dealing with pain and dysfunction

The Camera My Mother Gave Me

I just walked to the library, checked out The Camera My Mother Gave Me by Susanna Kaysen, bought a latte and a ginger cookie, and read the whole book, all within two hours.  Judging by a receipt that was once used as a bookmark, I was at the same coffee shop as an alumna of my school.  She sat in the same place with the same book exactly six years ago to the week.  Oddly, it’s the closest I’ve ever felt to someone with pelvic pain, knowing that this book describes my life exactly and that once, someone was sitting in the same place thinking the same things.

An odd thing happened while I was reading, though.  A friend of a friend sat down at my table and said hello.  He asked what the book was about, and I said it was about medical problems and the troubles that the author had with getting diagnosed.  I said that I share the same medical conditions and so it’s a terribly interesting book for me to be reading.  Of course, he pressed onward and asked what kinds of conditions I meant, and rather than state outright what the book is about, I steered more towards my gastrointestinal issues and then told an anecdote about ruining my right knee a few years ago, and oh, I’m just so afflicted, here’s a list of everything that’s wrong with me other than my hurty vagina.  Though reading this book made me feel stronger today, I still don’t have it in me to treat pelvic pain like a knee injury.

I got back to reading eventually, and I tore off bits of my cookie bag to mark the passages that really affected me, and ended up with a great deal of the book marked and no more bag for my cookie.  Many of the places with my makeshift bookmarks already had folded corners.  The plan was to transcribe some of the most useful or touching or depressing or infuriating parts for everyone’s benefit, but really, I’d just encourage you to read it.  It’s a very simple and quick read, but one that I found very valuable.


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  1. * Esther says:

    I enjoyed this book too. Or rather I was glad for it. Enjoyed — I don’t know, it was kind of torturous to read and I was surprised that, for instance, my mom finished it — I’d figured it would be too hard for most to get through.

    Very cool about the receipt. And I hate those pressing questions — like you, I end up lying, “my whole body,” etc. I would LOVE to say “my vulva” one of these days to one of those people I normally wouldn’t be honest with — just to do it. One of those “must do before I die” things :)

    Posted 8 years, 9 months ago

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