On Friday, March 29th, 2019 I arrived at my first appointment for gastric bypass surgery after attending the seminar in December. I haven’t told but a handful of people that I was thinking about surgery for weight loss. I feel like surgery is the easy way out. In some ways it makes me feel like I’ve failed. The truth is, this is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make when it comes to my weight loss. This surgery is irreversible. It’s not a fix-all. People still gain weight after surgery and to be honest I’m scared as hell. If I can’t control what I eat RIGHT NOW how can I possibly control what I eat after surgery? But that’s the least of my worries on this day.
The doctor comes into the room and tosses my folder on the desk, “So why are you here today?” I stare at him. He’s caught me off guard. I know he wants to hear that I’m here because I want a better life and no longer want health issues and blah blah but doc – let’s be honest. In order to get there, I’ve got to lose weight. So I say, “To lose weight. To be healthy again.” He chuckles a bit and right away I know that’s not the answer he wants and personally, I don’t care. He quickly replies with the list of things he was looking for. I already know I don’t like him. He’s cocky. His voice is demeaning and degrading. He asks me if I sleep with a c-pap – I answer no. He asks if I have high blood pressure – I answer no. Heart attack, stroke – no. He asks if I have diabetes – I answer no but I am still using Metformin to keep it under control because I used to have Type 2. I want to scream, “DID YOU READ MY FILE?!” He asks which type of surgery I’m interested in. I pick up a large flip board with the names of the surgery because who the hell remembers “Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.” I explain this is the type of surgery I’d like and the reason why. He quickly shoots it down and tells me that with the way I carry my weight and because I’ve had several abdominal surgeries, the sleeve would be better. He leaves the room to grab the female nurse because he has to check my heart. I look over at Kristy with disgust and whisper, “I don’t like him.”
Later that evening I received an email showing the notes and wrap-up of our appointment. Under ‘Chief Complaint’ the doctor writes “Sleep apnea, hypertension, degenerative joint disease, urinary stress incontinence, chronic fatigue, exertional shortness of breath.” WHAT?! Who the hell? Whose complaints are THESE? We never discussed these because I don’t have them. What is degenerative joint disease and urinary stress incontinence?! Now I’m worried. This is the doctor that’s going to operate on me? For fuck’s sake doc. Some would excuse it as – he most likely wrote the wrong patient notes in. Well, if he can make that simple of a mistake, I sure as hell don’t want him snipping, cutting, and stitching things inside my body. So tell me, what’s up doc?
“Poverty. That’s why.” That’s the answer I get from my therapist when I ask “Why is it so hard to get off of “the system” and why are my children struggling?”
She continues to tell me that because my parents grew up in poverty, I then grew up in poverty which in turn, my children grew up in poverty so the likelihood of my children’s children growing up in poverty is very high. “So what, doc? You’re saying that we are just all another statistic?” For whatever reason that angers me to my core. Don’t categorize me and my family! Don’t tell me that my kids will never have anything better in life besides POVERTY!” I leave therapy that day angry and agitated mostly because I know she’s right.
When I get home I start my research. What comes with poverty? How does it affect families? I don’t know why I bothered with research when I already knew my answers. I guess I was looking for validation. According to http://www.debt.org, poverty starts with those that are less educated and less healthy than those not living in poverty. When they say “less educated” I know this is more than just about a college degree. Those that are more educated on healthy food choices, physical fitness choices, financial choices, ect., are more knowledgeable on how to better their lives in each of those areas whereas those with less education in regards to those choices have more difficulty making those decisions. Lastly, according to Gallup, (an American analytics and advisory company), with poverty also comes depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart attacks. So the next time you are standing in line at the grocery store next to an obese mother with 3 obese children watching the cashier ring up their chips, dip, and soda while she runs her food stamp card, this is most likely lack of education with added depression and health issues and not laziness.
So how do I fix this? I guess I start with exactly what I’m doing right now. Educating myself. Research. Read. Learn. Then pass it along to my children by leadership. They are at an age now that giving them verbal information is like talking to a dead horse. I must live the life myself and hope that they see it and follow. If I can dysfunctionally damage them, I can most certainly educate the dysfunction, right?
It’s the revolving door. The viciousness of hell. I feel like the hamster on the wheel that just keeps going around and around and if I dare stop I’m going to flip and break something.
I remember where I went wrong. It was a bowl of almond Hershey kisses that sat on a bedside table. I hadn’t had chocolate in nearly a year and to pop one of those in my mouth – well, there was no going back after that. I love chocolate. I have a relationship with chocolate that should be illegal. I eat it until I feel sick and then I wait until that feeling goes away and eat more. Hard chocolate, soft chocolate, creamy chocolate, dark chocolate. I do not discriminate when it comes to my love of it.
They say not to leave sweets in your home because it causes you to overeat and want more. I laugh. I will go out in a storm to get it. I will leave in the middle of the night. You have no idea the lengths I will go to to get the food I want. All it takes to trigger that want is for a commercial to flash across the screen or for someone to mention it and I can’t stop thinking of it. It consumes me until I’m anxious. Until the cuticles around my nails are gone. Until I’m so irritated that everyone around me can’t stand the sight of me. Until I’ve finally broken and gone to the store or fast food restaurant.
So I tell myself – tomorrow. Start over tomorrow. Monday. Next Month. Truth is, if I continue this lifestyle, I may not have tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come. Is that enough to change? Is that enough to stop the revolving door? I thought so.
I’ve been gone and the blog went empty. Where did The Starving Fat Lady go? I have so much to tell you. I want to begin by first saying – I’m back. I’m back to face my demons and to expose my soul. I need to start facing the facts. I was successful in losing 140 pounds and successful in gaining nearly all of it back. We will get to that in later. There are reasons for that. I just know it!
I think there are reasons for why we over eat. There are reasons we are in so much pain that we would rather hide behind layers upon layers of skin rather than be exposed to the world. I’d rather be looked at twice for being overweight and NOT complimented than to be looked at twice and told I’m pretty. I cringe at compliments but no one would know it. I’m a professional faker. I can put on any smile and grit through a “thank you” and make it convincing. Very convincing.
If you are a new reader, welcome. If you are a loyal reader, welcome back. Time to get this party started.
He promised he would try harder. He promised that things would be better. So when that phone call from a friend came in, I was devastated. “Tonia, I saw him today with that girl. I saw him kiss her in YOUR car!” My heart dropped.
This is the last time he will cheat on me. I gather clothes, pictures, and personal hygiene products. I stuff them in the bag and wait for him to come home. My stomach is turning, I’m shaking with anticipation. My hands are sweaty. I know this is the final time I will be with this man. I will no longer take second place to his whore. He walks through the door. His kids yell his name; running to him with their arms out. He uses his affair-tainted lips to kiss our children. I want to rip his face off.
The bag I packed earlier sits by the front door. Of course, he doesn’t notice. He hasn’t noticed anything in years. He no longer notices the clean house and the hot meals. The happy kids. The sad wife. Maybe I play a part in this disaster too. I mean, I’ve gained weight. I no longer do my hair or makeup. I get a shower in every two days. Maybe I can’t blame him. I’ve let myself go so that I could grow, bear, nourish, raise, and love his children. I shake the guilt off. Flashes of white rage go through me. Oh God. Did he touch her and then touch me? My mind flickers with snapshots of them together and all the moments we shared afterwards. Them kissing, touching…fucking! Then he came home to me! All the nights we made love. Was it after her?!? Was he thinking of her? I can’t take this.
I walk over to each of my kids and kiss them and whisper, “I love you.” I look up to see my husband. MY. HUSBAND. The look on his face is one of anticipation. Is he waiting for me to kiss him and tell him that I love him, too? He’s sadly mistaken if he expects anything more from me. This. Is. Over. I slowly pushed my way past him, grabbed the bag next to the door and left. It would be 1 year, 5 months and 9 days until I would see my children again.
I want to jump into where I’ve been and what I have been doing and the reason for my absence quickly. So let’s begin.
Depression is nasty. It debilitates you and leaves you numb, causing you to separate yourself from life, family, and friends. The devil entered my life at a point where I felt weak and vulnerable and he used that to scratch his own itch. It can last days or months; in my case, months. You are able to function at some small level but anything after that takes energy you don’t have. Reaching out for help is out of the question but I’ve been blessed to have friends and family who give me my space and time to heal. For that, thank you.
Time for the big news! Thanks to all of your comments, feedback and positive prayers, I have decided that I want to share my story with the world. I am writing a book! My own little autobiography. When you read my blogs (and book) I want you to be able to say, “Me too!” You are not alone in the struggle and the struggle IS real! The book is titled, “The Starving Fat Lady – Binge eating, abuse, and mental illness.” I’ve been working on the first chapter these last few months and am hoping to have it proofread and finished in another few weeks. I have years of work to do but it will be worth it to have my readers know they are not alone. When I think about being isolated, I sometimes think about grade school. It seemed I always befriended the outcasts, the rejects, the mess. Or maybe it was the other way around. They accepted me. I, too, was the outcast, the reject, the mess. Either way I met and know some extraordinary people! Those that knew I was worthy and believed in what I did, even if I failed, thank you!!
I leave you today, with this: You will get better. With time and support, life does open up and bring you sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it seems the darkness will never go away but trust me when I say, it goes away. Thank you to those hanging in there with me and putting up with my bouts of depression. I can’t express to you just how much it means to me.
You’d think a wake up call would magically appear and scream, “Get your ass in gear!” Why can’t I just eat what I want? What I’m used to? When I was younger I remember binge eating and then telling myself, “OK, that was a lot so for the next few days you can’t eat nearly as much and you won’t gain weight.” I really had myself convinced it worked like that. Now….forget about it. I can’t shed an ounce no matter if I starve myself or not. My old body has slowed to a halt. I swear I heard the brakes screech at thirty.
I can’t count how many times I’ve laid in bed at night thinking of all the spectacular things I planned to start in the morning. Clean out a cupboard, eat healthy, help an old lady cross the road, conquer the world, you know. I wake up with the best of intention. Then….noon hits. I’m tired and over it. Mission aborted. Like I said, my intentions were good. So good in fact, that I’ve successfully started and stopped several “diets.” HCG, grapefruit, Weight Watchers, juicing, nutritionists, smoothies..the list goes on. My failing success.
I think it’s a common misconception, by some, that obese people sit, do nothing, and eat all day. Reality is, that’s not true for everyone. There are days I do nothing else but run, (figuratively speaking of course). Of course, I still find time to take in a ho-ho or four. Take, for example, my youngest daughter. Skinny as skinny can be and that 16 year old does……….nothing. She eats, sleeps, checks her iPhone, eats, and sleeps again. I see her two times a day. She emerges from her room, uses the restroom and checks to see if I’ve cooked anything. How she manages to stay so thin is beyond me. My point is, finding something that will aid in my weight loss may be different from anyone else. An overweight person can eat and starve and still be obese or exercise and be active but make the wrong food choices, thus, stay overweight. What worked for Joan may not work for Jane. I hope to one day find that miracle “cure.” For now, hand me that plate of food and back away!
It starts in the dressing room and two pieces of clothing…
I slide my shirt over my head and pull it down over my curves. Wait. This is a T-SHIRT, right? I take it off and look at the size. XXL. How the hell is it so short? They are charging $2 extra for plus size yet they forgot to somehow sew the bottom half of the shirt on! The pants are next. I slip those over my thighs and pull up over my stomach. High-waters. How is this possible? I haven’t grown. Well. Maybe I have. Around but not up! This is impossible. I leave the dressing room and angrily hand my clothes to the attendant. I’m angry at myself for not being able to fit into simple clothes. I’m angry because they want to charge me more for plus-size clothing but not give me enough clothing to wear! And I’m angry that I’ve done nothing to fix it.
I admit that I’m the most contradictive person alive. I complain that I want to fix it, yet do nothing about it. I give advice to others, but don’t practice it myself. I’m safe here. You will hear me refer to my obesity and addiction to food as the devil. It’s a mental fight I have daily and that fight is visualized as cruel, dark, lonely, hurtful, sad… the dark list goes on. The push-pull of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. I share this with you not to make you sad or feel empathy for me. I share it because sometimes I struggle with the darkness and I want others, perhaps you dear reader, to know……you are NOT alone.
As I’ve become older, I’m at a point in my life, that I’m learning to come to terms with obesity. Accepting it. Feeling safe with it. It is what it is, so to speak. Obesity gives me security. Losing weight would only put myself out there to predators so I’m safe being fat. No one wants a starving fat lady.
Totally fell for this boy. I mean hard. I know I’m only 13 but he’s super cute and super nice. He smokes but I’m okay with it because I smoke too! Hopefully mom and dad don’t find out. Keep it under lock and key, diary, okay?
March 1990 Dear Diary,
I can’t believe it!! We kissed for the first time! My stomach was in knots and I was afraid he was going to want more but he didn’t! Hate how he always talks about other girls though. He’s talks to one girl and I can’t stand her. Her blush is as thick as molasses! Gag!
July 1990 Dear Diary,
I was so stupid. Why did I tell him how I feel? My heart is broken! He told my best friend, Allie that I wouldn’t “put out” so he was going to go out with red molasses face! Oooo I’m so mad!
July 1990 Dear Diary,
Just got back from school. HE CALLED ME FAT!!! He told his friend and he told Allie who also told Stephanie, which by the way I am so ticked off at, that I was fat. Yeah? Well let me know what molasses face really looks like when she scraps off her makeup!
September 1990 Dear Diary,
Totally fell for this boy. I mean hard. I know I’m only 13 but he’s super cute and super nice……..
This blog was created by the 13 year old in me. This is a true story with as much detail as I can remember. I think sometimes we just need a reminder that as children, we so easily move on from some of the disappointments and heartbreak we experience in life. But in adulthood we seem to grasp onto the negative and forget the positive. When did we let that go and why? So remember this: Why worry about what you can’t fix in this very moment? Try not to lose focus on something that’s out of your control. Your bills, your kid smoking pot, your car breaking down, getting to an appointment late. whatever it may be…..embrace that moment, breathe, gather yourself, and hit that sucker tomorrow. You got this.
First and foremost, let me apologize to you, my readers. I took a last-minute trip out-of-town and didn’t prepare to stay as long, thus missing a blog. So let’s get this started shall we?
“Tonia. Are you paying attention?” I snap to. I look at my doctor blankly. “Could I really lose my feet?” He looks at me seriously, “Yeah. You could lose toes, feet, legs. Your life. This is your life. Do you want to live it?” I sigh and start to think about what he just said. He leaves me to type out my release paperwork and I take that opportunity to reflect back to a few words my ears picked up on. “Your life. Losing limbs. Heart disease. Life. Living. Death.” My anxiety starts to rise and I can feel panic settling in.
If I don’t think about it, it doesn’t exist right? I live with the, “It won’t be me. It happens to others,” mentality. Not to mention only my health but also the way I feel. It’s almost normal for me to feel like crap. I don’t know what it feels like to be healthy. Let’s talk about the emotional toll it takes when you go shopping or out to eat or anywhere in public for that matter! When you sit down do you pull your shirt out from your belly area? Do you pray that the cheap plastic chair you’re about to sit in, doesn’t break? Does it raise your anxiety a bit to find out that the restaurant you are going to may only have tables you can’t fit into? And clothing! I haven’t shopped in forever. It’s sort of hard to when nothing fits right. What I do have, I try to squeeze into as much as possible. Here’s an example:
My jeans are just about too tight. I know this because instead of jumping up and down to get them on and zipped, I now have to lay on the bed and zip them. Getting up requires some assistance but the job is successful! There’s no way I can sit because my body won’t fold that way but my jeans are on!! I head out to my meeting. At the conference center I’m having serious apparel malfunction. My zipper won’t stay up! What if my button goes flying across the room, hitting someone in the eye, causing them to go permanently blind and me on their mind for the rest of their lives as, “the fat girl who wore the tight jeans made me go blind.” I realize I may be over thinking but this is embarrassing. This thought sends my mind racing and I have to get out! I have to get out of this room. I finally rise and all eyes are now on me. “Excuse me for a few moments, please.” I dart out of the room, catching my breath outside the door. FAT!! Think I’ll skip the rest of the meeting and head to the store and see if their donuts are still fresh. Screw it. After buying my shame, I get into the car, unzip my pants and breathe. The best taste of freedom and donut….ever!!
Losing weight is not just about feeling good in your own skin. It’s about being able to enjoy life around you. The simple things like walking to the park, not worrying about fitting into booths and chairs. The freedom to buy clothing that LOOKS good and not just buying it because it fits. It’s also about being healthy. My doctor is right. Bad things can happen to anyone if the problem is not taken care of. Maybe one day I will listen. Hopefully before it’s too late.