I have been obese for over 21 years. My fat is actually old enough to drink. In 2004, however, I became a sober member of society. This means, not even my fat is allowed to consume alcohol. As a child and young adult, my weight wasn’t an issue. Addictions of many kinds ruled my chaotic life, but food intake had no immediate effect. I am now 49, and I’m eating myself to death.
This morning I had another weight-loss consultation. I’ve had many. With each new program, I become “motivated!” I’ve started bariatric with CCF and UH. I half-heartedly joined a 12-step food program. I’ve done Atkins, Keto, PWLC, Mediterranean, and many more. Intermittent fasting also was a cool concept for a few weeks. I’ve attempted, ad infinitum, to fool myself into thinking I can manage my weight.
Throughout the years, I’ve reached out to people for help. I am not shy. With the thought that accountability is the key, my reaches have been far. With each attempt, the comments followed. “You got this.” “You can do this.” “Come on, B. This is the time.” “Just get motivated!” My personal favorite, “Look at all you have to live for.” For someone stuck in a disorder, none of this works to induce change. While these attempts of support are heartfelt, they add stress to someone dealing with a medical disorder.
I know more about the human body than most people. I know what food does to the body. I am aware of carbs, proteins, pairing fats, etc. So, when I met with the NP from UH, it was my time to shine. I could wow her with extensive knowledge of eating programs and abilities to use proper medical patois in discussions of rerouting the large intestine. This was my bariatric Super Bowl.
As we began the discussion, something happened. She quickly knocked down my wall, and I am still not sure how. I was asked two questions. “Have a I ever been diagnosed with Night Eating Disorder? Have I ever been diagnosed with Binge Eating Syndrome?” “What the fuck? These are real disorders?” She assured me they are. First step, set me up with a psychiatrist for diagnosis. Done!
Why is this important? I mean, normal eating people don’t eat 5,000 calories after 10PM daily. Normal eaters don’t think about food all day. I was (and still am) floored. I’ve been diagnosed! I know I am severely morbidly obese. This is a physical diagnosis based on body weight and BMI. It’s empirical. Disorders and syndromes are often not that easy.
As much as I thought I knew, something else was shocking to me today: The human body has a physiological need to fight for its highest fat content. This means that if I eat 10,000 calories a day and decrease my intake by one calorie, my body goes into protection mode. Mr. Know-it-all didn’t know. Hubris left my mind today.
I asked the NP one last question. “Knowing what you know about me, in this hour…If I were your much older brother (or young dad), what course of action would you suggest?” She emphatically stated, “Surgery”. There was no hesitation. There is much to digest over the weeks to come. Yes, that was intentional.
I cannot pretend that this problem will work out. As I look into 2023, change is needed. I have serious trauma, and this needs to be addressed. It’s paramount. I think about Jacob with every breath. There are no days off. Shit, there aren’t even minutes off. This is coupled with the physical tolls of obesity. I have chronic and crippling pain and anxiety. I’ve lost so many friends to cancer the past three years. This past weekend I was honored to be a room with hundreds of others who knew and loved Jackie. Her passing into another dimension is too fucking real for me. Jackie said the right thing every single time. It may not be the desired thing, but it was always correct. I am struggling in her absence.
I don’t know if “I got this.” I don’t know if “I can do this, B.” I do know that having somewhat of a diagnosis is a start.
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