Saturday, January 24, 2015

But What if They're Right?

This is not a post about losing weight.  This is also not a post about not losing weight.  This is a post about my complicated feelings about the only body I will ever have (I mean, as long as we stay non-existential here).  I will be telling you how much I weigh and how I feel about that.  Disclosing my weight is not an act of bravery, as far as I'm concerned.  Much like my age (39), my weight is merely a number.  It does not represent who I am.  It does not assign value to my life.  It does not increase or decrease my worth as a human being.  It does not tell you what I do in my spare time.  It does not tell you how and what I eat.  It does not tell you whether or not I have a degree.  It does not automatically mean that I am unhealthy or gluttonous or slovenly or lazy or unintelligent.  You may see me but you do not know who I am just by looking at me.
For years, my team of health care professionals have been telling me that [insert medical issue] will be significantly helped and might even go away altogether if I just lose some weight.  My primary care doctor.  My gynecologist.  My endocrinologist.  My psychiatrist.  My therapists.  My physical therapist.  My podiatrist.  My dentist.  Ok, I made that last one up, but you get the picture, right?  I sometimes feel like it wouldn't matter what I was seeking advice for.  "Yes, that hangnail is infected, but if you were able to lose even just 10% of your body weight.....", says Dr. Healthcare.  It makes things more complicated when you throw PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) into the mix.  After I was diagnosed with PCOS, I asked the doctor if PCOS is the result of being fat or if I had gained so much weight because of the PCOS and she, very honestly, told me that they really don't know.  Its the classic case of the chicken or the egg, so to speak.  They know there is a correlation between PCOS and weight but they haven't been able to pin down which causes the other. or how and why they are related for some women and not others.  The studies have shown that, those with PCOS who are also fat, have an extremely difficult time losing weight.  Great, thanks biology!
I've posted before about the fact that I am not so ignorant or in such denial as to think that weighing 321 pounds doesn't have an impact on my health.  I know that the arthritis in my knees would likely not be there at all if my weight hadn't been 250 pounds and more for the last decade and a half.  I can't say, however, that I can clearly see the same A to B direct connection between my fat body and, say, the mass on my adrenal gland or the nodules in my lungs, but hey, I can't prove that they are unrelated either.  So...what if they're right?
I've been submerging myself in the increasing online presence of the Body Love and Fat Acceptance community.  Thinking about actively trying to lose weight, on the advice of my doctors, leaves me feeling like a hypocrite and a trader to my newfound virtual family of fat-positive people.  BUT...when you look at the words that comprise Body Love....Body love your body regardless of the way it looks...what better way to love your body than to take proper care of it?  Is it still hypocrisy now?  Please don't misunderstand me.  I am still 100% behind the basic philosophy behind these progressive movements.  Much like feminism, I believe that everyone has the right to be seen and treated like a human being; with respect and allowing them to maintain dignity and feel joy and happiness...regardless of what they look like.  I also like to believe that, incorporated in these movements, is the inherent right to change your body without it being frowned upon by your peers.  If you celebrate the new color of my hair or the way I look in my outfit of the day, I won't understand if you berate me if my next photo shows that I have lost some weight.
Woven into the cloth of that philosophy is overall acceptance, on a very basic level.  Putting into words that I am contemplating making a change to my lifestyle, with the intention of losing weight, makes me feel like I will lose my new online support system within the FA community.  And that makes me feel sad and guilty.  If and when I make the choice to consciously attempt to shed some pounds, I promise to not write about it here...because that isn't what this blog is for.  I promise not to tout the praises of kale.  I promise not to present you with a list of what I've eaten.  I promise not to rehash the intensity of my workout, while calling you "Beyotches" and accusing you of sitting around on your "fat asses" while I've been sweatin' to the oldies.  I promise not to post the amount of weight I've lost or if I'm struggling to stay on track.  This blog isn't about any of that.  I don't know about you, but I find zero motivation or "love" in social media content like that.  I find it insidious and condescending and incredibly unhelpful.  Much like the new commercials for Weight Watchers....seriously...."If you're happy and you know it have a snack."  Really?
Anyway....I think that, while there is so much historical medical rhetoric that teaches physicians that fat is bad and the root of most (or all) health problems, how can it all be untrue?  You have to ultimately listen to your own body and what it's telling you.  Blood tests and physical exams can tell you biological data about your body, and that is valuable information to have.  There are things that you can't deny, things that have been proven through years of medical studies and research.  Although I find value in science, I also vow to re-learn how to listen to my body.  That is my first step.  I don't know what that step will lead to...I am not making any promises to myself other than to start paying attention.  I will continue to use science as my ally as I read and research all about my body and what keeps it working.  Because....what if they're right?
Would I take their advice more to heart if they looked like this?  Eh, probs not, but I might go see them more often. (Image via)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Typical White Girl - Origins and Beginnings

On Twitter, you can find a seemingly unlimited amount of accounts that chronicle the life of what is now commonly referred to as the “Typical White Girl”.  I don't really get why it limits the stereotype to "white" girls, I see girls of all ethnicities that fall into this category!  You know the stereotype…Starbucks addicted, sparkly Uggs and yoga pants wearing, perfect guy chasing chicks.  Well, my millennial friends…I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you girls are not the progenitors of this “typical girl” philosophy.  I won’t claim that the Gen Xers are either because there have always been those certain groups of young ladies….the valley girls, the flower child, and so on….but this post is dedicated to my girls that found themselves a little late to be a valley girl but none the less emphatic about fitting in with the trends of the late 80’s and early 90’s.

I totally had this one
 1.  Swatch Watches.  It wasn’t enough to just have one, you had to have at least two and wear them at the same time.  You can’t forget the face guard, either.  If you were going out with a boy, it was just natural that you allowed them to wear one of them.  I lost at least one, that I can remember, to a dishonest ex that didn’t play by the “give it back when we break up” unspoken Swatch rules.  And, although I wasn’t lucky enough to have one, they also made the huge Wall Swatches, too!

2.  Aqua Net/Rave.  In the era of the mall bangs, a girl needed a good weapon against hair deflation.  She found it in Aqua Net and Rave hair sprays.  If you were an Aqua Net gal, you probably either bought the lilac colored can or the white one.  If Rave was your thing, it was likely pink level 4 that kept you bangs closer to the ceiling.

This was, by far, the best smelling shampoo...EVER
3.  Salon Selectives/Vibrance.  And when you wanted to rinse out the crunch before starting all over with curling in hand, you stepped into the shower and lathered up those locks with the apple-tastic Salon Selectives or the can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it wonderful smelling Vibrance in the orange bottle.  Seriously, do you know where I can get my hands on a bottle of Vibrance??

Where's the cropped top with the suspenders?
4.  Merry Go Round/Au Coton/Contempo Casuals.  Once you were showered and coiffed, you stepped into your closet to pick your brand of the era and it was probably from one of these mall staple stores.  Merry Go Round was your one stop shop for all things I.O.U. and Guess and Girbaud and Z. Cavarrici.  If you were more of a soft and pastel kinda girl, you frequented Au Coton.  But if you were all about the cropped tops, your go to was Contempo.  Who could ever forget the first time they wore their guy’s I.O.U. sweatshirt with a pair of brightly colored jeans?

Just looking at these makes my sinuses hurt
5.  Liz Claiborne.  Your choice was simple…do you get red, blue, or yellow.  If you wanted to smell grown up, this was the way to get there.  Strong and floral, you knew as soon as you saw the signature triangle that you were making the right statement.  Of course anyone stuck in an elevator with you probably didn’t agree.

6.  Bath and Body Works/The Body Shop.  If you weren’t into smelling like a 40 year old woman, chances are high that you wanted to smell like candy.  Bath and Body Works was a haven for the fruity, candy scented hat trick of female grooming – shower gel, body lotion and body spray.  Cucumber Melon, Pearberry, Strawberry Lemonade, Sparkling Pear, they were all ripe for the picking.  If you were lucky enough to live near a mall that had The Body Shop, you could opt for the higher class perfume oil in Strawberry or, my personal favorite, Dewberry.

Try and find one of these bad boys now, good luck
7.  Esprit.  Every girl who was anyone carried one of these iconic bottomless pit tote bags around school.  Black or white with rainbow logo or red, mint green, lavender, pink, or yellow with white or black logo.  With the outside pocket that really wasn’t good to hold anything securely.  I do believe that, somewhere in my house, I still have a well-worn black one that saw me through my freshman and sophomore years at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School.

I really enjoyed this time capsule of the typical 14 – 18 year old girl of my generation.  I hope it brought back some 90210 worthy memories for you guys, too!
Images via, via, via, via, via, via, via

The (Hormonal) Struggle is Real

It’s been awhile…first blog post of the New Year…wow, now I’m feeling the pressure to make this some kind of Earth shattering revelatory manifesto.  *Spoiler alert - it won't be*  I’ve been tossing around a few ideas for topics over the last month but the timing never seemed right and I just couldn’t get the ideas to click into a cohesive enough thought to put it out there. So imma blog about something boring but super relevant in my life right now…my uterus.

This picture is here because, well, you don't wanna know what Google returns in an image search for "angry uterus"

Ok, so it won’t be exclusively about that specific lady-part, but it is going to be centered on my body and my health and how I’ve been feeling about both lately.  It was a little over a year ago that I had laparoscopic surgery to remove a teratoma that had established residency in my pelvic region.  During the procedure, it was necessary to also remove my right ovary and fallopian tube; and at the same time, I had an endometrial ablation to hopefully remedy horribly heavy periods.  I’ve blogged about the procedure before so I won’t re-hash it.  In the months following the surgery, my periods got lighter and shorter but I also began having a myriad of new health issues.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I even discussed these new issues with both my gyno and my primary doc, only to be looked at cross-eyed when I suggested that any of it was caused or related to the procedures I’d had.

The amplified PMS symptoms of bloating, mood swings, sore boobs, and fatigue, which have only intensified in the last 6 months, are now coming on two weeks before the start of my now regular period.  I also experience cramps during my period that frequently have me doubled over in pain…which is one menstrual symptom that I never had prior to the surgery.  After doing a bit of reading about possible complications of pelvic laparoscopic surgery, I started feeling angry that neither doctor even entertained the idea that any of those issues – nor the leg pain and weakness and worsened “intestinal issues” (ahem…bathroom probs) I only started having after the surgery – could at all be related to the procedure.  Turns out that, particularly in fat patients, pelvic laparoscopic surgery has the potential to cause nerve damage if the patient isn’t positioned properly and repositioned if the procedure is lengthy…and mine took twice as long as they anticipated…over four and a half hours.

So here it is, 14 months later, and I find myself wanting to find a new gyno and, possibly, a new primary doctor.  I guess the fact that neither will hear me out that all of these issues only started after the surgery – oh, and I never met my surgeon….did I forget to mention that?  My gyno tells me – the morning of the procedure – that she will only be assisting and her associate will be the primary surgeon.  I never met the surgeon.  Ever.  Not before, not after, and neither doctor stuck around to give me the run-down before I was discharged to go home.  It wasn’t until my one week incision check that I even found out that they had to take the fallopian tube.  And it wasn’t until my six week check that I found out that there were adhesions that had to also be removed…I only found that out because I had requested to see pictures of the teratoma and one of the pictures the doc showed me was of the adhesion…and I was all like, wait, what??

I’ve had people mention that the experience I describe is worthy of a malpractice investigation; however, that would entail quite a bit of diagnostic testing to see if there are any new pelvic adhesions that could be causing the intestinal issues and any nerve damage that may be causing the leg pain and weakness.  And, as I know I’ve chatted about on here before, my insurance is pretty awful.  High deductible and out of pocket and, frankly, the thought of racking up a whole new mountain of medical debt – on the off-chance that I might have a case for malpractice – is not something I feel comfortable doing.
So I struggle with trying to stay positive despite the fact that, in a good month, I have a week and half without any hormone/uterine related issues.  I struggle with the fact that in the ten to fourteen days leading up to my period, I feel all bipolary, because, seriously…nothing about the movie The Conjuring should make anyone want to burst into depressed tears.  So, my current status....#TheStruggleIsReal 
Image via