Monday, September 19, 2011

Tired just doesn't explain it...

I am absolutely tired of hearing things like, "You would be so pretty if..." and "Wow, that fat lady on Mike and Molly..." or "Did you see how fat..." These are the snippets of information that attempt to go into my brain all day long. I stop them before they get there, but knowing how information is processed in the noggin, I know that the seed has been planted, and therefore, I will still internalize the gist of what was being said - FAT PEOPLE are not equal to everyone else.

When I was in the 6th grade, I struggled A LOT! I just wanted to fit in. I wanted to fit in so badly, that I pretty much did whatever I could to make that happen. In fact, I would lie, steal, cheat, or _________(insert here) just to get someone to like me. I grew up in a small town and pretty much everyone knows everyone there. I was involved in Camp Fire (which was fantastic and still many of my best memories are from these experiences) but by 6th grade the lines between cool and uncool were quickly being delineated. I soon realized that I was on the uncool side. I wanted to be cool so badly! So, if someone said they did so and so, I would lie and say I did so and so too. You can see where this is going. Eventually, I alienated myself even further from everyone, because I was uncool, FAT, and a liar. I got a letter from EVERY girl in my 6th grade class. They all signed it and basically told me how much they hated me. They called me fat, and liar, and stupid, and worthless. Luckily, there were some other friends of mine in the other 6th grade class that didn't participate.

And, there were two girls, Bethany and Patty, who weren't a part of it. They were probably considered uncool too, but on the day I got that letter, they became super cool to me. They allowed me to play tether ball with them at recess. They didn't know about the letter, or they were too nice to participate, or they just didn't care if I was cool. I never got the chance to ask. But they were nice to me. Even if I was uncool, a liar and fat.

It took many years for me to realize that I was lying to myself and to others in order to gain approval. I was trying to make up for being fat with some other cool 'fact' about myself. The problem was, that those made up things didn't really matter. I needed to focus on the cool stuff that was already inside of me and get that straightened out. Unfortunately, it is about 27 years later and I still am struggling with wanting to be the cool kid. I have figured out that being the cool kid just really means being accepted. And when you are fat in American society, you are far from accepted...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Not about being fat, but funny nonetheless.

I work with children. I love kids! I have been working with kids since I was in camp fire and I knew from an early age that I would spend time with them. I have been in private practice for only about a year, and I spent the last 20 years in publicly funded mental health. Publicly funded mental health came about due to issues with institutionalization of individuals who didn't really need to be 'locked up' and in 1963 the government mandated that community mental health centers would be created to help people in an outpatient setting. So, I have seen my fair share of interesting in my life.

Luckily, when working with kids, there is more fun than 'interesting.' I mean, there are always cases that are sad, and difficult, but for the most part I have had one hell of a time. And, I have seen a great deal of kiddos grow up to be successful and happy adults. It's very rewarding...

Where am I going with this...

About 5 years ago, I was working with a brother and sister who were having problems transitioning between their divorced parents' homes. After going away to visit one parent for the weekend, there would be difficulty transitioning back into the routine of the other parent's home and getting back into school activities, etc. It's actually pretty normal for routine changes to be difficult, but parent's are usually to blame. But, I am not here to bitch and complain about that. I am here today to tell you about a very funny thing that was said during a play therapy session.

It was me, a 3 year old girl, her 5 year old brother and my colleague (a psychiatric nurse practitioner who was shadowing me to get some experience working with kids). We were on the floor with different types of dolls and I was asking them to play out the experience of how they were feeling. The boy usually would take one doll or dinosaur or whatever, and hit another doll and say he was 'mad.' Pretty normal stuff actually. His little sister wouldn't really say much, but she would just play with a dolly that she could change clothes and comb hair, etc. At this age, they didn't really play together, despite encouragement, so I just let them play. Out of nowhere, the little girl grabbed a pteradactyl (I know this isn't spelled right) and swept down and grabbed her little baby doll. She used the dinosaur to smash the baby doll over and over again. I was telling her, "Use your words now and tell me how you feel." (I know, so contrite and psychobabbly). She looked me straight in the eye, and said "MMMMMM, tastes like chicken."

I have never laughed so hard in my life!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Speaking of babies

I was super morbidly obese while pregnant with my youngest boy. I did things right, minus cutting out caffeine. I worked hard at being a good patient, but I just couldn't tackle my weight, even for the baby growing inside of me. I didn't gain more than 10 lbs, and most of it fluid due to complications (toxemia). They warn you you are obese that there can be complications with the baby and even birth defects, but they aren't specific. I had over a dozen ultrasounds and no one could see that my son was missing part of his brain since the neurons didn't migrate and start to form vital areas of the brain like they should. It turns out that the ultrasounds weren't good because of my weight, but no one told me that. I was told that it was not me, since I wasn't diabetic, and that it wasn't me because I didn't use substances that could provide prenatal insult. HOWEVER...I knew that my weight and lack of health was the REAL reason my beautiful boy was disabled. I lived in a rural area that was conservative in medicine, but I had the privilege of also being a professional in the same small community so I get some latitude. I got the tests I wanted and I found out that my son was going to die. Before age 2, and there was probably nothing anyone could do to make that better. I blamed myself. I am sure that my husband blamed me, but he won't tell me the truth. I did what I know what to do--research. One doctor gave me no hope, so I got journal articles on the research being done with this disorder. For a meager $200 bucks the world's leading neuroradiologist who studied my son's illness was willing to read the xray and make recommendations. Best thing I ever did, because that neuroradiologist called up our neurosurgeon and said 'Do the shunt surgery to take the pressure off...make the kids time the best it can be.' I am forever grateful for that man and his willingness to help based just on a desperate email from an American Indian mom in rural Eastern Washington. The shunt surgery happened, and then it malfunctioned. I think the surgeon was tired and angry that I went over his head...this surgery was the last of the day and I think it just was error contributed to this. But, then I overheard him telling his medical assistant - she did this to her own kid by being so obese and now she wants me to crack him open and make him suffer to appease her guilt - WOW! That hit me like a ton of bricks. We got a team of people who didn't really know what could happen with someone with this disease because many people don't live long with this. The team predicted he wouldn't walk, talk, see, hear, or live past age 2. Wasn't given much hope. Here's where I know that my weight issue finally spiraled to rock bottom. I was already 411 lbs and I had lost 40 lbs after the delivery of my child. But then, I started to eat. Started to eat to cope, to eat to feel something other than sorry and guilt. Before two long, I was 623 lbs. So, even though I wanted MORE THAN ANYTHING to live my life with both of my children, in miraculously and lovely ways, I couldn't! I was too fat. I didn't have the energy. During the 6 month period of therapy and self-reflection to get to the point where my insurance company would give me my WL surgery, I realized something VITAL to my life. When I heard that my little boy wasn't going to live, probably because of me (whether it was genetic or my weight and complications), I decided that I was gonna die with him. I was gonna eat myself to do death. By age 6, he had outlived what was predicted. He wasn't qualifying for special services for school anymore and his cognitive abilities were developing. I had an epiphany. If he's not dying, I am not going to die either. Some people would look to alcohol, drugs, work, sex, anything to make their life seem normal for a minute. I looked to food to give me normalcy but also to make it possible for me to die right along with that little boy. I didn't know that until it was almost too late. That's not fair to him, to my other child, and to my husband. It's not fair to me! I NEED TO LIVE! I need to be healthy and deserve it. I can't go back and do things with my weight that might have helped him not develop his illness, but I don't have to keep doing the things that started the problem to begin with. It's time to live like we are dying...we sort of are...slowly hopefully...but every second of every day counts and shouldn't be filled with regret, sadness, and guilt. My son hasn't given I am not going to either! What sparked my decision to really go after weight surgery was when I went to the ER for pain in my lower left and upper left quadrant. It was my appendix and gall bladder. But surgeon on call didn't even touch me. He just said i needed weight loss surgery and that I should mortgage my house to see it was done. He didn't operate. I was just obese and complaining because I hurt as a result of being too fat. I took him off the golf course and he didn't like that. The pain persisted and someone finally didn't see me as the fat ass I was - they saw me as a human. He told me I was worth taking care of myself and delicately proposed options. He got me thinking, and I started therapy, and then case management for the surgery, then the surgery. 400+ lbs lost and I still have to force myself to live when I see that my children struggle. I have depression, which is common for weight issues. I'm a work in progress. BUT I AM GOING TO LIVE.

Ignorance isn't bliss, it's hurtful...

This is the type of stuff that fat people endure on a daily (multiple times per day) basis.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Holy S*@#, I can fit...

I have had some seriously interesting experiences over the last few days, and I felt compelled to share them with all of you! For those of you who have never been heavy, overweight, or obese it is probably news to you that there are things that you can't do, even if you want to. For instance, you can't fit into any old car seat or seat belt, even if you do want to drive the firebird with t-tops. It's pretty discouraging to realize that you have eaten yourself into a cage. I mean, I know that it shouldn't be a surprise to me that, after eating myself to 623 lbs, I couldn't fit into things - but it's still pretty disappointing when the realization hits that you are too FAT to ride an amusement park ride. Or sit in a swing. Or slide down the slide. Or fit in the bath tub. Sadly, I had done just that - eaten myself into a cage. One that wasn't easy to get out of. I couldn't move or exercise because it was painful to do and because I was so heavy that I would hurt myself each time I tried. I wasn't able to quit eating for any extended period of time to help my situation. So, I was helpless. Hopeless. Disgusted. Then, I had weight loss surgery. I lost a lot of weight. I am out of my cage. I slid down the slide! I fit into just about any car. I can WALK! I have been liberated. But, the discrimination doesn't stop. There are people who once thought of me as disgusting because I was so fat, that are now telling me that I took the 'easy way out.' There are people who have had weight loss surgery that are telling me that I am 'not using my tool' if I choose to eat certain foods. There are professional people who, despite their recommendations to have weight loss surgery, who have told me that it is my 'own fault because you chose surgery' when I come in for post-surgery complications or questions. there ever going to be a time in my life when I am okay just being me?