The Loaf of the Party: Hanukkah With Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
My bones slip and slide within me so tenderly that a bear hug from a friend causes dislocations and strain. Before I was diagnosed with the connective tissue disorder, Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS), people requested their favorite party tricks of me, wanting me to play contortionist for laughs: “Bend like a pretzel!” Party trick? I feel like a trick is being played on my body every time a simple movement becomes a major injury. Can I even receive a hug without breaking? I wish they would ask me to bring food instead.
I love to bake bread. Sometimes I hear one of my frequent injuries screaming at me to make bread, desperate for the physical therapy and healing achieved with the motion of kneading. My pain and soul wail for the meditative quality of the action of kneading. Have you ever achieved Zen while kneading dough? This is not a party trick. I am not a party trick, easily laughed at and dismissed. I am not a sloppy pretzel, a single loose limb dislocated and looped back over itself. I am not only the sum of my body parts, my twisting limbs. I am body meshed with soul, sprinkled with knowledge.
I am a vibrant, six-strand loaf of braided challah bread, delivering myself on a silver platter to the party for social consumption on my own terms. Each strand of the loaf is a limb of a different flavor, a different essence, braided together to create me. Each imperfect bump folded together in the final loaf creates my beautiful whole like a mountain range with variant peaks.
I am a complex blend of unique strands braided together for extra strength. I am more than a party trick to entertain. I can overcome challenges when I am whole, and I am not whole without each strand. Now I bring myself to parties complete, as a whole loaf self-actualized. I become the Life of the Party through my sense of humor, intellect, and the pretty curves of my homemade bread. If needed, I can explain EDS without a pity party or laughter. I can self-advocate and request no hugs. I can move the conversation forward and return it to the party. I know my whole; I understand my collective, connective blend and bouquet. Here is my recipe.
A rainbow-colored, six-strand challah bread loaf, homemade by the author
STRAND 1) PLAIN – I am honest, I mean what I say, I am direct and clear
STRAND 2) “Everything But the Bagel” SEASONING – I am a sassy, kind of messy, bit of everything, I am most definitely extra in every direction I point myself, with a ripple effect of aftershocks, but always careful because I break easily like a chipped tooth
STRAND 3) STUFFED ROASTED TOMATOES, GARLIC, AND HERBS – I am a complex, multilayered blend of sweet and spice
STRAND 4) TOPPED WITH FINELY GROUND CINNAMON AND DEMARARA SUGAR – I am extra sweet, featuring delicate subtle nuances, with a crunchy bite.
STRAND 5) CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHIP – I am mouth-watering and my lovers self-indulge in me
STRAND 6) ROASTED GARLIC AND ROSEMARY – My flavors are bold and intense, intelligently textured
Braid my six different strands together, then let me rise before baking. I puff up with pride of self as my unique limbs begin to expand into each other, a tangle of variations on the same theme. Each strand is elastic enough to wrap around the other in a braided embrace. After baking, I become one unique loaf, vibrantly striped like a zebra. Let me cool for four hours, then serve.
Enjoy me as I am!
Image provided by contributor