Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tomorrow I am getting a Colonoscopy

(Should I have a safe word?)

I wrote this blog post on Sunday night, and scheduled it for Friday. Since then, I got really sick again. So I have a colonoscopy scheduled for tomorrow. I'm a little freaked out, but also hopeful that I'll actually get some answers! Say some prayers for me. Anyway. Here you go:

A couple weeks ago, after a long bought of pretty gross symptoms- I finally went to the doctor.
It's hard to go to the doctor when you're a mom, because you have to be really sick in order for the struggle to find a sitter (or the hassle of bringing your children with you) to be worth it.
And even though I'd been feeling sick on and off for about a year- it was never TOO sick or for TOO long. Every time I'd think, "Okay, it's time. I'm going in to the doctor this week" I'd recover and feel fine again and decide I didn't really want to go to the doctor after all.
I'm being vague, because my troubles were... Gastric and digestive in nature. And thereby, totally gross.
And yet I finally went and sat in a waiting room, and then a nurse led me back to the doctors office and had me step on a scale in the hallway. The scale flashed in kilograms and not pounds.
"What's my weight, then?" I asked.
"114 pounds," said the nurse. She said it so casually, without even looking up.
And I felt sick. Crippling, panic-induced nausea washed over me.
One hundred and fourteen pounds.
The only acceptable reason for me to weigh so little is because I am dying.
She told me my weight and I suddenly became much more worried about my health.

I am five foot, seven inches.
When I graduated high school I weighed between 120-125. When I was 20 years old and got married, I was 145ish. (Hello, Freshman 15... Or 20. Come on in, stay awhile.)
At my most-pregnant, I was about 165, and in between pregnancies I've stayed between 125-130.
There you go.
Those are my weights.
It is horrible and weird, personal and frightening to share your weight with other people- even when you're thin.
Sometimes I feel guilty telling people my weight because I'm thin, since I'm pretty sure it's just genetics. 
It's true I don't drink alcohol (or really even soda), and I don't eat fast food. But I do eat a lot of homemade bread and butter, freshly baked cakes and cookies, and I try to avoid all exercise at all costs.
But I haven't weighed 114 since I was fifteen years old.
That's anorexic teenager weight. That's unacceptable for child-bearing mothers who are making milk and hauling toddlers.
I don't actually know what's wrong yet, but I don't think you should be too worried. I was given an extremely broad range of possibilities from Krohns and cancer on down to parasites and salmonella (with things like Celiacs and thyroid troubles in the middle).
But my doctor did say that essentially, I'm malnourished. Despite eating, my body is starving. I'm not taking in nutrients the way I should and am wasting away.
He said all these things, and he said the words "114 pounds" and he told me I haven't been getting my period, not because I'm growing a tiny person- but because I can't even take care of my own person.
And I know all those things are true. I know that they are facts.

And then, I look in the mirror and I think "This is the thinnest you've ever been, it is gross. It's unhealthy. You look sallow. I want to be a healthy weight, I want to weigh 130- but I don't want to be fatter than this."
I went hiking with my baby strapped to my back and I felt tired and weak while I climbed up a mountain and yet, I also found myself looking down at where the straps from the baby carrier normally cut into the flesh of my stomach and thinking "Look at how flat your stomach is. That's awesome."
These thoughts are contradictory. It doesn't even make sense that I can think them at the same time.
How can I possibly know and understand that I am unhealthy, that I can't have more children until this is fixed, that I NEED to gain weight, and yet be afraid and kind of grossed out by gaining weight?

For the record, I don't suffer from anorexia or bulimia- but over the last few weeks as I've processed my new sickly-information, I started to understand these women who want to be thin so badly that they let themselves be sick- because I experienced a new fear of getting fat. Of being ordered by my doctor to eat double the amount of food I normally take in, and understanding and agreeing that I needed to do that, but also being grossed out.
and honestly, it makes me mad.

I feel angry at a society that tells women that we should be unhealthy, that the physical ideals that we hold are more important than being capable and strong.
I didn't realize that I was even influenced by these stupid societal rules, because I'm self-confident. Because I see other women who are strong, healthy, and not thin and I think "You're gorgeous. You're amazing." I have never felt uncomfortable in my own skin- whether I was 165 and hugely pregnant or 120 and skinny-mini.
But the truth is, maybe I didn't care about societal norms, because I basically fit them. Tall and thin? Yep.
I don't need to be depressed when I see magazine covers because I am shaped like those women. Sure, my breasts are tiny and wrinkled from nursing, but big breasts are a pain and at least my thighs don't touch.
What is wrong with us? Why do women do this to themselves? Even now, writing this, I feel afraid of the response that it could get- because I know there are probably women who wish they got sick and lost 20 pounds. I feel afraid of gaining weight, I feel afraid of being the weight that I am.

We actually don't own a scale, and never have.
We might have gotten one at our wedding, but it was promptly returned to the store.
I don't care what my weight is. Not really.
Or maybe, I do care- and know I shouldn't, so I deprive myself of the means of weighing myself.
But whatever the reason, I've tried hard to never determine my self worth by those numbers. 

I want to be happy. I want to be comfortable in my own skin.
I want people to stop declaring "real women have curves." And to stop telling me "You look amazing, you're so thin!" when I actually look kind of sickly. Just let everybody be their own weight without commentary!

I almost never see people and think "She could do with losing a few pounds" or any variance on that.
Our own worst critics are ourselves. The only people holding us to society's demands are ourselves. And I want to be healthy. I want to be strong. I want to carry my baby up a mountain. I want to grow another person. I want to run and not be weary, walk and not faint.
And that is more important than my weight. It is more important for me to be strong than to be able to squeeze into my skinniest jeans.
I wanted to share this, even though it's uncomfortable and a bit damning, so that you know- it doesn't matter what your body looks like, we all still feel this way. We all still feel like we are not thin enough, like we don't look the way we expected. I weigh less than I did when I went to junior prom and I still feel stressed about gaining weight back that I had just a few months ago.
And honestly, this blog is my sounding board, because when I write all these things down- I'm not afraid anymore. When I get my feelings written down in all their contradictory glory, I can look objectively and say, "Oh, right. That's crazy talk."
And when I have people reading and commenting and saying "You go girl!" I feel stronger and better and more capable. It holds me accountable to make the right choice with my body.

But I can do this.
And we, as women, can do this. We can fix it.
We can choose to be healthy and strong over having weak, socially acceptable bodies. We can teach our children to love themselves by not insulting our own shapes or theirs.
I am going to show my kids, it doesn't matter what the numbers on the scale say: I will find the best, healthiest version of myself and I will be her. (As long as that version doesn't have to run and is allowed to make chocolate cakes.)

I will give myself pep-talks like this blog post every time I am not living up to my ideals. And when I am afraid of gaining weight (or losing weight) I will look at my strong, amazing, beautiful girl friends who are phenomenal mothers, sisters, friends and try to be more like them. Because those are the societal requirements I wish I was expected to live up to.


Suki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I can't even remember how I first found your blog but I'm so glad I did! You are brave and honest and it's the best. Let me be the first to say on this post... you go girl! I think every woman is probably able to relate to a lot of these thoughts every once in a while. Hope you start feeling healthier soon. And, eat an extra slice of bread for me!

Elizabeth said...

I hope they figure out what is wrong and that you can begin the process of healing. If you need anything, I'm an email or phone call away. I love you my dear. You are beautiful no matter how you look because what truly matters is the beauty of your soul and you have a beautiful soul.

Julie Wilding said...

You describe that so well—I had mono in college and became super underweight and while grossed out and scared, I was also so delighted in my flat tummy. How crazy is it to be a woman. Ugh. I hope that whatever they find is quick to fix and that you'll be feeling better soon! Thanks for writing openly about this. It's nice to know someone else feels that struggle. Yes, you find all women beautiful in their own bodies, but also, yes, you're in some weird way happy to be so thin. Blegh. We're so....brainwashed!!

The Stanley's said...

I love you.

Unknown said...

Thank you for being so honest and open about this issue! I've dealt with similar conflicts in the past, and I can totally relate to how you're feeling. And...I had to get a colonoscopy last year for similar reasons. The bright side: it wasn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be (but maybe that was because I finally had a pseudo-medical reason to eat nothing but bread for days)!

MARCIE said...

Good luck with all of this Becky. I know it is all very stressful. I'm glad your doctor is taking you seriously and taking action. Love you!

Unknown said...

I'll keep you in my thoughts. It's amazing that when you share these personal type of things, we just feel more love for you.

Liz said...

Hi, I don't think I've ever commented before. But I really appreciate you sharing these thoughts. First, I hope that it is nothing major and that you are able to get relief from what is bothering you. I'm glad your doctor is taking things seriously! Second, I recently have had a similar experience. I have lost weight (not trying, I was surprised when it happened because I was thin before) and I am amazed at people commenting on it. There is a woman at church that comments on how I am wasting away every time I see her. It is uncomfortable and I am not sure why she thinks it is her business to comment on my weight loss just as I would not comment on anyone's weight gain. Weight is such a tricky thing! Third, my perspective of weight loss changed this year when I had a young mom friend (her youngest was 15 months) was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Oh what she would give to be healthy. I don't say this to scare you but to agree with you that being thin shouldn't be viewed as better than weighing more, because sometimes it is a symptom of something very wrong.
Wishing you the best!

Jena said...

I loved this, Becky. Though I'm on the other end of the weight spectrum, I feel like I have those same thoughts all the time. Hope you feel better -- I'll be thinking of you tomorrow!

Jill said...

I read your blog regularly but don't know if I have commented. I have nine month old twins and my body is still so flabby and I feel so badly about it! My husband told me the other day that I should be setting a healthy example for my daughters and not dieting and putting myself down so much. Easier said than done but I'm going to try to do better. I will keep you in my prayers while you await your results. Thank you for sharing. You're a great writer and a great mom!

Emily said...

I went through a similar experience a few years ago when I began to inexplicably lose weight and feel sick. At my lowest I weighed in at 92 pounds, which I didn't even think was possible for me to weigh without dying. But there I was. It was scary, and I felt uncomfortable talking to people about it because they all said I should just be grateful that I was skinny and not fat. But long story short, some amazing doctors figured out what was wrong, and now I'm back at a healthy weight, I was able to get pregnant again and have a healthy baby, and my body is stronger and healthier than it ever has been before. So take heart! Heavenly Father has never let you down before, and he won't let you down now. And someday you'll look back on this experience and realize that it made you so grateful for the blessing that is your body. Good luck! I'm rooting for you.

Unknown said...

One of my favorite quotes with weight is: "What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? Chances are it has nothing to do with the numbers on the scale."
So sorry you are sick! I truly hope you get some answers. Great post. I love your confidence. It is hard for me to have confidence but I truly have been trying to change. I feel like low self esteem it is one of Satan's tools he uses to make us miserable like him and I refuse to let him win!

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