Thursday, 16 May 2013
Desperately Seeking Skinny
They say the truth shall set you free, so now, borrowing Stephen Colbert, a touch of 'truthiness'. Few who are aware of my failing kidneys, understand how this could have happened - how one could suddenly discover - seemingly out of the blue - that vital organs were shutting down. The truth is that this is the result of a 32 year unrelenting and painful quest to be thin. Anorexic, bulimic - name a label - I've had them all. Words that represent to me profound shame - and worse, a lifetime of lost energy and opportunity that can never be reclaimed. In an ironic twist, "managing" issues related to adults with chronic eating disorders was one of my responsibilities as communications director with the Ministry of Health - where I would staunchly defend what little is offered to support those struggling individuals - never letting on, I was one myself. In the beginning long ago, age 16, I was referred to the leading "expert" at BC Children's Hospital who suggested that if I had sex it would get better. (He was later driven out of the profession.) This began a cycle of unsuccessful efforts to be rid of it, while living, in essence, a double life. This included time as an in-patient at St. Paul's where I escaped from days of force-feeding to emerge bruised and bloated, worse than before. Every few years, the threshold of what I would allow myself to weigh would drop a little lower, and the denial a little deeper. In the meantime, any reference to my size would leave me anxious and panicked - if the scale read one pound heavier at the end of the day, I would be scheming on how to get rid of it the next. So now, the day of reckoning has come. Years of chronic dehydration and potassium imbalance have left my kidneys little more than scar tissue. There is no one to blame - not the system - certainly not my family who have painfully watched this unfold...nor the many doctors who tried to help. I am not a victim, but I do have an illness, one that over-rides my kidney woes by one thousand fold. And the truth is - this is why I am actually not a credible candidate for transplant - nor would dialysis have a legitimate shot at success. Well-meaning people in my life have suggested I should buck up and fight it...and to them I gently say, I have been fighting my body for decades now and I am beyond tired. I know what I am, where I stand and if I choose not to pretend that what I couldn't overcome before, will miraculously disappear now - then so be it. I worry in sharing this so publicly, how your image of me will change, how I will be judged, how my terrible weakness will be exposed. I could keep this to myself and perhaps no one would be the wiser - though I know many have suspected. I guess it is because people continue to suggest I have options that just don't exist.