What Doesn’t Kill You…

Jericho Turnpike
4 min readJul 16, 2021
Photo of author during his skinny years, provided by author

…might just kill you a little later on…

I started life as the third son and fourth child out of six of my parents; a Madison Avenue ad executive and stay-at-home mom. My three older siblings never caught any crap about their bodies, at least not that I remember. On the other hand, I was always catching crap about being skinny. The neighbor down the street called me droopy-drawers. At the beach or municipal pool, I always heard comments about my ribs sticking out. I was also anemic for much of my childhood, and jaundiced, a condition tied to liver function. Also, Mom had to change laundry detergents several times because I would get skin rashes.

I have a mouth full of metal. No matter how many times I brushed my teeth, no matter how much time I spent on my dental hygiene, every visit to the dentist meant more drilling and filling. I think I have fillings in my fillings.

At around 12 or 13 years old, I started eating. And eating. And packing on weight, following years of being scrawny. You’re probably thinking that this weight gain was linked to puberty, given my age. It was not. In fact, I wouldn’t begin puberty until well into my late teens. During my elementary and junior high years, I suffered from frequent leg cramps, dismissed as “growing pains.”

After high school, I worked on getting in shape, exercising and losing weight in preparation for military service. My official Air Force portrait looks kind of like someone dressed a ten year old in his father’s uniform.

At age 21, while in the Air Force, I was diagnosed with my first liver ailment, Gilbert’s Disease. This was detected following my getting sick as a result of fasting, when doctors discovered my liver enzymes were all wonky. I was also diagnosed with arthritis.

Following my military service, I got married. In my 30’s, I suffered abdominal bloating, severe stomach cramps, and intermittent diarrhea and constipation. I was racking up numerous weird diagnoses — like pernicious anemia; a B-12 deficiency; vitamin D deficiency; rosacea so severe that a coworker thought my face had been beaten; and at one point, Multiple Sclerosis, which was later changed to Subacute Combined Degeneration following bouts of poor balance, leg weakness, and neuropathy. I’d gone through so many…



Jericho Turnpike

Former Air Force staff sergeant, learning disabilities specialist, high school assistant principal, special education director, and husband. Gay dad of three.