Stroke Me Day 40: Like Oscar the Grouch

Hello Darling Ones,

Yesterday, I accidentally blurted out 45 years of fat kid trauma onto my unsuspecting physical therapist. I know she is not “that kind” of therapist, but once the confession got going I couldn’t stop.

I started by apologizing about being a sweaty, panting pile of goo after some small exercises. She shook her head in dismissal, because the apology was unnecessary.

“It’s the fat kid in gym class,” I said. “I get anxious whenever I start to breathe heavily, because that’s when the name-calling usually started.”

She looked kind of aghast. I’m going to pretend it was at the lasting impacts of childhood bullying and not my revelation.

This stroke is a fucking lot, man.

Since I was four, I have treated my body as if it were the trashcan that carried around Oscar the Grouch, a kind of ugly necessity, a vessel the essence of me called home but was ultimately unimportant. Unlike Oscar, I never took any pride in it. I did not love the unloveable.

That probably sounds preposterous, but the internal fatphobia/fat hate runs deep. It’s hard to conjure much affection for a body that brought me so much shame and ridicule, even from people who claimed to love me. This old body of mine has never fit, quite literally. Not in some chairs, all airplane seats, most clothes, and many situations.

Since the stroke all I do is think about my body. Honestly, since the stroke all I think about is me. You’d think writing about myself on the Internet for 23 years means I have long since cornered the market on self-centeredness, but I had not. Not even close. Sister #2 said I should be focussed on myself right now. I think she’s just being nice to me.

Anyway, since the stroke I constantly apologize to my body for ignoring it for so long. Sometimes I still shout at it in frustration because, “goddamnit, why can’t one goddamn thing just be fucking easy once?” That last one said this afternoon while trying to hang my 2023 calendar on the wall. Yes, it’s April. Whatever.

Mostly, I keep talking to my body like a shitty partner trying to get back into the good graces, “Baby, I’m gonna do better. I promise. I’m gonna pay attention this time. I’m gonna listen.”

I have to listen, because I’m not ready to die.

Since the 2021 winter of loneliness & awfulness, I thought I was okay with dying. I really thought I was okay with it when I turned 50 in June 2022 and a bunch people I loved died in the last five months of the year.

However, sitting on that bed in the ER after all those men didn’t believe me,* I did not want to die. In fact, I was kind of pissed off that I was gonna die.

So here I am, doing my best to stay alive while healing my brain and my soul and my relationship with my body.

I’m so glad it didn’t kill me.


P.S. I forgot to tell you my mom & my nurse practitioner congratulated me on losing 11 pounds in the three weeks after I left the hospital. From having a stroke. And getting COVID. I chastised them both, but DAMN. Fat phobia is every where.

*I found out after the fact that the paramedics should have taken me to the hospital ASAP when they saw how high my blood pressure was. Instead, they spent 10 minutes lecturing me about how I should go in and get checked out (they didn’t believe I had a stroke either).

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  1. kirsten 15.Apr.23 at 9:55 pm

    This was so well written. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Kelly Barnhill 16.Apr.23 at 8:13 am

    Holy shit those fucking paramedics.

    I’m so sorry you have to sit in this intersection of current injury and past trauma. As hard as it was, I’m glad you were able to voice that experience to your PT – as they say, “our issues are in our tissues”. Of course that pain would come up during the work you’re doing in PT. It’s not separate, you know? And it’s important for providers to listen in order to give good care. I’m so sorry for all of this and I’m so glad you’re still in the world. And I’m grateful that you shared this piece. Sending thoughts of healing and gratitude for your courage. Feel better, Jodi. You deserve to feel better.

    1. theluckynun 16.Apr.23 at 8:36 am

      “our issues are in our tissues”…oof. I’m going to be thinking about that for a while.

  3. theluckynun 16.Apr.23 at 8:48 am

    Thank you for talking about this. Nobody listens to women, and it kills. Also, it’s disgusting how weight/size is this useless, arbitrary metric that somehow gets to define one’s value and worth to the rest of the world. Your feelings about these experiences are valid. Glad you’re still here and still fighting.


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