Obesity. I know that lately I’ve been thinking a lot about it, talking a lot, and writing a bit.
I was inspired to do so by a recent report on the treatment of overweight people and fatphobia in the Polish healthcare system. I wrote about it on Instagram and Facebook – a little bit, from my own experience. About the first of the stories below. I didn’t expect to receive such a response from people. Well, „you are not alone” is an understatement… „I understand” is more precious to me than a million pieces of advice anyone could give me. Thank you <3 I know there are more overweight or obese people among us. But not only them – those who also, let’s call it gently, have a difficult, unhealthy relationship with food. I understand you too.
Furthermore, I am preparing for bariatric surgery, which involves reducing the size of the stomach. But I’ll devote more space to that at some point.
Now I invite you to a triptych ;d Written in three different places, depicting three different things.
I’m sitting on the floor in the hospital. Today, I have three appointments related to qualifying for bariatric surgery. It’s terrible, and somehow I can’t think of anything other than my obesity. It reminds me of one of the worst incidents I’ve had related to my obesity.
How was it?
I was on a bus with a friend for work purposes. I’m not sure what happened there, but I was awakened by comments from some woman about my weight. I was lying on the floor, all wet, and she was commenting on my weight. It turned out she was a doctor from the ambulance.
She was talking to the bus passengers, saying that I weigh at least 150 kg (I’m still far from 150 kg…) and that she’s losing her spine over us (not that the paramedics were helping me, not her), that I’ve let myself go. She was talking about all of this, not to me, but to everyone gathered around. EVERYONE WHO WAS A WITNESS TO MY SEIZURE could hear about how fat I am. The doctor who came to help me was commenting on my appearance in front of everyone.
Just then, I opened my eyes after the seizure. In a slight daze, I started to defend myself. I remember (confirmed by a friend who called the ambulance) that I told her how much I weigh, and that stupid b**** (I can’t think of her any other way) was saying that she weighs the same and that I should see how much better she looks.
Supposedly, she stopped when my friend told her that, as far as she knows, I am struggling with major health problems. The paramedic(s) (I don’t remember, really, I’m disoriented and in pain for several hours at least after seizures) were rather okay. She less so, but when she found out that I had three strokes and epilepsy, she also kept quiet.
I defended myself unnecessarily in that daze, really. I shouldn’t have told her how much I weigh, since diagnostically, it didn’t matter to her, as she brought up my „150 kilos” to mock me, accuse me, or get some sympathy from my fellow passengers.
That doctor messed up big time.
I have no idea what she looked like. I didn’t see her. I wasn’t even interested. I should have let it go. Just like I never bid on health problems, I don’t compete over ailments, I don’t engage in conversations about who has it worse. But I had just had a seizure. I didn’t know where I was. I felt ashamed, humiliated, angry, and closed off in my post-seizure helplessness, unable to stand up on my own, unable to think clearly. I probably cried from shame in the ambulance. But I don’t know because it was another ambulance ride I don’t remember at all.
I do remember, however, that the paramedics were really lovely to me, and I told them about my illnesses, about how I usually don’t have high blood pressure… I also know from my friend that my fellow passengers behaved really well. They moved away so I could have access to air, someone gave me water, and someone poured water on me to revive me. I don’t know how it would have been if my friend hadn’t been with me. I know that at that moment, people really behaved nicely, and I’m grateful for that.
Of course, the situation with that woman wasn’t the first time a doctor commented on my weight in an unpleasant way. I’ve been patted on the thigh, grabbed by the belly, and shaken with words like, „This needs to be taken care of/you need to lose some fat/with this weight…/anything else.” Unpleasant or even humiliating situations with doctors have happened many times.
But it was only with that woman that I cried.
On the other hand, there are doctors and paramedics who really know how to behave. Just. I don’t know if it depends on their mood or the upbringing they received at home. I notice it. And I appreciate it. I appreciate it when a doctor informs me rather than judges me. Doesn’t condemn.
Recently, I accompanied someone to a psychiatric visit as an extra set of ears (this person is hard of hearing, and I am well-versed in all of their health problems). It was already another visit, we went for a check-up, for a prescription, to clarify doubts. During part of the visit, the doctor dealt with her. For most of it, she dealt with me. My weight.
She commented, inquired, recommended, and talked. I wanted to scream at her to focus on her patient and then on her own business, to put it mildly. So many thoughts in my head, but nothing on my tongue.
She offered me her weight-loss bread, but I declined.
Later, of course, I thought about it, talked to my brother, and my psychologist, and sorted things out in my head… I know how I could respond to her, but you know how it is – it never comes at the right time, especially when you’ve had strokes and quick analysis of the situation is not your strong suit.
I don’t know if I want to assist again at that doctor’s appointment in three months. I’ll probably feel obligated because I’ve been taking care of this person since the beginning of their health problems. I’ll probably go to that doctor, but there’s so much anger in me that it’s hard to describe. This time, not shame, just anger. That woman shouldn’t be dealing with me, seriously.
The day before yesterday, I went to see ‚The Whale’ with Arun (my partner) and Michał (a friend from high school). You know (or maybe you don’t), that new Aronofsky movie. A movie about a guy who weighs so much that he doesn’t leave his house.
I’m not a critic, so I’ll steer clear of a review. I’ll just write a few words about how the film resonates with me as an overweight person.
Was it shocking to me? Not really, but that’s thanks to its immense theatricality, which works better in theaters than in movies. Well, compulsive eating wasn’t shown as drastically, but it was important that it was shown at all.
Was it a portrayal of obesity? Well, not really.
I saw other things in it, tensions between selfish sympathy and empathy. Help and violence. Surrender and acceptance. And also cause and effect.
I could elaborate on each of these points for pages. About one thing, though. I wanted to write about them, at least a few points, but I don’t feel like it today. However, I feel that as an overweight person, I could somehow feel this movie differently than friends to my right and left. I’m not saying better, more, just differently. I extracted from the film these tensions and thin but clear boundaries.
I could talk about it and talk about it, and then talk some more, and for dessert, talk even more. But you have to put a period somewhere. So I’ll put it here. There will be more later 😉
I ask you to keep your fingers crossed for my qualification for the surgery. I can use every warm thought!