Picture credit – Ehlers Danlos Zebra
I didn’t realize I had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome for the first 30 years of my life. I just knew I was weird.
Having a connective tissue disorder (with all the strange, seemingly unrelated medical problems that go along with it) and not even knowing it has led to several awkward moments. Like…
The time I passed out and half the dorm floor tried to give me CPR.
I was eighteen and had just moved into a new dorm. A couple of the other girls walked into the bathroom while I was cutting my hair. One of them asked if she could wield the scissors and I happily handed them over (hey, free haircut!) A few more girls wandered through the bathroom, but stopped to chat.
My new pal was snipping a few stray strands at the back of my neck and… I woke up being hauled into the dorm hall. I had just started to open my eyes when I heard a shout of, “Does anyone know CPR?!” I regained my senses enough to “thanks, but no thanks” them on that one and explain that randomly passing out was just something I did from time to time. None of those girls were very interested in hanging out with me after that.
The time my dad bought me a knick-knack and I thought it meant I was dying.
My dad is thrifty.
Our family once hand dug a well. He’s that thrifty.
So, I was shocked when he came home one day with a porcelain dog for me. I was thirteen and had been battling an unknown GI issue for a couple of months. I’d feel fine, eat a meal, and it would come right back up within half an hour. None of the doctors I’d seen could figure it out. But, I really thought it was going to be OK until I saw that dog. I didn’t think my dad would buy me something frivolous like that unless I was dying.
The time my parents were accused of abuse via Pop-Tarts.
I was still thirteen and still dealing with the mysterious vomiting issue. I was really tired of kids making fun of me for being so thin, so I was determined to eat anything that would stay down.
For some reason, Pop-Tarts wound up being the only thing I could eat. I ate Pop-Tarts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While the other kids at school ate their various lunches, I’d open up a package of Pop-Tarts.
I must have said something along the lines of, “This is the only thing I can eat.” One of the girls misunderstood what was going on. She talked to her mom and her mom contacted the school. When the story got back to my parents, they were surprised to find out they were abusing me and wouldn’t allow me to eat anything except Pop-Tarts. There was no mention of the whole spontaneous vomiting thing, since I’d been too embarrassed to share that bit around the lunchroom.
The time a cute guy complimented my appearance… my apparently undead appearance.
I was sixteen and on a trip with a bunch of other teenagers from all over the country. We’d stopped to grab a burger and one of the most attractive guys in our group sat down at my table. During a lull in the conversation he says, “You have a really cool look.”
Mentally batting my eyelashes, I replied, “Oh, yeah?”
“Yeah, your eyes are kinda blue where they should be white…and you have really dark circles. You look like a vampire. It’s really cool.”
Sixteen years later, I’ve yet to come up with a response to that.