At this exact moment (when I started this post) I am about two hours away from my yearly annual physical. When I was younger, smaller, (and at least appeared healthier) I never even thought twice about going to the doctor. I just went. Now I dread it and I know that my size has something to do with this feeling. Think about it, going to the doctor means sitting in the waiting room with random people looking at you and you can't help but think that they are trying to figure out why you are there. Not only that, but the paranoid Derek in my brain is of course thinking that they think I wouldn't need to be here if I would just lose weight. Then there are those two dreaded steps atop the horrid scale with it's big judgy numbers spitting proof that I am BIIIG. Quantifying my fat for statistical analysis. Sigh. I hate the scale at the doctors office lol. I hate seeing the nurse write it down on my forms then enter into the system. I hate that, that number represents so much to so many and I hate that I myself give it such weight (no pun intended... well maybe a little lol). I hate that we live in a world that looks at a few physical characteristics about a person- weight, height, skin color, build/shape and determines what (if anything) that person is worthy of. I also hate the tests, the blood pressure screening, the blood work, all waiting to possibly tell me that I am fat and it's causing some health problems for me.
No amount of body positivity combats the very real health risks of being overweight. I BS & MS degrees in science- I know the preventable problems caused by being over weight- high blood pressure, diabetes, gallbladder issues, heart disease, random body/joint pain, certain cancers, arthritis, sleep apnea, and many others. With the fear of all of these potential diagnosis in my brain I don't want to go! UGH!!!!! Buuuuut, I know that I have to go. I am honestly experiences some feelings of anxiety- UGH AGAIN! I've tried to talk myself out of going... but my prescriptions have expired and I NEEDzzz my medicine so I'm going. Besides, 'tis better to face my fears than punk out. UGh the third time! I'll be back after my appointment.
Done. I survived. It wasn't that bad.
Admittedly, I have had bad experiences in doctors offices in the past. I've been to an office with tiny exam tables, uncomfortably tight chairs with tight armrests in the waiting room, and health professionals that were harsh and crass and mean. Besides these trauma echoes, I fear hearing that I have something that can't be reversed because of my weight, mainly high blood pressure and diabetes. Four years ago at only 57 my father had a stroke. Additionally, my maternal grandfather has been diabetic my whole life. These facts concerns me to no end. So I can't help but think that at anytime the doctor is going to tell me I have an issue that I have brought on myself because I have little discipline over my eating habits. So whenever I go to the doctor I spend the entire appointment waiting for someone to say, "you really need to lose weight..."
Today's appointment wasn't too bad. I weight 10lbs less than I did at last year's physical exam (good thing). The nurse who took my vitals also complemented my cologne and bracelets (yay YaTamu- Buy some here lol). When she took my blood pressure tho she told me- It's slightly elevated- 145/87 (STAGE ONE HYPERTENSION!) I ALMOST FAINTED. The first thing that the doctor asked me about was the blood pressure- "have you ever had an elevated blood pressure before? " Nope, I told him. "Hmmmm did you run in here or anything? Were you running late?" He asked. "Well... kinda," I replied. "I'm actually really nervous I've been worrying about hearing bad news." He asked why, I said- "because I'm fat!" (lol I mean straight no chaser). He then told me that I should just calm down and they would check it a few more times before I left. They did. Three more. 125/82 and around 120/80 the other two times. Wheeeew! no hypertension.
Diabetes... that's another story. I am what you call- pre-diabetic. My A1C is elevated, but not in the diabetic range yet. So I have to take meds so that I do not become diabetic. Which sucks because I don't want to be a diabetic in part because I don't want to have to take medication. Furthermore, pre-diabetic is not a healthy range. It means, negro diabetes is knocking on the door and you need to reverse this- OR ELSE! So, I take metformin, twice a day and it helps me stay non "diabetical." The doctor told me that if I lose some weight and eat right (watch my carb intake) I may be able to need less of the meds if any at all. He asked me about my physical activity- I told him I exercise 3-4 times a week for 45mins to 90mins at a time. He said that makes sense and explains why my blood pressure and other numbers where good. However, he explained that while I may be in pretty good shape now as I get older (and I do plan on getting older- it's better than the alternative) my weight will make it less and less easy for me to have healthy numbers. This made me feel good because I DO plan on being healthier... but I still felt some type of way about the other thing I needed to bring up to him... sleep apnea.
As I sleep during the night I don't get enough oxygen because my throat obstructs my breathing to the point that at times I actually stop breathing. When this happens, after several seconds my body is like... "Negro wake up before you die!" and I jerkily wake and immediately go back to sleep. I shared this information with my doctor who then asked me to open my mouth and stick out my tongue. As soon as he looked down my throat he said, "yeah, your tongue is probably obstructing your breathing too." He then proceeded to show me an image of four different pictures of various wide open mouths with the tongue exposing varying amounts of the back of the throat. My tongue is the worst example of the obstructive sleep apnea tongue issue- in other words my fat ass tongue is hindering me from breathing at night while I sleep. This can cause great fatigue, going to sleep at the drop of a dime during the day, and eventually lead to a bunch of health issues. However, For me the biggest issue is shame. Even though my doctor said that 1/2 the people with sleep apnea have it because of genetics and are not over weight, and that 1/2 the people with it are- I can't help but feel that my weight is the reason why I now have to have a sleep study and will likely have to sleep with a mask on at night so that I can breath. sigh. Ain't nothing sexy, cute, or classic man XL fly about a freaking mask and breathing machine lol. But, In the meantime I must do what I have to do. My doctor told me that if I lose weight I may not need the machine anymore. Perhaps this is further motivation.
All in all, I had a pretty good appointment. The chairs in the waiting room were nice and big (they did have some tight ones, but you can tell whomever ordered the furniture made sure that there were some for all body shapes/types). The only uncomfortable chair moment I had was in the phlebotomy room because they had me sit on a stool thingy that didn't even offer enough space for 1/2 of my wide ass. But I survived. The phlebotomist was also interesting because she was hitting on me before she took my blood (that's a big ego boost for my almost "diabtical" about to have to wear a mask at night ass lol). My doctor gave me some good advice, and really I was the only one who brought up my weight- perhaps it was because I wanted to control how it came up.
Sadly, no matter how confident I am, or how much I love myself and my tall thick body, I know that I need to be healthier. I just need to remind myself that health for me may never look like a tall thin man with a 6-pack and those D'angelou how does it feel video muscles in the front lol. I mean just the other day I was playing basketball with guys 10+ years younger than me and they were breathing all hard, bent over, and couldn't focus because they were so out of breath, "Do you need a break? You tired?" they asked me because I was the oldest one on the court. "Dang! Why am I in better shape than you all?" I thought. The answer of course is because I workout. Stair machine, walk/run in the park, elliptical machine, treadmill, stationary bike, or swimming. Those 20 somethings looked at me- tall, big belly, glasses, and thought what many others thing- out of shape. While I may jiggle when I run, I usually don't breathe hard lol. Or if I do it takes a lot to get me there... To that end, I know that I can get healthier (reduce my risk of diabetes and other preventable issues) if I eat healthier more consistently and workout intelligently. Admittedly, I now workout simply because I don't want to gain weight- I am changing this mentality. I also plan to practice self-discipline by eating better so that I can slim down. My initial goal is a modest one- just 10% of my current weight. How much is that? None of your damn business lol.
There is a thin line between honoring and appreciating every lump on this big sturdy body of mine, and being healthy and ensuring a long quality of live. No matter how difficult, I will find the balanceI will find the balance and be a better me