“How do you solve a problem like a human?”

“How do you tell your patient to lose weight?
How do you make her stay and listen to all you say?
How do you make her see it’s what she ATE.”


I saw a second orthopedist today in search of a way to deal with the pain that has become my companion.

Ladies and gentleman of the jury, dogs and cats, crickets: we have a verdict. The problem with my hip is that there is no cartilage, and that’s because

a) my femur head is shaped funny,
b) I consume carbs and other inflammatory no-nos, and
c) I wore it away by being heavy.

I could get a new hip, but I’m too young; it would wear out in fifteen years. The orthopedist does know one person who is still skiing into his sixties, twenty years after replacing both hips, “but he’s really skinny.” What I should do is put off surgery by getting active on a bike or in a pool, and most of all, I should lose weight. But not the way I’m trying to do it, logging my foods on an app, because that way won’t last. I should go South Beach or Mediterranean and stay away from high-glycemic carbohydrates because they’re inflammatory and make you… you know. FAT.

And don’t use opiates like your GP gave you. Everybody knows that. Here’s a new prescription. But really, just lose weight and let’s see how that goes.

So that was a fun visit! Good times!!! She lacked compassion and interest in her patient as a whole human and I will never see her again, but she’s right, she CAN’T heal me. So to start, here’s a message of compassion to myself that I need to hear today.

Dear Sarah,

I believe in your ability to heal yourself. I also know that the painful place you’re in now didn’t materialize out of nothing; there were many factors that played a part. Let’s review some of your accomplishments over the last seven years, some of which may have had an impact on your health.

You sat at a desk for about 23,000 hours over fourteen years.
You became a single mother.
You started over in a crappy rental with few friends, no beds, no furniture, no family nearby… and you made a home.
You drove over 24,000 miles each year through middle school and high school.
You supported your kids through a divorce, a police investigation, and court proceedings.
You instigated and survived two additional court proceedings to secure child support.
You dated. Sometimes this was fun and easy, sometimes deeply traumatic.
You bought a house in your name only.
You found a wonderful partner and nurtured that relationship with everything you had.
You adopted four additional animals, you freaking lunatic.
You enabled, cheered, and prodded your sometimes-suicidal, transgender teen through high school.
You sat in bleachers and concert seats hour after hour, and you have wonderful memories to show for it.

You didn’t get the mental health care or exercise you needed and you ate your feelings often. You drank more in the last seven years than you ever have in your life. You’ve done other hard things; you can take care of you now. Give yourself healthy food, try to lessen the weight on your joints, but most importantly, be kind to yourself. And be proud.








One thought on ““How do you solve a problem like a human?”

  1. I have tears in my eyes. Mama, you’ve done so much more than that over the last 20 years. Every single doctor in the world should read this, and understand this. This is powerful stuff, and the fact that you wrote it speaks more to who you are, and to your character, than any other metric she could have measured you on. ❤


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