Since about fifth grade, math homework was an Olympic event in our household, complete with hysterical sobbing fits as I stared blankly at nonsensical columns of numbers that seemed to rearrange themselves each time I looked away.
It began with intense vulvar itching that kept me up at night and caused me to scratch until I bled. My long fingernails were frequently caked with blood and skin as I clawed into bar soap in attempts to clean them.
I was born with a rare condition called craniosynostosis, which caused one of the sutures (soft spots) of my skull to close early. As is with many children diagnosed with craniosynostois, my skull grew in a lop-sided fashion.
“Isn’t this bizarre?” I asked doctors in the hospital. They shook their heads and informed me that they regularly encountered otherwise healthy young women with blood clots, almost all caused by birth control.