Wednesday, June 26, 2013


There have been a firestorm of interesting coincidences these past 24 hours that I am just going to chalk up to Jupiter entering Cancer.  Fortune and compassion as allies.  Within the first day, we see the repeal of DOMA - at last.  Did that ever make sense to anyone? Other more personal, but no less meaningful, events beginning to cluster around this Cancer girl.  All of that brings me to a place that feels strange to me, a place I haven't been in maybe the last 5-6 years.  Hope. 

Today feels decidedly different, not because some big giant red-eyed planet swung around into the geocentric constellation of the crab.  It feels different for smaller less tangible things.  For waking and feeling rested.  For the clearing breath of rainstorms that pass in the night.  For a short TED video someone posted to FB that moved me.  It's this last thing I want to talk about today.  Not because it is better or more important than those others, just that it sparked something in me. 

I am 51 almost 52 years old.  During my life, I have never encountered a physician that felt as if they cared about my well being.  Not really.  It is so rare that when I did encounter it in the realm of my mom's caregiving, I was rendered speechless (a momentary phenomenon).  Why isn't care part of health care?  For that matter why isn't health?  But those are questions for a different day kiddiecakes. 

For the last 20 years I have been steadily gaining weight until I am classified as obese.  No diet works for me.  No exercise regimen either.  My body is super adaptive and conserves fuel at all costs.  Twelve years ago, I was diagnosed with PCOS and this became the evil culprit for all my woes.  I started to learn everything I could about diet, metabolism, etc.  I lost weight.  Quite a bit actually.  The 2-3 hours a day I spent at the gym became my life.  I became obsessed with moving that red bar on the scale ever smaller.  Thing is, eventually, even the long workouts with a trainer didn't keep the weight off.  Slowly it crept back on.  Super adaptor! 

So, we have established that I am fat.  Big whoop.  Chances are so are a lot of you.  It's not like I don't know that I'm fat.  Puhhllease!  Girl has a mirror.  Even if I didn't, I would be reminded CON.STANT.LY that I am fat by every media outlet and every pair of judging eyes that turn my way.  I have consulted numerous physicians.  Every doctor I have ever seen either ignored my biggest health risk or has fallen back to the tired "You need to lose weight" comment with exactly zero instruction about how to do that successfully.  The equivalent of being patted on the head and dismissed like Cindy Lou Who.  In those many overly bright offices, I have been judged over and over and over again and found wanting.  Most people will stay in the place of judgment.  They will label me as fat and lazy and move on.  (In an absolutely delicious irony, someone who will get all up in your bidness when there is a whiff of judgment around their own issues will still call people fat....RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.  Ummmm...excuse me butt munch, you can pedal that bullshit somewhere else today.)  A few will get to know me.  All will be surprised to realize that I am not fat because I am lazy, or because I spend my day mindlessly pounding down DingDongs. 

Unlike the medical profession and a few of my very vocal friends, I don't see obesity as a 'fork' problem.  I do want to stab you with the fork when you tell me that for about the billionth time.  So I think it's worth repeating.  OBESITY IS NOT A FORK PROBLEM.  (not always anyway).  This kind of thinking is no better than that of the medical community.  IT'S A JUDGMENT BASED ON A FALSE PREMISE.  It just looks prettier because the people who are most willing to expound on it are blessed with thin genes that make them feel privileged enough to look down on the fatties AND to tell us how to fix ourselves.  FUCK OFF!  If you aren't fat and never have been, you should pretty much keep it zipped on this subject.

I am fat because something in my body stores food rather than burns it.  This means that I am almost always tired because my body has chosen to store lunch rather than burn it to get me through an afternoon of hiking.  That means to make myself hike anyway is the equivalent of the average person trying to make themselves hike when they are starving and bone tired.  Yeah - you wouldn't really want to either.  It is a biocehmical process gone astray.  I have known this for a while.  Maybe that's why you got the eyeroll when you recommended I try yet another juice diet or colon cleanse or whatev.  I really don't listen anymore. 
The thing is, that almost no one cares to discover the cause for obesity.  Why?  Because fat is very lucrative.  Lucrative if you have a book about some crazypants diet you invented where you subsist entirely on gum you strafe from the underside of high school library tables.  It's lucrative if you are a pharmaceutical company making the next big diet magic pill.  It's lucrative if you are in bariatrics or any part of the health care industry.  It's lucrative if you're a shrink.  It's pretty much lucrative for everyone except us - the fat people who pay for it in every way and in every moment of our lives. 

So this morning when I encountered the TEDMED talk by Peter Attia, MD I found myself simultaneously cheering and crying.  Someone in the "health care" industry finally gets it.  That the patients are not at fault here, at least not always.  That we come to you for real answers, not that condescending pat on the head and certainly not your judgment.  We get plenty of that out in the world.  Your bad attitude makes us trust you less, share less, come to see you less.  It is the very antithesis of what you PROMISED when you took that oath.  You do remember that - right?

Hippocratic Oath: Modern Version [excerpt]

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.

Pretty sure they forget that about the same time the caps get thrown in the air. 

This video stirred something in me that made me feel odd.  FINALLY someone is asking a better question.  That makes me hope.  It's been a long time. 

For anyone interested here's a link to his TEDMED talk

And just when I thought the TED thing was getting stale.....

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Ghosts of Old BF Past

In my professional life, I cut a lot of tissues into thin sections suitable for microscopic evaluation.  These bad boys get stained a kaleidoscope of colors, hot pink, purple, bright blue and red.  Sometimes they are even fluorescent green.  It really is quite beautiful in a Jackson Pollack kinda way.

So last night, I have this crazy dream in which I am sitting in an Adirondack chair in front of a farmhouse.  All of my ex-boyfriends, or anyone I ever even dated for that matter, are queued up waiting to talk to me.  Trust me, as a 51 year old person who has been single her entire life, that line is a loooooong one.  One by one, they are each coming up to me, kissing me on the forehead, apologizing and then each is handing me something.  I don't look at what these are until later.  In that moment, there is deep connection with each of them, there is remembering the best and sweetest thing about each, and there is forgiveness from both sides for any slight, real or imagined.  The interaction with some is very short, with others it is quite extended.  It's not proportional to how long we dated, or anything else that I can determine.  Each is simply as long as it needs to be.  No one gets pissy for having to wait.  No one starts a fight with anyone else.

There is Michael, my college flame.  Someone who made me look at life in a quirky way that has persisted, someone who made me love foreign films.  There is Mike, the Marine, who threw me over his shoulder one night and carried me up two flights of stairs in a way that made me feel all Scarlett O'Hara.  Oh my!  There is my sweet Ben, my star-crossed lover boy, the one who came to me when I needed him most and then slipped away.  There are Bob and Homer.  There is Steve aka the date rapist.  There is my magic man Frank who blew the lid off of Pandora's box of my heart in the best of ways.  There is Kieran.  There are James, John, Peter, and Paul (perhaps more of the apostles if I cared to look harder, which I do not).  They are translucent white, earth red, blue black and beautiful caramel brown of skin.  I loved each of them in different ways and to different depths and for different durations.

After the last person walked away and disappeared from view down the dirt drive, I finally looked down at my hands and saw that each has handed me something like a microscope slide.  One of my peeps came over, took the lot of them, and started sliding them into a curved metal frame of sorts.  As she continued, I realized it looks rather like a zoetrope where each slide formed part of a complex Tiffany-on-steroids pattern.  She gestured for me to follow her into a dark, cool, dry place.  My brain says cave, but it was more like the Cerebro device used by Dr.  X.  She got the device installed high above me and activated it so that light poured through these little slices of glass they had given me.

If you have ever visited a cathedral when the color of the windows traveled the beams of light and stood in that glowing bath of color, you may understand this part. If you haven't ever done this, go do it. It is all together magical.  I recommend the parquet floor beneath the Chagall windows at the Chicago Art Institute. 

I lie on the floor under whatever this is as it begins to turn slowly and the colors spark and simmer all around me.   The colors that shine through these slides are palpable in a way that color isn't here.  The purple is a deep dark amethyst that transmits luxe and elegance.  It is smooth to the touch and rich tasting in my mouth like dark chocolate.  It smells of things I don't have words to describe.  The golden new gamboge yellow is rich and tangy tasting, warm to the touch on my skin as it skates across it.  It induces joy.  My beloved blues, the deepest sapphire hue reminiscent of those Chagall windows, bring with it deep stillness.  Cool relief like ice in August.  It tastes spritely.  I lay there a long time engulfed in the experience of the swirling colors moving slowly over me.

And when I wake up, all I have is gratitude for the gift each of those people gave me.  I understand that each person, each experience was part of this lovely, lovely whole. 

Chagall Windows

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Small Stone 9.9.13

I open the door whisper soft on oiled hinges
unsure what will emerge
poetry or anathema

Mean Girls Are Never Pretty

Mom's sojourn in Memory Care ended when she could no longer stand and became what they term a 2-assist.  She transitioned to Skilled C...