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Human Parts
A publication about humanity from Medium: yours, mine, and ours.

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Lived Through This

Dispatches from the weird world of conversion disorders

A woman holds a mirror over her face that reflects the bright light of the vivid red sunset.
A woman holds a mirror over her face that reflects the bright light of the vivid red sunset.

I have something stuck in my craw. I’m not speaking figuratively. I’ve had something caught in my throat for nine months now.

It’s not really there. It’s only in my mind. This isn’t just one of those things where doctors dismiss women’s symptoms. My doctors have actually looked.

I’ve had four EKGs, a set of chest X-rays, a cardiac CT, an endoscopy, an ultrasound of my throat that revealed a nodule on my thyroid (mystery solved!), …


This Is Us

I’ve been fat and I’ve been thin, but I think I like myself best when I stop caring so much

As I write this, my city is on lockdown in response to the spread of Covid-19 — which means it’s just me and my body, alone together, in my little row house in Pittsburgh. I can’t go to the gym, obviously. I’m cooking for myself, and eating alone. I’m not dressing for anyone or anything. The only person I need to please is me.

Our current situation is with what diet culture tells me should be my ultimate Fat Girl Fear. In a world without shame, without the rails of other people’s judgment to keep me in check, I’ve been…


Mind Games

A cupboard full of canned goods triggers my deepest insecurities

A blurred image of an aisle in a grocery store, focused on the center where a woman is walking.
A blurred image of an aisle in a grocery store, focused on the center where a woman is walking.

When I was 11 years old, I watched the second Jurassic Park movie, The Lost World, and had a panic attack about a giant meteor hitting the Earth and causing the end of the world. I lay in bed and pushed my open eyes into my pillowcase, imagining the last moments I would spend with my family. Apart from the total and encompassing terror a panic attack brings, I sensed frustration — this imagined catastrophe was so utterly unfair. Why did this have to happen to me? Surely it wasn’t the actual end? What did I do wrong?

My feeling…


This Is Us

This popular phrase might be comforting, but it also perpetuates weight stigma

A blue-tinted photo of a shattered mirror.
A blue-tinted photo of a shattered mirror.

“I’ll give you my old dress! You’ll love it.”

A family friend is offering a kind gift: a dress she thinks I’ll like. She is a size 10. I am a size 26.

“That’s so sweet of you,” I say. “But I don’t think it’ll fit.”

“It’s got a lot of stretch!” She chirps. I wonder what kind of dress stretches to three times its size.

“I’m happy to try it on,” I offer, “but some plus-size clothing doesn’t even fit me, so I don’t want to assume this will. I am a fat lady.”

She looks at me with…


And it’s not yours, either

Since I found out I was pregnant, I’ve had doctors’ appointments every month. Plus half a dozen trips to the lab to have blood drawn. Plus trips to the hospital where I’ll deliver, because that’s where the ultrasounds happen. I’m in my third trimester now, so my doctors’ appointments are every two weeks. In the final four weeks, I’ll have to go every week, and since at age 37 I’m what’s considered a “geriatric” mother, I’ll likely have more frequent ultrasounds as well.

This is my third child in five years. I’ve had a dozen strangers’ hands inside my cervix…


When a back injury slowed my pace, it also changed my relationship with my city

It is my nature to treat every sidewalk like a racetrack. I’ve always been this way, even before living in a city, cursed with a compulsive need to get from corner to corner in world-record time. In my mind, this practice looks a bit like an action movie. I envision myself pole-vaulting over stretched-out dog leashes, gliding through narrow gaps between trash cans and strollers.

In reality, I end up darting in and out of the road, trying to pass the slow walkers who have trapped me behind them without attracting any eye rolls. Though I’m often humiliated at the…


Sometimes, our bodies hold stories that keep us trapped in pain

My neck hurts.

“Do you want to see what the problem is?” asks Dr. Rob. He’s staring at an X-ray he just took of my neck.

“Of course,” I answer. I can’t wait to see physical proof of whatever is holding my neck rigidly in place. After months of physical therapy and on-and-off years of looking like a newbie boot camp recruit, I’m more than ready to see what the hell is going on in there.

I stand next to him in front of the large computer monitor, our faces lit with ghostly blue light. It takes a moment for…


I wanted to listen to my body — instead, I made it scream

Your body has stopped talking to you. For the whole summer, it hasn’t told you to sleep or eat or move or do anything at all. That has been your relationship with your body since you were young. You waited and it spoke to you, conveying information through pain and pleasure, reminding you to nourish it and keep your hinges loose. But then there was too much pain and too much information, and then nothing. You stay still for a long time.

You know that silence is dangerous. Sharks have to move forward to stay alive. You are not a…


What would sexuality even feel like without all this pain?

We’d just broken up. Sure, he could do whatever he wanted — we weren’t together anymore — but damn if it didn’t hurt that the first thing he wanted (and the first thing he did) was to fuck his coworker, the same coworker I’d worked hard not to be too jealous over. Wasn’t she supposed to be a lesbian, anyway?

I was wearing a denim miniskirt and, as he followed me up the stairs to the apartment, he remarked, “Did your ass always look that good?”

I turned and faked a confident smile in his direction, then led him to…


Lessons from inside a coffin

My time had finally come.

I laid in my coffin and watched as the cover rapidly descended, cutting off all light in the room along with any sense of human connection. My heart and mind, both racing from the moment I had entered the box, slammed on the accelerator as darkness enveloped me.

But, as soon as the light disappeared completely, the coffin cover only inches from my nose and the sides pressing into my shoulders, something strange happened: I felt calm.

Cozy, even. It was much warmer with the lid on.

I quickly adapted to my new reality, aided…

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