I mentioned my October funk last time, and one of the things that shook me up and made me so down I think was this story in the L.A. Times. The man in it is someone who had gotten just a little bit further than me down the bad road. He was 700, I was 525, he was really crippled by his problem, I was merely housebound and desperately unhappy. But one feature of his story really stood out to me. He had the leg thing even worse than I do.
I have something I call my leg thing. Sometimes I call it my "hump." The name's not important, although some of the names I've heard for it have terrified me. My doctor called it a "fatty tumor." The physical therapist I'm working with forwarded me an e-mail she wrote to my insurance company in which she called it "one of the worst cases of lymphostatic elephantiasis I've ever seen." It's a big bulb of fatty tissue and fluid that hangs from my left thigh. It's dense and heavy. The skin has stretched and gotten thick like a rhino's hide. It makes it hard to walk, to get in and out of a car, or to sit comfortably in one. It's the thing that makes people stare at me, and it makes me feel like a freak even worse than I'm used to. I hate it. I hate it so much. I live with it every day, and the hate simmers, and I forget about it sometimes, but it's there.
A while back, I was sitting with H and a friend at a yogurt shop and this lady came up to me. She said I had to go to physical therapy, that she was the head of some lymphedema group and that's what I had, and that PT would help. So I talked to my doctor, and he got a referral for a place down in El Segundo, and after much back and forth, they said they couldn't do anything for me, that I was too heavy for their equipment and that was that.
I had been through this once before - a client had recommended a doctor in Santa Monica that dealt with edema and had helped her mother. I called the clinic and they said the same thing, I was too heavy and they wouldn't be able to help me, and they weren't particularly nice about it. I was so put off I left it there.
But this time, with the El Segundo people, I didn't. I said, "Look if you can't help me, you know the industry and the people, can you help me find someone?" And they did, they found a place in Hollywood where the therapist had experience with bariatric issues and had a system and way to execute it. So I got in touch with them, and it's taken three months to get them approved by the HMO and then see what insurance will and won't cover. Finally last week I said to hell with it and let's get started. I don't care what it costs, this thing needs to change and you can help me do that. So next week I am beginning a course of treatment finally to deal with the leg thing. I hope it will help.
I don't think I could have done that without the progress I've described in my previous post. Action begets action, and momentum is an important thing. But there's another thing, and that's that I can't let my self-hate (hating the hump is hating myself - it's part of me) and self-pity keep me wallowing in my little mire. One of the things I love the most in this world is the scene at the end of "Two Cathedrals," an episode of "The West Wing," where Bartlet is confronted by the ghost of Mrs. Landingham, a fiction of his mind. She says to him:
"Are you in a tough spot? Yes. Do I feel sorry for you? I do not. Why? Because there are people way worse off than you. You know, if you don't want to run again, I respect that. But if you don't run because because you think it's going to be too hard or you think you're going to lose, well, God Jed, I don't even want to know you."
I'm in a tough spot. I got myself here. I'm going to get myself out. I'll need help. I have help. I have people who love me, who care for me, and who want to help. But ultimately, I have to love me, to care for me, and to want to help myself. I need to make those decisions, to recognize and forgive my mistakes, and keep myself looking forward, down the good road.
Songs I can't stop listening to:
Cannibal Resource by Dirty Projectors
Percussion Gun by White Rabbits