Escape of the Inner Monologue

World, inside of my head. Inside of my head, world.

Titdor the Squishanator

Apologies to Homestar Runner for the title. But that was sincerely the very first thought that went through my mind as I walked up to the mammogram machine.

You see, one of the perks of becoming a 40 year old woman in possession of preventative healthcare is that you get sent to get your first mammogram. My doctor carefully discussed the potential discomfort of the exam with me while stressing the importance of it. I looked at her and said, you needn’t sell me on it, it’s not gonna be worse than giving birth to Sideways the Wonder Child so sign me up immediately. Evidently some people feel it’s better to bypass a handful of minutes of discomfort and forgo the benefits of a cancer screening, because ouchie boobies? Woman up, ladies.

Anyway, having been suitably warned that I might experience mild discomfort, I called to schedule the big event. The scheduler I spoke with asked me a couple questions – no, I do not have implants, and yes, I can wipe off my own deodorant if provided with a wet nap – and got me in that same day. She told me that they generally tell people to allow 5 minutes per cup size. So an A cup takes five minutes, a B cup takes 10, and so on. So my DD chest and I set aside three hours and headed off. My chest and I are not good at math.

While waiting to be called back for the exam, I sat next to a gentleman who was there to have some blood drawn. He spoke at length about this, and about how he was going to stop for a beer and burger after the test, and about traffic. He asked me what I was waiting for, and I told him I was waiting to have my breasts xeroxed. Luckily he was called back just then and thus we were both spared from him having to develop a response.

When my name was called, I was led back to a changing room, where I was given what looked like an adorable 60s-style mod dress. It was quilted and soft and warm and nearly the victim of theft by yours truly. It was so strangely flattering. I have finally discovered my body’s best dress shape – hospital gown. This makes sense as I am shaped like a potato, which means sacks are totally my jam.

After admiring myself in the mirror and wishing for go go boots, I stepped out and followed the nurse into the mammogram room. Mammoroom? She explained all the steps and what we were going to do and how. I removed my deodorant with the wipes so as to prove I had not lied to the scheduler lady. And then I grasped both sides of my gown and busted my puppies out. The Superman theme played in my head. It was quite cinematic.

The first step of the exam was what people generally think of when they think mammogram – a vertical squishing of the breast between two plates. It was not painful. Rather it felt a bit like my boob was an overstuffed sandwich that someone was pushing down on extremely firmly, so they could take a bite of it without squishing tomatoes and turkey out the backside. After doing the squash to both sides, she tilted the machine so they could get a kind of sideways/diagonal view. She had me sort of wrap myself around the machine and lean forward and to the right, while she sort of smoothed my boob out onto one of the plates of the titholder. Then she’d lower the other plate and run and take a picture. This part was not painful either. This pose felt a bit like a teen boy had finally gotten to hold his first boob, and did not know what to do with himself or the boob and therefore was just going to nervously squeeze it rather firmly to hide the fact that he was frozen in fear. When we switched to the other side I did experience a bit of discomfort because the plate was pressing down on my sternum, which made breathing a bit uncomfortable for 30 seconds.

And that was it. She cautioned me that I’d likely get called in for more pictures, given the size of my sweater kittens and the level of thoroughness they like to achieve when establishing a baseline scan. I promised not to freak out when I received the call asking me to come in for more testing. I reluctantly surrendered my adorable outfit, although honorable mention should be given to my friend K, who suggested via text that I poop on it and “take it home to launder for them” as a means of escaping with my gown. K is a criminal genius, do not cross her.

And that was it. My first mammogram was over. I filled out the comment card with all positives, as I felt like the tech deserved it for how often my breast tissue needed to be re-smoothed in order to be properly photographed. It was a bit like trying to nail jello to a tree, and she was a real trooper about it. She deserved 5 stars. I walked out of the clinic, promising my tits that I’d dribble something delicious on them at dinner as a reward, and headed home to give myself a sticker for having adulted for the day.

So get those mammograms, ladies. It’s not painful and it just may save your life one day.

Pain in the Neck

About eight years ago, I fell down. And this wasn’t one of my typical falls, which happen with such frequency and consistency that I’m fairly certain that one side of my head is permanently floor shaped. “Please, only photograph me from my flat side,” I say to the imaginary paparazzi.

This fall was epic, in the sense that I fell with such wild abandon and force that I tore all the muscles in my neck. I of course did not go to the hospital because that would be an expensive habit when you fall recreationally as much as I do. But as the pain got worse I eventually went to see my doctor, who diagnosed the injury and yelled at me for not going to the hospital. He literally yelled. I started physical therapy, which went on for about as long as the Lord of the Rings trilogy felt like it went on. I eventually achieved a level of near constant pain that was acceptable and called it a win.

At the beginning of this year, both my arms started doing this super adorable thing where they would turn into fiery tubes of pain. I typically describe it as going numb, which isn’t accurate because I can feel everything. But most everyone has had that pins and needles sensation, so it’s a more approachable description than “millions of ants armed with flaming swords storming my arms and fighting their damnedest for queen and country.” This sensation at least only happens at the most convenient of times – when I’m sleeping, driving, typing, or using a knife. Or standing or walking or petting the cat or hugging my daughter. Also known as almost constantly.

My doctor (a new one, not the yelling one) took some pictures of the inside of my body and I was promptly diagnosed with bone spurs in my cervical vertebrae, arthritis in the same area, and inflamed discs. All this mess was pressing on my nerves, causing the super fun Sleeves of Pain. No, you can’t use that as your band name.

In an effort to help alleviate my perpetual discomfort, I was sent for a therapeutic epidural. I had had an epidural while giving birth to L. The concept of a needle being placed into the rope that makes my body go was terrifying, but the totality of the pain of labor was enough to get me past it. This time, I had nearly a month before the procedure to contemplate the horror that would befall me when inevitably the doctor sneezed while placing the needle, because that is just the sort of bad movie premise that is my life. (Oscar clip, featuring Kristen Bell as me and David Tennant as the surgeon: ME: Bless you. SURGEON: (sadly) It looks like you’re the one who will need that blessing…)

So when I headed back to the procedure room, it is safe to say I was nervous. Shoulder tension makes my arms much worse, so they had been meat tubes full of hot sauce and knives all morning. The doctor and the nurse were both incredibly kind, patient, and caring, and neither sneezed at all while they walked me through what they were going to do. Essentially, they were going to have me lie face down and use an x-ray to help them guide the needle to exactly where it needed to be in my spine. Then, they would fill me full of drugs like a donut full of custard and send me on my way. Easy peasy, butt cheek squeezy. They had me practice deep breathing, using a straw. The doctor said I won the award for the longest exhale they have ever had during the breathing practice. I made a comment about being full of hot air because when I’m nervous I’m as funny as a four year old’s knock knock routine but still feel compelled to use humor as a protective shield and therefore make some stunningly horrible jokes.

They helped me up onto the table, which given the jello-filled sausage cases of suffering my arms were was quite a trick. They had me lie on a couple of pillows and then had me get back up to re-arrange the pillows to create a boob divot, as the gals were preventing me from lying on my stomach such that my back was flat. After they finally had me settled in, the nurse very sweetly and gently tied me to the table. (Evidently including sentences that may lead to my posts coming up in a porn search is my thing.) She assured me this was so I could let my arms relax, and not to prevent me from running away. I accepted that premise, as I had no choice, what with being strapped to the table.

The procedure went smoothly until the end, when they were mid-spinal custard pump, when I mentioned how terribly hot it was in the room. It was as if I had said some magic word, like on PeeWee’s playhouse but with less puppet screaming and more cool compresses. (I think that might be my new slogan… less puppet screaming and more cool compresses. Vote Me in 2020.) I was evidently having a vagal reaction, which I misheard several times, leaving me very baffled as to why my nether regions were getting involved in things at all. But evidently my body decided that despite my amazing ability to exhale everything WAS NOT OK, and enacted emergency maneuvers, which to my body means slowing my heart down to a nice relaxing 50 bpm. Because my body sucks at survival strategery. Please do not share this information with any area bears.

But many compresses and glasses of water later, I was fine and ready to go home and recover. The doctor advised me that I should mention the vagal reaction in the future, which I assume means this should be my new fun fact I use to break the ice at parties. “Did you know that if you put a needle in my spine, chances are good I will pass out?” That sounds like a perfect way to get the cheese plate all to myself. And if that isn’t the road the health I don’t know what is.

A Remedial Course in Uterus Management

As I climbed into the trunk of my car, one foot dangling behind me like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs, I thought to myself, shouldn’t I have been better prepared?

To my knowledge, I have been in possession of my uterus for my entire life. Even during the nine months where I was renting it out to fetus L, I still held the deed.

I imagine most women have a story or at least a memory of their first period. Try as I might I can’t remember mine, which I’m sure is due to either the fact that I was well prepared and confident enough to deal with it when it arrived, or, I have suppressed the entirety of a seminal and horrific event. Definitely one of the two.

I do remember that from the very beginning, my period felt like a punishment. It was grueling – I’d wear a tampon and a pad and bleed through both in under 45 minutes. I had cramps that were crippling. I remember crying in the bathroom between classes in high school from the pain, dripping snotty tears onto the fresh pad and tampon I inevitably needed. But since everyone always joked about how awful periods were, I figured that was just life with an organ that hated me.

In college, the campus doctor offered to put me on birth control. No idea if this was just the standard procedure for this doc or if he was responding to my symptoms, but I walked out with a prescription that changed my life. Birth control made my periods dramatically better.

Until it didn’t. In my late 20s things started getting awful again. My doctor suggested I go on the quarterly plan – do nine straight weeks of the pill, with one week off. And that’s how it’s been for the past 15 years or so. And with each passing period, the flow got lighter and lighter.

With less blood surging from my body, I no longer needed to double up on my period products. And last year I was able to switch to Thinx, which are magical period underpants. You wash them and reuse them. It’s better for my skin, better for the environment, and better for the people Thinx donates their product to when you purchase. Only problem: it’s not easy to carry a spare pair of underpants around with you. They’re pricey, so I need all my pairs in rotation, not riding around in my purse just in case. Plus I didn’t need to be dumping my emergency preparedness drawers on the table each time I needed my credit card or some lip balm.

And this is how I found myself digging around in my spare tire well looking for a pad. I’d totally spaced out on the fact that today was the start of my infrequent period week, and had therefore put on one of my usual pairs of Wonder Woman undies. The customary icepick stab to my abdomen that heralds the arrival of my period was the exact moment I realized I was without my magic underpants. (That sentence may cause this post to show up in a lot of weird porn searches.) Luckily, because I have a long history of being paranoid about leaks and also of not cleaning out my car, I found an Always square tucked away next to my first aid kit.

As I took my treasure back inside, I shook my head at myself. I turned 40 about a month ago. Shouldn’t I be past the point of stranding myself in public without period resources?

And then I tripped on the sidewalk and nearly fell on my face.

So, the lesson is, don’t criticize yourself while you’re walking, and never clean out your car.

Hypochondria Says Goodnight: A Play in One Act

Brain: Wasn’t that a lovely meditation? I’m ready to get in bed and read.

Shoulders: But we’re cranky. We don’t like relaxing. It’s unfamiliar and weird feeling.

Brain: Just settle down and I’ll start reading Harry Potter. We all like Harry Potter.

Shoulders: Oh yes we do.

Elbows: Oh very much!

Feet: We like the bit about the socks!

Brain: There you go. Ok, all settled in. “Yer a wizard, Harry!”

Jaw: Ahem.

Brain: Yes?

Jaw: I hurt.

Brain: What? Why?

Jaw: No clue. But I really fucking hurt. Like I’m thinking we got stabbed in the face? Did that happen?

Brain: No, I would have noticed that.

Boobs: No one’s been dripping blood on us. We think you’re good.

Jaw: Nope, pretty sure we got punched with a rock covered in razor blades. Right here on the right side. It’s so painful! Like, so painful, you can’t concentrate on that book.

Brain: Aw c’mon. Quit it. There’s no reason for you to be in pain. I just want to read!

Jaw: No, sorry. OW OW OW OW OW OW OW.

Brain: Fine. It’s nearly time to take our trazadone anyway. That should help.

Trazadone: Hi again folks, good to see you. I’ll be whisking us all to dreamland here shortly.

Jaw: OH MY LORD I’M GONNA IMPLODE WITH PAIN.

Brain: Didn’t I read once that jaw pain was a symptom of a cardiac event in women?

Heart: What now?

Brain: Yeah, totally a symptom. Are you acting normally?

Heart: Well, I’m beating at a regular rate. Or I was until you accused me of trying to kill us just now.

Brain: Well, I’m not the one having an event!

Heart: You’re the one having an event of stupidity.

Jaw: GAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I AM INVENTING NEW LEVELS OF PAIN

Reproductive System: Doubt it.

Trazadone: Ok, if we’re gonna fall asleep I’m gonna need you to simmer down, Jaw. Here.

Jaw: Oh that is better thanks.

Brain: Except we’re DYING NOW. We are CLEARLY having a heart attack and we are CLEARLY going to die!

Heart: Dude, I’m cool. Really.

Brain: NO YOU’RE A MURDERER

Jaw: I feel good. Let’s chew gum.

Trazadone: Hey hey hey there, Brain. Don’t your hands feel fluffy? Isn’t the bed so warm and snuggly? Don’t you just want to close your eyes and drift off?

Hands: Did he call us fluffy?

Brain: SHUT UP TRAZADONE NO I’M BUSY SHUFFLING OFF THIS MORTAL COIL

Trazadone: For fuck’s sake. You’re going to sleep now, mother fucker.

Brain: THE LAST WORDS I WILL EVER HEAR IN THIS LIFE ARE MOTHER FUCKER.

Heart: Apropos.

—-The Next Day—-

Brain: So um, hey everyone. We called the doctor and she said that all that pain was probably from stress. We do grind our teeth, and she said it’s probably what’s causing the pain, since we don’t have any other cardiac symptoms. So, nothing to worry about after all!

Heart: You were the only one who was worried.

Brain: No, I’m certain we were all quite concerned! It’s only logical to worry in such a situation. Totally normal.

Heart: You’re an idiot.

Brain: You’re a craphat.

Heart: You’re a pickle fucker.

Brain: You’re a clown anus.

Jaw: I hurt again!

 

El Fin

 

Sun Spots

Every year in January I try to get all my appointments out of the way. I hit up my doctor, my dentist, the gyno, and the eye doctor. It’s a simple way to stay on track with my health care, and it gives a bit of instant gratification to my annual “take better care of myself” goal setting.

I realized at my annual physical that it’d been five years since I’d been given a good once over for weird moles or rouge freckles. My skin tone is best described as clear. Google a picture of a baby manta ray and you’ll get a good likeness, not only of my skin tone, but also of the face I make if you wake me up in the middle of a nap. I’ve never been tan – the closest I come is getting enough freckles together in one spot that if you squint at me from a distance, I look a little darker. But I can burn in under 3 minutes. Plus, my family has some history of troubling skin spots. So I instituted a regular inspection appointment in 2000, and asked my doctor to check me over for areas of concern.

My GP gave me a cursory once over, said she didn’t see anything problematic, and offered me a referral to a dermatologist. I happily accepted and scheduled my appointment, quietly congratulating myself on being such a responsible and conscientious skin owner.

At the dermatologist, they asked me to strip down to my underpants and put on a stylish floral gown. The nurse then said that I was also free to remove my socks if I’d like the doctor to check the skin on my feet. “Wait – why wouldn’t I have her check my feet?” I asked, genuinely wondering if there was some secret dermatological protocol I’d be violating. “I dunno, some people don’t want their feet checked,” she responded, and excused herself, leaving me wondering why someone would be happy to let the doctor examine their butt crack and armpits for questionable lesions but would feel that exposing their feet was simply too personal.

The doctor came in and got to work, giving me my exam while seamlessly weaving together genuinely fun conversation with skin care tips. It was truly skillful. She went from making a joke about the weather to discouraging me from ever using spray sunscreen without missing a beat. They must practice on each other during slow times. “Ok now try to segue from your favorite hot dish recipe to a discussion on why rash guards are the best swimsuits. Go!”

After looking me over from my scalp to my scandalously exposed feet, she looked at me and said, “Ok, there’s a spot on your nose we need to treat. It’s a pre-cancerous spot and we can treat it right here in the office.” There was more after that but my brain had seized up and refused to keep up with her. The word cancer strikes fear in the heart of any thinking person, and if you’ve witnessed loved ones fight that particular demon, there’s an especially sharp edge to that terror. She must have caught the look in my eyes, because she paused her charming patter to reassure me that it was just a small spot, wasn’t yet a problem, and that she could treat it and it wouldn’t become an issue. I thanked her, and then asked if she wouldn’t like to recheck the rest of my body because holy fuck. She laughed and said that nothing else looked problematic at all, but that they’d bring me back in next year to take another look, and I could always come in if I thought something looked funny. She then asked if I’d like to have the spot treated that day. I said yes before she even finished the sentence. “Are you sure? Do you have any big events coming up, like a wedding you’re in, or a big presentation? The treatment will leave a red mark that will be there for a couple weeks, and it may blister,” she said. “Please to get the cancer off my face. Now. Please,” I responded.

Which is how I came to be looking down the barrel of a liquid nitrogen gun. She warned me that it was going to hurt, and that I should hold very still. She then shot my nose for a few seconds and told me to flip over so she could check my back. I was stunned that that was it. It wasn’t even all that painful.

I passed the rest of my exam with flying colors, and made my follow up appointment for next January. To be honest, I felt pretty wigged out for the rest of the day. (The kids are still saying wigged out, right?) Despite my hypochondriatic leanings, I didn’t suspect she’d actually find anything. I’m not even 40 yet, and I’m pretty dedicated to my sunscreen regimen. And my GP hadn’t noticed the spot, despite it being front and center on my face. I spent the rest of the day feeling happy that I had dodged a bullet and scared that I had been shot at in the first place.

So take advantage of your sunscreen dear readers, and stay on top of your health. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to invent a vat I can use to dip my daughter in SPF 100 every morning.

IUDon’t

So several weeks ago I posted a chipper little piece on how I was enjoying my new uterine accessory, the Mirena IUD.

Oh 20/20 hindsight, aren’t you a peach.

Several days after posting that piece I began to acknowledge that I hadn’t taken a deep breath in several days. I thought, well, I am super stressed out about the upcoming relocation, move away from all my friends and familiar places, etc. But as the days passed it got worse and worse. I actually had a couple full on anxiety attacks, which I haven’t had in years. But I kept shaking my head and saying, wow whee! I sure am stressed out by life!

In addition to the lack of breathing and anxiety attacks, I was also having memory problems, trouble sleeping, and a constant case of the sweats. Day by day, my existence was getting less and less enjoyable, mostly due to my mental state. It was all I could do to act normal around other people most of the time, although I was primarily concerned with not losing my crap in front of L. No 2 year old dealing with all the upheaval that was going on in our lives at that time needs her mom to suddenly start clutching at her throat and crying because she can’t breathe. I have always excelled at keeping myself together for the benefit of other people so that made the day to day a bit better. But even as I felt worse and worse and more and more anxious, I just kept thinking, well hopefully after the move is over I will feel better! I mean, even though I feel worse now than I felt about either of my parents dying, I’m sure I’ll perk up once we’re all settled in at the new place! (Insert crazed laughter here.)

And although I am certain that there was a lot of stress going on because of the move, it wasn’t until R was reading an article about potential side effects of IUDs that scared him a bit that it dawned on me that all of the insanity going on in my body might not be naturally occurring. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that the overwhelming emotional crisis I was having might be artificially induced, or heightened. Amazing what you can not see about your own situation, isn’t it? So I made an appointment to have the IUD removed.

And within 24 hours of the removal I was feeling almost like my old self again. It was amazing. There was still stress, sure, but I was handling it as well as I normally do, instead of having chest pains and shallow breathing and the absolute certainty that I was going to drop dead. I returned to my normal amount of sweaty, and no longer had to pretend like I was keeping it together – I (mostly) actually was.

So the moral of the story is don’t forget that you have a hormone laced plastic insert in your uterus when you start feeling terrible 24/7. This may not be the most universally applicable moral, but my name isn’t Aesop so you’ll just have to take it or leave it. I’m too busy enjoying the sensation of being able to take a deep breath to care.

Me and My IUD

Our daughter is the light of my life. My husband and I adore her more than words can say. But we are a one child type of family. And I’m either just so constantly enthralled by the very deepest mysteries of the universe or so tired and forgetful that I have gotten a little, shall we say, flexible with the taking of my birth control pill. Several friends of mine had given their IUDs rave reviews, so I decided that perhaps something that did not require daily attention was a good idea for me. I made the appointment and immediately began psyching myself out about how painful the procedure would be. Remember, the last time something traveled through my cervix it was about as enjoyable as gobbling up glass shards covered in sriracha, so I was a bit gun shy about the whole idea.

Having received no warnings from my midwife to pre-comfort myself with ibuprofen, bring a friend to drive me home, or make sure my living will was on file, I guessed that the procedure was not a big deal. Still, I was a bit amused by the regularness of the whole thing. No special room, no special gown, no lecture from the nurse about after care. I felt the occasion was a bit of a milestone – a reversible milestone, but still a marker of the end of my reproducing years. An acceptance and official recognition that I will never again sniff a fresh baby head that I made, mix up a bottle of formula of my choosing, or try to negotiate a breastfeeding attempt at 3am with an infant who feels very strongly that no matter what we try it is all wrong and terrible. As you can guess, some of these things made me a bit sad, and some of these things were a big relief.

The first step of an IUD insertion is having your uterus sounded. I happened to know what sounding means, as during a wine fueled evening of raucous laughter with R and some of our best friends, we got into one of those conversational tangents that led to an Incognito-Mode exploration of some of the more hilariously NSFW sites online, and discovered the wide world of medical fetishism. Evidently some people derive pleasure from having the depths of their urinary or reproductive organs measured by way of insertion of a metal stick with markings. My personal experience was almost completely unnoticed by yours truly, as I asked how long it would take and my midwife replied that she had finished already.

The point of this exercise in this case was to determine how long to cut the strings that hang off of the IUD, through the cervix, and into your vagina. After all, you don’t want danglers. But they have to be long enough for you to check that they are still there every month, so you know that your IUD hasn’t perforated your uterus and gone wandering around your body, wearing socks with sandals and stopping to take tourist photos on busy sidewalks. Or giving you sepsis. The most disturbing part of this is that evidently you can’t feel it when an IUD perforates. Notifying you that there has been a perimeter breach is not high on the list of things to do for the average uterus.

Once the IUD has had its haircut, it’s insertion time! This process takes about thirty seconds, and for me, was about as painful as a hard pinch. Then it was pants on and pay up time.

I went home and spent the rest of the day having pretty bad cramps, which they said was normal. I think this is why they want you to be on your period when they place the IUD – all the cramps just blend together and by the time the week is over it’s all a hazy menstrual memory.

It’s been a couple weeks at this point and I’ve had no issues so far. I still sometimes stop and wait to see if I’ve managed to sneeze hard enough to dislodge it. Have to keep yourself entertained somehow.

Boombalatty

Our office is definitely food friendly. On Fridays, you can spot a delivery person trying to balance a couple dozen bagels, a bag of cream cheese tubs and sugar packets, and boxes of coffee while summoning the elevator in the lobby, and know that Our Lady of Free Breakfast has once again blessed the last day of the work week. We have a company sponsored happy half hour at 4:30 on Fridays too, complete with beer and snacks. That’s all on top of the supply of pop, granola bars, Sun Chips, and nuts available anytime in the kitchen. And on Cinco De Mayo, they bring in Moe’s to cater a south of the boarder themed lunch.

On the Monday morning following Cinco De Mayo this year, the kitchen at work was busting. Leftover taco bowls, half bagels, and salsa sat out on the counter. Everywhere you looked there were crumbs on the floor and half empty sacs of nacho chips. The fridge was nothing but abandoned condiments.

I walked in to get my usual morning Diet Coke and a colleague was standing, surveying the mess.

He turned to me and said, “I wonder if a fat person would see all this and think this is a hostile work environment.” He then made the universal face of someone waiting for someone else to laugh at a joke. The one that combines expectation, flinching, and enough innocence to try to play it off as a serious comment if things go south on the receiving end.

I was frozen for a second, before I cracked a smile and replied with an observation about how we had enough leftover nachos that they could write the compliant on chips. I snagged my pop and returned to my desk and was surprised to find myself thinking, wow, what a relief. He can’t think I’m fat because he wouldn’t have made that comment to me if he did.

Now, to clarify, this particular individual isn’t my secret office crush or one of the super popular kids at work. He’s not someone whose opinion matters to me, generally speaking. But he’s a person, with eyes, who evidently doesn’t classify me as fat. And the amount of relief I felt at that was surprising. And then upsetting. Because why do I care if this practically random person thinks I am fat or not? And let’s be honest – my brain was pretty much manufacturing evidence that he doesn’t think I’m fat. Maybe he asked because he was looking to me as a representative of People of Size to grant him permission to make such jokes.

My weight is an extremely weird topic in my head. I swing wildly from one side where I am proud of my curves and my doctor says I’m healthy, and it’s not like I am rotund! To the other side where nothing fits, I hate how I look in pictures, my knees hurt, and no one in the world has ever weighed more than I do so excuse me while I go buy stock in muumuus and plus size caskets.

Sitting at my desk, my Diet Coke slowly warming in my hand while I watched my emotional reaction from a startled distance, I was struck by two things. The first was that although I am able to recite every negative comment I have ever gotten about my weight or body as easily as I can recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I can’t recall any positive comments to save my life. It dawned on me that they must have happened, but my brain, rather than commit them to memory, sat by and watched as they went leaping off into the ether like little compliment laden lemmings. The second was, why do I freaking care what this random person thinks of my body? Why am I seeking out validation in some meaningless interaction with someone who carries no emotional weight in my life? Why can’t I be the fierce, proud, independent woman who doesn’t care a fig about what anyone thinks? Why can’t I realize that what matters is my own perspective, my own sense of worth, and the rest can be damned?

So, here I am saying it out loud – I’m overweight. And my body produced the most amazing child, and it takes care of my family and friends and has put up with a lot of crap over the years. No pun intended. And I don’t need to be skinny. I just need to be healthy, and at a size where I feel at peace with my body and mind.  And that goal sounds so much more realistic than a size 6.