The above picture is of me, one month before I flew to Tijuana, Mexico to have bariatric surgery in a last ditch attempt to rein in a burgeoning diabetic disease that was heading in a dangerous direction. In Canada, a blood sugar reading of 7 is considered the upper limit between having “normal” blood sugar levels, and having Type 2 diabetes. For the eight previous years since being diagnosed with this disease, I had been able to maintain my blood sugar levels at 5 using the mediation, Metformin. As my weight climbed, my blood sugar rose as well, and no matter what I did whether it was walking, cycling and joining weight loss programs (At 364 lbs I was a Lifetime Member of Weight Watchers), my blood sugar level climbed until it eventually tipped over the 7 mark. I was headed for the needle.
THE TURNING POINT
My dad, a skinny man his whole life, suffered with Type 2 Diabetes. He had been injecting insulin as well as taking the same Metformin pills I was taking, however, the disease caught up to him, and he passed away six months before this picture was taken. His death caused a major shift in my thinking. I knew I was heading towards the needle, and now had confirmation that an early grave was in my future. Something drastic had to be done to change the course of my death march. That change came in the form of my family doctor.
At his urging I registered with the Saskatchewan Health – Bariatric Unit in Regina for bariatric surgery, and then waited…and waited…and waited some more to hear word that I had been given a start date towards a healthier life. After waiting a year, I called the Unit to ask where I was on their waiting list. I was told I was not even on the list yet. The wait time in Saskatchewan was five years to have bariartic surgery. FIVE YEARS! I didn’t have five years. I was heading for an early death, and that’s how my journey to Tijuana, Mexico started, but that’s a story for another time.
RACISM, PREJUDICE AND HYPOCRISY
Society has gone through generational changes over the past century. Those viewed as “lower than” by society have finally gained a modicum of acceptance, at least in public. From the struggles of people of color, aboriginals, immigrants, those with physical and psychological challenges, followers of visibly different religions, to those with differing sexual preferences than the majority, we have accepted that it’s no longer appropriate to “publicly” harangue those who don’t fit into the “White, Christian, Straight” definition our society has had drill into their thick skulls seemingly forever. Prejudice may not be as visible as it once was, but it still lives in the underbelly of our society festering like a huge boil waiting to be popped.
Having spent 56 years as a fat person has taught me one unsettling fact, society still has a way to go when it comes to addressing the shaming of those who struggle with their weight. “Fat Shaming” is on the rise. Obesity prejudice is alive, and accepted in our so called modern, electronically connected society. We think we are so smart. We feel so superior having advanced by leap and bounds over other societies still living in what we consider the stone age, and yet we know nothing. We haven’t learned a damn thing from the days of slavery, residential schools, and concentration camps. We are still as society bent on carrying on with the “good old days” when men were men, and the rest knew their place in society.
HOW DARE YOU
From overt comments, sneers, eye rolling, out right laughter, and finger pointing at an obese person in the mall, to the subliminal way in the which the fashion industry shuns larger women by refusing to stock clothing in any size over a 10, society has accepted that making fun of fat people is not only acceptable but may, in some perverted way, help them to lose weight. Have we ever become a stupid, ignorant, self important buffoons. Get over yourself. “You ain’t all that!”
How dare you? How dare you assume the right to tell me or anyone else how we should look, what we should weigh, or what to do about what you perceive as a problem. How dare you presume to be so perfect that you should be held up to be the model of perfect health…you of the poisoned mind so polluted with hatred, and self importance need to back off. We don’t need your input anymore than a First Nation’s man needs your ignorant comments about his culture, or a Muslim about her mode of dress. If it’s not positive, and uplifting, leave it in the bowels of your filthy mind. We do not need to hear it. Your input does not further anything remotely constituting help. Far from it.
OBESITY IS A DISEASE
The AMA recently declared obesity a disease as it indicates the same health threats as many other diseases that match this medical description. If your mother had suddenly contracted cancer, would you say to her, “You’re cancer.”? Of course not. That’s simply ridiculous. You would be sympathetic, and offer encouragement, and perhaps prayers if that was your wont. Yet when someone has the disease of obesity, more often than not we will hear the comment, “You’re fat.” It makes not a modicum of sense to me. We are not our disease. we suffer with our disease, but we do not try to let it define us. Unfortunately you seem eager to fulfill that role.
“YOU ARE CANCER”
The next time you see someone dealing with the disease of obesity take a moment to remind yourself that the disease does not define the person suffering from it. Just as you do not give someone dealing with heart disease or Alzheimer’s Disease advice on how to overcome, or deal with their disease, do not think that your extensive medical knowledge derived from watching Dr. Oz, or House qualifies you as an expert in dealing with obesity. Accept us for who we are inside, not what we look like on the outside. We are not our disease. Quit trying to make us so. I may look different on the outside but believe me, like a cancer patient who has beaten their disease, I’m simply a man with obesity in remission.