Formerly Hidden Symptoms

My DH helped me put together this list for the doctor tomorrow, in case I get too embarrassed to talk about my health issues. One of the things I'm doing to cope with my shame and embarrassment is to blog it and kind of out myself. The best cure for shame is sunlight, I've found. Hiding it makes shame stronger, exposing it shrinks it back to a manageable feeling. So here's what I'm ashamed of:

1. I have to pause during even fairly trivial exertion, like
walking out to the car after shopping.

2. There is some shortness of breath with it, but nothing like asthma.

3. My stamina has gotten progressively worse since last year. I was
working out at Curves for the past year and had to quit because I was able to do
less and less. It's gotten so bad that I'm getting some sit down home exercise videos to keep
working out at a level I can handle.

4. A similar thing afflicted mom at about the same age. It was never
looked into or explained; she was diagnosed with COPD about 10-15 years
later, but was never really treated for it. They sent her to some
special COPD-oriented exercise classes, which helped a lot, but insurance
wouldn't pay for it, and it was too expensive to continue.

5. It's all-over-body weakness: exhaustion affecting upper body as well
as lower, torso as well as extremities, not a matter of just the muscles
that were exercising. At time it is so bad that lying down would be
better than sitting down for dealing with it.

6. But overall energy level isn't affected at all -- once rested,
it's easy to get back to normal. Overall I feel energetic and healthy.

7. There is no *general* fatigue affecting all of life -- *only* with
exertion. Not even a lasting fatigue from exertion; after a rest,
everything is back to normal.

8. It's all about stamina.

Now was that so bad to admit? :)

Haunted and Ashamed

My mom's middle age overflowed with health issues dismissed as weight,and her death at age 63 was a result of one of them. I might write more about that in another post. Because my immediate concern is that history is repeating itself. When she was about 35, she started wearing out easily with minor exertion. She was increasingly slower and more out of breath doing everyday activities such as walking from the parking lot into a store. She was naturally told that it was because she was fat and dismissed. Like most fat women, mom was full of self hatred over her size. This went on for fifteen years until she had a stroke and was sent to specialists after recovering. One specialist noted her exhaustion upon exercise and diagnosed her with COPD, but DIDN'T TREAT HER FOR IT! He did refer her to exercise classes for people with similar symptoms, which she benefited from, but insurance stopped paying for it and it was about $400 per session. My parents could not afford it. So mom's condition was ultimately still ignored.

Now at age 40 it is happening to me. It's actually been coming on for over a year but it's getting bad. I can barely stay on my feet for grocery shopping. I have to stop and rest, ideally sitting down, during a short walk of a block or two. I feel ninety years old. I actually had
to stop my regular Curves workout because of the fatigue getting worse and worse. And it's bringing up fear and shame that I thought I'd overcome.

I've scheduled an appointment with my fat friendly doctor about it. I'm petrified that he'll dismiss it as a weight problem. This is actually unlikely, but as much as I trust him there will likely be other fat hating medical staff involved if he sends me for some kind of workup. I
feel humiliated at being such a stereotype of a fat person as doctors usually view us. I'm not sure I can stand the embarrassment of going through a stress test that I am sure to fail spectacularly. I am dreading the contempt of the testers as they view me as lazy and weak
willed. It brings back all of the hatred of my gym teachers watching me struggle and fail to be athletic, and encouraging other kids to tease me while I tried my best. And of course the best possible outcome is that it really is my weight. Because the other things it could be are not
pretty. So I fear either outcome.

The only thing that is making me go through with it is paranoia. And the only fact I know about my mom's bio dad other than that he abandoned her as an infant is that he died of a heart attack in his fifties. Mom saw his obituary in the paper. So I'm facing my fears and seeing the doctor. The price is shame and embarrassment and the dread of humiliations to come.

This despite my devoted fat acceptance activism and basic belief that my size is okay and not biologically subject to change. My family did not teach me to hate myself or put me on constant diets. I looked at magazines and in the mirror in seventh grade and decided with a shrug that the beauty rules did not apply to me, so I focused on things I could control like my education and music. So I'm even feeling ashamed of my shame.

I don't know what to do with all of this emotion, but I thought people might be interested how quickly my fat acceptance falters when I am faced with the hatred promoted by the "obesity
epidemic" warriors.


I started this as an anonymous blog, but I haven't really written anything requiring that anonymity. So I'm putting myself out there. Rather than freeing me to post whatever I wanted, the anonymity focused my blog too narrowly and made me reluctant to write about some of the things I care about. I didn't want to risk blowing my cover. Which made my posts infrequent and cautious. That's about to change.

I'm a dedicated social worker, but there's more to me than my job. I've decided to add my voice to the fatosphere, for one thing. There are few enough of us as it is. So this is officially a fat acceptance and health at every size (HAES) blog now. And I have deeply held moral and political convictions that I would like to write about. I've expressed some of them rather indirectly as they apply to work, but that's not the same as a straightforward political post.

Thanks to those of you who have read my blog even when I was slacking, your comments have meant a lot to me.