I believe this has to do with the fact that, up until a year and a half ago, my toenails were thick and yellow. (My guess: the thicker the shard of nail to dig out, the easier it is to remove.) When I was young, doctors said that nothing could be done about my nails because it was genetic, and so I endured years of embarrassing yellow toenails.

As a child, it was hard enough fitting in while being painfully shy, abnormally tiny, and possessing a nose that was far too big for my face. Unfairly, but fittingly, I was given disgusting, embarrassing, crumbly, yellow toenails to mix into my cocktail of ailments. I couldn’t do anything to hide my large, dysfunctional sniffer, and I took the teases in stride. But my toes; those I could control…or so I thought.

Besides going to the pool and curling my toes inward on my quick paced walk to the water, I was able to cover my unsightly feet with socks and shoes all day long! That is, unless you go to Sports Camp for the summer, and the gymnastics leaders force you to take off your socks even though you beg them not to, and plead with them to get your dad (the one running the gym at the camp) to vouch for you. Adults don’t always listen to kids, and those adults had the final say, so I slowly and reluctantly peeled my socks off my feet. I did my usual toe curl that I used effectively at the pool, but when it came time for tumbling, I just couldn’t perform the proper technique without uncurling my toes. This meant, as I came out of my roll and stood, feet together, hands held high for my “stick,” a mean, pretty girl was able to grab my ankle, hold it with a tight, zombie grip, and announce to the gym, “Oh my god! Look at her toes! Her toenails are yellow! Hurry, come look!” As you can imagine, tears of embarrassment sprang forth, and I wished that the blue felt of the mat covers would open up and smother me away from the gawking girls gathered around my feet. Of course, after the gym leaders were able to pry those girl’s fingers from off my ankle, they allowed me to wear my socks, but the damage was done. My dignity was lost, and I dreaded going to Sports Camp.

However, as most kids do, I grew to accept myself. I even learned how to manage my toenails with a 7-speed electric sander battery operated toenail file and some nail polish. A few years ago, I discovered that modern medicine had advanced, so I made an appointment to see an orthopedic doctor who prescribed me Lamisil tablets. Those pills worked wonders, and currently, most of my toenails are cured. However, I believe that as my toenails were growing into their thin, clear, beautiful selves, that they followed the thick, curled path of the old nails, and viciously cut their way into my nail bed like the knife of a surgeon. I’ve since dug them out (with twice the effort and pain as before) and have accepted that I will most likely always have ingrown toenails.

This entire story is to say that I’m unusually optimistic about my upcoming natural healing process next week. (I love long tangents, don’t you?) Yellow toenails might not sound like much, but trust me when I say that my body conspires against me, and if not for modern medicine, I’d probably be dead, or abandoned to some colony of misfits. My little platoon of “immunes,” as I like to call them, obviously couldn’t heal the tears in my tendon (even with the aid of stitches–poor little troopers), so I’m eager to witness all of my strongest immunes being clustered together into a battalion of health. Here’s hoping for the comeback of a lifetime!

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Stop and Inhale the Air Around the Roses

I can’t smell. Never could, never will.

What’s funny about this condition of mine is that I didn’t realize it until middle school, and didn’t really grasp it until high school. It wasn’t until college that I fully understood that I was missing out, and only a year and a half ago was I informed that my disorder had a name: anosmia. (Thanks for your random knowledge, Greg!) It’s not like it’s a sense anyone else can immediately notice is absent, and not being born with it, I never really knew what I was missing. Turns out, this is common for anosmatic people.

My very first recollection of not smelling something was in first grade. As my classmates and I were walking back to class from recess, Angela, my best friend at the time, turned around to hand me a Tinkerbell brand lip gloss that she wanted me to smell. I inhaled deeply through my nose, and caught nothing. Angela was smiling, her eyes gazing at me expectantly.

“It smells good, right?” she asked as she nodded waiting for my approval.

“Mmm, yeah!” I enthusiastically answered, while thinking to myself, “She’s crazy. That stuff doesn’t have a scent at all.”

That was the first of countless times in my life that I’ve lied about smelling something. It’s not because I’m embarrassed about my condition; it’s just easier. As soon as I let someone know I can’t smell, the next 5-10 minutes are spent describing the how’s and why’s:

You can’t smell anything? (Pretty sure that’s what “I can’t smell” means.)

You’ve never smelled anything before in your life? (Nope. Maybe if you ask again, I’ll change my answer.)

Here, try to smell [insert object of choice]. (Seriously? You think the one thing you hand me is going to miraculously cure years of anosmia?)

Is it just allergies? (No, it’s like being blind. I just can’t smell.)

So can you taste food? (Ugh, here we go…)

In all seriousness though, if I’m going to be around that person again, I like fulfilling their curiosity. It gives me something unique to talk about, which I rarely can come up with on my own, and it makes it easier for me in the future. No more faking it all the time.

Don’t feel sorry for me though. I believe that it’s more a blessing than anything. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be constantly blasted with scents all day long! I hear my friends and family gripe about nasty smells more than they chirp about good ones. And no picky eating for me! Food is all about texture and temperature. Pretty much, just don’t give me soggy cereal or a cold dinner with course lima beans, and I’ll be happy. Next time you take a bite of food, pinch your nose while you chew and swallow; that’s what I get out of it.

Maybe it’s sad for you, but for someone who has never known any other way, it’s normal, and it’s shaped who I’ve become. Who else can fart in the car, lock all the windows, and truly enjoy the pain they’re causing to their fellow passengers?

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