Have you ever had a large meal and after eating it, your stomach protruded and literally hurt from fullness? Did that fullness make you feel so uncomfortable that you couldn’t sit still, you couldn’t lay down, you couldn’t move without feeling miserable and you wouldn’t dare think about putting another bite of food in your mouth. I, too, have felt that sort of fullness but if I wait 2-5 minutes I know I will want more. Especially if the food was pleasing to my senses!
Food gives me satisfaction. It’s the one constant in my life I have all the control over yet no control over at all. Stripping me of that control and having to tell myself I can’t eat this or that just because I have no limits is heart-wrenching to me. I become furious just thinking about driving past the Dairy Queen during the summer and having to see the skinny families standing in line with their skinny kids and their skinny dogs in their skinny cars eating their fat ice creams and chubby parfaits. I just gained 15 pounds writing that. I’m food sensitive. I swear to it. My youngest daughter is 5 foot nothing and 98 pounds. When she got her first tattoo, she asked to hold my hand. Her petite and tiny hand attempting to squeeze my ginormous hand was comical and sad in the same breath. She’s always talking to me about how the double size zeros are too loose. God bless her. The child eats and her body refuses to gain an ounce. Just inhaling the smells of food cause me to gain.
But alas, I have no shame. I’m not a closet eater. I give no real care. I will merrily and happily eat as much as I want in front of whoever I want. If I want to down an entire pie without sharing, I will do so. This could be my curse or blessing. I hate fighting with myself over what I should eat and what I shouldn’t eat because God forbid I eat an apple on Tuesday at 3 pm after consuming caffeine but not before a kale smoothie because Keto enzymes in the blood flood are bad. Seriously, someone punch me in the face. It’s no joke hard work eating healthy. I don’t feel as comforted with “healthier food”. Don’t get me wrong, healthy food makes me feel good in the long run. But the immediate results I get from sugar and the taste from certain fats from fried food is where I find comfort, safety, warmth, and relaxation. I can take out 6 king-sized candy bars in one sitting (evening). And I’m sure the count could be higher, this is just as much as I purchased. It’s impossible to tell myself, “Stop. Listen to your body.” or “How about an apple?” or “Try water.” There’s no way in hell I’m NOT going to allow myself to enjoy this. This is MINE. I’m becoming agitated now just thinking about. So I eat it – bypass everything I feel – and enjoy every single slow moment with the sweet morsel of magic.
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?
My daddy, (step-dad since I was 4 years old), has been a 2 pack-a-day smoker for 55 years. On March 13th of 2019 he had a heart attack. He was rushed into procedure where they put 2 stints into his heart. Technology is amazing now. He was in and out by the following day. While in the hospital he wore a nicotine patch and said he felt great and didn’t crave a cigarette. As soon as he left the hospital, he tore the patch off and smoked. The next day, he wore a patch that I had purchased but tore it off later and continued to smoke. He then said, “those patches are giving me headaches. I don’t like them”, as he walked out for another cigarette. I looked at my mom and said, “it’s in his head, you know. All that is in those patches is the same thing that’s in his cigarettes! I can’t believe he can’t just quit! I’ve been a smoker and I’ve never had a problem quitting.” My blood father passed away 3 years ago after a quadruple bypass on his heart. While they were lifting him up in the bed to adjust him, his heart failed and he died. He was a smoker who quit but a severe diabetic who refused to give up soda and bad eating habits.
So I went home that evening angry and frustrated. How dare he be so selfish! How dare he shorten his time from us. How dare he expect US to take away from OUR lives to take care of him in his final days because he CHOOSES to smoke and not help himself. Prior to his heart attack he was diagnosed with acute COPD! What more do you need to change?! How dare he! Then…….I stopped.
How many doctor’s appointments have I been to where the doctor faced me and warned me that if I didn’t stop my bad eating habits, I was going to die? High blood pressure, diabetes and nerve damage in both feet didn’t stop me. It wasn’t enough that I had children at home who depended on me. My oldest daughter, bless her beautiful soul, had to tie my shoes because I couldn’t bend over. Who the fuck am I to lecture dad about addiction? Of course it was easy for me to stop smoking. I wasn’t addicted to smoking. I’m addicted to food! There are not enough warning labels or words that could convince me that consuming “orange” mac and cheese is unhealthy. Secretly I know it but the taste. The taste FEELS good. I’m sure that’s how dad feels when he smokes. His security is in that cigarette. It’s safety, it’s familiar, it FEELS good. I have no idea how to help him but what I do want to do is love him and not lecture him because I don’t know how long I have with him and I sure as hell don’t want my last memories to be miserable. I don’t want my last memories to be of me on his ass every day about smoking. I’ve always said – I’d rather die with a burger in my hand and 500 pounds than someone telling me what I CANNOT do with my own life. Addiction is the devil.
2015 – Acupuncture. I hate needles but I’m told that it will work for weight loss and at this point in my life I’m desperate. I go for roughly 50 sessions and notice nothing so I quit. Then, my mother assists with hiring a nutritionist. Let me just say this – nutritionists are NOT cheap. The nutritionist, who I will refer to as Miss H, offered to come into my home and get rid of anything “bad” that I shouldn’t have. I laughed internally thinking that there was nothing really “bad” in my home because I was doing my best to eat right. No Oreos, no chips, no donuts – nothing. The day before coming over she prepared me by giving me a speech. “I’m going to throw things away or you have the option to donate them. Then, we will go shopping for good foods afterwards.” Why is she telling me this?
The next day, she arrives and my mother and I sit at the dining room table facing the kitchen as this tall, beautiful, lean woman opens my cupboard and grabs a can. “You see this?”, she says, “This is high in sugar. You can’t have this, but I have an alternative that you can have, so let’s get rid of it.” I can feel a slight tingle in the tips of my fingers. She grabs my loaf of wheat bread and I feel anxiety start to set in. No lady. Not wheat bread. That shit is fine. Step away from the wheat bread. “This. You cannot have this for certain! It has so many sugars and false ingredients. I have an alternative for you.” Into the garbage it goes. I had 2 pieces out of that loaf. TWO! Panic is starting. I feel dizzy. After going through every nook and cranny in my kitchen and unloading nearly everything in it, she heads to the refrigerator. I feel shaky and nervous and mom can see it. She bends over and leans in as she grabs items she stands back up to explain her findings and why I shouldn’t and cannot have these but how she has such a wonderful alternative. I feel like I need to throw up. I need to pull it together. I feel like my best friend is being ripped from me. My security is gone. I’m bare to the world. I don’t like this. I want to ask her to leave. I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to do this. I look at my mom with worry hoping she would catch on but she just flashes a smile at me. Jesus Christ. I can’t take this. She’s throwing away perfectly good food. My food. MINE! YOU’RE TAKING AWAY MY CONTROL!
Cupboards and refrigerator bare, we head to the Natural Foods store. We walk up and down every single aisle. I can’t hear her. My ears are pulsating. I’m ready to cry as I look at my mom, she’s so into what this lady is saying. Mom, tell me you’re not buying into this bullshit. But mom just nods and smiles at her. Fake. I see Miss H grab cheese from the shelf. Wait. Cheese? I can have that? Miss H answers, “Yes! This kind!” Shit. I said that outloud. We move onto bread. She grabs a loaf and hands it to me. She explains to me why this loaf is better than the loaf I had at home. I’m getting it now. She’s not taking away my foods – she’s replacing them! “Exactly!” she answers. Damn it. Said it outloud again. I’m starting to feel more in control. Maybe these new options weren’t so bad. We head to the register. Nearly $300 later mom and I are in my kitchen taste testing natural cheese, snack crackers, real meats, and bread! My tastebuds were in shock, my mind was racing with excitement and I felt good.
But then, everything started to crumble. I was losing my boyfriend of 10 years. My son was an addict and my children were giving up on me. What was happening to my life? I was trying to make a change for the good. I was trying to better myself so why were people giving up on me? How could things so drastically take a turn for the worse? So you want to give up on me? Fine. You won’t like what you see next.
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!
Oh Tonia! You are so pretty. I look down at the floor as if to feel ashamed. “Thank you,” I say politely. You know those kids, teens, and adults that model clothing sales in your local ads? Well, one of them was me. I remember the embarrassment when one of the women said, “This is for maternity. Let’s stuff this pillow in.” Looking back now, she was paying me a compliment without knowing.
I married years later, popped out a few kids, and got comfortable enough in my relationship to no longer care what my body looked like. The compliments dwindled down to “Oh Tonia! You have such a pretty face.”
A few more years later and I gain even more weight. The compliments have ceased and I take a breath of relief. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the feedback people gave me. I truly did because they didn’t have to say anything at all. But I cringed inside when I heard them. “What do you want from me?” “You are JUST being polite and don’t really mean that.” Inside I feel my gut turn and my heart race. It takes everything I have not to scream out, “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” But that wouldn’t be very lady-like of me, now would it?
Perhaps it was the conditioning and abuse. Years of molestation by many different people damaged me beyond belief. I was tainted. I was dirty. I was no longer whole. I kept my secret for many years. It ate at me like a worm to an apple. It took over my core and left me feeling bitter, angry, and unsure. To hear someone compliment me on my looks made me cringe and I have my abusers to thank for that. When I finally did tell a family member they scolded me for not telling sooner. What the fuck did you want me to do when I didn’t trust anyone? The adults in my life betrayed me and I was taught to respect them. Thank you sexual molesters for ruining my life, oh by the way, here is your dosage of respect. It was much easier to just get fat. It has become my shell and well, I’m comfortable here.
I will definitely cover more of this later. But for right now, leave me to my donuts of despair.