Pristine and Perfect

Like a lot of people, I’ve been monitoring my overall health closely for the last 18 months. Every three days, I check in to the local Covid tracking system and inform them that I feel healthy. In that time, other than the two days after my second vaccination, I haven’t had so much as a sniffle.

As a person who lived a childhood full of serious quarterly upper respiratory infections, serious ear infections, and frequent bouts with mononucleosis, I consider this a triumph.

Since turning 50 a couple of years ago, I added regular upkeep visits to my medical calendar. Mammograms, annual cervical exams, annual visits to my GP, eye appointments, dental appointments, colonoscopy (scheduled) and a visit to my brand new dermatologist. Other than surprising changes to my eyesight (thank you, professional proof reading, for your help degrading my vision), I am in remarkable health.

Gesture drawing by my sister during a nude sitting for her life drawing class. This is accurate from the rumples on my sides to the vast expanse of my thigh to my little toes. She’s really good.

In addition to our household’s
well-documented foray into sustainable mental health practices, this closer evaluation of my long-term physical well being has yielded remarkable and comforting results. As my regular readers know, I have maintained regular exercise since starting college in the late 80s, and have also maintained a robust Rubenesque physique all that time.

Popular beliefs would tell you that I am a prime candidate for heart issues, diabetes, stroke and cancer, and I delight in having defied all of those negative expectations. My blood pressure is regularly below average, I have no signs of diabetes, and every possible scan indicates I have not encountered cancer.

The biometric tracker I’ve worn for nearly a year indicates that my resting heart rate is around 58. Tim, who is far less Zaftig than I am, has a significantly higher resting heart rate.

My main complaints over the years have been orthopedic, mostly affecting my arthritic knees, which suffer aches if I miss more than a few days of exercise. I have wondered if orthopedic issues are ever the sole cause of death, because right now, that’s all I’ve got. I fear meeting my death suffering a blow to my head as I fall over after getting a toe snagged in my yoga pants. This is a likely scenario.

I watched my mother’s declining health and energy after she turned 40. Her fear of aging struck me as self-fulfilling even when I was a child, as I watched her smoke and remain sedentary throughout my childhood. She eventually died from lung cancer. Her mother also died from cancer. My maternal grandfather had heart issues and diabetes, as did my father. I see the approach of time and watch with caution the degradation of my body, but can’t help but celebrate my ongoing good health.

I swell with defiant pride as I remember the torment of snide or bold or “joking” comments about my weight and size lobbed at me throughout my life. As if being overweight is the sole metric of a person’s worth.

My doctor’s actual notes.

Health isn’t the sole metric either, but what’s been imposed upon me is a standard of thinness I cannot — and have never been able to — meet. It is the one quality about myself I long agreed was negative, and I have allowed such commentary to frame my belief about myself. It has driven my worry about having my life cut short, like my mother’s was, which in turn has driven my aggressive medical monitoring.

But no more.

Each time a doctor checks me over and finds me clear of problematic symptoms, I am filled anew with hope and confidence for the remaining years of my life. Does my health so far predict the rest of my life will necessarily be disease free? Obviously, that’s impossible. And death comes to us all. Nobody gets out of this life alive.

But when a doctor pronounces me “pristine and perfect,” as my dermatologist did the other day, I experience the joy of flouting the predictions of all the nattering nabobs of negativity whose limited imaginations forced them to focus on the most obvious and hackneyed complaints about my person.

Yes, I’m a large person. But I am enormously full of humor and love and intellect and passion, with insatiable vigor and rapacious pursuit of healthy mental and physical systems.

TL/DR: fuck off, fat shamers. You are wrong about everything.

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