Life continued on what seemed to be a normal path for many years. I worked out harder, ate better, and went about the daily grind. I was a self-employed day care operator in my home. My favorite weight loss strategy was to load up four kids in a wagon and walk them around the neighborhood. I even began to lose weight one summer. I had gone from 135 pounds back down to 125. In fact, I would go as far as to say I was looking pretty hot. I was not as puny and flat chested as in high school, but I had a little meat to me and the diet and exercise were making a difference. Unfortunately, the phase was short lived. It felt so good, I wanted it back. It was like just enough of a tease to make me think I had control over my weight if I would just try a little harder. I did everything I had ever read during my many internet searches for weight loss tips. I drank large glasses of water all day, and specifically before every meal. I ate 200 calories or less for breakfast, being sure to measure 1/3 cup serving size of cereal… which is next to nothing. I ate salads for lunch. My dinner was on a 7 inch plate, at least half of which was vegetables, and no seconds. I would eat my full serving of ice cream off of a single spoon, while my family enjoyed bowls. I chewed every bite of my food until it was mush. I even used a crab fork and a baby spoon with the plastic removed so I could take small enough bites to make my meal last as long as my family’s normal sized meals. Of course, I could not do this outside of the comfort of my home, because I felt like I was becoming an anorexic…a chubby, now 135 pound anorexic. I knew I wasn’t anorexic because I wanted to eat, and I was trying to follow healthy advice. It was never my intention to starve myself. I just wanted to be healthy. The worst part was that my young daughters were seeing me work so hard to keep tabs on my weight. My husband worried that our girls would pick up on my nearly obsessive behavior with negative consequences for them.
As was true all along, doctors did not hear me when I complained about weight. They continued to remind me that my weight was normal and I wasn’t a kid anymore. They said the same thing about my aches and pains. I was having regular bouts of arthritis in my wrist and my knee. I even had to buy an electric can opener because my wrist couldn’t stand the pain. There were occasional days when I cried, going down the steps of my new home on my butt because it hurt to bend my knee. Still, I got the same line from the doctors. I was getting older. Despite my diagnosis of old age, I could not accept that my body was going to fall apart in my early 30s. I was now pushing 5 years without a period, but since it seemed to have no other medical implications, no one seemed to care. I will never forget the day I realized that I was getting a hump on my back. I was enraged. How could this be? I assumed it was something happening to my bones, and that I was at the beginning stages of becoming a hunch backed old lady. “Nope,” the doctor said in a matter of fact tone,” That’s just fat.” What a slap in the face for all the hard work I had been doing! I complained about other seemingly unrelated things. For example, I had to request a prescription deodorant that did not work. I complained that when I washed my hair, I always had a handful of hair. I still had ample thick hair, but I wasn’t sure it was normal to lose so much every day. I noticed that the hair on my face was becoming fuzzy sideburns. It wasn’t dark, but I could grab it and pull it enough to pull my skin outward. My face was fat, but so was everything else. Two people in one year asked if I was pregnant. My aches and pains still came and went, and my blood pressure was starting to go up. Of course, it was officially only “prehypertensive”, so my doctor wasn’t concerned. I think this is when I decided that I needed a new doctor. All he pointed to during my visits were stats and characteristics that were normal for other people, but he never acknowledged what was normal in the context of me. He never had, and clearly never would.