“45” is what I call POTUS, the 45th president of the United States, that horrid man who squats in the White House tweeting (LYING) about random topics to divert our attention from the fucked up bullshit he does that will, PLEASE GODDESS, get him impeached.
I was tempted to defend myself (I use PC terms when I can, I am not prejudiced against these folks, etc.), but I am leaving this piece to speak for itself.
Thank Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir for the Craft for this vomiting of things I have been too afraid to say out loud. He tells writers to “Be brave!” and write the things that are the most difficult to say.
I also have Diabetes and have to see an Endocrinologist every few months. Endocrinologists take care of fat people. A lot of fat people. There has not been a time when I’ve sat in an Endo’s office that there were no less than 4 really fat people. I just left the Endo’s office (and I love the people there) and need to vent for a second.
How can an office that caters to fat people not have chairs without arms on them? How?! The first time in there, I asked for a chair without arms and they brought out one of the bench chairs (that still had arms on it). Fine. They brought it in the exam room with me, too. Nice.
Today, the bench was there… with someone already in it. So I had to cram my fat butt into one of the tiny chairs… with the arms going INWARD instead of out! What the crap?
I spoke with the office manager who said she’d already put a work order in for more benches and asked me to answer to survey I’ll get in my email with a comment about the chairs.
We’ll see how long that takes.
Blood Pressure Cuffs
For fuck’s sake, I thought I had finished complaining about medical people taking my blood pressure incorrectly/painfully 2 decades ago.
Dealing with a stupid ER nurse using medical tape to try and keep the wrong size cuff on my arm, the tape splitting and the nurse huffing off to get his supervisor
Having too small cuffs bruising me dozens of times
Having large cuffs bruising me because I have really big upper arms with batwings
I thought I’d come up with a solution by insisting they use the cuff on my forearm. Techs and nurses balked at first, but for the last 5 years, it has been a matter-of-course to take my BP that way.
Then today, the nurse came at me with a thigh cuff, easily twice as large as the large-sized cuff. I asked her to please take it on my lower arm and she said they had just had training saying it was required to take it on the upper arm because doing it on the forearm is “quite inaccurate.” I grudgingly said she could try, but if it hurt, I would cry.
The cuff goes on and begins tightening. And tightening. And tightening even more. I said, “It hurts, take it off,” and it stopped pumping up so I said I’d sit still. Then it began tightening again and I nearly hollered, “GET IT OFF.” She did, charting, “Patient refuses BP.” I corrected her: I am more than glad to have my BP done, but on my forearm. She shrugged and left the room.
After my appointment with the Endo (which went really well), I asked how we were going to resolve this BP issue and she said it was “policy” and she would ask what to do. I said, “Patient requests forearm blood pressure,” please put that in my chart. She did.
We (our country) is fat… and getting fatter. What is wrong with healthcare providers that they do not make concessions for us? I’ve been writing about this since 1987!!! This is ridiculous.
Not accommodating fat people is yet another way to discriminate and intimidate fat folks. Healthcare providers not doing so prevents far too many people from obtaining care at all, care that can keep them healthier… and for you fat haters, even help fat folks lose some weight (if they want to or are able to).
Many fat people in our society sit in these tiny chairs, put up with exam tables that do not go up and down and never ask for accomodations for their size. I speak up whenever I can, but I cannot do it alone.
Thinner/Smaller friends and family, please “see” things how we do. If you see people squished into chairs, quietly talk to the office manager, explaining how difficult the chairs are for fat people. Say you have a family member or friend (which I am!) or partner that won’t say anything, but that they get bruises every visit. If you work in an office, restaurant or anywhere people need to sit, please advocate for us to get the proper seating for fat folks.
Special mention to servers: PLEASE STOP SEATING FAT PEOPLE IN BOOTHS (unless they ask to be put in one specifically). It is humiliating to try and squish ourselves into the tight tight space at a booth.
And if anyone thinks the small chairs and small spaces are going to force us to lose weight, you are woefully incorrect. Fat-Haters, rue the day this issue is yours or someone’s you love.
I’ve done dozens of diets, been prescribed Black Beauties & other speed (starting at age 8), belonged to many gyms, taken Phen-Fen (with success, but with heart valve damage), tried Topamax (fail), used Wellbutrin (fail), had a Roux en Y Gastric Bypass (with fabulous success, then epic failure), done hypnosis & acupuncture (fail & fail), become a daily Mindfulness Meditation fanatic (fail for weight loss/huge win for pain relief), have tried to have anorexia, then bulimia, hand-written hundreds of thousands of journal pages, letting them “hold” my pain, shame, revulsion, self-hate, wishes, fears, hopes &, eventually, resolution with my size.
I remain in resolution.
I will never diet or take diet drugs again. Ever.
Time & Money
Thinking about the masses of time and money I’ve spent trying to lose weight makes my head spin.
Going to the gym
Writing out menus
Researching rules and techniques for success
Real life or online support group meetings, including social networks talking about losing/gaining weight
Shopping slower to read labels and make sure food is “appropriate”
Learning new cooking methods
Fighting with family about the change in foods in the fridge and cupboards
Probably eventually buying more “bad” food for my family because they whined so much about foisting my diet on them
$28,000 cash for RNY gastric bypass (GB)
Can I include the time and money (including the taxpayer’s) for the years of therapy discussing and crying about all of this?
I was a Fat Activist in the mid-late 80’s, mostly in the lesbian community. I’ve written about being fat-positive for almost 3 decades.
In the beginning, when I was in my 20’s and early 30’s, I was healthy… labs were fine, no diabetes, my joints or feet didn’t hurt. I crowed (bragged, was arrogant) about how it was the fat-hating that made fat people sick and die, not the fat itself.
Now, at 56-years old, I see how delusional I was. I am well on the road to dying before most people in my family did, and they all had diabetes, too. My future resides in my memories of my Cuban relatives & the diabetes complications they endured before dying. Heart attacks, going blind, having toes, then feet cut off, eventually dying in a coma because the body just gave up.
I see it coming as if it was a roaring train heading right for me.
Litany of Pain
Here are my fat-related illnesses and issues:
Type 2 Diabetes (diagnosed at 34 years old), now on 2 insulins and metformin
I heal terribly because of the diabetes, often needing antibiotics for residual infections
Stage 3 Kidney Disease from the diabetes
Pain with every step I take
Osteoporosis and arthritis in my feet, which have broken 3 times just from walking for exercise, and one foot breaking while swimming
Broke one foot falling off the Wii Fit Board trying to exercise… needed 3 surgeries to repair
Arthritis in my lower back, was on opioids for 8+ years for the back pain, becoming incredibly addicted, finally getting clean 3 years ago (yay me!) Now I use Mindfulness Meditation for pain relief, though many times I wish for some Norco.
It took me years to find surgeons I felt safe with to get my 4 hernias repaired (one surgery) and then my gallbladder out (a separate surgery, with 3 hospital visits afterwards because of infection)… several turning me away because of my enormous belly size (blessedly, I found the docs and those issues are resolved)
Bone loss from possibly 2 main sources: lack of exercise & the GB
Walking with a walker, but should be in an electric wheelchair, my feet hurting so badly
Using an electric wheelchair when I shop
My world has gradually become smaller and smaller. After 32 years in birth work (where I hurt daily as well), I am now a sedentary Phone Sex Operator. I live in a small space and leave the house only for doctor appointments, physical therapy, shopping and seeing my doggies at mom’s house.
Writing that makes me sad.
Part 2 On Its Way
In Part 2 of My Wall-E-esque Life, I will talk about the place the Fat Advocacy Movement does have in our lives. While it might not be health (despite the incessant refrain that it does), it is most assuredly have an enormous place in our physical and emotional world.
If I died right this moment and someone had to go through my room, either throwing things away or giving them to my kids, they would find, in several different locations, stashes of candy.
right next to the insulin
behind the medications
candy canes from 2 years ago
Quite the mind-fuck seeing the candy juxtaposed with the insulin and metformin, isn’t it.
rolling my eyes
I come by the behavior honestly.
Growing up, mom was periodically on diets. When she was, so was the entire household. I called the feast or famine cycle, “Celery or Eclairs.” Either mom created delicious baked goods or we had celery and carrots filling the refrigerator. It didn’t take long to learn to bulk up for the famine that was surely to come in a couple of weeks. As a ravenous fat child, I scavenged for calories when we were supposed to be eating far fewer of them.
You see, my mom hid candy, usually plain M&Ms, in her drawers, under her marabou-lined lingerie. Being a nosy brat, I scoured the room, looking for the candy, then eating it when it was finally in my greedy hands. I didn’t process the information that mom would know I had eaten it when she couldn’t find it. That was irrelevant. Eating it was the goal and eat it I did.
When I was in a relationship (pick one), invariably my partner would have issues with my food intake. Reading my Facebook Memories makes me wince as, nearly every 2-3 days, I was starting yet another new diet or forcing myself to go to the Y.
When I went to the Y, I would ride the exercise bike until I sweat, go as long as I could, then get off and get in the car to go home.
And then began the fight, the tug-of-war to eat before I went home. Carl’s Jr. was open; I could go through their drive-through. I could go to the grocery store and get something quick to consume. Whatever I chose, I wouldn’t be able to eat it all, so would need to either throw the rest away or bring it home with me. (Another wrestling match in my head.)
I hated throwing the food away, especially when I could eat it later. So I’d tuck the leftover burger or sourdough baguette and cheese in my gym bag and hope Zack wasn’t awake so I could hide it in the closet.
My shoe holder (a long canvas bag that hold 12 pairs of shoes) was my favorite hiding place. Fuck, that is gross looking at that now. Then, it seemed like a brilliant idea.
I had to move slowly so the wrapping didn’t crinkle too loud, betraying my plan.
I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to explain how much I hate discussing food with anyone, partners most of all. My body tenses as if I was about to be assaulted, every hackle raised trying to protect my Self from the (invariably) negative and judgmental bullshit about to come out of their mouths. Yeah, yeah… I know… “they mean well.” Well, it doesn’t feel well. It feels horrid, defending myself, my size, my food choices, intake and why am I still fat even after dieting/exercising/having a gastric bypass/using medications/etc.
Don’t I know what eating so much/exercising so little is going to do to me? Don’t I see my Cuban relatives as the Cautionary Tale for my own future with diabetes?
I haven’t had but the briefest mentions of my weight with anyone besides medical people in over 2 years… and it has been heaven. Sitting and writing, even this far out, I can still feel the intense tightening of my muscles as I remember the inevitable tap dance discussion of my weight and food the moment someone began with, “Honey, I am worried about you.”
I’m not stupid. I was a health care provider. I’ve read the articles and papers about being sedentary and fat. I know my life span is infinitely shorter because I don’t “exercise and eat right.”
But the freedom from the stress of discussing it cannot be described. Doesn’t that account for something?
Written 10/12/16 about 10/10/16 Gastro-Intestinal (GI) doctor visit.
So, while I have been fat my whole life and have had my share of medical fat-shaming from fat-hating doctors, it has been a very long time since that’s happened… whether from their shifts in attitude via Continuing Education about inclusivity (or at least learning to keep their mouths closed about their attitudes) or because I learned to open my mouth to shut it down.
The GI Doc
I had signed AMA out of the hospital 12 hours earlier when the doctor, small, a person of color (no clue the origin, but shouldn’t matter),very pretty walked into the Exam Room.
“Oh, my! You look awful,” she said. I’d seen her 3 times before, but I am memorable by what I wear (tie-dye) and being bald. And I am very, very nice to care providers.
“You look like you haven’t slept in weeks!”
“Uhhh, I am at the tail end of a 2-3 month Manic Episode, so no, not sleeping much.”
She went over the paperwork, labs & prescriptions from the night before. She looked at me pretty harshly and said, “You really need to be in the hospital. You are extremely dehydrated.”
I told her no one said anything like that the night before, but I would probably still not have stayed.
She said, “Stubborn.”
The reasons she said I am dehydrated:
chronic diarrhea despite 20 Immodiums and 3 Pancreatic Enzymes a day
vomiting a couple of times a day
taking Lasix to pee! (because of the ankle swelling from the Risperdal)
I would have never recognized the signs of dehydration because they were in the labs! I guess the NP the night before didn’t think I was that dehydrated because she never even said the word to me. My pee is crystal clear; strange. She said that was why my HR was 124 upon discharge. I am sure I shrugged.
She said I needed to get the ER prescriptions filled (the Cipro and Bentyl) and she added Prilosec, Lomotil and Zofran.
This is what my New-Taking-Now meds look like (as they lay against my ballot which went in the mail yesterday!).
“Good-Luck with That.”
“You need to have your gallbladder taken out as soon as possible, before it gets infected.”
Okay, true. Emergency surgeries on fat people have an increased risk of morbidity and mortality.
But there was more to her sentence above.
She ran two of them together, “You need to have your gallbladder taken out as soon as possible, before it gets infected… but I am sure you won’t find a doctor to touch you because of your size.”
blinking as I watched the contempt drip from her lips
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t think you will find a doctor in our area to do the surgery because of (again with the disdain) – the risks.”
I told her I knew that Bariatric Surgeons (who do Weight Loss Surgeries) are ALL GI Docs and I would find one to take my gallbladder out.
“Good luck with that.”
She gave me my paperwork, prescriptions and her bulldozer-sized hatred of fat people… and walked out.
I sat there and cried.
raw Raw RAW
I am strong. Most of the time.
Right now in this (decreasingly) manic place, I feel flayed, nerves on the outer surface of my body. No ability to control what or who hits them. I merely react to the sensations.
This one was an animal claw dragging down my chest… slipping in and gashing my heart as it went by.
I had not felt such shame in eons. And I see doctors all the time! I mean, really, probably not for at least a decade have I been medically fat-shamed. (Many medical & personal fat-shaming experiences to come in future posts.) I felt hideous in those moments after she smashed shit down my throat, squishing it with her heel as she left the room.
I stumbled out of the building, crying still, and drove home.
I began to find my Power, many minutes too late and useless at that point, but I thought, “For fuck’s sake, I cannot possibly be the fattest person on the face of the earth who needs abdominal surgery.”
And then I got mad, but it was a gradual dilution of the mad into the shame where, for a time, if they were able to be separated, you could see they were half and half. Now, 2 days later, I am more mad, but in retelling it to my Insurance’s Case Manager, I cried from shame so hard she kept having to say, “Breathe. Breathe.”
I have been given 3 Bariatric doctors’ names… one in Orlando, one in Tampa and one in Miami. I told my Case Manager I would go anywhere in Florida to get it done. Even if I had to go to Shands Teaching Hospital in Gainesville. I called the doc here in Orlando, explained the situation to the Office Manager and she said she would talk to him and get back to me tomorrow. I told her I knew it was not his usual surgery, that I had had Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) in 2001, but was fat again and needed help, please.