Mar 19, 2017
So I finally had my doctor's appointment on Thursday, and it's such a relief to be reestablished with a primary care doc. I like Dr. P a lot. And we went over the results of my bloodwork, which was way way overdue. Turns out my iron isn't quite in the deficiency zone yet, but it's low, so he perscribed a supplement. Wonder if that'll help with my fatigue levels? Anyway, yeah, going to the docter was a good idea. I'll see him again in three months.
Now I still need to:
Make an appointment with the C4WLS to go over bariatric-specific stuff
Make an appointment with the pulmonologist
Take ye olde CPAP machine in for a tuneup, ugh
Oh, and I got weighed at the doctors. 176 fully clothed. Which...I'll be honest, I was hoping it would be a few pounds less, but whatever. Can't get hung up on that. At least it's heading in the right direction.
What else is going on? I finally paid for the introductory package (two private lessons plus one drop-in dance session on a Friday night) at the dance studio around the corner. I think I got the lessons scheduled for the end of the month but I'm waiting on confirmation. So that's a thing I've been talking about for a while that will now finally happen. I can move myself from the All Talk, No Action column to the 80% Talk, 20% Action column.
Another thing I've been doing as part of an attempt to get back into my "good patient" headspace is look up a couple blogs I used to follow religiously. There were three, and each was written by a bariatric patient who had the same kind of surgery I did, two of them around the same time I had mine. One person is doing great—although her marriage has broken up but that doesn't seem like a bad thing, honestly. The others don't seem to be in great places. One hasn't updated since December, when she was contemplating a revision to Duodenal Switch because she'd regained...mayb 75 pounds, maybe more? I guess her knees have been a huge problem too and that's made it impossible to keep up with the exercise routine that had been working for her and she hadn't yet found something that lets her keep up that activity level without destroying her knees. She sounded really unhappy; I wonder how she's doing and hope she updates again soon. The third is in a very rough place, back up to ~300 pounds after getting down to the 170s a few years ago. I am sending her good thoughts for sure. She deserves to feel well and be healthy and I'm just hoping so hard she finds a way back to health.
That last one in paticular has published some blog posts over the last year that really speak to me. She and I have shockingly similar weird relationships with food. I hope she continues to update too, although I wouldn't blame her if she quit since apparently some people are giving her a shitty time for blogging through her distress. ?! Jerks. I mean, she owes us nothing of course—but if blogging helps her cope, gives her a reason to keep going, I hope she can do it and the jerks can move on to something else. But yeah, her blog is like a portal into an alternate version of my own story and my heart just goes out to her.
Mar 15, 2017
Saw this on Twitter today. It's a piece on Medium by one of my new favorite writers, who publishes her stuff under the name Your Fat Friend. She's knocked me down a few times previously, with essays like A call to action: your fat friend is going it alone and How to love a fat person and, especially, What it's like to be that fat person sitting next to you on the plane.
A bit from this piece that hit me hard:
Images like those [of "headless fatties" on TV news segments about obesity] are what left me feeling so gutted with my family. The only time fat people are afforded a voice or a face is when our bodies change, or when we express the grief, regret, guilt and shame that thin people imagine must come from having bodies like ours. What they do not consider is the crumpling that happens when you see your body, every day, represented as a cautionary tale for someone else. If you are not careful, you may become a monstrosity like me. Before, desperately awaiting an after.
Because after, you can be heard. After, you are not required to renounce your own body in order to be accepted and embraced. You may share your experiences, hopes, dreams, plans, without weighing them down with caveats, dress sizes, inches, or pounds. After, you can have a face. After, you can smile. After, you can speak.
I hate that so many of us feel our lives don't really get to begin until we lose weight. I hate that. I hate it so much. I understand how we come to that place and I wish I knew how to lift everyone out of it. Anyway, what resonates with me so much about the Your Fat Friend exerpt above is the line: "Because after, you can be heard." There's the gut punch.
Because it's true.
One thing I noticed when I was at my lowest weight (forty pounds ago) was that suddenly people weren't just nicer to me (cashiers, fellow bus passengers, coworkers), they took me more seriously than when I'd been fat. Idiosyncrasies that annoyed people when I weighed 250 pounds were indulged and even appreciated when I was 144. Like I went form "obnoxious" to "cute" without actually changing my personality. (In reality, I am probably 50% obnoxious and 50% cute and always have been.) (I feel that at ~180 I've moved into a slightly more neutral zone in terms of peoples' perceptions of me, but most folks are definitely still way nicer than when I was Actually Fat.)
Now, some if it's difficult to judge because I didn't have the same job pre- and post-op, so I can't compare a single workplace's response to me before and after surgery. But I could tell. When I was Actually Thin, people really listened to me, even when I maybe didn't necessarily know 100% what the hell I was talking about. They were patient with me. When I'd been fat, people tuned me out. They were not patient with me. When I was thin, people assumed I was smart. When I was fat, they assumed I was dumb. The contrast was stark, and sickening. When I was thin, people (especially other women) were even a little deferential, sometimes, in a slightly envious way? Which was weird and uncomfortable. Most of the really over-the-top privilege has evaporated as I've eased back into chubbiness, but the memory fucking lingers, I'll tell you.
You know what it felt like? Being thin? It felt like going undercover, as a fat person, and finding out what "normal" people really think about fat people and fatness. (Spoiler alert: they don't approve.) Because I had a new job and made a lot of new friends post-op, it felt like there was this set of people who never knew fat me and only knew skinny me, and these new folks were not necessarily guarded in how they talked about fatness—you know the way they are when they're around a fat person whose feelings they don't want to hurt. They kind of can't help themselves when it comes to saying shitty things about fatness in the abstract, but then they'll realize they are talking to an Actual Fat and sort of halfassedly backtrack or try to cover. Well, around people who only knew thin me there was no halfassed backtracking. To be honest, it was a huge disappointment. Soured me on humanity a little, lol lol lol.
...I see I've kind of gotten sidetracked. My original point was about Before and After, and how much I generally despise that concept. It's all marketing. I hate aspirational weight loss stuff. (Hate.) But at the same time, in a different sense than the Before and After we're sold by every Inspiring Weight Loss Narrative, bariatric patients do have a clear-cut Before and After. There is pre-op and post-op; the part of your life before you had surgery and the rest of your life afterward. And yeah, most of us want to see pictures and hear about what it's like on the other side...and the temptation is to believe there's a new and better version of you waiting to spring to life once the anesthesia wears off, but then it turns out you're still you. You've always you, and you've always deserved an awesome life.
I don't even really know where I'm going with this. If a fat person decides to have surgery, all I hope for them is that the experience is complication-free and they enjoy better health afterward than before. But what I hope for all fat people is that they can live a whole life and be kind to themselves regardless of whether they opt for bariatric surgery. What I hope for all thin people is that they grow some damn empathy and compassion and not treat the fat people in their lives like pitiable Befores.
Whooo, yeah, long and incoherent blog post yeeaah!!
Mar 13, 2017
Medium-stressful day at work, with sensations of incompetence and fatuity balanced by flashes of feeling kind-of okayish. So I'll call that a win, especially since it's the Monday after DST and to hell with everything about that. Upon returning home, I hopped on the treadmill for a scintillating fifteen minutes of brisk walking (gotta form that habit) and now I should be printing out materials for tomorrow's D&D session, but meh. I'll get around to it. We also have a friend coming over to watch The Hobbit, so that'll be fun.
Just think good-sleep thoughts for me. I need to rest well, I really do. Especially since I'm getting to work early every day this week so I can take off a couple hours on Thursday for that doctor's appointment I've been looking forward to. Oh, and I emailed the dance studio to see how scheduling their introductory package works. So that's a step toward a fitness-adjacent thing I've been meaning to do!
Not too much to update, really, just wanted to put this here to remind my future self that I can in fact get a little exercise even when there's stuff going on in the evening.
Mar 12, 2017
OK, I'm finally starting to see some talk on Tumblr about Gabourey Sidibe's wls. I'm sort of surprised it took this long, or at least this long to start bubbling up in the blogs I read.
One blog I like very much posted to say the writer would no longer share pictures of Gabourey Sidibe etc and what a disappointment it was and I get that. I really do. Clearly, I had (and have!) weird, confusing feelings about Ms. Sidibe's surgery myself, as I blathered about on a general forum thread.
It disturbs me a little when Fat Acceptance folks get so personally invested in a celebrity's fatness that they feel betrayed by an actress's decision to have weight loss surgery. I'm not unsympathetic; when you have so few people who look like you held up by the media as valuable and good and worthy, if even one of them "succumbs" and chooses wls it would certainly make you feel some feelings. But here's where my understanding breaks down: as someone here on OH said, these bloggers and activists don't know what it is to live in Gabourey Sidibe's body. I feel like she's been pretty careful to avoid framing her operation as an aesthetic decision—she was beautiful before, she's beautiful now—and I appreciate that she hasn't (as far as I've seen) indulged in any "now I'm the real me!" butterfly-from-the-chrysalis talk. She's been candid about the health reasons that prompted her to get the sleeve—type II diabetes, joint pain, etc. So what exactly is she supposed to do, to keep in the good graces of pro-fat bloggers? Live in pain, live in heightened fear of losing toes or limbs to diabetes? That's where they lose me. (I guess they're not, like, banging on Ms. Sidibe's door, wailing that she's betrayed them or something. I shouldn't scold folks for needing space to process their emotions around this topic. I mean, that's basically what I'm doing here, right?)
On a more personal level, what gets me is how a lot of Fat Acceptance writers and activists talk about weight loss surgery. It's "mutilation of healthy organs," it's a "permanent, non-reversible eating disorder," it's doomed to failure anyway, it's gruesome medicalized torture. And, well, while I either agree with or am at least sympathetic to a lot of Fat Acceptance sentiments about wls, that sort of "Mutilation!" rhetoric earns a bit of a from me. (I'm not sure what exactly that emoticon is trying to express, but I'm going for an eyeroll.) Now, I agree that none of us exercise truly "free will" regarding medical decisions. When it comes to existing in a fat body while seeking any kind of medical care, social attitudes about weight, health, and appearance play a huge role in the care we receive. And I'm not going to pretend the decision to pursue weight loss, especially by surgical means, can ever be made in a vacuum, some space of perfect neutrality untouched by considerations of fatphobia, the moral freight attached to being fat, blah blah blah.
So yeah, the choice to pursue surgical weight loss isn't magically neutral any more than a woman's choice to take her husband's last name is neutral. We're all influenced by Society. (Duh.) But that doesn't mean most bariatric patients are gormless dimwits actively coerced by the forces of evil into having our anatomy rearranged just so we can appease fatphobes by making ourselves smaller and more acceptable. This shit's complicated, so much more complicated, than that.
I certainly wasn't able to completely disentangle my anxieties and hopes about my appearance from my concerns about my actual somatic health. Four and a half years ago I was deeply immersed in the "fatosphere" and grappling with my desire to liberate my thinking from dominant narratives about morality and weight and appearance and just everything. I wanted to be a good and brave fat person who didn't apologize for taking up more than the share of space allotted by a fatphobic world. I wanted to live my life without constantly worrying about calorie restrictions, and without assigning moral weight to what I ate, or how much I exercised, or what size I wore. At the same time, I was panicking as my world shrank around me. My daytime drowsiness was so bad (sleep apnea) that I was giving up driving more often than not. I was missing out on things I wanted to do because of fatigue. My joints hurt and I was so afraid of falling and maybe permanently jacking up my back that I was growing timid about going out and doing things. My breathing was labored.
So, like, what was I supposed to do? Stay physically miserable out of solidarity with Fat Acceptance bloggers I'd never met? I don't think anyone is required to be healthy, get healthy, perform healthy; health is not a moral imperative or a measure of a person's worth. I don't think a fat person needs to try to become thin to deserve respect and kindness and appropriate medical care. I don't even think someone in the same situation I was back then should feel any kind of pressure to lose weight if they don't want to. And I also know there are healthy fat people out there, people heavier than I was at my heaviest whose lives are not constrained by their size (maybe by others' prejudices, but not by their actual bodies). I wouldn't want a thriving fat person to have wls just for the sake of becoming a thin person. And I wouldn't want an unhealthy fat person to be pressured to have wls in order to "earn" decent healthcare. With all those thoughts clanging around in my head, all I could do then was try to figure out the best way forward for myself.
I really tried to get healthier—not necessarily thinner, though I had lots of difficult feelings and thoughts on that subject at the time—by gradually starting to exercise, by trying to eat in ways that were less destructive to me, by getting a sleep study and treating my sleep apnea. Those things helped but it seemed like I hit a wall. I got a little better but didn't seem to be able to push through to really feeling like myself again. And I wasn't even thirty; the longer I waited, the harder it would be. And I knew people who'd had wls. They'd all been bigger than me when they went for it so part of me was afraid I'd be laughed out of the doctor's office, or maybe turned down by our insurance company.
But anyway, obviously I got the surgery and while I have a lot to say about my "head stuff" since then, physically it's made such a difference in my ability to exist in the world with less pain and more energy. Did losing weight resolve my sleep apnea? Well, no, and I am disappointed about that. But it made it less bad, and made my treatment more effective. And even since regaining, I'm still able to do things I either couldn't or was afraid to try ~five years go. I'm happy I had surgery and happy for the overall improvement in my health, but part of me still feels like I...capitulated? Surrendered to something? Gave up? I don't know. I feel guilty, sometimes, for having weight loss surgery. Like, how can I believe in Fat Acceptance and still have done this?
I have no idea! And I'm not going to sort through all these conflicting feelings tonight, not in one rambling and incoherent blog post. But I'm glad I got this off my chest.
In other news, I've been a slug all day. Slept in way late, overate (not disastrously, but still), didn't drink enough water. I did manage to rouse myself for an exciting sixteen minutes on the treadmill. Tomorrow I'll be back to tracking—and I'm sure I'll spend at least part of the day brooding on weight loss surgery, celebrity weight loss narratives, Fat Acceptance, etcetera. For now I think it's time to go to bed.
Mar 11, 2017
Yesterday was pretty good! I finally got back on ye olde treadmill and while I didn't break any land speed records it felt like a nice, solid workout: neither easy nor annihilating.
Today I'm in weekend mode which meant I let myself have a Starbucks beverage (scandalous) and am not tracking my food or being as neurotic as I "should" be (and am, consistently, on workdays.) But aside from that iced-vanilla-sweet-cream-coldbrew thingus I haven't indulged in anything terrible and don't plan to. No strenuous workout planned for today but tonight I will be going back to my volunteer gig (at the place I'd been working at part-time until I got my current job, and where I used to volunteer back before I got laid off from my previous full-time job...my work history is so sad, lol lol). Anyway, volunteering at this place means a couple hours of some standing but mostly walking, so that'll be good. Tomorrow I have specifically designated as a No Plans day, which means no commitments or plans with people. I want to:
Right now I'm having a little conversation with myself because I just ate either a hearty snack or a light lunch. I'm trying to make myself understand that I am not hungry. I'm not stuffed, I'm not uncomfortably full, and the urge to keep eating is real. But I need to not do that. It's a struggle.
Mar 09, 2017
Number Six is simultaneously "weirdly comforting" and "infuriating." It feeds (ha!) my hysteria about accuracy and nutritional information in MyFitnessPal.
Mar 08, 2017
Argh. I uploaded several photos, and I swear to god I created new albums to put them in, but they're all just "Uncategorized" now and I can't seem to move them or create a new album or anything?? What is going on? Is it because I have an Adblocker enabled or something? Argh, again.
I'm tired and have a headache. I think I'll go to bed and see if I can fix this tomorrow. Hmph.
EDIT: Okay, I either fixed it or made it worse. I REALLY need to go to bed. Good night, OH.
Mar 08, 2017
I'm still ridiculously irritated that OH ate one of my blog entries from a couple weeks ago, and that's part of why I haven't come back to update in a little bit. Ugh. Give me back my slightly thoughtful screed, Obesity Help! Give it back!
I am doing okayish. Been consistent about tracking during the workweek (even though it is such a bummer, omg, and it drives me crazy when I have to choose a best-guess food item from MyFitnessPal's database instead of just scanning something—but that's my madness to live with). I've gone over in calories a few times but not by shocking amounts. I have been a little reckless on some weekend days, but honestly not as bad as I'd feared when I mentally gave myself permission to not track on weekends.
I feel brittle and raw this evening. I am so unbelievably stressed at work. This is honestly the first job I've had in a long, long time (maybe ever) that is mentally taxing to this degree. Frankly, I've had a lot of jobs where I didn't have to, uh, challenge myself too much. And now I'm making a lot of mistakes. My anxiety is through the proverbial roof. I spend a majority of each workday with my heart racing and my mind blanking because, well, anxiety etc ad nauseum. It's exhausting. And the worst part is that I don't have a real sense of perspective or proportion about mistakes on the job. Everything is The Worst Thing Ever and I am The Worst Employee Ever and Nothing Will Ever Be Okay. Which is numbing to the point where I make more mistakes than I would have otherwise (of course) and lack a feeling for how I'm actually doing for someone two months into the job. Do I suck? Am I okay? I have no idea! Fortunately my boss is an A+ communicator so I'm, like, functioning. But my head is a mess and physically I am very, very tired because a near-constant sense of panic is pretty goddamn tiring.
What would really help would probably be someone who could sit down with me and strategize some concrete ways to (A) get on top of all the things I feel are slipping away form me and piling up and getting lost in the shuffle aiiieee, and (B) help me stay on top of things once I'm out of freak-out mode. Maybe I should get in touch with my old therapist or take advantage of the EAP at work. We'll see. I've been here two months. It's not sustainable to exist in this state of perpetual self-induced terror. Dunno exactly what I'm gonna do about it but if I'm still feeling like this on, say, Friday evening I'd better do something.
How else am I doing? Woefully under-exercised! I got sick again. (Third time since goddamn Boxing Day. This cold season has been the absolute worst ever. I haven't been the only one relapsing once or more, but—knock on wood—I seem to finally be over it.) Being sick kind of killed my ability to work out for a week or so, and I just haven't made time for it since. Oops. My husband and I did get a pretty decent walk in on Sunday: about 1.8 miles down to the local Buddhist temple for their annual Sukiyaki Dinner fundraiser, and the same distance back up some very serious hills. That was fun and felt good. Need to hop back on the treadmill but in all honesty it just isn't going to happen tonight. Or tomorrow, probably. Maybe I can set a nice, obtainable goal for myself and feel better about life by obtaining it: I'll work out For Real on Friday after work. Hey, I bet that'll help with ye old anxiety, too.
I'll put a reminder in my phone now.
Oh, and my body decided to have a period this month despite my explicit instructions to the contrary. (I'm on birth control and skipping spacer pills because seriously, to hell with my period.) That could be contributing to my general sense of fragility and weirdness. (Like, I got all Weird About Food at the grocery store earlier tonight. Usually I can be pretty chill while food shopping but tonight I was just stalking around in a fugue state of sadness/self-pity/rage because I wanted lots of things that I'm not supposed to have and oh, the resentment and bitterness and inner turmoil.) (Yeah, anyway, that's not unheard of for me but I bet this time it's a stupid menstrual thing.) (Ugh.)
Seriously, why can't I tag blog posts anymore? I want to tag things! I'll finish up with a couple self-indulgent work restroom mirror portraits so you can see my darling EShakti dress:
Feb 24, 2017
My 23-Feb entry disappeared, and then the one I just posted is showing up as 23-Feb instead of 24-Feb. Halp??
Feb 23, 2017
Today was mostly about me being stressed at work. Just internal head-stuff mostly, trying to get a handle of keeping track of things that need tracking, knowing how to do things, etc. I'm so happy to be there but I really wish I could just fast forward to the part where I know how to do my job. It will be a happy day when my presence saves my boss work instead of creating more work for her. But such is the life of the newbie, I guess. Trying to be philosophical about it, keep things in perspective, etc but I do take this specific type of stress very hard. I'm working on taking it one task at a time and being more aggressive about time management. (Blah blah; sorry, this is boring!)
A lovely thing, though, was taking my parents out to celebrate my dad's birthday. We went to our favorite Italian restaurant and I did okay. Ate about half a small salad and demolished a cup of my very favorite lentil and Italian sausage soup. Then I had some mozzarella with marinara that I intended to mostly share with my parents and sister but, uh, kind of ate most of myself. (No regrets! It was delicious.) I eschewed dessert. I was actually feeling pretty sane so it didn't bother me that Mom and Dad and my sister each ordered dessert; I was happy for them to do so. I lived vicariously through them. Normally, over the past year or two, I might not have ordered my own dessert but I would have helped myself to many bites of theirs, or talked someone into splitting something with me. But no bites! No sharing! That's nice. I'd love to hope that's a permanent shift, but I know myself well enough to understand it probably isn't. I'll just have to remain vigilant.
Tonight is also a great example of why tracking my food, water, and exercise can make me a little crazy. (Or a lot crazy.) I've been doing great at tracking this week (well, since I started on Tuesday.) But the restaurant we went to tonight isn't a chain and as far as I know doesn't make nutritional information available. So I had to guess. I had to find things in MyFitnessPal that looked like they might be kind of close to what I ate, maybe, I hope. I do not care for this. If I'm going to track, I only feel okay if I can be reasonably sure what I'm entering is accurate. That's why one of the pitfalls for me when I'm tracking is that I default to things with scannable barcodes. It's an accuracy hangup, and it's really weird and unhelpful but honestly I don't know if this is going to change. Whenenver I eat at a restaurant or someone else's house or whatever (while I'm tracking) and have to enter best-guess stuff, I always make a note that I'm estimating and enter what I really ate—but it still disturbs me, like, way way more than it should. (It's not so bad if my husband and I are cooking at home and I can take the time to enter everything accurately as a "recipe" into MyFitnessPal, but once it's out of my hands...!) Anyway, I hate guessing and I am so bothered that my diary for today is technically inaccurate. ¯\_(?)_/¯
My estimates for what I ate for dinner put me over my calorie goal, so I had some extra motivation to hop on the treadmill when we got home. I'm glad I did that. Now I'm pleasantly sleepy and will put myself to bed. Tomorrow? No tracking, ha! I'll try to keep to "the rules" more or less, but I am taking the weekend off from MyFitnessNemesis. <3