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Obesity as an illness of metaphor

Photo by melliegrunt / by NCND 2.0 CC

I’ve been reading The Pain Chronicles by Melanie Thernstrom, a well-researched and fascinating book about pain viewed through the filters of history, literature, science, religion and the author’s personal experiences. Of particular interest to me was the idea that disease is sometimes seen as metaphor. For example, a common 19th century belief about consumption (a.k.a. tuberculosis) was that it was a “spiritualizing struggle between the body and the soul, in which mortal flesh was slowly consumed in a way that heightened both beauty and creativity.” This view seems sort of silly now that we know tuberculosis is caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis. Similarly, cancer was once seen as a sign of repression, and HIV was originally viewed as punishment for homosexuality, both of which have similarly been proven false after the mechanisms of the disease were discovered.

This is when it occurred to me that obesity is still seen as a disease of metaphor.

Obese people have been assigned many traits by mainstream culture. They’re weak-willed. They’re lazy. They don’t [...]

If I’ve been exposed to that much radiation, I should at least have superpowers!

Image by simulacrum used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Here’s an article that I’ve filed under, “Well, that would have been good to know two years ago.”

15,000 will die from CT scans done in 1 year: Scans have higher levels of radiation than thought, researchers say

I’ve had a sinus CT and a head CT within the past year, so if I ever get a cancerous tumor above my neck (or superhuman powers), I’m blaming the CT machine. Most frustratingly, before having the second CT scan, I asked a friend of mine who is a radiologist if it would put me at significant risk for cancer. She drew on the knowledge she had at the time, and reassured me that having two CT scans wouldn’t put me at that much risk. Whoops!

Mostly I just sigh at news like this, and reflect once again on the fact that what we don’t know about the universe greatly outweighs what we do know. I can look back on the 60′s and be shocked that women smoked while they were pregnant and [...]

A different kind of before and after

Last month I was standing in line at Kroger, just like I’ve spent days of my life standing in line at Kroger. I was tired, I didn’t want to be there, and the lady in front of me was paying with a check.

As I shifted my weight from foot to foot, I was surprised, not by Jessica Simpson’s weight gain flashed on the tabloid covers, but by how I felt. My headache isn’t that bad right now. Weird. The same constant pressure was in my skull as it has been 24 hours a day since February 2008. Normally a long line at the grocery store and a bad mood would make it scream, but it was just holding steady at its normal background hum.

The headache clinic I have been going to since January (and not blogging about for my sanity and yours) makes me keep a headache diary. I record the level of my headache in the morning, noon, evening and night. They use a 1-5 scale where the numbers mean:

1 – Low level headache [...]

The headache that never went away: Part 4 – Watching my life unravel and knitting it back together

It’s odd to be sitting in bed writing an entry about how my chronic headache started destroying my life because right now I feel fairly fine. I’ve felt fairly fine for two weeks. I’m still working on the world’s record for longest headache, but it’s dialed down to a level 2 or 3 instead of a 5 or 6. I’m able to go about my life without thinking about my pain ever 5 minutes. When the headache is bad, all the normal thoughts I have during the day get pushed out, like flood waters washing possessions out of my house. The only thing that exists is the pain. It’s nice to have my brain back, at least for now.

However, there have been times in the past couple months when I’ve not been grateful to be in possession of my brain considering how badly it has been hurting. It’s made my life suck. Oh, let me count the ways.

The emotional toll

When I started crying alone in the parking lot of the doctor’s office in the rain [...]

A spoonful of sugar not needed

Mary Poppins sang that a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. I guess the Tums product development team listened to her.

My stomach was grumbly last week, so I picked up some ultra strength antacids in assorted fruit flavors at Target. Technically they’re not Tums, just the generic brand, but I suspect they manufacture all that stuff at the same factory and just slap different labels on the bottles. When I got out to my car, I dumped two tablets into my hand and tossed them in my mouth before I could dwell on how bad they would surely taste. Chomp, chomp, chew, chew – yum, yum! Did they replace my Tums with Smarties? They tasted really good! They should rename them Calcium Candy. I reread the label which said I could chew 2-3 tablets as symptoms occurred, so I tapped another one out of the bottle and ate that too. Then I stopped, because I wasn’t sure how I would explain a calcium carbonate overdose to the paramedics. But I admit, I [...]

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Man looking into telescope

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

You Are Not A Machine. You Are Not Alone. | Smashing Magazine

North Carolina Senate race spending tops $100 million - CBS News
I've suffered through soooooo many political ads this season, so I'm kinda glad to hear we've topped the nation in spending because it sure does feel like it.

Ebola: Maine deploys state police to quarantined nurse's home | World news | The Guardian
I know not everyone will agree with me, but I think Kaci Hickox is pretty badass. I admire her for standing up to policies that are based on fear, not science.

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