Fat and Not Afraid

Respect and love are for EVERY body.

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Carolyn, Fat and Fibromyalgia

September 30, 2011

I was diagnosed with Fibromyaglia about 8 months ago.  Now, keep in mind, that I have been complaining about the same symptoms since I was about 10 years old.  Spine pain, deep leg pain, chest pain, and constant feeling of fatigue.  I have a 3 ring binder, filled with 15 years of medical history.  most of it says the same thing "patient is an obese female. recommend weight loss to improve symptoms."  Even when I was 17 and came in with a persistent eye twitch (one that was visible and had lasted multiple weeks).  I complained to the doctor about my fatigue and memory problems.  My chart says "obese female. recommend weight loss. stress is probably due to weight issues at school." If I had known of the phrase "head desk" at that time, I am sure I would have used it liberally.

Fast forward to 2011, and I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia due to the fact that the doctors simply can not find anything else to explain this constant pain and fatigue.  When my husband was trying to understand what Fibromyalgia pain felt like, I explained it as " imagine someone took gravity and turned it up to 11."  Everything feels compressed, heavy, difficult.  I have to plan my shower in advance because it often takes too much effort and requires a period of rest afterward.  Have you ever had your back adjusted by a chiropractor? That nifty move where they lay you face down, and then press on your spine with the force of a 40lb 3 year old jumping strait onto the middle of your back? That's what my spine feels like, though the pressure doesn't let up like the chiropractor does.

So you may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with fat? (you may not, but I am going to assume that since you are still reading that you were)  Having fibromyalgia often makes me look like a stereotypical super fat person.  In my brain, stereotypical fatness is the kind that causes heavy breathing when doing a mundane activity like folding laundry.  Heavy groans when getting up off the couch.  Walking at a snails pace or an inability to climb stairs.  That general idea that fat people are so burdened by their weight that their body becomes completely unmanageable.  That is often how I feel i am perceived.  When I stand up out of a chair my body responds like its 85 years old.  When I walk down the street with my husband, I often walk slower than most other pedestrian traffic.  The other day, I was in a rock/mineral store that had about 5 steps leading from one area to another.  I took probably a full 30 seconds to traverse the steps, carefully shuffling both feet onto each step, one at a time.  People looked, but no one said anything.  I felt self conscious.

The self consciousness comes from the fact that I am fat.  No one can look at me and see the chronic pain or the fibromyalgia diagnosis.  People who don't  know me (and even some who do), assume that if I lost weight, all of my fibromyalgia symptoms would simply disappear.  Experience (and 20 years of dieting) have proven that this was not the case. I know plenty of people who have fibromyalgia and have thin or even "healthy" bodies.  No one ever recommends to them that if they just ate less and exercised more that their body would miraculously heal from this affliction.  Why is it then, that it is assumed that my body size has anything to do with my fibromyalgia and not that of the thin fibromyalgia patient?

I haven't really formed fully complete thoughts on this yet.  The pressure to lose weight is so insidious, that even I have moments where I think "what if I don't have Fibro? what if I DO just need to lose weight? Maybe I'm just lazy and out of shape?".  Of course that is ridiculous.  Precisely how out of "shape" would you have to be to get severe muscle fatigue from holding up a toothbrush.  It's not like I lack tooth brushing endurance.  I've brushed my teeth twice a day, religiously, since I got braces at 8.  Clearly, I need to exercise my tooth brush muscles more as they have obviously been degraded by my fatness.  I will definitely be posting more on this subject as my thoughts become more cohesive.

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