Tuesday, 2 January 2018

The Fantasy of Flying While Thin

Last week, I flew home from my second ever trip to Alaska.  My brother-in-law moved up there, so that’s where the big family Christmas was this year.  I got to see my adorable nephews, which is definitely worth 12 plus hours on a plane. Each way.

Some time between the previous flight and the last time I’d flown, I reached the size at which I need a seatbelt extender.  On that previous flight home, I was miserable.  In theory, window seats are a good thing, but I was jammed into a space with not enough leg room, the armrest poking me in the hip, and my shoulder against the wall (right on a fibro trigger point, of course).  There were also one or two flights where I was too embarrassed to ask for the damn extender and just sucked my gut in hard and tried not to breathe too much. (Don’t do that; it sucks.)

I actually broke down crying on the flight, not just because I was so miserable, but because I was figuring that the only way to actually see family in Alaska was to diet myself down to a more flight-friendly size.

And then, there was the puking.  I occasionally get carsick, but this was the first time I’d been sick on a plane.  I can only apologize profusely to the poor soul who had to clean that bathroom, as well as to anybody who had to wait longer to pee than they otherwise would have.  On the second flight, I at least realized that I was about to puke in time to avoid defiling any lavatories.  (By the way, if you want to see how fast a flight attendant can move, ask for an air sickness bag.)

At some point on the trip, I realized that the level of misery I was experiencing had nothing to do with the size of my ass and everything to do with air travel being generally craptastic and with my actually being ill.  I’m not sure when exactly this dawned on me.  The vomiting was a good clue, as was sitting in the airport shivering, and realizing I was probably running a fever.   (I ended up missing a day of work when I got back, if I needed any more confirmation that I was actually ill.)

As I thought about it later, I realized how insidious the idea that losing weight is the magical cure to any and all problems really is.  I mean, I blog about fat acceptance for pete’s sake.  And yet, there I was, jumping straight to the conclusion that everything would be better if I were just thinner.  And this wasn’t even something caused by my size.  I mean, yeah, if there were less of me to fill the seat, there would be less pressure on trigger points, but it’s not like the fibro would magically go away if I were thin, or like things wouldn’t hurt for no reason even if they weren’t pressed up against a wall or an armrest.  And since even a successful diet wouldn’t make me any shorter, the lack of legroom would have still been painful.  I’m also pretty sure that weight loss does not prevent either air sickness or sinus infections.

It wasn’t until the second trip, which sucked a lot less, that I fully realized how untrue that was.  I had a little fibro pain here and there, but nothing horrible.  (One of the crappy things about fibromyalgia is that the pain feels pretty much like the aches and pains that come with the flu, so it can be hard to tell getting sick from having a flare.) Same me, same size. I still needed the seatbelt extender (that I was actually smart enough to ask for and use on all six flights).  The whole difference was not being sick.

(The title of this post is inspired by Kate Harding’s classic post The Fantasy of Being Thin, whch is worth a read if you missed it ten years ago. Yeah, it’s really ten years old.  Now if you’ll excuse me, apparently I need to tell some damn kids to get off my lawn and go to bed at a reasonable hour.)


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