Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Days 76 - 89

There were exploratories to make sure we were appropriate for the surgery; among them, an endoscopy to check out our throats and stomachs. I had concerns that there would be scarring from past reflux which would rule me out. I walked into the theatre with the anaesthetist and I lay down on the bed. He showed me how he wanted me to lie on my side and I breathed in the gas and counted like he said. When I finished counting I asked if it was a problem that I was still conscious. The nurse told me that it wasn’t because it was over. I was in recovery and N was in the bed next to me. She’d been awake for around 10 minutes.

Going back for the surgery it was a different anaesthetist. He made me feel different. I didn’t trust him as much. Maybe I was just scared. He had the hairiest arms I had ever seen. Wiry hair spilled over the top of his collar. I try to bring with me the calm of meditation from only two nights before. Slow breaths. I watch how my body responds to the gas. I gracefully let go of control. I know that if I don’t I will panic - I do and don’t like going under. Feeling recedes from my fingers and I float to the bottom, cool and silent. My vision is the surface of a pool of dark, shimmering water viewed from below. I am alone, aloof. I think of S. My eyes are sliding shut.

I am awake with tunnel vision. There is a face on a stage, smiling. The stage is warm blankets, pulled to my chin. My arms are trapped at my side. They’re not trapped but I can’t move them. Then I don’t want to move them, I don’t care anymore. I am in a swarm of bees. Pain buzzes in my ears. Vibrates through me like a hangover. Words travel to me via underwater intercontinental cable, prickly static. I am breathless as I speak. She gives me pethidine, I think. I still don’t care. Minutes pass then more pethidine. More. Did she give me more? Maybe.

N is here I think. I can’t see her. I can’t sit up. I ask, I want to be next to her so much. They tell me she is on the other side of the room. I know that sleep will be safe. Time reduces pain. Sleep reduces time. I breathe as slow and deep as I can and float down again, this time without help.

The day passes quickly enough, drugs, naps, uncomfortable sips of water and broth.

This hospital is made of glass. I have my own room, window from floor to ceiling. The sky is midnight blue. I can’t remember if I can see the moon, or its reflection on the adjacent panes. The hall is quiet, a nurse is with me speaking softly. Soft, friendly glow of a television. She helps me sit up and the air drops out of my lungs. She holds my hand and we walk to the bathroom. My knees are soft. I am a kitten, home from the vet, without my uterus. I am helpless.

People have seen me go to the bathroom before. There’s actually something quite nice about the kind of easy female friendship that allows you to get drunk and take turns peeing and reapplying lipstick in the same room. The warm comfortable intimacy of peeing in front of a partner.

I piss therefore I am.

Everything is natural. Nothing about you is distasteful. Every part, every process is worthwhile. Every scent is you. One day you will die and if I still love you I will savour every aroma, every flavour.

I am alive. Sitting on a toilet far away from home, far far away from my mother who does not know where I am, does not know about the surgery, in the middle of the night with a nurse standing in the doorway. I open my knees and wipe, hands shaking, in front of this caring stranger. Breathing, sitting, pissing. This is the most pain I have ever known. Dull, thudding, prismatic. I want to vomit and I am terrified (Terrified.) of vomiting. My hand is on the railing next to me. The nurse is helping me out of my gown. I am naked and this unfamiliar woman is the centre of the universe. She kneels and puts my feet into the legs of my pyjamas before she helps me stand and pulls them up. She disconnects the drip and feeds it through a tshirt then guides me through the shirt as well.

Getting back into the bed is an adventure. It takes me 5 years to move from standing to sitting. 3 years later and I have swung my legs, clumsily, breathlessly, onto the bed. White-knuckle on the handle above the bed and I lower myself onto the mattress, already lifted to 55 degrees. I don’t know how long that took but when I was finally on the bed, head on a pillow, more drugs in my veins... there are no words.

In these moments I refuse to think about whether it is worth it. I know, from past experience, that once the pain has receded into the past it won’t matter anymore.

Yesterday I got a fill. I make sure to tell the surgeon that the port is below my scar. This time he finds it first time. They’ve started using a pump to do fills instead of a syringe. There is pressure backwards, your body wants to deflate the implant, so it takes great strength to force 100ml into the device. The pump doesn’t care and steadily pushes it in. Which to be honest is a whole lot more comfortable. It means that you can keep filling until you feel full – people are putting in 200, 300ml. The pump looks like a tackle box and sounds like a creepy crawly. I feel and hear a pop. The implant has exploded. No, worse, it’s punctured my diaphragm. The clinical nurse explains that the implant changes shape as it inflates. Like a kiddie pool unravelling itself on your back lawn as it fills with air. The tip of the implant is folded over, it fills and fills with saline and then pop! the tip flips over. Sitting above my stomach in its intended shape it will be more effective she tells me.

I mention to the clinical nurse that sometimes it scares me that the loss is slow. That I’m used to getting onto some duromine, flogging myself and losing 7 kilos in 3 weeks. I’m used to dieting, she says. That is not what I am doing now. I am eating a variety of healthy foods in more appropriate portion sizes. I will lose weight as a result of having better eating habits.

Today I am wearing tights that did not fit before Germany. On Monday I wore to work a dress that I have only ever worn as a shirt, over jeans.

C put me onto Fat Aus. In the car I tell Br how I have mixed feelings about her. She is beautiful and I look at her in the things she wears and I think she looks fantastic. I can identify that I would look pretty well the same in the same items of clothes but I know that I would choose not to wear them. I worry about what this means. Maybe I am not, at this point, willing to be as honest with strangers about what my body looks like under my clothes. I remind myself that's it's just a body. Fragile, beautiful.

Start weight: 112.5
Last recorded weight: 106.3
Weight lost: 6.2
LT goal weight: 75
ST goal weight: 99

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 75

I say I love my body.

Like many relationships, this is a complicated one. I didn’t always love her, I think for a long time I hated her. There are so many things that I blamed her for that I shouldn’t have.

I do feel I can say that I love her now though, but that’s not to say that I wish there were things about her that were different, or things about our relationship that were different. There are things about the past that I wish I could change, but I can’t and that’s ok.

I don’t expect things to be perfect and I’m not upset that they aren’t. I think that’s what mindfulness is about, finding happiness by letting go of desire.

Imagine a man running naked down Ipswich Road with his shoes in his hands and his clothes folded under his arm. Funny, yeah?

Imagine a woman doing it. Try imagining an attractive woman doing it. Try an unattractive woman. An overweight woman. Are these funny? Are they funny in the same way?

The naked female body has become so thoroughly sexualised. It concerns me that a naked man can be funny but a naked woman tends rather to be desirable or undesirable.

So I try to love my body and to view my negative feelings about it through the lens of feminism. I feel like this helps me to identify that negative self talk arises largely as a result of cultural and social conditions. If I can completely and entirely deconstruct the negative feelings I have about my body maybe I can achieve a level of insight sufficient and necessary to resolve these feelings. Maybe I'm a wanky ex law school piece of shit. These thoughts make me smile.

To feel good about my body I try to see myself through the eyes of men that have cared about me. This of course is absurdly counterintuitive. But fuck it, whatever. I think I can get away with this shit by calling myself a cultural feminist.


Who actually manages to accept their swinging belly?

I, for one, have a pair of underpants that pretty much go from hip to underarm.

Every now and then the glossies will publish a ‘Body Love’ edition. Love your body. Fuck the diet. They’ll show you an array of naked ‘real’ women. They’ll tell you age, dress size, occupation. The women will give you a short spiel about what they love about their body. You’ll see some saddlebags, some thighs that touch, some average looking boobies. You’ll even see some soft pudgy bellies. But fuck me, heaven forbid you see any apron. There’ll be one girl who you’re told is size 16. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll see a size 18.

The average woman in Australia is size 16. Remember, this theoretical woman may not exist.

Let’s go back to first year stats. If you put together a sample, with equal numbers of women being size 14 and size 18 and no other, then your average size with be 16. Size 12 and size 20, the same again.

And the thing that absolutely shits me to tears is the lack of acknowledgement that I could exist beyond size 16. Sure, the average woman is size 16, so we’d best include her in the body love special, but the other half of the sample that is over size 16 is conspicuously missing.

You know what? I’m fucking hot naked.

I’ve been told this and I choose to believe it.

I truly feel like clothes are holding me back. If I didn’t have to think about the clothes I want to wear and how they interact with my body the large bulk of my neuroses re body would be moot.

I can stand in front of the mirror, at over one hundred kilos, and find angles that please me. I can see myself through someone else’s eyes and see what is beautiful there.

Even the apron.

Boys always grab at it. I’ve discussed this with C before. She theorises that what is beautiful to a man (sorry ladeez who love ladeez) is the differential between masculine and feminine. Breasts, hips, round bums. Soft, pudgy, hanging bellies. A boy will grab onto a belly and it is different from his. The differentials end up all wrapped up in the shared nudity and tactile experience of the sex act, maybe this is why. Consequentially the aesthetics of real desire might be far removed from the aesthetics that are presented to you in the media. We’re not accounting for personal tastes here though and if our sample is ‘Boys Who Have Been In My Pants’ we’re not necessarily talking about an unbiased sample of men. But I certainly know that the aesthetics of my own desire are poorly represented in mainstream media.

But media saturation makes it hard not to buy into airbrushed ideals especially when it comes to your own body (please refer to Photoshop Disasters).

I’m finding it hard to properly acknowledge my progress when it comes as a reduction in centimetres rather than a reduction in kilos. I am now only 2 kilos more than I was before I left but I am 4cm smaller on my waist and hips. I have to tell myself this over and over. And it’s ok, it’s still so early. It’s ok.

I bought a pair of pyjama pants on sale before I left. They were on sale so I didn’t bother trying them on. XXL, $14.95, paisley. I tried them on when I got home. Have you ever insinuated yourself into a pair of pants so small that your legs were like bbq sausages and a good two thirds of your arse crack hung out the back? I tried them on again last night and they were tight but there was no indication at all that I should pursue a career in plumbing.

I am getting smaller.

This is slowly working.

I can calm the fuck down.

I’ve walked the dog with K a few times since I’ve been back. The psychologist says my aim is to be active in some way or another, that is all. I should find activities that I enjoy, things that require the least motivation. This is baffling to me on a level as I have only ever really engaged in activity with a view to losing weight. How fucking sad for me. So, for the first time in my life I am trying to figure out what I like doing.

I'm realising I have no hobbies. How. Fucking. Sad. For me.

Maybe there’s a table tennis club nearby. I’m not that good but how awesome in ping pong? S’s Japanese friend taught me a couple of things and I became so much better! And it’s not something where I feel like my weight makes me conspicuous. Which has certainly been a huge deal for me in the past.

N has Zumba on dvd. I might borrow it. I love dancing... I always told myself that when I was thinner I would do a class. I’ve become tired of telling myself that I’ll do things when I’m thinner.

Let’s go dancing.

I wrote this for Carol.

I refuse to weigh myself today because I have my period.

Start weight: 112.5
Last recorded weight: 107.5
Weight lost: 5
LT goal weight: 75
ST goal weight: 99

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Days 50 - 74

Q: What do fat people do in summer?

A: Sweat.

I put on weight while I was away and I've been avoiding writing.

You make shitty little promises to yourself.

'I'm not going to buy any new clothes until I've lost 10 kilos’

And then your clothes slowly turn to rags and drop off your body. You're naked in a school yard and an assignment is due that you’ve forgotten about. The usual.

I realised a while ago that I was punishing myself with the clothes I wanted to wear. I let them hang in my wardrobe and remind me of how far away I was from the goals I had set for myself. Fuck that. I took them off the hangers, lovingly folded them and pushed them under my bed, so we could be reunited some time down the track. S says that the Germans say ‘Mann sieht sich zweimal im Leben’ – ‘In life, you always meet twice’.

'See you next time, denim minidress’

'In a while, ruffled cocktail dress’

I got off the plane, shunned my loved ones and headed straight for the scales, tired, bloated, covered in a sheen of rancid sweat.

And the scales said 109.

I’ll save you the hyperbole.

This represented a gain of 4kg and I figured that was better than the 6 I put on last time in Germany.

A day later I visit the clinic and I am 108, which, from the perspective of the clinic, represents a gain of 1kg only. I have lost 4cm from my waist and hips.

On the drive down, N and I speak about our progress. Things are not happening as quickly as we were expecting them too. Especially given our perceived reduction in appetite and portion sizes. Things were in fact, pretty much staying the same. N is back at the gym and seeing her trainer but not seeing the results that she was expecting. Disappointment ensues.

The psychologist again encourages me to focus on process and not outcome. He tells me I can eat whatever I want. I realise I have no snacks in my house. I have a chilling, bowel liquefying fear of having ‘dangerous' foods around me. I am Bronte hiding in her room with towels at the bottom of the door to stop calories getting in. Except, you know, fat.

I give myself permission to go to the supermarket and buy whatever I want. Whatever I want. And then to go home and eat what and whenever I want. I am on the brink of tears. I have been locked up tight for years.

I don't cry. I figure he sees enough sobbing fatties in his working day. Let's try for something different.

(I buy oat clusters, bananas, milk, one punnet of every different brand of strawberry yoghurt, rice pudding, chocolate mousse, tinned fruits, tofu, tuna, ricotta, olives, corn, tabasco, ryvita, apples, rice, vegetarian curries with dahl, vegetables, potatoes and paneer, broccolini and lean cuisine)

I try to reassure myself. I can probably safely say that I will never be heavier than now. I can’t imagine how that would be possible. Another participant, a year ahead of us, also a blogger, lost of total of around 20kg in the first 12 months. Not a staggering amount and possibly a disappointing amount from her perspective. But as far as I can tell from the information she presents in her blog, this may well be her first substantial loss. I don’t see her gaining it back in the future. How could she?

If I am 20kg lighter in a year this will represent a little less than half a kilo loss per week. Which is probably healthier than one kilo loss per week, depending on how you do it. If I am 20kg lighter in a year I will be 92kg. Disappointing? I can cram myself into a pair of size 14 jeans at 92 kilos. I was 92 kilos at my admission and I reckon I was looking pretty fine. You know, for a Rubenesque lady. My Mother even deigned to tell me that I had ‘managed to dress appropriately’. I’m pretty sure this means ‘You look beautiful and I am very proud of you’ in my Mother’s language.

It may or may not be relevant that in past lives I garnered a pleasing amount of male interest at 92kg. How much male interest garnered at the Downunder Bar on a Thursday night counts, I am unsure.

I guess it is important to note that I don’t require myself to be thin before I consider myself to be beautiful or attractive. Fuck that. True, there is more primping required for me to feel the same level of comfort with my look when I am heavier. This is a point I have pondered before.

In The Whole Woman, Germaine Greer describes women as ‘hairy, smelly and bloody’. Previously I had credited myself with an above average regard for my own vagina and vaginas in general. In a lewd, crude sort of way I felt that on a conversational level (read: in the context of shit talk in the beer garden) I was capable of promoting the vagina and its interests. Hell, I even bought a vaginal portrait necklace from VulvaLoveLovely (I wore it to the pub and inexplicably lost half of my labia minora – a fact pointed out to me by my ex’s paramour). But to be perfectly frank my current level of vagina love took a lot of work. And washing. And grooming. And skipping of sugar pills.

It saddened me when I realised that to love my vagina I required her to be odourless, hairless, bloodless. To a great extent I was requiring the same things of the rest of my body. I cannot express to you how much terror the potential for body odour evoked (evokes) in me. A piece titled Obesity Really Is Disgusting reposted on from Corpulent discusses the results of a recent study into negative attitudes toward fat people – the findings being that negative attitudes towards "obese" people are based on an emotional response of disgust rather than moral appraisals of fat people as lazy or undisciplined on the basis of the perceived controllability of body weight.

So being fat is one thing. But if you can somehow manage to make yourself slightly less disgusting, then that’s probably ok. Enter Summer’s Eve, Gillette Venus, Max Factor and Yasmin. Isn’t this the basis of most teen makeover movies? The girl isn’t even actually ugly, she’s just gross. She’s only ever a brow wax and costume change away from being a stunner.

That reminds me. I need a brow wax.

Start weight: 112.5
Current weight: 107.5
Weight lost: 5
LT goal weight: 75
ST goal weight: 99