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Certainly, I didn’t think I’d be writing another piece so soon around ableism and wearing disability symptoms like they are haute couture. I guess I didn’t know how cool I am. How fantastic my life of suffering is to outsiders. How fashionable it is to hug a toilet.
The condition that I have had the longest is gastroparesis. I likely have always had a busted gut, but in my late teens it completely gave up. You are welcome to read past posts about my gastroparesis journey and the hellacious climb to both a diagnosis and a treatment plan. In a nutshell, doctors claimed that I was anorexic even after diagnostics proved slow gastric emptying. After all, I was a young lady. AND we all know, young ladies can’t possibly be physically ill without also being hysterical and dramatic. *uuuggghhh* I was given no information or treatment other than to eat a highly-caloric diet and orders to see a mental health professional.
The main symptom of gastroparesis is nausea. It’s the type of nausea that will not let you eat. It completely takes away your hunger. You want to eat. You wish you could eat. Food looks delicious. But, the thought of ingesting anything, even fluids, triggers the nausea. Not eating makes you feel better. Your tummy doesn’t hurt. You aren’t throwing up. You aren’t spending hours out of the day solely concentrating on keeping your digestive acids from coming up. When you can get tiny morsels down, the next 4-6 hours will be fighting the vomit reflex and sitting with nausea and sharp pains.
Those are the flares. Gastroparesis is a wave disease. It has a light rhythm, tides, and unpredictable storms. I am fortunate enough to still have slight digestive function. I have a very peculiar diet and way of eating, but I can eat most of the time. That is a true blessing. Another super awesome part of a broken stomach is suffering from constipation and diarrhea When your intestines and stomach aren’t doing their normal movements, your waste doesn’t run on normal cycles. Sexy stuff.
So, why? Why would any person want this condition? What madness would cause someone to intentionally give themselves these symptoms? In this case, it appears to be vanity. There is a new celebrity endorsed trend going around that encourages healthy individuals to take pharmaceuticals that cause slow gastric emptying. Slow gastric emptying generally leads to weight loss. That “easy” weight loss comes with fun extras like: malnutrition, fatigue, poor vitamin and mineral absorption, dehydration, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bad breath, inability to socialize, and pain.
The medications were intended for weight management amongst individuals with diabetes who needed extra assistance. Unsurprisingly, there are immoral doctors out there who will prescribe these medications to very wealthy individuals simply so they can quickly drop inches. Once those”secret” weight loss techniques and pills get leaked online, hoards of people who don’t comprehend the health effects of these ‘drop inches fast!’ schemes find their way to unsupervised medical interventions.
I’m all for people doing whatever they want to look a way that feels good to them IF they know all the risks. IF they know that beauty standards are always changing and will not be the same a decade from now. IF they know that short term results could lead to long term disasters. IF they know that other people live their entire lives fighting symptoms they are intentionally giving themselves. IF they have done everything possible to maintain their physical and mental health.
There’s nothing I can do about this new fad. My medical reality is a single piece of hay in a field full of other people’s painful realities. Hopefully, at least one person who is thinking of experimenting with these drugs for vanity alone, will find this and have a second thought. Trust me. You don’t want this life.
Gustave Courbet. Letter [to Bruyas?]. 1865 [published in P. Borel, "Le Roman de Gustave Courbet," Paris, 1922, p. 99 n. 1, and in J. Rewald, "The History of Impressionism," New York, 1946, p. 113]