Some years ago I had a catastrophic hard drive failure on my PC that wiped out most of the digital photos I’d taken over a period of about 6-7 years. At the time I was really upset that pictures of people I loved had been lost – but at the same time strangely happy that the slate had been wiped clean when it came to images of me. Although at the time I didn’t keep many of myself the ones that had survived manual deletion were still horrid.
The worst thing about such photos is that they were usually captured at special events like Christmas parties, birthdays, weddings or other celebrations. The pictures that I lost told a story that often stood apart from the happiness any particular event though and usually represented to me the negatives of any given moment rather than the positives.
They were a reminder of how out of place I had come to feel in society – and the complex web of compromises that my ever diminishing life had become because of chronic obesity.
This morning when I awoke (stupidly early after a crappy night’s sleep) I decided to import all of my photos from my camera and organise them. While doing so I started to review some older ones from 2007 onwards.
I like very few of them.
I found one of me, pint in hand (back when I still drank) and arm in arm with a work colleague at a Christmas party in 2012. We’re both smiling but I know I’d been standing at the bar for over an hour and I was in crippling pain. I was in so much discomfort that night I ended up getting drunk enough (which was my preferred pain management drug at the time) to give myself a five day hangover. It was as close to alcohol poisoning as I think I’ve ever been.
I don’t miss drinking. This photo is a good reminder to me of why.
In another photo I’m at my friend’s wedding in 2014 – again arm in arm. She looks lovely in her vintage 1920’s wedding dress, whereas I look like I need another invite solely for my stomach. Again we’re smiling and look happy. However, after it was taken outside the church we had to walk to the nearby village hall 300 metres or so downhill along a country lane.
I had to do this with a guy who was super fit (he’s in the army). In contrast to him I could hardly walk, let alone stand up. I was shaking like a leaf and about to fall over when we reached the hall. I had to sit in my car with the air conditioning on until my heart stopped pounding before I could go into the reception.
I’ve edited friends out of photos because I never post images of people without their permission – and I haven’t asked them if it’s ok – although in truth I doubt they’d mind. They seem really happy that we’re spending time together and maybe that’s their recollection of that moment.
For those of you new to the blog these are more recent photos of me…
However there was one particular photo that stopped me in my tracks. I’d forgotten that I’d taken it. This is of my lower leg on October 15th 2014. The second one (for comparison) I took this morning – the 17th June 2017.
(I apologise to those that don’t like feet.)
I regularly suffered with peripheral oedemas in my ankles (swollen skin due to water retention – NHS link) and it used to collect while I was seated. In my case I think it was mostly because of the pressure of my stomach on my thighs but also because my heart was struggling with my inactivity and the burden of around 35 stone.
That foot (and another just like it) is in my boot in both of the above photos – but you can’t see it. I however could always feel it.
The skin at times was so tight and so painful that it felt like it was going to burst open. At it’s best it just constantly itched as the skin stretched and it often had a mild burning sensation. I also regularly suffered with cellulitis (NHS link) because of it and the skin all over my lower leg became red and inflamed. It made me physically sick and I used to lie shivering in bed when I had a bout of it come on. The only way to clear it up was antibiotics, and over the course of a few years I had to take a couple of weeks off sick from work because I got so ill.
Often I’ve said in passing to people that I sometimes do a double take because I don’t recognise my legs or feet – and I’m sure that they think I mean that I haven’t seen them because my belly was in the way – but that’s not it at all.
In my mind I still have to squeeze my foot into a boot that barely fits because of the problem I used to have, but in reality I now wear shoes that didn’t fit before and thick chunky walking socks most of the time. It’s odd to look at my feet now because they don’t look like they belong to me.
I spent so long with feet like the picture on the left that the picture on the right doesn’t compute in my mind.
It’s when I look at things like this that I know every moment of restraint when it comes to food is worth it. Every extra mile I’ve walked has been for a good cause – and every week I go to Slimming World and stand on the scales is a victory – whatever the result.
(Author stops writing and prepares to go to weigh in.)
Well it’s still coming off! If I’m honest given the exercise I’ve done this week I feel half a pound is a little undeserved – but it’s also very hot. My watch strap is noticeably tighter and I’m sure fluid counts here.
Plus I’m not in the business of undermining success. It’s a loss and I’m taking the win. Focusing on the pictures and difference above is all the incentive I need to take everything going in the right direction as a positive.
I’ll try harder this week and see what I can come up with.
In the meantime I’ll have a bite to eat. I have a Slimming World fry up in mind. I don’t normally have them – but Angie’s suggestion to improve weight loss this week was to mix things up a bit and get some food variety on the go, so I’ll be eating different things this week to see what happens.
Beans, bacon medallions, tomatoes, mushrooms and egg… Mmmm – I’m salivating already!
I think I’ll also go for a walk shortly – but I may just wait for it to cool down a bit. It’s an absolute scorcher!