Saturday, May 12

The Hideous Truth

This week has really been an opportunity to seriously re-think the effect that extreme obesity is having on my life.

This is going to be long, whiney and gross because you know, I just feel like being brutally honest about how totally f--king hard it can be to do basic things when extremely obese. For godssakes.

Supersize people don't talk about this stuff because it's mortifying and horrible. But I don't care. I'm going to.


I had to take a business trip. I need 2 plane tickets, company only pays for one, I gotta go to keep my job, so $467 for a ticket right off. My clothes are overworn and ratty so I buy a dress, $79+. Get the wrong size, the reship overnight morning delivery an extra $61. Of course the trip itself requires a lot of gas for the airport roundtrip, parking, tolls, etc. All told it cost me ~$670 to go to the corporate office for a couple days.


So I'm off to the airport. Unwilling to do the extra walking that checking a bag is going to require, I minimize what I take to a laptop bag with some toiletries and another rectangle bag with my clothes. The laptop bag is a big leather deal and it doesn't seem heavy... at first.

One plane wasn't too bad. A smaller plane, the two seats I had were relatively flat. The backs seemed relatively flat. My knees were stuffed hard against the back of the seats in front of me (not because I'm tall -- I'm only 5'6 -- but because my size means my legs are not really starting from the back of the seat) and my feet pressed against my bags. The flight isn't bad, and not all that long, although my legs, hips, back muscles all feel so sore after.

Of course we came down a skinny steep stairway out on the tarmac, which required I have an attendant carry my bags, while I walked down sideways (hips didn't fit moving forward), slowly, hanging onto the side rails. It's ok. I'm so used to feeling utterly humiliated by now that it doesn't matter; the people are at a distance, above and below. It doesn't phase me much. Take my bags and go.


So I'm at the Denver airport, a mile from end to end. I find myself at one end, looking at my boarding pass which tells me my connecting flight is about 60%+ toward the other. They have moving sidewalks down the middle for the larger planes.

First I'm tired. Then I'm really tired. Then I'm pausing because I'm having the typical exercise induced asthma attack, which severe obesity brought to my life; the heart simply cannot get enough oxygen to that much body fast enough.

This is partly because I am not exercising regularly; the muscle's use of oxygen improves when I do. Somewhere in the back of my head a foul-mouthed drill sargeant part of myself was yelling at me for not getting off my ass a whole lot more.

I continue walking. The laptop bag was way too heavy. I'm starting to sweat like crazy. I suspect my face is turning red. I want to take my time but I don't want to miss my plane. And by now I've developed two secondary problems, both of which are severe.

The first is that because my muscles are so overused, they don't want to work anymore. When I go to take a step, the muscle response needed to lift my hip, thigh, knee, calf, and foot a sufficient amount into the air and forward and down again, is only about 90% dependable. I'd begun stumbling when my leg didn't lift as planned, regularly. I have already reached the level of exhaustion that a thin person almost never would short of the end of a long marathon or mountain climbing trek.


The second is that a bizarre fat-deformity I have, had been getting more extreme. I wonder if others have this, and I assume someone must. In early January with minimal water weight, weight loss, etc. it was nearly gone (although the skin, sized for its former glory, then had all the charm of a testicle -- gross but true). But it had returned.

This stemmed from a chair problem. I sit all day. I sat on the very edge of the folding chair I had for work which was cutting off my circulation between the butt and thigh. My weight was too much to scoot back on the chair; it dug so deeply into the back of my thighs it hurt. I decided the circulation problem was dangerous. I bought a 1.5x regular armchair. This allowed me to sit partly back. It did mean the chair went to the middle of my thigh, but the cushioning of the armchair made it possible without the hard, blood-cutting-off edge of other chairs, and it was vastly more comfortable. Of course over time as the cushioning, overwhelmed by my weight, gradually flattened, it got firmer and firmer.

After many months of sitting on my armchair, a curious thing had happened. Nearly 500# at the time, I had pressed so hard all resting on my butt and legs, that most the fat from the back of my right thigh (which I sit harder on apparently), had been pressed a bit to the side and inside of my right leg. Eventually I had a sort of football shaped super-solid big lump of fat. Instead of being distributed around the back and inside of my leg (where it came from), it was gathered into a big fairly solid "bulge". If my front thigh were North, the bulge is southwest. It's half "behind" the thigh and half on the "inside".

When I'm not ketogenic (which is low water weight), or when I've been sitting on anything harder than a bed for even half a day -- this gets more extreme, larger, and firmer. If I drop water, stay on very soft surfaces and massage it, it loosens up into the simple fat it is, and if I am not sitting on it to continue the bulge problem, it begins to redistribute where it belongs. But since my job is sitting and I'm not in great shape so I'm sitting most of my time off, as well, it's never really getting to this curative effect!

It is partly between my thighs which means that walking with my legs passing each other is close to impossible. Imagine having a football duct-taped to your inner back thigh. It's in the way! Walking requires the legs together so this doesn't work; walking becomes ridiculously hard. It takes a ton of effort with every step to "push past" the major problematic interference. Let alone to do this without looking like a clown to onlookers.

Meanwhile, doing so starts to chafe the thighs until they are nearly bleeding, so there's agony to boot.

Then there's trying to sit. As it gets larger and firmer, it sticks out 'behind'. So if I back up to sit in a chair, it pushes the chair away from me. In fixed chairs, this means it feels like something is poking me as I back up to it, and I have to sit with open legs, positioning The Lump so it has room between my legs and off the edge of the seat. In non-fixed chairs, it can be like slapstick comedy, trying to sit down. I solve this by sitting with my back to walls, which I actually do anyway if I can (regardless of this). That way the chair can't back up to escape me.


So I am trucking very slowly on my way, when it occurs to me that having a coronary, along with an asthma attack, with bleeding thighs no less, in the middle of the Denver airport would contribute to missing my connecting flight.

Forget that I feel like I might rather die than continue to my gate. How I feel isn't what matters. If it were, I'd have stayed home.

So I ask at a counter for an electric cart to take me to my gate, which is still half a mile away, but at that point could have been in Tibet for how I felt about the distance.

It came, it took me, and I got to the door for boarding as the last person walked in -- just in time.

The moral of the story is, I wasn't in good enough shape to make a connecting flight, not if I'd had twice the time.


So next was a bigger plane. There are three seats across, two of which are mine. The seats are not flat. They curve up at the edges. I take up more than one seat. So this means the seat is digging really hard into me. The arm that "lifts up" does not sit behind the backs of the seats. It is slightly in front, which you would only notice if you were sitting against more than one seat, of course. Which I am. So the arm of the chair is sticking out and digging into my back.

It was impossible to sit straight in this situation, so to minimize the degree of pain, I sat leaned half-sideways against the wall/window, so the majority of my weight was on my right half. I had slightly more leg room, but still not much, so my knees cramped along with the rest of me. The chairs under me and the arm behind me hurt, sure. But I was ok.

When I went to get off that plane, every muscle in my body hurt. Apparently, holding myself like that for hours had the equivalent effect of sleeping in some terrible position, where you wake up and you can hardly move because every muscle and peripheral muscle in your body is whining about it. Not that I did not already feel horrible mind you. Worse, because I was sitting in a firm chair for hours -- in the same position -- and leaning hard on my right side no less -- my "bulge" of fat had now gotten even larger but more importantly, firmer.

It was now huge, and nearly as tough as my kneecap, and starting to hurt badly from the inside of the skin, because it is literally almost more than the skin, stretched ultra-tight around this suddenly bigger bulge, can bear. I know what will happen if this were to keep up for too long. The skin would hurt in a way you can't imagine, on the inside, and then little rips in it from the inside would occur. It would look and feel like a tiny soft spot, in the middle of which fat cells and blood cells would start to fill, much like an unusual zit. Gross. But that doesn't happen unless the skin is breached from the inside. And since my life style does not require I constantly sit on firm surfaces -- and until a few months ago I was ultra low carb, which means my fat cells were not swollen with water again until the last few months -- this has not been an issue in a long time. I hope to myself that the business trip doesn't make it an issue. Already the entire lump around the edges hurts badly. That's ok. It competes with how much the chafed thighs, amplified by the lump, hurt already.

So walking is now even more difficult to do at all, let alone without looking like Monty Python's "Silly Walk" comedy routine. The pain of every step nearly makes me falter. I am surrounded by people, though. So I put the standard, I'm-a-fat-girl-with-a-good-personality face on the situation and I begin my walk toward the area where a shuttle from my hotel could come rescue me. I must have looked bad despite my efforts, because numerous strangers offered to help me along the way.


Getting in the shuttle (a mini van) was another joy, since this by now huge solid bulge on the back-inner right thigh, combined with my difficulty in lifting my legs at all, means that climbing very upward and turning sideways and getting into the seat is easier said than done, but I manage it fairly quickly, using a sudden major effort, using my weight for momentum, and ignoring any accompanying pain or discomfort. What is a little misery next to 7 people staring at your efforts close up? I'd rather have the pain.

By the time I get to my hotel, get out of the van, carry my stuff in, get my room key, get down the hall to the elevators and then down the hall to my room (is it some cosmic law that connecting flights and hotel rooms must be nearly as far as possible away from wherever you start??) I am nearing the end of what I am physically capable of standing, despite immense personal will.


I didn't even mention that this entire day was spent pointedly not going to the bathroom since on the plane it isn't big enough I'm sure (I nearly got stuck on the train bathroom, with my hips so firmly lodged against each wall) and at the airport I didn't have time.

Let's not do too much detail on the fact that that when I am rather bloated as I was at that moment, and/or when the digestive process was less than firm, I'm not going to end up clean without a shower, which is why I tend to take a shower any time I do something serious in the restroom, which working from home allows -- and being anywhere else doesn't. I'm usually ok but part of that depends literally on the geometrics of it for positioning and reaching. I don't want to risk this rather disgusting (and acidic painful itching misery) potential of it not working out well, so I don't. I just hold it.

I go into my hotel, drop my bags, take my clothes off -- which was easier said than done as I could barely move, and had to wrestle my underwear around the by now giant lump on my leg -- and I stumble into the bathroom, finally. I take a shower and wash my hair. I stumble into the room, into bed, call my best friend and my parents, and fall asleep in the middle of the call with my friend. I am that wiped out.

The bed is soft. The pillows are soft. The comforter is soft. That was great.

So I wake up at 6am with the alarm. Whoopi Goldberg is a dj with some 'soft jazz' station. I think for a minute, how many people can have a voice like that? Nope, it's really her. I start to get up and discover that my body doesn't want to move. Apparently, the standard level of volition is not sufficient to force my muscles to respond. I feel as if my body weighs 3000 lbs and has been embedded several feet into the mattress for centuries.

OK, I tell myself. First, I will just pull my foot up so my knee is sticking up as I lie here on my back. It took quite some time. I had to re-effort and pull my foot up inch by inch. Every muscle from my foot to my neck hurt while doing it. I eventually get both legs pulled up. I lift an arm. Yep, every muscle involved there was sore too, mostly from carrying the bags and that funky leaning-syndrome the plane required. I sigh. I'm glad to still be alive of course. I think that I feel better than I did when I fell into bed. But I have a hard time remembering ever feeling quite so physically bad before.

By 7am, I am finally able to get my butt out of bed and start getting ready to be downstairs at 8am.


I can't decide. Should I eat? If I eat, I risk having to use the restroom before the day is over. What a nightmare. It's not impossible that could happen anyway, although my body, interestingly, seems to support me on this subject in a way that seems unnatural but wonderful -- on my former train trip, I literally went like 2.5 days without using the restroom despite eating three good meals a day, solely because I knew I couldn't fit in the bathroom. There is something to be said for mind over matter I suppose.

I decide not to eat and I don't have time by then anyway, so I go downstairs to meet my coworkers. I look a bit like a sleep deprived ghoul, but otherwise, the side effect misery of my trip so far is, I hope, completely invisible to everybody else.

I pray that my coworkers will not have the standard cultural reaction to my size. I hope especially that my boss will not. I know that being fat makes me de-facto "uncool" in the most major way.

I know that the quantity of makeup a woman wears is inversely proportional to the likelihood she will acknowledge my existence at all, let alone have a conversation with me (let alone without looking completely disgusted and opinionated while doing so, should she be unable to avoid it). I've had more than enough people talk through me, over me, around me, to have figured this out by now.

Blessedly, it turns out all my coworkers are nice, normal people, who don't seem to have any major reaction to my weight.


"I parked outside, not far" says the girl who is driving the mini-van for our little team. Of course, their idea of not-far when they are generally thin and carrying either very light bags or something that rolls, doesn't really match my idea of "not far."

I can barely walk. Every step takes weird effort because of the bulge interference, every step means my thighs scraping each other's raw surface in pain (I am wearing soft pants underneath my dress but there is about 4-5" of thigh before the crotch of them, which is what is chafing), my muscles are so sore that large steps are impossible, my heart's ability to get blood to extremities quickly is limited so fast steps are un-doable unless I want to have a pseudo-asthma attack in front of everybody, and my feet wail in pain with every motion.

No problem. I walk slowly, as if I am casually sauntering, and I slow down more as I feel my breath rate and heart rate start to climb to accomodate the oxygen needs. My coworker from New York, a tall thin beautiful blonde that has been my best buddy as we work via internet, notices and hangs back with me so it's not such a big deal. I make a note in my mental journal to pray for her to get some cosmic brownie point for having compassion and pulling it off in a way that seems casually unapparent.


Again I am climbing into the side of the mini van. I can only sit in one seat -- the one by the door -- so it's a good thing nobody else is my size. We park in a space equally 'fairly close' to the office, which is to say, not fairly close at all in my estimation, and I go through the whole process again in reverse.

Then we reach the front of the building. The front door is about two stories higher than street level. There are about 4 sets of steps on a long cement sidewalk to get in the front door. Oh boy.

In early January, minus water weight and with more regular exercise, I could have walked those stairs normally, at least half of them, albeit slowly. But not today. I have to do two feet on each step, like a little girl, to get up. Every once in awhile, a coworker looks back, which I see peripherally, and as if I don't see them, without looking at them, I suddenly make a herculean effort to take a step 'normally' so it isn't so obvious.

It occurs to me, with limited humor, that I am putting as much effort into "seeming" ok as I am into being ok.

So we are now in the lobby of the corporate office and it's time to walk to the conference room. I again put myself at the back. I walk as fast as I can, but I feel my breath and heart start to rise. By the time we reach the conference room, I hang back and don't enter for about 60 seconds, while I breathe as deeply and quickly as I can to get my body oxygenated so I won't have to do that in the room.


My boss had been told about my size in advance; she had an armless chair there for me. Two hours of sitting on it was very uncomfortable. This is not the fault of the chair which was decent. It's because approximately 400 pounds is just too damned much weight, period. It's going to be miserable no matter what you're sitting on, at that weight, unless it's a thick feather pillow. I realize my Battle Of The Bulge is getting worse by the hour with the firm surface issue going on.

We have a break after 2 hours. My boss brings in snacks. Thank god, I think. I've had no caffeine, no food, I've already put in more equivalent exercise than most people have by the end of a workday, and I really want some caffeine and protein because I want to wake up my brain and sustain my body.

She brings water and chocolate cake slices and big wrapped cookies. Apparently this is her idea of snacks to keep everyone going.

"Is there someplace I could get a Dr. Pepper?" I ask politely. "Ah, sugar!" she laughs.

I pause. Is she implying that chocolate cake and giant cookies are not sugar? What planet is she from? "Yes," I grin. "And caffeine, which is the important part!" She works out getting us some sodas too. Well, better than nothing.

I skip the snacks. Sure, I'd be made more alert by that sugar. Sure, I'd love to have a big chunk of chocolate cake. And then I'd be snoring on my laptop keyboard an hour later. And I don't even want to go into what eating chocolate does for my digestive results, which I was desperately hoping to keep on an even keel during the day while away from my hotel room.

Another two hours in the chair. By now I am dying to stand up and maybe pace a little. We are all going to a business lunch, which means I get to move, yay.

We walk back through the office, then down all the stairs, then through the parking lot, to the minivan. I saunter, and come in last. I hope I am not sweating too much, and I climb in the minivan.


We are having food at a Greek and Italian restaurant for lunch. This union of food is actually a pretty good idea that probably only a marriage could bring about. I drool over the italian food; pizza...... yum. I recall how I swell up like a fish from the amount of salt and gluten in pizza and I decide on a small Gyro (greek seasoned thin meat strips in a soft flexible pita, with some kind of dressing I'm not clear on and some veggies) and a greek salad. I eat only a little salad and give the rest to everyone else. My Gyro was really good. I don't dare eat more, since I'm hoping to not have to use the restroom until nighttime.

We pile back in the mini van and return to work. The parking lot, the stairs, walking through the office. I'm getting better at this, I tell myself inside. It doesn't seem as overwhelming as it did this morning. That's a good sign. Alas, by that time, every muscle in my body hurt so bad, and the chafing on my thighs, and the skin all around the bulge, and some sleep deprivation, and my poor feet, that I just felt BAD, period.

I honestly felt so bad that it seemed appropriate I should be sitting in a hospital bed. I couldn't even remember ever having felt quite so bad all at once before.


Another four hours, turned to 4.5, of work. I feel much worse by then, added to more issues with my leg's bulge and butt-misery from sitting in the firm chair. During all this, of course, I am working to be attentive, cheerful, and participative in our meetings, since that is why I'm there.

A few times, I realize that something I just said was a bit brusque, and I cringe inside, at how bad this must look to my boss and others, and I try to find something to say differently as a slight hope at redeeming my image. Working from home is probably part of it. But anybody else at that table who felt as bad as I did, I am sure, would have been 10x a rabid dog.

That is beside the point. Morbidly obese people just have to deal with the misery, pain, exhaustion, and still act chipper. It takes twice the work on cheerful personality to compensate for the cultural knee-jerk social reaction to fat. It's not by accident so many fat people are considered funny, you know.


Well it's time for the business dinner they have planned. Back through the office, down the stairs, across the parking lot, and into the minivan. I wonder, my god, how long is this going to take. How long until I can quit smiling, until I can use the restroom, until I can lay down on my soft hotel bed and pass out. We drive to a place in San Francisco. Of course there is no parking nearby. What was I thinking. We park down the block behind the building and walk.

The restaurant is like a bar environment. The seats are fixed wooden benches with padding and fixed tables, and further, they are set up on a little platform off the floor. There is no way I am going to fit in that fixed-size bench situation, and if I did, it would take me 5 minutes to get in and 10 minutes to get out and I probably wouldn't be able to breathe in between. Not to mention the sheer humiliation of it in front of everybody.

I ask for a chair, and they bring one. Of course, to meet the tables, it was basically a high stool. I find if I stand on the platform, and hold the back of the stool firmly so my bulge can't push it away, and I sit sideways mostly on the front left corner of it, that I can sit. Of course I'm not sitting, I am "leaning". But since it rather hurts with that much weight pressing on that small surface area, that's for the best I suppose.

I can't believe everybody is eating again. These people ate 3x what I did at lunch and they are discussing seafood appetizers, drinks and major steak and lobster dinners, while I'm still stuffed. The irony that they have decent figures and I don't, but that even on a daily basis I'm pretty sure they eat a lot more than I do, is not lost on me. I know. Kill your metabolism and reduce your exercise and that's the way it goes. It's not their fault they're normal. Don't resent the difference. Just find something to eat with them.

I couldn't perch on the stool for long. I had to keep moving it aside and just standing, changing feet (which by now really hurt), moving around. Fortunately since the table was elevated it wasn't quite as big a deal as it might have been otherwise. It was still embarrassing, but I ignored it. You do what you must. They didn't leave until 7:30pm, which was a very long day for me given how I felt. My coworkers and I walked back to the mini van and back to the hotel.

It's a measure of my exhaustion that I seriously considered leaving my computer at work and then in the car, just so I didn't have to carry it to my room. I'm an internet freak, I live on the net, so for me this is a major statement. But I dragged it up to my room. Used the restroom, finally. Took a shower. Set the alarm. Called my friend and passed out. So much for the computer.


Day two I actually felt better. Which is to say, I felt utterly horrible, but I was not worried that I was not going to be able to act normal anymore.

On the way in the door, I met my boss's boss, and my boss's co-boss, both of whom are pretty important to my position. I was so delighted, NOT, to meet them while lugging my heavy laptop back up the stairs into the lobby. I tried not to breathe hard as I shook their hands and smiled. I did all my extra breathing as I slowly walked down the halls to the conference room.

It was harder to sit that day though, because in case this obvious point escaped thinner readers, about 400# plopped firmly on any firm surface is essentially going to cause what amounts to bruising particularly at the edges of the firm surface. Not the black and blue kind you see on the outside, but it is definitely felt. Most really obese people are so chronically bruised they hardly notice it. I'm using to a soft surface all day so I did.


My friend and his wife took me to dinner Thursday night. He is a physicist that I met ten years ago by phone and online, and have known via internet since. His wife is a former big money business executive, who later went back to school and got a PhD in "Women's Spirituality," a degree I assume you can only get in liberal states. She turned out to be highly intelligent and I was instantly crazy about her. I wished I had more time to spend with them.

They asked if we could walk from their house, a block and a half to the restaurant. I tried not to cringe. Damn. As long as it's slow, I said, and so we sauntered to our food. Which was really good by the way but not nearly spicy enough for me.

The good doc wanted to take a picture of course, he is a picture nut. I hate pictures with a passion that by this point in the rant, I bet you can imagine. But he approached this with, "No matter what you say, I am going to insist on a picture!," so I realized that refusing would only be like some big social neurotic show on my part, and so I said, "OK!" cheerfully.

Of course, my horror at the output on the digital screen was just something I had to squash inside. That is the way I am. Sort of a thin-haired brunette, Star Wars jabba-the-hutt in a flowered dress, with a head that looks too small due to the size of the body. Well, you're ugly. Deal with it. Move the hell on.


That night in my hotel, around midnight, I was so exhausted I didn't even get out my laptop. I just went to bed and thanks to the soft mattress, was instantly asleep.

I had to get up at 3am, of course, in order to be downstairs at 4am, to be to the airport and check in by 5am, to leave on the plane at 6am.

I had lots of time so making it through the SFO airport to my terminal was not impossible, just long and tiring. The airplane was ok, although afterward I could feel the sore tiredness from the top of the back of my neck down to my feet, from my knees and feet being so squished against the chair in front of me.

I wanted to ask for an electric cart in the Denver airport again, but going home was a smaller plane so down on the lower level. "No problem," a guy tells me, "I'll get you a wheelchair." I laugh. "I don't fit into your wheelchairs," I say plainly, as I imagined, even if I did, the misery of some poor airport person trying to push me and my bags in a wheelchair. This would probably save me a heart attack but give them one instead.

He says, "Well it's fairly close. Go to the end of the terminal there, down the elevator, then it's just a bit out." Yes, just a bit. Ha. Ha. Ha. I did make it there ok. Only because I had a lot of time, was able to go very slow, and stop pretty often. The bulge on my leg had been restored to its former huge firm glory by the previous plane flight's seating, though it had been pretty hugely impressive to begin with, so it all took time. And looked odd, I am sure. But I got there.


My father picked me up at the airport. I didn't have to walk too far to the door or to the car, for which I was grateful. Yes it was hard, but it wasn't unsurmountable. I took my shoes off. I leaned over and ran a finger softly down the sole of one foot. It shuddered violently with the pleasure after all that pain.

I thought about how bad I've been to my body. My body which managed to NOT use the restroom until late night both days, solely because it wasn't convenient. My body which helped me survive this trip even at great suffering to itself. My body is nothing but wonderful and kind to me and I treat it horribly, make it suffer, and then gripe about its suffering like it's my body's fault instead of mine.


I went home. My little girl was brought over by my stepmom and I hugged her and we talked for a bit and then she went to play on the computer and I just passed out lying on my bed. I had to get up after 4 hours, as I had promised her we would go to mexican food for dinner and then watch a video, "Mama-baby date night" as we call it.

I could barely move, as if a little more sleep had just relaxed my muscles and they had no interest in moving ever again. We had dinner, watched a movie, then I went to bed and again, fell asleep instantly. I had no desire to call anybody, even though I often think I can hardly live without my best friend. I had no desire to get online, even though I usually think more than 12 hours away from an internet connection is inexcusable and worrisome.

I woke up a few times last night. Once I wanted to move and couldn't!

The next time I managed to move, to turn over. I swear it felt like every muscle, even teeny tiny muscles I didn't even know existed, from my upper neck to my feet, howled in aching exhausted protest. My thighs rubbed against each other, the chafing wound of them by now more like red rough canvas feeling than sticky anymore. A foot tried to curl up in a charlie horse and I fought it for a few minutes until the muscle cramp resided. I fell back asleep again.


Now it is Saturday. I am sore everywhere, I am muscle-tired, I am still bloated, maybe from the food or something, but I am better than I have been in days.

The cats are out of food. I need to go shopping. So I'm going to have to get up here and do a major walmart shopping spree. Walking. Heavy cart. Big bags of cat food, cat litter. Loading the car, carrying it in. It's a small thing, but I'm not looking forward to it.

I feel like I've been through four days of boot camp. Or worse. But it was just a couple days for a business meeting!

The complication and misery that extreme obesity adds to a life is ridiculous.

The bright side of this long gory saga is this: we see how well resuming eating carbs has worked for me.

I am definitely shopping today for low-carb food.



Zer in SoCal said...

PJ - Never read a better description of what it feels like to move at massive weight, glacial speed, to accomplish what most folks do without thinking.

I've been 508# and am now 411# and could not have done what you did. My hat's off to you for all those steps, stairs, walkways, hallways you made it through. God bless that nice gal from NY who was able to pace herself to walk with you! Aren't some folks just nicer than anyone can imagine? I'll say! Thank you for sharing the agony of d'feet, as my own feet suffer mightily for my weight. I wear SAS with thick soles and laces that hold my feet together and support me - plus I have plastic arch supports that I can stuff into my shoes. Could not wear flats, cannot walk barefoot. Even have rubber shoes for the shower, with built-up heel and arch support.

I read every word. Ache for you. Thanks for writing. I'll be ba-a-ack, no doubt, to savor your writing and to remind myself how badly I want to weigh less so I can do more.

Sparky's Girl said...

PJ - reading this post almost made me cry. You wrote this beautifully... it made me feel everything you felt. While I've dealt with being overweight, I've never dealt with the issues you have. I'm so glad people were nice to you and were helpful.

I believe you can do this! Never give up hope.. I'll be here cheering you on the whole way!

arnold said...

Never suffered from bieng overweight myself so never gave it a thought till now. I thought to myself while reading your account this monologue just goes on and on, then I realised if you are overweight it does go on and on.Good writing hope you can lose some of it. I have watched my brother in law get bigger over the years and the common denominator is dieting then not dieting just for his holidays.One day I saw an American guy on TV talking about the famine cycle which he claimed triggered obesity. It went something like this; you reduce your food intake because you want to lose weight your body metabolism assumes a famine exists, and starts to store fat.He described this as a built in survival mechanism to survive famine periods.Hence for some people eating normal meals 3 or 4 times a day with excercise will slowly reduce their weight and the harsh dieting bieng removed will not trigger the famine cycle. Eat normaly as much as you need! strange but could it be true. It would take a brave person to try it!. Anyway be well and good luck.

Tracy said...

Good gawd. I am exhausted just reading this.

Your honesty is incredible. Frankly, I'm just about speechless. What can I say, but that totally frackin' sucks. And you made it! How unbelievably tough are you?

So glad you shared this. I have never been obese, but now I understand a little bit of what it's like. I won't forget.

About PJ said...

Thanks you guys. The real irony is that I've heard privately from several people about this post, who told me stories that make MINE seem like a whiner detail by comparison. And they weighed less than me! I think obese people are just so mortifyingly humiliated about this kind of thing that it doesn't get talked about openly.

I still think that being forced to not use the restroom -- like on a train, for nearly 3 days -- is openly dangerous, not to mention misery, could result in food poisoning, and I wish someone would sue the freakin mass transportation networks for it. So making the restrooms 12 inches (or more) larger would take up -- hey, 12 inches more! But all these things get mega government funding annually. If I pay taxes, which are given to these sources to provide mass transportation for everyone, why should they pointedly exclude or endanger what now amounts to a huge percentage of the population?

Anyway. I will say this: that lower carb, especially low-carb, particularly ketogenic, eating drops enough water weight, that combined with at least a little bit of walking/exercise through the day, I *could* have been in much better shape for that ordeal, even at this weight.

But as some of the accounts sent me privately demonstrate, even people much thinner (but still obese), in very different situations, can face physically miserable, utterly humiliating situations. They don't admit it to others; sheesh, it's too embarrassing!

Imagine dealing with this BS on a near daily basis!

Then add to that the world at large reacting to you like you suffer a serious moral failing (as if metabolic issues have nothing whatever to do with severe obesity -- you'd have to be in a body cast, fed bonbons 12 hours a day, to gain that much weight through sheer foodism).

I tend to get irked at people who treat the obese like "You're so screwed up! How dare you be fat!" -- as if anybody seriously obese would GET this way on purpose let alone STAY this way on purpose -- and as if anybody that size doesn't already have enough crap to deal with on a daily basis! :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey PJ,
This is one of the strongest pieces of writing I've seen on the 'net. Told someone about it today, which inspired me to go looking for it, and reread it. It's as powerful in the rerun.
You're right, we hide the pain of obesity because if we reveal it, we get the additional joy of hearing it's our own damned fault, and we are disgusting--and that's from the folks who `love' us!

When you wrote, "Well, you're ugly; deal with it. Move the hell on," it brought tears to my eyes. I don't know if you'll ever see this, because it's such an old thread, but you're not ugly. Not even a little bit. You're a captive. And your courage and wit and grace under extreme duress give you a beauty that few have. Here's hoping you find your miracle; I'm 90% of the way there, which means for all practical purposes, the rest is just window dressing. I can jump out of bed instead of think my way out, get up out of chairs without actually having to give myself step-by-step instructions. I can wear clothes that suit my mood, the weather, the condition of my wardrobe instead of whatever fits. Each day is a blessing. I wish this for you wholeheartedly, for whatever that is worth.

Anonymous said...

Airplanes are the worst. So uncomfortable, can't put the tray down to eat. Scared of getting stuck in the rest room. I had to buy a second seat on a trip I was taking alone. I would normally squish in with my DH or kids but couldnt with a stranger. I had to pay $700 for an extra seat in a plane that was only about 75% full. I was so ashamed I hid the credit card statement so my DH wouldn't find out. the armrest only went up at a 45 degree angle so it dug into my side. I had to use the tray table next to me to eat. When the person in front of me reclined, his head was literally less than 10 inches from my face. I dropped my headphones and had to lie to the attendant and tell her I never got them rather than admit I was too fat to bend over and pick them up.

Anonymous said...

When 5ft 3 and weighing 371 pounds, and aged 50, I took a trip to Poland on my own, by train and plane, and spent 2 weeks travelling around by train, dragging a suitcase. So as you can imagine, I felt pretty much everything you did. Looking back I really do not know how I coped! The worst part was finding that most railway stations in Poland have no lifts - it's just plain stone steps! Luckily sometimes a man helped me drag my suitcase up.

Nobody in my life had any idea of how hard that trip was for me.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant to add, when people DID express praise and admiration at my doing that trip, is was NOTHING to do with my weight. They were impressed that I went on my own (ie from a "lone female" or loneliness perspective.)