|Exhausted Rage at the Doctor's Office|
This is Day 19 of my #6MonthsOfGrief Project. To learn more about this practice, feel free to visit Day One, where I explain this project in more detail.
Today I went to the doctor. As many sudden widows will tell you, booking appointments, let alone actually GOING to them, can feel like climbing the most impossible mountain. We never know how we are going to feel on any given day and getting up, showering, and getting dressed can feel impossible on the deep grief days. I had been putting off getting my yearly physical and check-up for months. It got so bad that my doctor threatened to stop refilling my prescriptions if I didn't go, so I finally booked the damn appointment and got there on time.
Now, some of you may not know this, but I am a Fat, Strong Lady. Being fat and going to the doctor is it's own kind of hell, because Western medicine is convinced that one can't ever be fat and healthy, despite the myriad amounts of research proving the exact opposite. So whenever I walk into that doctor's office, I have to face a lot of biased, non-science-based weight loss talk. It's a battle on the best of days, let alone when I am in deep grief.
The first thing the nurse always does is put you on a scale. I had a cheery, bubbly nurse, so it took me by surprise when she covered the number on the scale and asked me to "guess" what my weight was. "What is this, a carnival game?" I ask. She responds in her bubbly manner, "No! I just thought you would be surprised! You've lost 20 lbs. Good for you!" I stare at her, dumbfounded. Perhaps she does not know that I am a sudden widow. Perhaps she does not know that I still have a very hard time feeding myself. Perhaps she does not realize that sudden, extreme weight loss is not something to be celebrated, but questioned, as it is a sign that something significant has changed in the body.
|I Should Have Stayed in Bed|
So I ask her. "Are you aware that I am suddenly widowed?" She quickly checks her chart. "Oh yes, I see," she says. "Well, at least this is one good outcome!" she cheerily responds. Again, I stand there, dumbfounded. I can't even process what she is saying to me. Is she saying that a good thing coming out of my husband dying suddenly before my eyes is that I stopped feeding myself and lost 20 lbs? IS THAT WHAT SHE IS SAYING TO ME?
This is how blind and deep our fat shaming and ignorance go in our society and healthcare system - that the fact that my weight loss is celebrated, when the much more real and painful truth of being a sudden widow, is more or less ignored. In fact, I asked her what resources she had around deep grief, and surviving the sudden loss of a partner and she didn't have anything to offer me. They don't even offer grief counseling at my healthcare facility. All she could give me was the number of their psychiatric unit.
So I gritted my teeth and got through the rest of the check-up. "Wow, your blood tests all look great! That's so surprising!" the doctor says in shock. "But really, you should talk to our Wellness Coach about losing that weight." Oh really? So even though all your medical tests say that I am fine and healthy, you still think I should starve myself to reach an arbitrary number that has been proven to mean nothing?
These are the times that when my husband was alive, I would return home and cry on his shoulder. He would laugh, and tell me it's all BS and tickle me or paint my toenails or make me go outside to pull weeds with him. But instead, I return to a house that is cacophonous in its emptiness and I try to soothe myself. But all I can do is go to bed, without feeding myself and hope that sleep will take me away from my heartbreaking, stupid life for at least a few hours - just a little bit of respite from the pain.
I am very aware that this project can bring up a lot around yours or other's grief and loss, I will always follow every post with some online grief support resources that have helped me. Please feel free to let me know of online support that you have found healing in your grief, as well:
Thank you, and see you tomorrow.
Art with Grief:
- Photographer [Sarah Treanor] Takes Moving Self-Portraits to Cope with Her Fiance's Death by Jillian Wong
- The poetry of John O’Donohue
Living with Grief Resources:
- Teresa “TL” Bruce's What to Say When Someone Dies
- They Brought Cookies: For A New Widow, Empathy Eases Death's Pain by Ann Finkbeiner on NPR
- A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
- The Geography of Sorrow: Francis Weller on Navigating Our Loses, interviewed by Tim McKee in Sun Magazine
- 12 Things to Know About the First Year of Grieving Someone You Can’t Live Without by Laurie Costanza in Elephant Magazine
Thank you, and see you tomorrow.