My voluptuous pear shape is common among the women in my family. But our trademark big thighs and wide hips showed up early on my adolescent body, worrying parents who questioned doctors about how their toddlers got cellulite.
“When she loses weight, it goes away.” That’s the consensus reaction of the medical community as I tried Weight Watchers, Herbalife, Summer Fat Camp, and many other diets before I hit puberty. None of them gave long lasting results.
I entered my teenage years determined to “adjust to society.” I forced myself to keep up with my friend’s stride and not sway too much or walk too heavily.determined not to that fat kid. I danced and worked out at home for hours on end, pissing off her mother who was under my room.
But as the years went by, I started to feel pain. As a teenager, it was painful for me, who used to push things to the back of my head to avoid embarrassment. But when I got to high school, it became intolerable.
When I finally discussed this with my doctor, he told me that my body was carrying an extra weight “like a backpack” and that the pain would go away if I took it off. I felt like my doctor hadn’t taken the time to properly assess my condition, but I tried fad diets and ended up gaining more weight than I lost.
By college and early adulthood, I had given up hope and decided to succeed despite my weight. I went too far in trying to prove that fat people aren’t lazy. I ate very few sweets, avoided bread, and skipped meals religiously. I was obsessed with not wanting the world to see that I was “pretending to be fat.” I refused to talk about my pain.
“Laugh and endure” became my roar. On the surface I looked happy, but on the inside I was living a miserable life and was afraid to tell anyone how bad my pain was and how tired and heavy my body was. I knew their reaction. “If you lose weight, you’ll be fine.”
“I ate very little sweets, avoided bread, and skipped meals religiously. I refused to talk about my pain. “
they didn’t understand. I couldn’t do that. This fat is different. This fat was painful, and diet and exercise didn’t help.
Now frustrated and less mobile, I quietly started searching the internet for answers. I knew I couldn’t be the only one experiencing this. I needed help, but the medical community in general did little more than judge. At times, what they offered felt more like an insult than help.
“You’re a pretty girl. You have to lose weight, get an education, and create something out of yourself.” (I have a 3rd degree.)
“Other than being morbidly obese, there is nothing wrong with me. All I have to eat is a little lettuce and half a boiled egg without dressing.”
“I know you’re here for a urinary tract infection, but I’m here to talk to you about losing weight.”
These are some of the things the medical community told me when I was looking for answers for my pain. Doctors often ridiculed me for trying to explain how my diet affected my body. Desperate, I followed the advice of a medical professional and opted for weight loss surgery. As a result, I lost weight in my upper body. My lower body kept getting bigger and my mobility kept getting worse.
I’m exhausted. My last resort was a failure. It has become very difficult to make a living. Driving became dangerous, work became nearly impossible, and pain permeated every part of my life, even my sleep. That’s when the doctor finally agreed that it might be lymphedema that was affecting my limbs.
Lymphoedema is swelling caused by blockage or overload of the lymphatic system, resulting in accumulation of lymph fluid in certain areas. This diagnosis was just the beginning of understanding what my body was going through, too late in my journey.
After a month of lymphedema treatment, I was completely immobile, and have been working hard to get it back ever since. But this was the beginning of getting the answers I really needed. I was fortunate enough to meet several specialist doctors and therapists who were able to diagnose my condition quickly and accurately. It was lipedema.
“Now the diagnosis. Finally, hope. Finally, I didn’t feel like the doctor was looking at me with scathing judgment and ridicule.”
according to Lipedema Foundation“Liposedema is a chronic medical condition characterized by a symmetrical accumulation of adipose tissue (fat) in the legs and arms. May cause mild symptoms with an abnormal texture in the fat that feels like rice, peas, or walnuts under the surface of the skin Pain can range from no pain at all It can be severe and may be constant in frequency or occur only when the pain is gone or when the fat is compressed.Public awareness of lipedema is limited and is not supported by research. The lack of effective treatment can lead to worsening symptoms as well as physical and emotional distress.Common symptoms include fatigue, muscle aches and bruising.”
Lastly is diagnosis. Finally, there is hope. Finally, I didn’t feel like the doctor was looking at me with scathing judgment and ridicule. Someone understood that just losing weight wouldn’t make the pain go away and that my fat wasn’t normal.
They understood that I had gone through a lot to get my diagnosis and helped me learn how to care for my body with lipedema. More specifically, I have lipolymphedema, lipoedema advanced enough to affect the lymphatic system as well. It’s late, but it’s never too late to start making positive changes.
Lipedema is known to be resistant to diet and exercise therapy. Studies have suggested that bariatric surgery may reduce total fat mass, but this fat mass reduction may result in decreased volume in areas affected by lipedema and other symptoms such as pain. Less likely to relieve symptoms.
I started learning techniques to help my lymphatic system. Certain foods and exercises have more positive effects on the body than others. It turns out that certain activities cause more stress on the body than others. I’m learning to care for my lipedema body as a whole instead of just focusing on weight loss.
But what about the rest? Will “just lose weight” eliminate mental damage?
Shaking off your inner critic is just as difficult as getting rid of an addiction. I blame myself for every “cheat day”, every day I can’t go to the gym, every time my stamina doesn’t last as long as a petite person. I have to deliberately change the internal conversation to remind myself that I am a person battling a medical condition.
I’m more focused on dealing with lipedema than losing weight.i am also focused Connect with others who are treating or suffering from the same illness. This has resulted in the most sustainable weight loss ever. But the most important result was finally getting hope.
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