“See that lady there? She looks like she has a baby inside her”.
“I’m sorry, we can’t cater for you here”.
“You might not fit”.
“I always thought fat people would smell. You know, because of the rolls you all have”.
Before I moved to Newcastle, I loved the gym. Particularly weight training. Loved it. It was my happy place.
Not long after I moved here, I fell down a flight of stairs. I was carted away from work in an ambulance, a bag of frozen stir fry vegetables wedged against the tennis ball of swelling that had appeared where my ankle used to be. I remember those vegetables, because they were the fresh cut stir fry vegetables that you could buy at supermarkets – not the ones from the frozen section – and I was wondering the whole way to hospital about how the client I was seeing was going to defrost them when they hadn’t been snap frozen.
It’s funny, the things that stick in your head.
At the hospital I had xrays. I was given one of those green whistles to suck on for the pain. Man I loved that stick. Made me feel so floaty and happy. And every it looked like I was going to come back to earth and the reality that my foot was fucked, I just took another suck of that whistle and all was well once again.
Except it wasn’t. Not by a long shot.
I’d broken the edges off one bone, and severed ligaments and other bits and pieces. Funnily enough the doctor at the hospital told me it was a sprain and that I could start walking on it again by Friday (this happened on a Wednesday). My flatmate (who isn’t my flatmate any more) was with me, and was most unimpressed. We came home and I used that green whistle to help me deal with the pain of crawling up three flights of stairs to our apartment. Meanwhile she organised for me to go to one of those McDoctor places that have xray on site. We fronted up there and had more scans done, and I was referred to an orthopaedic surgeon. The next few weeks were a jumble of scans and MRIs and second opinions and Work Cover and phone calls. I finally got to the surgeon, a couple of weeks after the accident, and this was his verdict:
“If you were an athlete, I’d fix it. But you’re not. So I won’t”.
And so began seven long years. I didn’t need surgery apparently, so I had to just make the best of things. Every one of those seven years saw me either rebreak or fracture or severely sprain that ankle, at least once. Because I was in pretty constant pain, the way I walked changed. I couldn’t go to the gym. I couldn’t do much of anything.
One of the results of this was weight gain. A shit ton of it.
Fast forward seven years, and beloved and I are on a cruise. Our first big holiday together, just the two of us. Night three, and I stumbled in the hallway and went down like a sack of potatoes. Snap snap snap went my ankle.
When you can’t go on holidays without busting your ankle, it’s time to act.
I saw a different foot surgeon. He looked at my foot very briefly and had me booked in for a reconstruction within a month or so. He saved my life. He really, really did.
The reconstruction was followed by a procedure to correct an issue that had developed on my other leg due to the way I had been walking. And again, a further procedure to try to rebuild the Achilles on that leg. This was the result of walking badly for seven years. Through all of this, physio. Practice. Listening, watching, applying. Through all this, beloved. Watching, supporting, helping. Loving.
Exactly 12 months after I relearned how to walk, I completed my first fun run.
Today I smashed a new record (for me) on the treadmill.
Will I ever have feet that are 100%? Nope.
Will I ever be a teeny tiny size 8? Nope. Do I want to be? No, actually.
I want to be fit. Healthy. Strong. And I’m doing it.
But those words that I started this post with, they still sting. With over 30 kg gone, it’s hard for my brain to remember what my body is like now. I still walk around braced for nasty comments or observations from the peanut gallery of life because of my size. I still go straight to the biggest sizes available.
But I’m recovering. And again, relearning. I bought size 16 gym tights last week. 16!!
I’ve got big plans to use this journey (isn’t that a terrible word) to help other people, but I am a little to shy to share those plans on a public forum just yet.
But for now, I am doing it.
If you are someone who would pass comment on another person’s weight or size, please stop. You have absolutely no idea of their back story. And your words will stick for a long time.
But they won’t break a spirit that has a goal.