A Broken Body, A Lively Spirit

Have you ever felt like your body is broken? I often wonder if I was built like a piece of Ikea furniture. They had about 10 missing bolts leftover, were unsure what to do with them, called it good and tossed them to trash. “Don’t worry, she’s still standing and can hold some books on her shelf so we don’t need those extra pieces.” Okay, in all seriousness, I know that’s not how it works, but that’s sometimes how I feel. 

I’ve had an internal struggle with my body not working right for a while. Don’t misunderstand. It’s not about appearance. I have no qualms with my body image. I have a problem with my body working right. Doing what it’s supposed to do, and doing it well.

I’ve always had allergies. Allergy attacks literally run some of my days. If you’re close to me, you know that sneezing 20 times in a row with puffy eyes is not an uncommon look for me. It’s not always easy, but it’s certainly not life or death, and I can live with it. Then, came my awful cycles in high school. Constant cramping, unbearable pain and so much time going to the doctor trying to figure out a medicine that could help me. Next, cue the stomach cramps and sick mornings, as well as increasingly worse nasal and asthma allergies. This lasted well throughout college and into my early career days. Not everyday, but just randomly. Sick as a dog in the morning, fine by afternoon. No one could figure out what was wrong. I finally saw a new allergist four years ago and she informed me I was allergic to wheat, corn, tree nuts and maybe more. Cut out the wheat, corn and tree nuts – no more puffy face or hives, no more stomach cramps, no more getting sick! Then almost two years ago, we decide it’s time to try for kids. I knew. I had that gut feeling that we’d have problems, although I don’t think you ever anticipate getting to IVF stage in the beginning of your journey. I spent a year with an awful doctor trying to figure out why I was getting my monthly cycles, until, diagnosed. PCOS.

Sure, nothing is life-threatening {well, except the allergies, but that’s why they give me EPI pens :)} but it all makes me feel like my body is totally inadequate.

No you can’t eat that Ashley, it has wheat. 

No pet dog, you’re allergic. 

No color run this year. They throw colored cornstarch at you. 

Cut down on working out, you need to figure out what’s causing your cycle to go away. 

Can’t sign up for that race, might be pregnant at that time. 

Don’t run, you have a cyst. Don’t do yoga, you might twist an ovary. 

You have PCOS, you can’t get pregnant without help. 

Sigh. See? Some days I just feel broken. I’m a woman, my body is supposed to be able to house a baby. It shouldn’t be this hard. If you’ve every struggled with infertility,  you know the feeling.

But then, I think about what a ‘broken’ body has done for my spirit. I am still alive. I am still breathing. And I am more determined. No, not all days, we all have our bad days, but most days, I can reflect and be grateful for what a broken body has taught me.

I can’t eat that cookie, but I sure can eat this gluten-corn-free muffin I just made {stuffed full of chocolate chips.}

I can’t have a dog, but I can have a cat. {Whoops! Okay, I really shouldn’t have cat(s) either, but we got them before I knew.}

I can’t do the color run, but I can run in the Tulip Time 5K race!

No running long distances or lifting heavy weights {HA! Kidding} but I can walk everyday, run some days and bike with friends. 

I can’t run that race, but I can go cheer my friends on in that race. 

I have PCOS. And I can’t get pregnant without help, but I am blessed to have some of the best doctors around working their asses off trying to get me, and every other 1 in 8 person pregnant. 

I might be a little bruised. I might hurt some days. And I might not ever feel like my body is 100% adequate in health. My body might feel broken, but my spirit is not. And neither is yours.

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