Fiction On Odyssey: ​To Bleed Is To Write

Fiction On Odyssey: ​To Bleed Is To Write

There was a point in my life where writing felt like my only comfort in life. I was so dependent on it that when it left, I was gone. I thought I had left with it.


Writing: the art that soothes my soul.

The thoughts that torment my every woken night,

Following me through my days

Shouting, whispering

Clawing at the edges of my mind

Each one trying to come first

As their grips slip and fall away

It is the one to see me ache at the very mention of what I would make them become.

Blood drips out of my head onto lined sheets of paper

Showing open jagged wounds for everyone to see;

To poke at. To prod.

The jabs are never twice the same. The pain becoming worse and worse until my woken nights become every waking hour. Nothing matters until those wounds are healed, until the sore has closed and the eyes have left me to fall in tearing into hardened skin with torn nails.

My hands start to shake. My eyes begin to water. I delve back into the oceans of my mind reaching out to grab a remaining hand, searching for the monster which once so willingly came, only to be left lost and empty-handed.

I swim deeper into the sea. I keep going don't know how long I can go on. My movements become slow, no longer moving in the fast paced motions in which I began. And as soon as I breathe out that last breath and the pressure becomes far too much to bear, I see it.

What a beautiful creature…

Everything disappears.

Bright light glares against my eyes, temporarily blinding me. Disoriented, I feel around blindly with my hands. I'm in bed. I swing my legs over the side of my bed. My body stiffens and I feel a smile slowly creep onto my face.

The wait was over.


Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner.

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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I Am An Obese Nutrition Student And I Wonder If Future Clients Will Respect Me

Every good thing takes work. Every lasting change takes time.


I will sometimes be going about my day, enjoying classes, learning about nutrition, going to work, helping people, and feeling great, when I remember that I am still obese.

When I ended a five-year long abusive relationship, five years ago, I was 110 lbs. overweight. That was six years after I graduated high school, at which time I was 20 lbs. overweight. I ate for a multitude of reasons; to comfort myself, to hide, to enjoy something, to lose myself, to be unattractive…The list goes on. It took me two years to date again after that. It took me three years to realize how far I'd gone and decided to start losing weight. It's really hard to talk about. I sometimes find myself telling people about the 50 lbs. I've already lost through diet and exercise so that they will respect me; because I feel, or I imagine I feel, their judgment of my size. I sometimes find myself starting that story by leaving an abusive relationship so that others will know it would be wrong for them to judge me.

I wonder how patients and clients will respect me if I am still overweight by the time it's my turn to treat them. I don't know how to get over it. I know that I need to let go of those stories I tell about myself and whatever they are doing for me so that I can make room for other, more productive stories. I know I need to let go of that timeline. 5 years ago, what? Nothing. Life didn't start then. I do not talk about these fears with other people in my major. I do not want sympathetic answers, or confirmation. I do not often talk about these fears with my parents or friends or my boyfriend. They know me as a beautiful, confident, bright person, and I don't want to spoil their image of me with my own self-doubt. I know that I am those things, which is how I can forget that my body now qualifies me as having a medical disease, even though I feel fine.

I can do things I never thought possible, like run, hike, and wear just a bathing suit at the beach. My size doesn't stop me from doing anything that any of the gorgeous and fit women in my major can do. Then, I'll see a photo of myself and think about how the fat at the back of my arms is sticking out and wonder if it's just my own self-criticism or if it's really that noticeable. Sometimes when we talk about obesity in our classes, I don't feel a part of that group, and then I remember that I am. I am still losing weight, and I know I'm doing everything I can. It's slow progress; as slow as our classes teach us it should be. Emotionally it's very difficult, and it feels like an eternity. I catch myself being too hard on myself extremely often, and I try to redirect. I remember that once my weight is off I will have the true experiential credentials to say that natural weight loss is very possible. I remember that I will be a greatly empathetic practitioner because I have "been there." It's just hard sometimes that I am *still* there. I worry all the time about the stigma of being overweight as a Dietitian. I don't want that to be part of my life.

For a lot of reasons, it's my experience that "trouble comes by the pound," to quote Million Dollar Baby. I want to get rid of my excess weight now more than ever, not just because I think it will make me healthier and hopefully make me a more respectable Dietitian, but also because I have already rid myself of the abuse and the "trouble" that made me gain the weight in the first place. I want my outer to reflect my inner. I want to stop carrying around my painful past on my person for everyone to see. My life is so different now that sometimes I forget that past is mine. I've done so much work, and I've built a beautiful life. I know it all takes time.

I just want to be as light as I feel.

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