Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Back to business...

We're back from Italy and I have written up our trip on my travel blog.  Now I can get back to the business of bitching.  Today, I could be bitching about the latest suicide attack in England.  But I figure everyone's going to be complaining about that today.  So instead, I want to share a link to an essay I read with interest on Medium.com yesterday, while we were waiting to check out of our apartment.

Writer Ijeoma Oluo titled her essay, "I’m So Tired of Being Told that my Fat Body is Going to Kill Me".  Like so many of us who are fatter than we ought to be, Ms. Oluo has heard many health warnings about her weight from doctors.  The daughter and granddaughter of type 2 diabetics, she has been told since she was a teenager that she would inevitably get diabetes, have to give herself shots, and would probably die young.  She was told this even though her blood sugar usually runs low and she's had to be treated for hypoglycemia more than once.

I have to admit, although no one in my family has diabetes that I know of, Ijeoma Oluo's essay hit home for me.  I haven't gotten too many crappy comments from doctors, mainly because I don't go to doctors unless I am damn sick.  And that hasn't happened in a very long time.  Still, I have read a lot of comments from fat shamers who think they have a crystal ball and can read the future.  Somehow, in our country, a lot of people are under the impression that if you're fat, you're gonna become a diabetic.  And if you're not fat, you're perfectly healthy.  That's not so.

Anyway, I won't rehash Oluo's essay because y'all can read it for yourselves.  Instead, I want to write about the comments I got when I shared it with Facebook friends.  I have one friend, an American citizen originally from Italy and now living in Germany, who loves to take any opportunity to bash Americans.  He also enjoys fat bashing.  He writes that it's the doctor's job to tell his or her patients about the risks of obesity.  And you know what?  I agree.  However, what I relate to is Oluo's comments about how doctors keep insisting that she's going to be diabetic, even though she has no signs or symptoms of diabetes.  She's been repeatedly told that she's going to get sick, even though she's not now.

At one point in her essay, Oluo writes about how she had just given birth and was getting to know her brand new son when she heard a nurse ask about her weight.  The nurse assumed incorrectly that Oluo had suffered gestational diabetes.  Indeed, the medical folks had expected her to be diabetic and asked her to be tested numerous times throughout her pregnancy.  And there she was, gazing at her brand new baby while the doctor and nurse made comments about the miracle that she hadn't had gestational diabetes.  Way to fuck up the mood!

I get that medical people are supposed to be concerned about a person's health.  They are supposed to offer suggestions of ways to be healthier.  However, I think a lot of them have become lazy and think that a person's weight, particularly for females, is the only reason they might be suffering from an ailment.  Rather than looking at a patient objectively and individually, a lot of them simply tell the patient to lose weight.  For some healthcare providers, it seems that's the solution for everything.  It's not helpful to visit a doctor who can't see past a patient's size.

I have a friend who, until very recently, was very slender and petite.  She has gained a lot of weight over the past year or so.  Why?  Because her thyroid gland crapped out.  She's now significantly overweight, despite having been tiny for most of her life.  I'm sure people who don't know her assume that she eats a lot of junk and doesn't exercise.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have another friend who became a type 2 diabetic after giving birth to five kids and going through menopause.  She is heavy, but she's also fit.  She runs half marathons with her twin daughters and works full time as a nurse.  She's also a good cook who knows the value of nutrition.  Yet many people probably look at her and think she's irresponsible and in need of shaming and/or unsolicited advice about her diet and exercise regime.

I am myself a big lady and have never spent a single night in a hospital since I left babyhood.  I haven't taken any prescription drugs of any kind since 2004, except for prophylaxis antibiotics I took last year after I had a dental implant placed.  Granted, I haven't seen a doctor since 2010, but I think if I were unhealthy, I would have had a real need to be seen.  There may come a time in the future when I do become sick.  It might even be because of obesity.  However, obesity is just one risk factor and causative agent for becoming sick.  What's more, if you're overweight, you still have to live.  Is it healthy to go through life worried sick that your body is going to turn on you?

I really related to Oluo's essay.  I have spent a good portion of my life hating my body, even though it's strong and basically healthy.  I don't fit the image of beauty that many people have, but some people also think I'm "unhealthy".  Well, if I am able to do all I want to do and my body performs as it should, how can I be "unhealthy"?  Maybe I am at risk for getting sick, but I would venture to guess that most anyone is "at risk" for getting sick for any number of reasons.  Far too many people are far too free with their opinions about other people's lifestyles.  And most of them are judgmental simply because they don't like the way another person looks.  They don't give a flying fuck about the person's health, as they so unhelpfully claim.

Life is hard enough without someone insisting that they know what's going to be another person's cause of death.  The truth is, everyone dies and no one knows what is going to cause death.  I prefer to enjoy my life rather than listen to other people's opinions about my appearance and whether or not I'm "healthy" enough for them.

Rant is now over.  Hopefully tomorrow, I will find something new to bitch about.

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