“Body dysmorphia” was mentioned in a TV show I was watching the other night. It’s a mental condition where the sufferer gets utterly fixated on some perceived flaw in their physical body that is either minor or non-existent.
“Aha,” I thought, “Perhaps all this stressing over my weight can be refuted with some simple numbers! Perhaps I’m really not all that fat after all – at least by Western standards, which after all is where I live!”
So I went and looked up the average BMI for Australians, knowing that we’re overweight. Do I fit right in with the majority? No I do not. I am so very, unbelievably much fatter than pretty much everyone. Unfortunately, that’s the maths. [Cue rant about how BMIs aren’t an accurate measure of true fatness. Whatever.]
I don’t care to share the exact details, but let’s just say that to be in the middle of the healthy weight range I’d need to be one and a half feet taller (or just under half a metre, for my metric-minded peeps). That would make me roughly seven and a half feet tall.
Anyone got a spare rack in the basement?
One of the many depressing things about this (did I mention I keep buying new fat pants because I outgrow them – over and over again?) is how long it will take to get within shouting range of an average overweight person. . . let alone actually touching the healthy weight range.
It is, unfortunately, perfectly rational to say that I’m very, very fat. It’s also perfectly rational to say it’s now the first thing people notice about me, whether they’re someone meeting me for the first time or old friends seeing me after a gap of a few months or more. I absolutely do look pregnant – about six months, I’d say – thanks to the peculiarities of where a good 20% or so of my spare fat has decided to hang out. If you doubt my rationality on the I-look-pregnant front, just ask the many random people constantly approaching to congratulate me.
I wholeheartedly admit that I do get irrational when I think about the social aspect. I honestly dread seeing old friends, or new people, and I’m now actively avoiding crowds (which is pretty clearly not a long-term solution). I’m also constantly mentioning in passing that I’m not pregnant (which, if you were at Conflux and you wondered why I felt the need to share with the room that I had one child and was planning to maybe have another next year, explains much). I don’t like anyone physically seeing me, not even my mum or sister or CJ. I feel just a little bit like children will run screaming in the streets at the sight of me.
There are two obvious solutions to this problem:
1. Stop being mentally ill (see? How easy was that?!?)
2. Lose some of the weight. I’ve mentioned before that I get sick every time I lose a bit of weight. The good news is that I sat down with a calorie-counting friend and worked out that what I consider “healthy eating” (three meals and two healthy snacks a day, plus 3-6 gentle exercise sessions a week for 20-40 minutes) is actually too little for my height, and would cause my body to think it’s starving and hold on to its fat reserves for dear life.
So once I get reasonably healthy (I’m still waiting on the cough from last year’s bronchitis to move on, and there are other hints that all’s not well physically – including uncontrollable eye twitching and nonsensical muscle pain/throbbing) and I start on the long and painful road to good health, I need to have more snacks along the way. Yay.
I also have enough rationality to know that given the right clothes I can still look pretty all right from the front. So, under carefully controlled conditions, I can still put pictures of myself online in which I genuinely believe I look nice. (I tried to put one here – I looked GREAT by the way – but wordpress wouldn’t let me.)
Just don’t make me turn sideways.
In other news, it looks pretty certain (based on the gyno saying, “You may have. . . . “, me responding, “Don’t be silly”, then googling the symptoms and saying, “Oh. Actually yes.”) that I have at least one more organ in the wrong place, and (because organs gone walkabout isn’t exciting enough) endometriosis (which is when the lining of the uterus grows in places it shouldn’t, which can cause issues with internal bleeding and/or lowered fertility, among others).
Things that bother me about this (other than the fact no-one actually suggested endometriosis a year ago when I went to the doctor and said I thought something might be wrong with me):
1. The treatment for endo is repeated surgery – so that means LOTS more people wandering up and down the highway that used to be my lady parts, and shooting bits off with lasers. Okay, the lasers are cool. But the mere thought that I might – even once – have to let a male doctor anywhere near my privates has given me about a dozen panic attacks in the last 24 hours. And it might happen again, and again, and again. I feel like I’m chained in a rapist’s dungeon and I have no privacy, no control, and no end in sight. All I know is that my body isn’t mine any more, and never will be again.
To be fair, the endo may be mild enough that the same treatment I’m getting for the prolapsed uterus will more or less sort me out (although endo gets worse and worse with time – but, whatever). It’s also possible (SURELY it’s possible) that I can insist on a female doctor, but that’ll probably mean delays (still enough to bring on panic attacks, but not nearly so many). Which leads me to my next point. . .
2. Time. Right now I feel like I badly need a shower every second, and I hesitate to walk across a room because that makes everything worse. Showers don’t actually help. It’ll be a minimum two or three months before things “probably” “begin” to improve. Imagine having a slug sitting on your hand, and knowing you can’t remove it for three months. You can think about other things, you can meditate – but you’ll never quite forget that the slug is there. *shrug* Like most medical conditions, mine suck, and I want them gone ASAP. Better to be gross, debilitating and humiliating than life-threatening. (Yay?)
3. It’s possible that endo will make it harder to conceive our next child. Trying to conceive is certainly a lot of fun, but it’s also really weird and awkward – which, for someone not entirely over an anxiety disorder (who feels uncomfortable being looked at even with clothes on) – is going to take a huge amount of mental energy to cope with. Last time I gained seven kilos in the three months it took. The average conception takes 6-12 months.
But we might be fine.
4. What new and permanent horrors will the second pregnancy bestow upon me? It’s anyone’s guess.
There is, of course, an obvious up side. Now that I have a name for some of the stuff wrong with me, I can (eventually, painfully, embarrassingly) get it fixed. So, yay.
Coming soon: Hilarious tales that don’t involve body parts! (I’m not joking. I really do have some good
7 thoughts on “When the fat lady sighs (trigger warning, also PG medical and womanly)”
*hugs from the opposite side of the world* Hang in there, cuz!
I don’t know if you’re up for hormone therapy, but that’s also used for endometriosis somewhat less invasively, as I recall (although it may interfere somewhat with conception, but in some cases things clear up reasonably fast, and it has a reasonably high success rate).
Hi cuz. I’m definitely up for hormone stuff – that’s what’ll be happening in about a month’s time (I need to wait until the specialist is free to place an IUS that should mostly fix two out of three of the medical things just because of hormone regulation. So that’s certainly something to look forward to.
Good luck with it!
Hi Fel, I always ask for a female if I deem it more comfortable – gynaecologist and also gastroenterologist in recent years and both fabulous. Don’t settle – they are out there! Remember you only ‘ may have … ‘ I had the same thing said to me at your age but didn’t have it at all – get another opinion – a female one would be perfect! Hugs.
CJ’s mum: Thank you for the support & encouragement.
Just thought I’d point out that the surgery for Endo is Key Hole. A TINY incision in the belly button and another tiny one lower down on the stomach. The only reason they even went near my lady parts was for an unrelated matter which REALLY shouldn’t affect you. Since you went and had a baby and all.
So there’s something which will hopefully ease the stress of people going near the lady parts on a regular basis. I’ve also never met anyone who’s needed it more then twice and most of the time once is fine.
And you can DEFINITELY ask for Lady Doctors.
(and from the sounds of it, the surgery to realign organs could double as Endo surgery, since they just laser away the endo.)
I’m sorry if I didn’t say what you needed to hear at the time. But I’m happy to talk to you about any questions you might have about the Endo, surgery, medication or otherwise, since I had a text book (albeit an extreme case) of it.
You’re a tough cookie, with a supportive partner and family, so things will be okay!
Steph: The news on the surgery being keyhole is AWESOME. The lady parts don’t have to be a highway after all. No-one actually wants to get surgery, but the faint possibility of non-personal surgery is fine by me.
It’s good to know your endo is an extreme case….I remember vividly when you first found out about it, and how much it sucked. You said all the right things both on Saturday and now – both times made an immediate and significant difference.