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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 [...]

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 [...]

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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.

Life in Quarantine for Ebola Exposure: 21 Days of Fear and Loathing - NYTimes.com
I tend to stay at home a lot, but 21 days stuck in my apartment would drive me crazy.

Buy Experiences, Not Things - The Atlantic
Money can buy happiness if you spend it on experiences, not things.

The Man Who Smuggles Trader Joe’s into Canada
I'd heard of Pirate Joe's before but this article gives a real in-depth look at it.

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