Ewe aren't fat....you're fluffy
Tuesday, October 01, 2019
I was reading an article about how negative comments, like the word fat itself, can cause sort of a Pygmalion effect. A self-fulfilling prophecy, as it were. You hear a negative comment and it can trigger those of us with eating disorders (yes - overeating is an eating disorder - it took me a long time and a lot of therapy to admit that) to overeat. Hence the self-fulfilling thing.
So I thought back to two separate, but equally cruel, moments that helped me rather than hindered me, which tells me that I have finally gotten to the point in life where the words of others has less impact because I make myself stop and think about what that person might be going through to make them say such a comment.
So let's start with the easy one first.
5 years ago, I traveled for work a lot. Mostly driving, but some flying.
Flying for me is terrifying. I had a really bad flight right after I scattered my mother's ashes in California/Arizona - we're talking little yellow air thingies dropping out of the ceiling bad, people praying and puking at the same time bad. I have a really hard time getting on a plane after that but I can do it if I have to.
So five years after the flight from hell, I was in Houston, where my flight to Kansas City was rerouted because of weather. I'd been there for four or five hours, on standby.
I finally get the nod from an attendant, I grab my carry-on, and trudge down the jetway.
Keep in mind, it's well after dinner time, I've been flying for 8 days, been in 9 states, and I've been up since 5 to catch the first flight on my trip home and been rerouted twice.
As I'm walking down the jetway, I pass the pilot who looks me in the eye and then glances away.
The attendant points me towards a seat. I pass a young woman - maybe 25 or 26 - who says, loud enough for everyone to hear, "she counts as two people."
I get strapped in - no seatbelt extender needed, thank you very much - and am about to shut my eyes when the attendant comes back and gets me. Pilot error, he's really sorry, but they're over capacity.
As I'm walking back up the jetway, I pass a much smaller woman who is being escorted by the pilot.
I asked the attendant for the pilot's name, but didn't raise a fuss.
I got a free room at a Hilton and complimentary room service, but no apology from the pilot.
Needless to say, I called customer service when I got to my room, asked to speak to a supervisor and unloaded the whole story on the poor woman. I got a nice letter of apology from the airline and a complimentary flight anywhere in the continental US, but I haven't flown since.
It was the single most humiliating experience of my life, and it did hurt for awhile, but I finally chalked it up to two very insensitive people who see only the exterior of things.
Fast forward to two years ago.
I got really bad pain. Horrible, twisting, knock me to my knees pain.
First ER sends me to another ER, who does a battery of tests on me, and finds out I have a hernia.
So, I go to a surgeon for my pre-op appointment. Little blond guy who has a hard time with eye contact walks in the room.
The nurse hands him the chart and without asking me any history, or even glancing past the first page, he says, and I quote because I remember it so plainly, "Hernias are caused by being overweight and the problem is, even if I repair this hernia, you'll get more until you lose the weight. And you really won't be able to lose the weight without bariatric surgery, because your BMI is too high."
He never looked at my chart. He didn't know I'd had two major abdominal surgeries in less than 10 years. He said all of that after one glance at me.
I was dumbfounded. I asked for a different surgeon.
He looked surprised but handed the nurse the chart and walked out.
The nurse apologized and a few minutes later, another surgeon came in.
He didn't look at the chart right away, but asked me a bunch of questions. Asked me about my diet. Asked me about past surgeries. Asked me a ton of questions and then looked at my chart. We had an honest discussion about weight after he said my blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and everything else looked fine. So, yes, I needed to lose weight, but overall I was healthy and should come through the surgery fine, with about a four week recovery period. (Robotic surgery.)
After my surgery, the nice surgeon came in to tell me they'd found not one but four hernias: one along the C-section incision and three along the open gallbladder incision that goes from my sternum to the far right end of my bottom rib. None anywhere else.
I asked him if I would have had those hernias if I hadn't had the surgeries and he looked surprised, but said no.
I asked him if they were directly caused by my weight. He said the weight didn't help, but I probably would have gotten them no matter what because of the extent of the original incision.
I asked him to pass that along to his colleague, Dr. No Eye Contact.
Last year - about six months after my surgery - I was in the ER with my granddaughter, who was being seen for possible appendectomy. In walks little Dr. No Eye Contact. I'd lost almost 40 lbs. at that point (of which I've gained back 15 now, unfortunately) and that was after being sidelined for almost 8 weeks because the surgery was so much more extensive than they thought.
I smiled at him and waited until he'd reviewed Sadey's plan (no surgery) with all of us and then I followed him out the door. I caught up to him in the hallway and asked if he remembered me. He said no, so I politely reminded him.
I'm good at polite-ing people to death. Ask my ex husband.
When he nodded that he remembered me, I told him that I had lost 40 lbs. I had just done my second 5k. And I was still losing. I told him I'd come back and find him when I'd lost the rest of the weight and I hoped he would remember in the future that overweight people have problems other than fat and that not everything could be blamed on weight and that, oh by the way, never tell a person they can't lose weight without surgery. It's wrong and insensitive and frankly unethical. And then I walked away.
Someday, I will go find the little creep again and show him what I did without bariatric surgery.
But, here's the thing. I could have allowed both of those events to trigger binge eating again, and I didn't.
Sure, I yo-yoed. Losing weight when you have over 100 lbs. is tough and it's a back and forth process. Two steps forward - one step back. But I'm still going. I'm still trying. And I'll keep trying, despite people like him.
Because I don't make excuses for my weight anymore.
I know being overweight contributes to a host of health problems. Just because I'm lucky enough not to have them yet doesn't mean I have my head stuck in the sand.
So for now, I'm sticking to small, achievable goals and ignoring the women who look in my grocery cart to see what I eat or the people who act like I'm not even there.
I stay under my calories, I get in at least 10 minutes of exercise every single day, usually closer to 30, and I have completely stopped eating fast food. I drink over 150 oz. of water a day.
As time goes on, I'll add more and more healthy choices to my day and in a year or two or three, I'll hit my goal weight and know that I did it for the right reasons. I did it because I want my future to be more active and healthy than my past. And when I backslide, I'll know it wasn't because someone called me a name or made assumptions about my size. That is out of my control, but my choices aren't. My backsliding will be because I made some bad choices I need to correct. And I will.
If the people who say horrible things to other humans aren't capable of the same introspection, well, that's on them, isn't it?