Link Roundup: December 14th, 2018

Hi all! It’s Jay. I do a link roundup (almost) every Friday. If you encounter a link you think I might want to share, please tweet it at me or Chronically Lit.

Chronically Lits link roundup
Image text: Chronically Lit’s Link Roundup: the best illness writing online

The minute the nurse put the ultrasound wand on my belly she immediately changed her tune. Everything was urgent now, they called in an emergency surgeon, I was given pain medication, and they told my mom I had a softball sized cyst growing on my left ovary that had caused the fallopian tube to corkscrew. The cyst could rupture any moment sending coagulated blood to my heart, killing me instantly. I was luckily rushed to surgery in time. I lost my left ovary and fallopian tube, and I learned later on that this loss could’ve been prevented. The early signs showed themselves months before, but no medical professional would take me or my mother’s concerns seriously. We were just a Black woman and her child being dramatic to them.  

Jazmine Joyner writes about how Black women’s pain is routinely discounted or disbelieved for Wear Your Voice.

*

What some of us sarcastically call cripple perks are perhaps better known as “accommodations”: things like pre-boarding an aircraft, disability placards for parking, accessible seating on transit when the train is so packed that everyone else is forced to cram together, priority treatment in the ER when we’re gasping for air as our lungs rebel, permission to carry three luggage items instead of two. Nondisabled people often resent us, asking why we get “special treatment.” “How come the wheelchair gets to go first?” “You don’t look disabled—why should you take up the priority seating on the train?” “I’ve been waiting for hours! Why do they get to go ahead?”

In Catapult, s.e. smith writes about “cripple perks,” or disability accommodations that some people view as unfair special treatment.

*

Anna Burns sounded almost giddy one recent Monday as we sat in a restaurant here in Brighton, on England’s southern coast. The week before she had won the Man Booker Prize for “Milkman,” her third novel, about an unnamed 18-year-old coerced into a relationship at the height of Northern Ireland’s Troubles. … 

Burns suffers from “lower back and nerve pain,” she said, the result of a botched operation. “Nerves pain,” she suddenly added, correcting herself. “There’s plenty of nerves involved.” Thanks to the Booker, which includes a $64,000 prize, she may get treatment in Germany without having to worry about the cost.

“If it’s successful, I’ll be able to write again,” she said. “I haven’t written in four and a half years.” The last writing she did was finishing “Milkman,” a process that dragged out for months because of the pain.

For the New York Times, Alex Marshall writes about Booker prize-winning writer Anna Burns in “The New Booker Prize Winner Who May Never Write Again.”

*

Sometimes, when we go get coffee, the cashier will see the insulin pump clipped onto his pants pocket and ask him in a teasing tone, “Oh my god, is that a pager?” While I start sharpening the blades on my tongue, he smiles and warmly replies, “No, it’s my insulin pump,”—no matter how may times he may have already been asked that that day.

Lydia Mack reflects in “What I’ve learned about life from my husband, a Type 1 diabetic” for HelloGiggles.

*

This was why Hill used the Rorschach. It’s a strange and open-ended task, in which it is not at all clear what the inkblots are supposed to be, or how you’re expected to respond to them. Crucially, it’s a visual task, so it can sometimes get around conscious strategies of self-presentation. As a postgraduate student, Hill had learned a rule of thumb that she had repeatedly seen confirmed in practice: a troubled personality can often keep it together on an IQ test and other standard tests, then fall apart when faced with the inkblots. When someone is intentionally or unintentionally suppressing other sides of their personality, the Rorschach might be the only assessment to raise a red flag.

This is a fascinating article by Damion Searls in The Guardian about the Rorschach ink blot test’s current uses.

*

I spent a lot of time in therapy as a kid, for depression, among other things. On and off until I graduated high school, I’d “hang out” in the doctor’s office, playing Connect Four before begrudgingly consenting to more intense discussions. The effect of these sessions was undoubtedly helpful for me. But one thing my self-involved teen brain never considered was that the treatment could improve my parents’ mental health as well.

Angela Lashbrook writes about new research suggesting that mental health treatments for children and teens have a positive effect on the parents’ mental health as well, for The Atlantic.

*

Back in 2004, Nagler, then a professor at Harvard Medical School, was one of the first researchers to suggest that intestinal bacteria help regulate the immune system. When she gave peanut protein to germ-free mice, they became allergic to it. Some simply got a little itchy behind their ears; others went into full-blown anaphylactic shock and died. Ever since, her work has focused on figuring out how exactly the microbiome — essentially, our body’s internal ecosystem of natural microbes — protects us against food allergies and how we can fix one that’s broken.

In Chicago Magazine, Lauren Williamson writes about research that delves into the cause of allergies could potentially lessen their danger.

*

This broader understanding of mental health—as a continuum, and one that is deeply and continually affected by environment, circumstance, and experience—is further revealed in the many statistics repeated after the suicides in June of celebrities Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. A June report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that from 1999 to 2016, suicide rates have steadily increased in nearly every state to create a national rise of 30 percent. “In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide,” it reads. “Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and is one of just three leading causes that are on the rise.”

What has happened to Americans over those decades? Thinking that biological chemistry alone has undergone significant changes is unreasonable. Our environments have changed. Our food. Our stress. Our relationships—our “lost connections,” as Hari puts it.

Travis Lupick writes about potential social, political, and environmental causes of depression and anxiety  for Yes! Magazine, providing summaries of recent and upcoming books and research.


Jay Vera Summer is the Editor in Chief of Chronically Lit.