Thanks for the revelations

Wow! So I guess a bunch of people on the Fat-O-Sphere feed made it to that bastion of journalistic wonder, The New York Times. ChezImpressive. Let me take the opportunity to sincerely thank Fat Fu for adding me to the feed. Being a new kid on the block, I am getting a whole lot of free press and standing on the shoulders of fat blog giants like Big Fat Blog, Shapely Prose, Red #3, Fat Fu, Fat Girl on a Bike, Big Fat Deal, Big Fat Delicious, BAbble, and like 50 others that I read and can’t think to name right now because I am at work and have to leave in like 20 minutes. Please, please check out my blog roll and click on these important bloggers’ links: They are a voice in a really important movement. And to the others’ whose names I missed: I will post yours once I am not frantically trying to get something out here quickly. I am the kind of writer captured by a muse moment: Once the words strike I have to write lest they be scattered to the winds forever. And this is just such a moment.

Secondly, I have to thank all the writers and the readers for giving me a forum to heal and find a voice to express my vulnerabilities about my body, and the strengths in it, as well. Long has it been that I have journeyed toward acceptance in this fat belly and round ass and jiggly thighs. Long has it been that I rejected diets. Long has it been that I suspected there was a conspiracy about the diet-and-beauty industry, and that it plays out on the bodies of women, especially. But long as those things have been, it has been a longer time coming for me to own up to being a part of a fat community. And here I am. I am ready to talk about it, and it’s helping me find a momentum, a visceral chutzpah I did not know I had.

I discovered this, and the effects this short-lived-thus-far blogging project has had on my own body psyche last night. N and I laid in bed and started talking about bodies. I was emotional, and crying. Alas, I am a crier. It is not something I am proud of. My emotions are very close to the surface at all times, as much as I would like to be a Rational, Intellectual, Stoic being. I talked about how, for so long, I would like to have a body as hers, lithe and thin. She has issues with her body as well, for far different reasons, and although I believe neither of us wants to swap bodies and share the others’ challenges, there I was, begging for what I did not, never will, Can Not Have.

The conversation turned to food, and the “Growing Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic” in this country, especially among children. This is an issue of particular interest to N. In the past, when confronted by the “Epidemics of Fat-Related Diseases,” I have taken it very personally. The facts-based, the rational side of me, the arguments, the logic, all of the book knowledge I have on the topic, has fled my mind, and the emotional side of me comes right to the surface, and I sputter, turn red in the face, and stamp my foot on the ground like a petulant child. In a way I am: It takes me right back to childhood: You are fat, you are bad, so say my parents, and that is what I hear. However, last night, I was able to have a non-emotional conversation, and argue that the media in general hypes up people’s fear about many different things, and that the media is influenced quite a bit by who is funding the stories, and that I would have to see statistics on the rates of Type 2 Diabetes among children now vs. in the past, because simply hearing more about it now doesn’t equate to it actually existing more now. That was that. No sputtering, no pouting, no: If you loved me you would shut up and agree even though I cannot formulate a cohesive sentence, The End.

I had a breakthrough.

In that vein of thought, here’s a totally unrelated notion on the media and health hype.

Let’s take fat out of the picture and talk about something everyone can relate to. If there is one reason I don’t trust the health care industry, it’s for these two words: Flu Fucking Shot.

Ok, that’s three. But you get my point.

I got a flu shot 10 days ago. I am still getting over a mild flu. My history with the flu shot is sketchy. I did not get one last year. I did not get the flu. I didn’t get one the year before that, and got bronchitis. The year before that I got one, and I spent two days feeling like someone had beaten me in the armpit with a Louisville Slugger. Delightful.

Prior to that, I never even considered a flu shot. No one pushed it on me, despite the asthma and history of pneumonia. Every year since then, if I go to the doctor between November and January, I am harassed into getting a flu shot.

And here’s my philosophy on why.

I used to be a reporter/managing editor of some craphole weekly newspaper for two towns that were about, all told, 10,000 people. Maybe not even. They are suburbs of the state capital here, and so I would go to a lot of press conferences. The state capital here is also a Big 10 university and well-known for its science departments.

One of the stories I did focused on was the flu and flu shots. There was going to be a shortage of flu shots in our area because they had made the wrong kind — they base the strains on the viruses that come out of Asia, and had predicted incorrectly this particular year. As an intrepid reporter, I noticed that all the local papers and TV stations were really harping on this flu shot nonsense. Wanting a piece of the media pie, I decided to run a front page story on it. I called the health department, and they were at Critical Hysteria over the lack of flu shots. Good God People Were Going To DIE! of the flu. We were getting press releases about the absolute NECESSITY of seniors and children getting the flu shot, lest they succumb to the perils of influenza.

I went to a press conference at the University, and they started hyping up this hysteria. I learned this: The flu shots weren’t even goddamned effective against most of the strains of flu out there. They came up with alternate ways to ward of the flu: nasal sprays, wear face masks in public, use gallons of the antibacterial hand sanitizer. They gave out tip sheets on the difference between the cold and flu. Places like Shopko would offer the flu shot to catch the widest segment of the public possible.

When I asked a question about what if people just didn’t get the shot, seeing as it appeared ineffective against most strains of the flu?

The response?

“Have You EVER HAD THE FLU??!!”

Yes. It was that incredulous.

Folks: The times I do get the goddamned flu is after I get the goddamned vaccine, which is ineffective against most strains of the flu, anyway.

The media and health department succeeded in running stories about the flu shot shortage pretty much every other day. It was a Very Big Deal. I bet sales of the flu shot that year were at an all time high. That year was also the year they hyped up the Avian Flu, and we have yet to see a flock of birds attack the west coast of the United States, all carrying a deadly strain of pestilence that will wipe out the feeble.

Guess what? The flu season was average that year.

In years after that one, I haven’t heard as much about the flu shot. No entreaties to Save the Young And Old. Why? My theory is this: Because they spent a lot of money manufacturing the wrong flu shot, and so they had to recoup their losses, and so they hyped up the danger of the flu, adding the double threat of the Avian Flu, to ensure more people would go out and get the second, less effective flu shot.

So that’s why I don’t trust the health care industry, when it tells me Fat will give me a heart attack, or diabetes, or stroke, or whatever other disease they want to attach to me. Because look at the flu shot. It’s easy to create mass hysteria, especially when the mass media is involved. In this culture, where information is accessible every second of every day, hearing: The flu is going to be horrible this year, get a shot! every time you turn on the TV can very easily become a simple fact. It’s a meme, a viral meme. And that is what has happened to fat. We just need to find the appropriate vaccination for the viral meme against fat.

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6 Comments

  1. vesta44 said,

    January 22, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Rant on! I’ve never gotten a flu shot, and I’ve had the flu maybe twice in my whole life (and probably would have gotten it both times even with the shot). DH is diabetic and the only time he has ever gotten the flu is when he got a flu shot. So when his doctor pushes him to get a flu shot, or the VA pushes it, he tells them to go to hell. I don’t even bother to go to the doctor when I have a cold unless it hangs on for more than 2 weeks (by that time, it’s not a cold anymore, it’s bronchitis).

  2. Bekbek said,

    January 22, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    This is exactly why I don’t trust the medical industry! This is so exactly what I suspected when they were ranting about the flu shot. And why I roll my eyes at the !!!EPIDEMIC!!!s they periodically roll out.

  3. meowser said,

    January 22, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Type 2 diabetes in people younger than 20 is so rare even the American Diabetes Association does not keep statistics on it. The ADA estimates that the total number of all diabetes cases in youth < 20 is 0.22% of the total population — yes, that’s less than one-quarter of 1%. At least half to three-quarters of those cases are believed to be type 1.

    I can tell you this: Type 2 diabetes was never, ever tested for in kids at all when I was one (1963-1982). In fact, it was hardly even tested for in adults until about 15 or 20 years ago unless you were already having symptoms like gangrene or losing consciousness. Had I grown up today in the body I had then, gaining weight as easily as I did, they surely would be testing me. Because that’s all it takes now, a little puppy fat, and they’re whipping out the fasting blood sugars. Which can, of course, be completely misleading on kids who are still having growth spurts, but hey, there’s pills to be sold, they can’t just flush them all down the rivers.

    Oh, and also, remember that 10 years ago they lowered the FBS standards for diabetes from 140 to 126, and also introduced a “prediabetic” category for FBS 100 to 120. So we really don’t have an apples-to-apples data comparison of “then” to “now” to work with. There’s really no hard data showing an uptick in fasting blood sugars, only more people being diagnosed because of a lowered threshold of diagnosis.

  4. Orodemniades said,

    January 22, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Mr Oro never gets the flu either – unless he gets one of those damned shots. The last one he got made him so ill that within 8 hours of the injection he was in bed with a high fever, sweating, shaking, freezing, and having borderline hallucinations. Crazy.

  5. stefanie said,

    January 22, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Hi, new kid on the block here too. Pretty cool about the NYTimes article!

  6. thoughtracer said,

    January 22, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Yes. I am glad to hear all of you experience the same thing. Goddamned flu. What’s that they say? First, do no harm? Yeah, um, OK.


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