Thursday, May 27, 2010

School's Out

Today, reading a friend's blog about how her son fractured a bone in his leg (skateboarding!) and will be laid up wearing a leg cast for the next two months made me think about the summer I was bed-ridden, the summer between fourth and fifth grades. Actually, I stayed in bed for 11 months, even to the point of using a bed pan!

That was back in 1952. Today medicines would have me back in school, playing full-tilt-boogie again in no time. But back then, the treatment for acute kidney infection was hospitalization for one month (the first week quarantined) and home bed rest for ten more months. I was also on a 100% salt-free diet. I had a home-school tutor for most of the school year.

My parents moved me to the main floor of the house in a sun porch off the living room that faced our back yard, rather than keep me in the bedroom upstairs. I guess that was a good decision because I was closer to family activities and not so lonely as I would have been in my bedroom. Yet, it was torture in the summer months because I could hear and see my siblings and neighborhood kids playing in our back yard, while I had to stay in bed and try to make do with reading, cutting paper dolls or folding origami critters.

The salt-free diet was interesting. My poor mom worked full time and by then had 4 kids. She had to cook special food for me and even baked bread without salt. I got to eat the home-baked bread (with lots of salt-free butter and honey) while everyone else in the family ate ordinary store bread. I recall eating cookies and other goodies (specially baked by Mom) on a daily basis. I never asked her about that, but I think the deserts, honey and other sweets were her way of saying, "Oh baby, I'm so sorry you're having to stay inside for all these months."

As one might guess, the inactivity and sweets and bread began to show on my body. By the time I returned to school, 5th grade, I was definitely overweight. "Fatty, fatty, two by four, can't get through the kitchen door." Boys yelled that at me from across the street as we walked to school.

I think from that time on, my self-image has always been as a fat person, no matter what I weigh. Those formative years started me down a path that doesn't serve me well. Now it's time to let go of it.

As I continue my journey of not overeating, my body will change. In 40 days of abstinence it has already changed... one size down and half way to the next. Reminder to Peacefulbird: start changing how you think of yourself; let's eliminate the word "fat" from the descriptors!


  1. So much of what we present to the world starts from what we ourselves see. Good for you for letting go of what's not helpful.

  2. I just wish I could hug the young you:) Great job on your 40 days. Funny that you mention eliminating the word "fat" because I was thinking about eliminating the word "thin"!

  3. 40 days and 1.5 sizes! Peaceful, that's awesome! Does it seem like it's been that long?

    I'm sad for the bedridden little girl inside of you. It wasn't her fault; she would have rather been playing. I hope you can make peace with her.

  4. I am so proud of you, Peaceful Bird! 40 days is a fantastic accomplishment! Isn't it horrible how a painful childhood memory can impact our entire self image for years, decades or sometimes our whole life? It makes me sad and angry at the same time. It reminds me of being called 'Tubby' by my grandpa throughout my childhood. It reminds me of the Thanksgiving when all of the adults (parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents) decided to weigh all of us kids after dinner. Can you imagine the negative impact of that lovely family episode on a chubby little kid?!! I am so profoundly grateful that these things no longer impact how I feel about myself. I am thankful that I can look in the mirror and be okay with what I see. Of course, I want to be as healthy as I possibly can be, and consider my body (as well as my mind and spirit) to be a 'work in progress', but I am happy with who I am. In the past I've thought of myself as 'Fat Pam' or sometimes I was 'Thin Pam'. What I weighed determined my entire self image and worth. But now I think of myself as just Pam and that makes me feel peaceful, grateful and sometimes even beautiful. Peaceful Bird, you are a beautiful person no matter what size you are!


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