Advice from patients, physicians, and advocates on making sure your concerns are heard

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Around 12 years ago, at age 19, Brittany Bella Graham began experiencing severe lower-back pain and a constant throbbing ache in her right side. “It felt like a swift kick,” she recalls, “almost like someone was hitting me in the ribs.” At first, the pain happened only when she stood for a long time, but then it became more frequent. Soon, she felt severe pain whenever she stood or sat — in other words, constantly.

Graham, now an advertising consultant based in Los Angeles, was understandably worried. But, she says, her doctor was less so, declaring the pain the result…


A relationship between a Luddite and an early adopter can come with unique problems

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Shortly after I began dating the man who would become my husband, I left my flip phone in the back seat of a cab. The next day, my iPod broke. This was in 2011, a time when it felt natural to get music from one device and texts from another, so I planned on replacing both. But my boyfriend was having none of it: It’s time to get an iPhone, he said. Though I’d resisted the device for years (who needed all those features?), his argument made sense, and I agreed. …

How drinking helped me starve myself — and learn to eat again

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On a trip to the library during my senior year of college, when I was at a nadir in my anorexia — three months before entering rehab — I collapsed on a staircase, faint from food deprivation and overexertion. I wasn’t sure I’d make it back to my dorm. There was an apple in my bag that could’ve helped, but I’d already carefully allotted the day’s calories, and the apple wasn’t included. Eating the apple now would mean not having a beer later, and that was unthinkable. In a way I couldn’t have articulated in the moment, that drink was…

Last week, I did something strange. I didn’t speak for five days. It wasn’t some ascetic challenge for the purpose of self-discovery — I just literally couldn’t.

The week before, after babysitting my adorable-but-germ-infested baby niece, I had come down with a nasty fever. By Saturday, I felt somewhat better, and was so tired of my soup-tea-book-Netflix hamster wheel that I threw caution to the wind and drank mojitos with friends all day. As we migrated from our apartment to a noisy bar and I strained to be heard over the din, my voice grew hoarse. …

NOTE: I lost my voice and couldn’t speak for 5 days. While at home, I used a Microsoft Word document as my primary means of communication with my fiancé, Mike. This is that document, in its entirety save a handful of noted redactions.

Can I give you a tour of all the things I did?

Can you connect to the lights? I can’t

It was working earlier I think youre connected

No I moved the watch zone because I will never wear my watch if it lives out there and all the cords looked really ugly

And that thing down…

On the first weekend of November, I took a trip to LA with some friends. To really remember that trip requires a powerful imagination, because the way I felt at the time — the way we all felt — is so fundamentally different from how I feel now.

That’s not because of the perfect weather, or the boat we took out on Marina del Rey; not because of the sunsets we watched, the margaritas we drank, or the stupid games we played for hours. …

Kate Willsky

Brooklyn-based writer and apple enthusiast (the fruit, not the tech company). My writing has appeared on Eater, Vice, Food52,, Self, and elsewhere.

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