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.
A friend of mine had boudoir pictures done. She’d had a difficult few years, including a double mastectomy because of breast cancer. It took every ounce of (emotional) strength to agree to the photo shoot, wanting it as a surprise to her several-decade-long partner. When the proofs came, she was shyly pleased at how she looked. Most were fairly modest, but others did show her precious scars that saved her life.
Timidly, she showed her husband.
His response was: Nice lighting.
Broken-hearted and filled with unnecessary shame, she came into our secret group and shared a couple of the more modest photos asking if they were that bad that he didn’t even comment on what she looked like.
My friend’s pictures are stunning. When I opened the first one, I had shivers from the beauty of seeing this woman, literally, laying bare the fears she’s harbored for so, so long. (As many of us in this society do.) Of course we all held her close and loved on her, and told her what a doofus he was for not “seeing” her, but all of our approval was a drop compared to what she’d needed from him.
I’ve thought of this for several days now, asking the couple of guys in my life why a husband would do that? Why he couldn’t even muster a “You’re beautiful,” even if was fake. My male friends said about the same thing: Men suck.
Ye Olde Body Image
We women struggle with our body images, many of us since childhood.
I remember when I first began having sex, I never wanted to get on top because my breasts drooped off my chest, not remaining in pretty round orbs like the girls in Playboy. Then after having one giant baby after another, I didn’t want to get on top because my entire mid-section sagged down with gravity. Suddenly, my breasts were the least of the flopping about.
Just sitting here writing this, I remember the shame acutely. I have tears dripping from the corner of my eyes because I find myself so repulsively ugly. I feign not being embarrassed at all these doctor appointments, but the reality is I cringe every time someone needs to touch my body.
When I go to Sex Parties, there is no shame from anyone. Bodies are bodies are bodies. Most of us there are old enough to know life before Internet porn, so, I believe, have a more realistic view of growing-older bodies and sex. Besides under the covers, the only place I am free to be naked is with my kinky and swinging friends. (Even still, I am always nervous about taking my clothes off at the beginning of the evening. NO ONE EVEN CARES! Yet, I still do.)
Our Bodies Turning On Us
Fat, folds, scars, sags, creases, hair where we don’t want it, no hair where we do want it, adult acne (what the fuck are we doing still getting acne in our 60’s?!), leaking when we sneeze, farting at inopportune times… belching, using your inhaler before having sex, having not one, but two pillboxes to fill every week… having to eat by the clock so your blood glucose doesn’t go too high, or goddess forbid, too low! (One of the not-so-funny funny things is you have to shoot insulin into a roll of fat. Every. Single. Time I have to give myself a shot, I roll my eyes at the luck of so many gooshie sites to choose from.)
And let’s not even begin in the genital area.
People with means might be thinking, “Not me!” and so many begin having plastic/reconstructive surgeries as early as 16. That girls under 20 are asking for labiaplasty because they think their vulvas are ugly makes my heart hurt. Can an entire generation of women feel even more body shame than I have about mine? It seems so.
It’s sad to me that so many girls and women… and men! think our bodies should be porn-perfect or fantasy-ready.
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.
There is this interesting dynamic that occurs in several kink & fetish communities. It is known as a Binge-Purge Cycle. Most of us probably recognize this term with regards to food, but in the kink community it takes on a slightly different guise.
I’ve witnessed and walked through this cycle several times with my phone sex clients over the last 18 months.
The Binge-Purge Cycle goes through quite predictable stages. I outline them below.
Bingeing: Buying items of their kink or fetish… panties, dresses, make-up, wigs, heels, lingerie, diapers, bdsm toys, sex toys and the like.
Indulging: A period of wonderful happiness, although it can also include some recklessness (unprotected sex, not being particularly careful about physical safety when hooking up, walking the fine line between having fun with the kink-fetish & tempting being discovered, putting pictures on the Internet, etc.).
Beginning of Discomfort: Sometimes this comes with a close call of being discovered (which I see happening almost as a subconscious set-up oftentimes) or someone threatening to tell the spouse or out them at work. Other times are when a life situation presents such as an upcoming business trip or hospitalization (“What if my spouse digs around and finds my stash?”), a near-miss car accident or a fall (“What if I was hospitalized and they saw my panties?” “What if I die and my wife finds my stash?”)
Deepening Shame: It is a short leap from discomfort to the shame that leads to purging. This often has religious overtones. I actually see this around Christian holidays a lot. As we would expect, the more fundamentalist the religion, the deeper the guilt and shame. Spouses and parents tend to really beat themselves up hard at this point. (“I would ruin my kids’ lives if anyone found out.” “My wife would take the kids if she ever knew I wore panties/sucked cock/saw prostitutes/etc.”) I do see this in single folks, too, though.
This Shame phase I have the hardest time with regarding my clients and those in my life. I will talk about this specifically in a few minutes.
Purging: This tends to be a cathartic rather than a sad event. Some feel sad, but most feel remorseful-relief as they pile everything into garbage bags to take to a faraway dumpster. (I try and put the idea in their heads to donate the items instead of tossing them in the trash.)
Newly Abstinent: Huge amounts of relief replace the shame and this phase also has a “high” similar to the Indulging phase. This place without any of ones’ accoutrements around feels safe, clean, unburdened. They are able to breathe easier for awhile.
Bargaining as the Building of Desire Increases: The urge to dress/play/have anonymous sex/etc. increases and intense bargaining occurs. (“I promise not to if you take this urge away.” “I will never cheat on my wife again if I can stop wanting to wear panties.”) No one takes the person up on the bargaining, of course. When they are in this phase, alcohol or medication/drugs often come into play to try and relieve the intense urges to fulfill their needs. As we know, substance (ab)use creates its own set of obstacles in relationships.
Bingeing: When the tipping point occurs, enormous spending sprees tax credit cards, their minds whir with how to not be discovered/where to hide the goods and an enormous high drives the entire production towards that reckless place once again.
Binge-Purge Kinks & Fetishes
A few of the kinks & fetishes that do this cycle are:
I could just as easily pick out any part of the cycle to discuss –and might do others later- but the Shame aspect is where my heart hurts right now.
It breaks my heart when I hear someone in this place. They speak to me softly, usually near tears, hiding in their car or locked in their office, telling me they can’t help it and how much they hate themselves for their horrible behavior. I want to bring them into my arms and comfort them (and do so in my mind).
Knowing how overwhelming and bad this feels, the first thing I do is tell them, with all the love in my voice, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with their desire. It is our society and culture that has the issue. That in other cultures and in other times, their kink-fetish was honored and revered.
I tell them it sucks to not be able to be who they really are and that I understand their fears of discovery and, if god is involved, how they think he will judge them and send them to hell.
I tell them I am not alone in believing in them and honoring who they are no matter what they wear or how they behave. I always encourage a kink-fetish-friendly therapist and have helped several find someone in their area. (Definitely not a part of my job and I am not paid for it, but feel it is a natural off-shoot to my love and care.)
My Own Shame
Shame makes me crazed sometimes. Surely because I have had (and am still plowing through) a lifetime of the sludge and muck that colors almost every aspect of my life. I don’t want anyone to feel this terrible filthiness and weight on the heart and spirit. 35+ years of therapy seems to have barely shoveled any into the incinerator. Or else it is self-replacing; some goes out, tons comes back in.
As a midwife, I worked with the shame of clients… sexuality being a common theme. What was nice was I had a proscribed schedule, typically 7-8 months, within which to explore the shame and help them find tools to lessen the guilt and shame they carried.
Here, however, I never know if the call I am on will be the absolutely last call before a purge, so I feel compelled to discuss shame with many clients, especially if they are in what I would consider a high-risk-for-purging kink or fetish.
Delightfully, I’ve talked to a couple of folks who’ve found peace in their kinks and fetishes and have created safeguards against discovery.
Fascinatingly creative, I’ll share one person’s solution.
One gal, dressing (in girl/women’s clothes) almost since toddlerhood, had gone through at least 8 binge-purge cycles in over 40 years when she had the profound realization this need/desire to dress was simply never going away. There was not any lightning bolt moment where she saw herself… the rest-of-her-life Self… not willing to purge again and Be who she knew herself to be. The dawning took many, many years, she telling me that each purge brought her closer to never doing so again.
When the final decision to stop purging was made, she decided to be proactive in keeping her family from ever ever ever finding out about this part of her, yet be able to resume dressing whenever she went out of town on business.
She moved everything out of the house, only bringing something home to wash occasionally and only when the family was gone.
The list of her off-site storage solution is astonishingly brilliant. Mind you, this took her about 10 years to iron out the details, but still… incredible.
• Pays cash for almost everything
• Has an air conditioned storage unit
• Has a post office box and uses this as her address for almost anything requiring an address
• Has a separate bank account, out of state, in her chosen name
• Has a separate computer she uses only for her alter-ego, including buying clothes, going to chat rooms, etc.
• Has a separate phone in her chosen name, out of state phone company
• Has a key in a tiny lock box that opens the safe deposit box at a large bank outside of town
• Debit cards, phone and key to the storage unit kept inside the safe deposit box
• Inside the storage unit, she had a private closet consultant make a lovely closet for her to store her clothes, lingerie, shoes, stockings, wigs, makeup and jewelry
• Inside the storage unit, she has her phone
• Inside the storage unit, she has luggage that she packs in anticipation of the out-of-town business trip coming up next (prepared ahead of time except for clothes that can wrinkle, putting those in before the flight)
Isn’t this the most ingenious solution to leaving shame behind?
She did these things so that if anything ever happened to her… a heart attack, a car accident, any kind of emergency that would keep her from protecting herself, her family would be protected (her word) from knowing this part of her. The several keys and combinations to even get into the storage unit, the storage unit not being in her male name (if she died, they would simply sell her things off), the phones, the debit cards… all for her self-protection and piece of mind.
We did talk for a few minutes about if she was out in a club dressed and some tragedy like Pulse happened, she could possibly be discovered, but I did tell her that most EMS and hospital personnel would keep that part of her secret, it being irrelevant to the next of kin.
All in all, she covered her tracks beautifully.
I asked if I was allowed to share this with others and she said absolutely because she wished she’d had someone help her all those years ago.
I believe there can be ways to offer others support and information for, if not removing, at least relieving, some of their guilt and shame.
I know I am not alone on this side of the amazing people’s journeys. Are you here, too?