I just got back to J’s house after attending a conference at the Gaylord Hotel in the National Harbor. I had been somewhat excited about the conference and somewhat scared of it – lots of people I needed to see, a few must-be-at moments and a lot of social interaction that I am technically not that comfortable with. This event is huge in our industry and it was the first time I was invited to attend as a full participant.
When I got there, I remembered how big the hotel is, how much walking is involved to get from point A to point B and how warm it is in Aug in DC. The hotel common areas are beautiful – an open air atrium that looks out over the Potomac is not to be missed. But it also means that the open air areas are fairly humid…and when you go upstairs it gets worse.
From the first day, I could not breathe. I have asthma and the weight intensifies the issues – I am so out of shape, that I lose my breath easily on a good day. But this was a “my chest hurts from trying so hard to breathe”, “sit down anytime you see a chair”, “can’t go 50 yards from my room to the elevator” kind of not being able to breathe. I even had hotel staff come up to me several times to ask if I was ok cause I looked like I was going to pass out trying to get back to my room.
I felt helpless. I felt embarrassed. I felt out of control. And I felt panicky. My anxiety level was through the roof. And that made my breathing worse as I tried to calm my air flow down so I would stop wheezing. I told my boss I felt guilty – I did all that I had to do, but not a lot of what else I was expected to do. I worried about having to call for help last night as I desperately tried to breathe normally.
Last nights even was one I was expected to be at and I was sort of looking forward to it. A ride on a yacht on the Potomac with my clients and co-workers. But I had to ask my boss for a pass. I just couldn’t risk it. I left that little meeting in tears trying to not feel like a total failure of an employee.
This morning my boss and I met for breakfast and he said a few things that are really sticking with me right now. He said he was afraid I would use work as an excuse to put off the surgery. He said that he and all of the rest of my co-workers and management were pulling for me to get better. And that I HAD TO TAKE CARE OF MYSELF. And whether I got healthy was the only thing that mattered.
I count myself as so lucky to have found a place like this where they are really concerned with my well being – not just my output.
But all of this has really brought to my attention just how far my health has fallen since I moved to Orange. Its not the fact that I moved. Its the fact that what little exercise I was getting is no longer. I no longer have to walk to and from my car at home or at the office to get somewhere everyday. I no longer have to walk from my desk to the printer when I need to print something. I no longer have to leave my house for days at a time. I don’t climb steps ever if I don’t want to anymore.
Most importantly, I eat by myself – always the most dangerous for me. It used to be I would eat in my car if I wanted to eat alone. Now, I don’t have to do that – I can just sit in my apartment and eat until I can’t eat anymore. Most days I don’t. Most days I skip meals (which is just as bad) and then binge on a large meal when I decide I am hungry. Or I graze all day on little nothing foods that are good but not good for me.
This week – late as you can imagine – I felt like I had eaten myself to the point of death. As I struggled to move, to breathe even, I thought this is what I have come to. And I wished for the first time for a scooter or a wheelchair to take me around. I thought I was doing all of this to avoid needing that, but really that time has passed. It is here now. And I need to own up to the mistakes, the failures, the self-loathing and the mess I have made and get real.
I am not just fat. I am morbidly obese – a phrase I have always hated but finally felt this was the appropriate phrase this week. It is easy to see it in others – easy to dismiss in yourself.
I am sitting here with tears rolling down my face as I come to terms with the disregard in which I have treated myself for so long. And now I have to find a way out of it….