| Personal Accounts |

Worth Its Weight

Do they know how hard I work? How little I eat? How many hours I exercise? And I still look like a sorry excuse for a woman.


There are three things I avoid in my life: mirrors, cameras, and reality.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Twenty years ago when I gave birth to my third child I was healthy, thin, and in good shape. But after birth, my body went haywire. My heart was beating furiously, I was shaking constantly, had chills, the sweats, insomnia, palpitations.

I ended up in the emergency room where they dismissed my issues as postpartum psychosomatic. “Wait a few days and it’ll go away.”

A few days turned into a few weeks, but my ob-gyn also dismissed my concerns. “Get some more sleep.”

It took several months for my system to level out, and by that time I was fed up with all doctors. I had suffered tremendous trauma being the victim of a hormonal system that was out of control in my body, and nobody could care less.

But at least it was behind me. Or so I thought.

Two years later I was expecting again. And this time I didn’t need any pregnancy test to confirm. Several days into my pregnancy, and my symptoms were back. I couldn’t sleep, eat, my fingers kept tapping, my heart racing.

Not willing to suffer for nine months, I went to an endocrinologist. Finally someone at least acknowledged something was wrong.

“Your hormones are going wild,” he told me. “It’s rare that we see this during pregnancy, it’s more common postpartum. But don’t worry, it’ll all go away after birth.”

What about now? Relax. Get some sleep.

Again I was dismissed. But I couldn’t relax and I couldn’t sleep and I wasn’t going to be brushed off by the medical field again. I went from one specialist to another, one field of medicine to the next, but most just encouraged me to wait it out, to relax.

A friend of mine finally sent me to a female neuropsychiatrist who took my situation seriously. “This really is a case for an endocrinologist,” she said. “But since he’s not helping you, I’ll do my best.” She prescribed several medications that were safe for pregnancy, and finally, after a few months, I felt like I was part of the living again.

My baby was born, and with the help of the medications, my body stayed stable postpartum.

I was thrilled. Finally I had my body and my life back under control.

I tried occasionally to get off the medications, but each time, the symptoms would start again, so I resigned myself to better life through chemistry. I had no choice.

Baruch Hashem baby number five was born after a stable normal pregnancy and post-pregnancy.

But I noticed I had gained a huge amount of weight during the pregnancy. Nor did it come off afterward. I dieted strictly, exercised religiously, and was extremely careful with my eating habits.

Yet not only did I not see results, I kept on gaining.

By then, I’d gained about 60 pounds, so I began the medical rounds again.

You must be eating too much. You’re not exercising enough. You’re not taking your health seriously enough.

What is it about a medical school diploma that puts blinders on hundreds of people so they can’t see past their own superior knowledge to reality?

Once again, it was Dr. Stacey who came through. “Look, I don’t know why, but it must be the medication you’re on is causing you to gain weight,” she said. “It’s not a common side effect, but I see how hard you’re working, and it’s the only reason I can give.”

So I tried to get off the meds. I lasted six weeks. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

Back on I went. Next pregnancy I gained sixty pounds during the pregnancy. The situation was serious. And it looked like it was here to stay.

I trekked around the medical field. The holistic healers and naturalists I tried practiced nutrition, reflexology, acupuncture, and homeopathy.

Each one claimed they would heal me. Each one blamed me when the results were nil. If you’d only…

It’s been fifeteen years now.

Fifteen years of having narrow minded doctors comment snidely on my width.

Fifteen years of promises that this one procedure will cure all my problems.

Fifteen years of being told this was only temporary, this was all in my head, this was all my fault.

And finally I broke.

I looked into the mirror late one night before Rosh Hashanah. And all my strength crumbled.

I stared hard at the obese woman looking back at me. The double chins, the bloated body.

This isn’t me, my brain screamed. I’m not what they think I am. I’m not a lazy, gluttonous woman who has no self-control. I’m not that heavy matron that comes to simchahs and sits on the side because her swollen ankles won’t let her dance.

This isn’t me! I screamed at the reflection while tears streamed down my face.

I know what people think when they see me. I’ve met old classmates, have seen the derision in their faces, their shock at how I’ve let myself go.

Do they know how hard I work? How little I eat? How many hours I exercise? And I still look like a sorry excuse for a woman.

This wasn’t supposed to happen! This wasn’t who I planned to be.

This can’t continue.

But deep down I knew good and well that there was nothing temporary about my condition.

The practitioners can preach about habits and cures…

I knew the truth.

This was who Hashem wanted me to be.

I was fat. But I wasn’t flawed. I was perfectly me, suffering through no fault of mine. I’d paid a price for several delicious children, the lights of my life. And it was a price I’d pay again.

Although I was repulsed by the woman in the mirror, I know that it is she who’s temporary.  And when I trade in this heavy body at the end of this transient journey, my ethereal spirit will fly weightlessly straight Heavenward, unencumbered, for eternity.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 663)

Oops! We could not locate your form.