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I See You Stare at My Weight and No, You Don't Know My Struggle

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I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. My parents were always trying to stress to me that I needed to get out and run if I wanted to eat dessert, though my brother was free to eat what he wanted. That’s a story for another time though. My mentally abusive parents are mentioned here just to point out that I have always been seen as the “chubby kid” before any personality I had.

Fast forward to roughly seven years ago when my husband and I were ready to have kids and were having trouble at 27 years old. I read up on things it could be and I was pretty sure I had PCOS. Turns out I did. I had a terrible doctor tell me in so many words that I shouldn’t even think of having kids unless I lost 15-20 percent of my body weight. I understand why, I really do. I know about complications. I know about percentages and risks. I also knew that there were options that might make that weight loss easier. He argued with me and told me that IVF would be too much for me. We told him we were saving up. That’s when he said he wouldn’t even discuss anything unless I lost weight.

After two years on metformin, we were going to have a baby girl. Take that, doctor! I had a very mild first and second trimester. So much so I didn’t know I was pregnant until 10 weeks and even then I only took the test because it was common practice for me to take them before large party weekends (going to Las Vegas or in this case going to Blizzcon, nerd alert).

Near the end of my second trimester I started testing positive for protein in my urine. I mean tons of it. At one point I had 23 grams in a 3-liter container (24 hour test). I was no worse for wear. I had no other symptoms and after two weeks in the hospital they decided to give me a biopsy. That diagnosis was probably one of the scariest times of my life. My life was in danger and my baby’s life too. Kidney disease while pregnant with my miracle baby. I was in the hospital three times a week for non-stress tests and those usually turned into bio-physicals and the poor perinatologist being called in because my baby was always so stubborn.

There we have the second weight hurdle. I have PCOS and kidney disease (which is in remission, if that’s a thing?). The medications to “cure” my kidney disease also put on the pounds. If you don’t know, with kidney disease you want to lose weight in hopes of becoming better but it’s near impossible while you have it. Your body absorbs little to no protein. It needs protein to maintain muscle and it will manufacture it in the form of triglycerides to try and compensate. So your muscles deteriorate (a powerhouse for weight loss) and you now have extra fat floating around. Then there’s the PCOS. PCOS causes insulin resistance. This means my body can’t process sugars and dumps them into fat. People with insulin resistance typically have smaller legs and arms and a large belly.

People see me as this lazy, gross excuse for a human. I’ve had doctors, legitimate OB-GYNs that know PCOS, tell me to “cut my calories for weight loss.” I just want to yell you know that’s not going to help me! So you see me walking around with my so adorable 3-year-old. Perfect wonderful curls, so happy, and then there’s me. People just see my weight. They think when I share an ice cream with her that I shouldn’t be eating it. They think when I don’t run after her that I’m lazy, not that maybe I’ve been up since 5 a.m. with her and she’s being ridiculous in the mall and she’ll come back before I can muster the run up. They don’t know that I exercise every day. That I eat healthy food. The ice cream I share with her I barely finish, I just eat what I can to show her how to eat it in the first place.

I think this is a theme with overweight people. You see the weight, but you don’t know my struggle. I always tell people I am the healthiest fat person you will find. I run. I walk. I elliptical. I dance. I eat nutritious food and I drink so much water. My kid eats more than I do and she’s 3. She also eats super healthy foods. We have to try and get her to eat junk food.

It’s difficult to make people to see outside what they know. In America these days it’s true with everything, not just weight. I implore people to try. Before you laugh at me and my cheek hanging over the chair, realize I might be trying and losing a lifelong battle. I have so much in my body going against me. I wish I could wear a shirt with that emblazoned on the front. I wish stamping PCOS all over my chest would grant me a bit of sympathy, but fertility is still taboo and most people don’t even know what PCOS is. I hope one day the world changes a bit and we can just talk about these things that are completely out of our control. I know I would have loved to have information younger than 27. You better believe I’m going to tell my daughter she might have it when she’s 11 or 12. I’ll be there to help.

It’s invisible and it eats at you in more ways than most know. The weight, the infertility, the complications… it’s scary and it’s only worsened when people think you don’t care about your body and are lazy. So as to what I would teach someone about my diseases, I would try to teach them about empathy. Many people have invisible demons, anxiety, internal disease, abuse. If not, you are the lucky ones. Try to see the good in people before the bad. There’s a struggle you might be able to help with if you enter a situation with an open mind.

Getty photo by palomadelosrios

Originally published: January 22, 2019
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