What made me think that maintenance mode would automatically result in freedom from fat angst?
My husband thinks I am too thin by several pounds. When I went shopping for jeans today and asked for a size twelve in Cruel Girl, the store clerk suggested I start with the nines since "you are quite slender." The scale tells me I am at goal but the mirror reflects what appear to be fat deposits clinging to my hipbones and upper thighs. I've spoken about this with the health coach my insurance provides me with and I am wearing a pair of size nine Wranglers, but... my head is still in fat mode.
Is it a matter of chanting an "I'm not fat ohmmmmmmm" mantra several times a day? Perhaps I'm afraid if I start to feel thin I'll get overconfident and back the weight will come, especially since in the last two weeks I've had 1.75 cc removed from my band. My band tightened over the course of the summer, perhaps due to a series of mild stomach upsets that caused some swelling. For a month almost everything I ate and drank came back up in short order. Removing .75 cc made it possible for me to drink liquids comfortably, but I still struggled to keep solids down so opted for another unfill.
What a challenge this last 1 cc unfill has turned out to be. Dr. B tells me it is easier to adjust up than down and he’s not led me wrong yet, but I have essentially no restriction on what I can eat right now. We were supposed to begin fills next week but he will be out of town, making my next fill appointment ten days away.
Can you say “trepidation,” Dear Reader?
Now, no doubt practicing self-control without physical restriction is good for my character, and I realize that if I gain a few pounds in the next ten days I can lose a few pounds in the ten days immediately following. I did gain a couple of pounds which I know logically was water returning to my dehydrated tissues, but- GAIN? Did I actually write GAIN?
All of a sudden the ghosts of the ninety-five pounds I lost crowd around me, trying to find a place to reattach themselves to my body. Fat angst.
In retrospect, I wonder how much fat angst contributed to my overnight stay on the hospital’s telemetry floor this week? Here’s the story of that:
Wednesday afternoon, I sat on a hill above the creek, watching my sorrel mare graze on one of the last semi-green patches of grass in the pasture. My knees were drawn up to my chest, a position I love and had not been able to achieve during the years I hauled around almost a hundred extra pounds. I thought perhaps this position caused the dull cramp across my chest. I straightened up but instead of loosening, the cramp grew worse and wrapped itself around my back as well. More position changes and a few stretches later, the cramp tightened into a sharp band of pain that took my breath away. I eyed the distance between me and the barn, took Star’s lead rope in my hand, and started up the hill, thinking surely the walk would release the pressure on my lungs.
It took me far too long to cross that expanse of pasture; I must’ve stopped a dozen times to bend down and will the knives to quit stabbing me. I thought about calling out to the two women riding in the arena, but suspected I couldn’t make a loud enough noise for them to hear. Besides, who wants to cause a scene, hmm? By the time I reached Star’s run and fumbled open the gate for her, I was ready to cause any scene necessary to get myself some help. I made it to my car, found the cell phone I almost never turn on, and lay down on the ground to call 911.
The next twenty-four hours of my life were blessed by medical personnel who were kind, compassionate, and competent, from the dispatcher who stayed on the phone with me until the ambulance arrived to the CNA who walked me to the door of the hospital when I checked out the next afternoon. The ambulance driver was an acquaintance who used to keep his horse at the stable. The EMT who hooked me up to an ambulance IV and a heart machine apologized for his own wheezing as if his allergy to horses (activated by the horsiness of my clothing) was more inconvenient to me than it was to him.
When an ambulance hauls a 57 year old woman with chest pains into a hospital, things happen fast. Preliminary tests determined that I was not having a heart attack, but the ER doctor told me he was concerned enough that he wanted me to stay overnight for observation and a stress test the next day. To make a long story short, subsequent tests determined that I have a fine healthy heart. The hospitalist discharged me with a caveat from my internist to make an appointment for next week to determine what had actually caused the attack. Suggestions ran the gamut from blood clot to esophageal spasm to panic attack. Panic attack? I didn’t feel panicked. There was that fat angst thing, but… surely not. How completely embarrassing would it be for fat angst to simulate a heart attack?
Sitting now at home in front of my computer, I must relate something in which I take intense satisfaction: not once did any health professional lecture me on the health risks of obesity or relate my weight to the attack. To them I was simply a normal sized person who needed to spend a night on the heart floor.
It’s time to make the same commitment to that normal sized person as I did to her hugely overweight sister two and a half years ago. She needs- no, I need to treat myself with patience, compassion, and firm kindness and go into this new phase of my journey with the same determination and hope with which I entered the initial phase.
I am not fat, ohmmmmmmmmmm.