Concrete Illness

One of my all-time favorite sights is to see a little flower or puff of grass growing through broken concrete. That small, delicate little flower pushed and pushed its way through a substance that even an 80,000 pound semi can't crack. How did it push through? It kept growing. It persevered. It prevailed. It was smothered by the weight of the world and it didn't stop until it saw the light of day.

I wanted to open up about something that I have kept hidden. I don't announce it on social media, I don't talk about it in regular conversation, and unless someone asks how I'm doing, I avoid the topic altogether.

I have dealt with a yet-to-be-determined gastrointestinal disorder nearly my whole life. Despite tests and needles and blood work, doctors can't seem to figure it out. I have taken enough medications and natural herbs and oils to last me a lifetime, and nothing has cured it. Sometimes the symptoms are lessened, but I feel sick on a daily basis even with the symptoms at bay that day. I can eat completely healthy foods or a double cheeseburger from McDonald's and the outcome is the same- eating makes me sick. At my lowest points, I would go days without eating little more than a yogurt because I get depression from feeling so bad. And I'm so


of feeling bad.

This illness makes life unpredictable in ways I never thought possible. Something is


wrong, even if I'm having a 'good' day. The single most used question used in our household is, "How are you feeling?" and so far I can't say I've been able to answer anything other than "okay" or "not good."

I push through and act as normal as possible but most times, I'm just trying to keep my mind busy so I don't focus on how I feel. Symptoms affect my skin, hair, vision, mouth, my mind, emotions and my well-being. I won't get into the details, as there are around 50 symptoms that show up on a daily basis, but they aren't pretty. I work hard to hide the bald spots on my head and thinning hair, my cracking and bleeding lips, the embarrassing dyshidrotic eczema on my hands and the worst, my belly that bloats to a full 2nd trimester-state after simply drinking glass of water. I DREAD swimsuit season because of the obvious bloating and sucking in my stomach from hours on end is exhausting. Nearly every time I eat, it feels like I have some sort of food poisoning. I randomly become very nauseous and can spend hours vomiting for seemingly no reason. I have a hard time concentrating and getting motivated. I get light-headed easily and have fainted a few times in the heat. I get winded and a headache just bending down to tie my shoe. I forget day-to-day tasks and have to write a list of things I need to do every day- including things like taking a shower and answering a text message. I have to schedule my plans around using the bathroom and have had to cancel meetings or move them because my digestive system has other plans. 

It s-u-c-k-s.

I have dealt with this issue in one way or another nearly my whole life and have kept it under wraps but I feel like it is finally time to come clean. I don't want this illness to ever be seen as an excuse or to be viewed as a weakness because I'm pushing forward. One to three days a week I'm usually too ill to work on circa1910 but I've come this far with the weight I carry and I can only imagine how far circa1910 will go when I'm finally able to shed those chains and say with so much joy, "I feel GREAT today."

I love the analogy of the flower stretching tall and doing what it was told it could not do. I choose to be strong and to push past what is weighing me down, because I'm a delicate flower, damnit.

Keep pushing upward, friends. Your fresh-aired breakthrough is only just above you.



Photos by

The 2654 Project, Bluffton, South Carolina