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An Ode to My Thighs: Thank You for Helping Me Through Chronic Illness

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To my lovely thighs:

When I started gymnastics, I quickly realized I was one of the gymnasts with “the big thighs.” I grew to hate you. Through elementary school, through middle and high school and through college, I always wished you would go away and I would magically wake up with skinny legs.

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I remember going to kickboxing when I was 18, and the instructor telling me I was lucky to have such “muscular legs.” I scoffed at his comment. That guy had no idea how badly I wanted skinny legs; not the big ol’ stocky legs I was stuck with. In high school, I started to notice lines on my thighs. Later I learned these were called stretch marks. This made me hate them even more.

Then I got sick. I lost a lot of weight. The sicker I got, the smaller I became. Even though you started to shrink too, you still remained the biggest part of my body. When I eventually landed in my EDS doctor’s office, he came in for the first time, and within five minutes of examining me said, “You don’t have any trouble with the lower half of your body, do you?” I told him no, and he looked me in the eye and told me, “That is because of your legs. They are muscular and are able to bulk up, which keeps you from having lower body EDS symptoms. Your legs keep your lower half glued together.”

I think I mustered up a quick, “Oh.”

Later in the appointment he told me he believed I also had some skin involvement, making me a classical EDS-er (cEDS). I asked about you darn stretch marks, and sure enough, I learned you are a part of the EDS skin involvement.

Then, I learned at my POTS appointment in Toledo that people with muscular legs have better success controlling their POTS because the muscles are the back up blood pumper.

I felt really guilty then. All my life you were just trying to help me and I was so cruel to you.

So this is what I have to say to you, thighs:

It only took me 35 years, but I am very sorry for hating you for most of my life. Little did I know you were keeping me from experiencing some major, major problems. And stretch marks, I can deal with you. I know you guys are not my fault, and there is not much I can do to prevent you. I will try my best to consider you to be marks of love from here on out. So thighs, and stretch marks, I will try and make it up to you starting now. I will love you, embrace you and keep you strong because you are a part of me – a very, very important part of me… the healthy part of me.

And for that I am finally grateful.

Thinkstock photo via netris.

Originally published: August 11, 2017
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