In July 2017, I started writing a series recounting the last three years I had spent dealing with severe Crohn’s disease and a botched (?) colorectal surgery. I wrote because that’s generally how I rationalize what happened. The whole thing took me about a year and a half — it turns out that putting three years worth of trauma into words can be hard.

As I wrote, I realized how much I had been failed by the medical system and how vast the gap is for women receiving quality healthcare, even in a country with a generally well-regarded public system…

Four years ago this month, this profile about me ran in the student newspaper.

I was really proud of it. It made me feel important. I mean, I wasn’t crazy about the profile image, but I chalk that up to my own need to criticize every single goddamn thing about my face (itself a symptom of intensive steroid treatments as a teenager).

I was most proud of how I was portrayed. It was the final step in the successful cultivation of the myth. …

I was not allowed to sit.

I was sent home a few days post-surgery. We put the passenger seat of the car all the way down so I could lay on my side. I took up residence on the sofa. Rolling on my back was not allowed.

My right buttcheek was stitched up. The scar was in the shape of an arrow, or a triangle maybe. I couldn’t tell — it’s hard to get a good look. Either way, a chunk of skin and fat and whatever else had been taken off and moved in to my wound.

I felt…

There might be some deep metaphor to my appointment being on “Discovery Day” but I’m too burned out to think of one.

So … where were we?

The weird thing about discovering medical debris left in your person for five months is how you’re just expected to go on with your life as if you weren’t affected at all. I went back to work the next day. My job was such that I didn’t have a permanent desk, and that day I was in a secluded cubicle. My back was pressed against a windowless wall. I called the wound care clinic, keeping my voice down even though I felt like screaming.

“Do I have any,” I hesitated, putting on my one-year-of-law-school…

“I look happy, right?” — Me, looking at this photo

I was a woman on the verge.

I was quite literally sick and tired all of the time. My wound — still there, still draining — was taking a physical and mental toll. It was a painful reminder that all was not well.

I was still going to the clinic three times a week, where I would drop my pants while a student nurse did the work while the supervising nurse commented.

See how she has hypergranulation around the site?

I felt like an experiment. …

Photo: Disney Theatrical

Disney sure is committed to remaking every animated feature, aren’t they?

In the next few years alone, we’re getting live-action remakes or reboots of Mulan, Aladdin, The Lion King and (ugh) Dumbo. At least one of them promises to be a shot-for-shot re-do of the animated film because there’s nothing Millennials love more than seeing the same thing over and over again, I guess.

I’ve aired my grievances about the live-action remake trend before (short version: Cinderella good, Beauty and the Beast bad). But the more I see Disney announce the endless onslaught of remakes, the more I think of…

I worry about regressing. Regressing into my old self. The last time I went to a New Years Eve party, I regressed. It was two years ago now. My old friend from high school was throwing another house party. Having something to do one New Years was a constant source of anxiety. Just like the song, what are you doing New Years? It was a question that filled me with dread.

I asked him if I could come. He said yes, of course. I was a good party guest. I never drank excessively. I picked bottle caps up off the…

Everything’s fine. This is fine.

One year after sitting in the faded, dirty waiting room in the general surgery unit, I found myself back there. This time the TV was playing Live With Kelly. Instead of reading A House in the Sky, I was reading Never Let Me Go. And instead of getting my rectum removed, I was getting the hole where it used to be re-stitched.

I was also starting law school in two weeks.

I woke up and was allowed to change out of my hospital gown. I had to sit in a chair for 15 minutes. …

Being a media critic (a thing I am actually calling myself now) is a futile exercise. Calling out a proud piece of trash like the Daily Mail, doubly so. Criticizing the Daily Mail and expecting an answer is tantamount to shouting into the void. It’s the Daily “Enemies of the People” Mail, for god’s sake.

And yet:

The primary question here is, why do I care so much? Why, after all of the sexist/xenophobic/insert other adjective here trash the Daily Mail has put out, was this the thing to send me over the edge? …

22 (not pictured: the insane amount of gauze stuffed in my butt)

It’s amazing how you can get so used to having an inch-deep draining hole in your butt.

Things had leveled out a little since I went back to finish my undergrad. It was collectively decided that daily home care maybe wasn’t a good idea for an otherwise mobile 21-year old student who lived with other people (no shit, I thought).

Instead I went to a hole-in-the-wall clinic three times a week to get my ass-wound packed. Oddly enough, the clinic was shut down a month after I left town because of budget cuts. …

Emma Chapple

Freelance writer/comedienne with mixed results. Personal essays, pop culture and lukewarm media criticism. www.emmachapple.com

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