Here is what I know now. Being obese is an external symptom of an internal turmoil.
Unlike an alcoholic who can many times mask his or her problem with a fine linen suit and a breath mint, or the pearly-tooth grin of a man who goes home at night and slaps his wife around, the fat person wears their problem where all can see it and be judged accordingly and immediately. My weight loss was a "side effect" of regaining my worth, of rediscovering my value. It was no longer a struggle to control what I ate. It came naturally to me. I was valued by others and in turn valued myself. I was being loved and nurtured by faceless strangers. In a world where you are given levels of worth dependent on first impressions, these friends accepted who I was based on my mind and soul. The anonymity of the computer gave me access to a world that would've just as well have left me alone, alone to die. But I did not.

There are many people today who languish alone behind closed doors in the same condition I found myself not so long ago. They are in terrible physical and emotional distress. The medical community has few methods of reaching out to these souls in any meaningful sense. There are a few facilities scattered around the states, both public and private that have in-house programs to deal with the morbidly obese, but these are cost-prohibitive to most that are in need of them. Allow me to relate a case I am personally aware of.

A couple of years ago, a hospital in my area had heard my story and asked me to come speak to a weight loss group that they sponsored. I had lost about 300 pounds at that point. I got a lot of positive feedback from the attendees and soon thereafter the nurse in charge of the group asked if I could go visit a person who was homebound in a nearby town. This woman also weighed in the area of 700 pounds. The nurse had received a call from the fire department, as they had been called to this woman's home when she had fallen on the floor and was unable to get back up on her own. The fireman was concerned enough with what he saw to ask for further help for this lady. I have found that emergency workers and fire personnel are the exception to the rule when it comes to compassion. I was always treated with as much dignity as possible by these brave and loving human beings.

I told the nurse that I would be happy to go visit this woman for support, but asked her to really listen to what she was asking me to do. She was requesting a civilian go "support" a person with grave medical and emotional needs, a person that would surely die if she didn't have serious intervention in some form. There was a long pause on the line. She admitted that it was so and that it was as frustrating for her as it was for me.
© Nancy Makin, February 20, 2006


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