Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Good news / bad news

195 pounds
Let's start with the bad news . . .

I spent Saturday night in the hospital because of complications relating to the fibroids that have decided to make their home in my gut.

(And as much as I wish these people were my doctors, alas, they were not.)

Lots of women—40% to be exact—have fibroids, but until I found out I had them, I had no idea what they were or how many of us were affected by them. Fibroids are "muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus" and are "almost always benign."*

Often, fibroids are harmless, but they can be uncomfortable and big, which is just another reason why it's ridiculous to hold adult women to the unreasonable standards of beauty that exist in our society.

I can't help it if my stomach is no longer flat! I have the uterus of a woman who is 14-weeks pregnant because of these fibroids, and what that means is that my pant size has gone up a size or two from my regular 14. Of course, I'm sensitive about my new little tummy, but what can I do? Like I said, this is a part of life for nearly half of all women, and if I let myself worry about something as silly as the number on my Gap jeans, I imagine I would have a pretty poor image of myself.

So the bad news is that I was in the hospital because of some pretty nasty pain that is being caused by my fibroids.

The good news is that even after the doctors and nurses found out how much I weigh (and interestingly didn't even blink at the number I told them), they spent a significant amount of time complimenting me on my health. They were impressed with my pulse, heart rate, and cholesterol levels; thrilled with my exercise routine and penchant for whole foods; and downright wowed by my Olympic athlete blood pressure—all of which they said is the result of my regular exercise.

I can't tell you how good that made me feel.

In many ways, I felt vindicated because I spend a good deal of my time trying to convince myself—trying to convince the world—that our self-esteem and health is not determined by a number on the scale or the size on our pants but rather by things like our blood pressure, our heart rate, our cholesterol count. And that we can and should feel good about ourselves even if we don't fit into the narrow American definition of beauty.

So when the people in the emergency room—the people who really do know better—repeatedly praised me for my healthy ways, I couldn't help but feel as if I had won a small but significant battle in my war on how we see ourselves.

It was a tiny but important triumph in an otherwise awful day.


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