The Texture Of Things

The Language of Fat, Part One*

May 14th, 2007

Funny thing about being fat is that although it is an external condition, it is concomitantly an internal one.

Take for example my upcoming surgery (just over a week away, but who’s counting really, no, not me). I found the following a few days ago in my drafts folder. I wrote it back in late February/early March, and when I read it now, I see an attempt to deal with and move forward with my surgery.

She said, “You are the Champion of Putting Things Off”

One of my students called me out on something a few weeks ago, and as shocked as I was to hear her say it, it wasn’t long before I realized she is right.

Last year, I developed a pain on the right side my lower belly that came and went with my period. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it seemed false, fake, possibly in my head. So, because I am a “let’s wait and see” person when it comes to my own health, every time it subsided I would ignore the possibility of its return. And it returned. Every month, on schedule and with increasing severity and duration.

Ultimately, I did go see a variety of doctors who each ordered their own tests – blood tests, a cat scan, a colonoscopy.

The cat scan results showed that I have a hernia, but the obstetrician, the gastroenterologist and the surgeon agree that it is not the source of the pain. Probably it is scar tissue from my c-section joining forces with my appendectomy scar tissue for the power of evil, possibly to defeat Spiderman. Or, it could be endometriosis. Or, it could be both. Yay me.

When the cat scan results came in last October, I told my students that I might have to have surgery during our semester. It would suck and it would screw up the calendar of due dates, but we would get through it. Ultimately I backed out of getting the surgery because of the holidays, how would I lift the tot (who was not ready for the all-out “Mama doesn’t carry you anymore” business), waiting for the change in health insurance as HG’s company got bought, and because I was scared. Am scared. Like unable to move, stay-small-so-the-wolf-doesn’t-see-me scared.

I don’t feel this way all the time, but I look at my inaction and I can come to no other conclusion. I must be putting it off for a reason, and it can’t be solely the reason my student offered.

No, of course there is more to it than being scared, and being fat plays a major role in it.

Some background is in order here. I have not been fat my whole life. As a kid, I was relatively skinny, though I did have a round tummy. Naturally, because I am a girl in America, I went through my 6th grade year thinking I was fat. I look back now and I was just uncomfortable in my own skin as my body grew and took on that gangly pre-teen body. I was on the slender side of average as a teen, mostly because we never had food in my house growing up, so I rarely ate dinner. After my brother died, I quit eating entirely out of grief, and at one very scary point (for me), I found myself at 5’6″ and 111 pounds. I think that was my junior year in high school.

As I started to handle things more easily and headed into my senior year with an eye on college for the first time ever, I recovered my appetite and regained my lost 15 or so pounds. And then I met Husband-to-be-though-we-had-no-idea-then Guy, we dated, and I went to college. It was in college that my lack of food knowledge reared an ugly head. I didn’t (don’t) know how to cook, I have no idea what eating healthy or even healthier means, and I had gone so long with poor eating habits that I’d lost touch with true hunger and fullness cues. What exactly is a portion size again? So I quickly gained my freshman 15. And then my sophomore 10. And then my junior 10. And did I mention I had two senior years? It’s true, but I kept it to a single senior 10.

I highlight this progression of numbers for the purpose of underscoring the gradual but constant change my body went through. My brain went through it as well, but the change can be measured in language rather than numbers.

*This multi-part post was inspired in part by a post by KLee. It is divided into pieces since my word press theme has a problem with long posts. Sorry in advance for cutting this off mid-thought. The continuation of this post will appear sometime today or tomorrow. Please stay tuned.


  1. KLee says

    I will discuss the “surgery” portion of this post in this section of comments, and will discuss the “weight” portion in the continuation of this post.

    Surgery is a daunting prospect. Especially when the doctors aren’t quite sure what it is they’re doing/looking for. I suspect you might feel a little less hesitant about the whole idea if they could tell you “this is *exactly* what we’re looking for.” To think that they’re just rooting around in there — that’s a scary proposition! I’m scared, and it’s not even me!

    I will say my prayers that the surgery goes well, and that you heal speedily.

    May 14th, 2007 | #

  2. admin says

    Thank you, KLee. I think you are right about the doctors’ uncertainty feeding my worry, but I never thought of it. These are professionals I’m supposed to trust, and when they don’t know, it is disconcerting.

    What they can tell me is:
    1. The only way to address scar tissue is to go in and cut it out (via laparoscopic surgery).
    2. The only way to diagnose endo for sure is to go in, make a visual confirmation, and take out anything that is there. (same surgery.)
    3. And the only way to fix a hernia is to operate. (same surgery)

    It seems straightforward, but it doesn’t exactly feel that way.

    Thanks also for the nudge to write this, from your email the other day. I needed a kick in the pants, but since when is that unusual? 😉

    May 14th, 2007 | #

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