I don't think I've written these words yet in a public forum: I have diabetes.
I started to write "I am a diabetic," but I don't like that construction. I am not diabetes. I am me. But I do struggle with keeping my blood sugar in a healthy range. I have hypothyroidism. I am over 50. I am mostly post-menopausal. It's been a rough few years. I swear I turned 50 and my body fell apart.
I am aware that a lot of people in the world are cheering at these facts about me, as if they prove something. As if my becoming ill justifies all the weight loss schemes and all the risk factor studies. I am a bad fattie. I am one of those people who supposedly demonstrates that being over 300 pounds means instant death or long-term illness or the absolute end of health care as we know it.
I've been hesitant to write about diabetes especially because it is all the rage right now to demonstrate how bad fat is by equating it with diabetes.
But yesterday I had an epiphany of sorts. Or rather the obvious descended upon me with a dull thud. If I really believe in the principles of Health at Every Size®, then someone like me is on the front lines of these ideas. Someone like me is the one who has to fight for medical care that puts my health first rather than my weight. Someone like me has to speak out and say, it is not about weight, it is about health.
There are a multitude of theories on why I am facing these conditions at this time in my life. Weight is only one and it isn't a very good one. My guess is that it is a combination of all the stupid things I did to try to lose weight with all the wonderful genes given to me by my ancestors. In other words, a lot of it is the result of weight stigma and things beyond my control. I have regrets, but being fat is not one of them.
But that is all water under the bridge. The real question is what am I to do about it?
Dr. Sharma would categorize me as a "level 5" bad fattie and punish me with starvation and stomach mutilation (nightmares that sound like science fiction if you think about it outside of our cultural belief that fat is bad) even though his own research shows that it is not weight that determines these conditions.
I think HAES® is needed in cases like mine more than ever because what I need is HEALTH care NOT weight loss. That is the central principle of HAES®--concentrate on health not weight.
My biggest challenge these days are my feet (and some times my hands). I have neuropathic pain daily. I had hoped that control of thyroid and blood sugar would make it go away and so for the past two years we've been trying to address the underlying conditions. But even though I'm stable on thyroid medicine (and symptoms have subsided, except this one) and I'm improving on blood sugar, I still have to fight daily pain. I am finally this summer taking pain medicine. It has helped.
My feet also represent my thorniest issue for my own body love. In short, I've hated my feet most of my life in one way or another. Maybe that's why they're being so mean to me now, eh?
A discussion about shoes with friend of mine on FaceBook this week reminded me of how I loved to run barefoot as a kid. I still don't wear shoes unless I absolutely must. But my feet are damaged goods due to my current battle with neuropathy as well as an injury to my left foot in 2004 that left me a little less able to walk. It is the foot injury that put me in the permanently disabled category and for which I use my scooter and cane. My feet have always been problematic. I had one doctor tell me, however, that it was a good thing that I did go barefoot as a kid because shoes probably would have damaged them more.
They are kind of ugly, I have to admit. And the injury and nerve damage have made them less pretty. I inherited my dad's feet and legs. My mother has beautiful feet and legs. I have my dad's knobby knees, and feet that are shaped more like paddles (narrow heels with wide toes that spread out and look kind of duck-like, except when they are swollen at night). I live in the desert, so they are dry most of the time, even though I put lotion on them frequently. Everyone has a part of their body that they wish at some point or another were different and my feet are that for me. So here's a picture of my feet at their ugliest (night time). However, today, I'm going to celebrate my feet.
Remembering going barefoot as a kid, I'm finding a little love for my feet and all they've done for me for the past 54+ years:
I love the feel of grass between my toes.
Or wet sand sucking at my soles.
I love the way it tickled when an ant crawled over the top.
Or when I hopscotched hurriedly across the gravel drive.
I love the heat from the sidewalk
Or the cold water form the lake.
My feet were the connection between me and the great mother.
I tickled her cheek and she let me feel a world of sensations in return.
Thank you feet.
Thank you dirty earth squished under my heel.
Thank you sand and grass and gravel and concrete and water and ocean and snow and ice.
Thank you for grounding me throughout the years.
Thank you, Gaia for feet!
So I can now say I love myself from my head down to my toes!
And, I can say, I understand now that I am a HAES® warrior. It turns out I'm right on the front line.