Fat and furious
“After your patient experienced a seizure attack,” our teacher once asked our class, “what do you think would be the first question he would ask you as soon as he recovers?”
Everyone paused and stared blankly, trying to think. Then someone finally poke, “Uhm, he probably might ask, ‘Asan na ’ko?’”
“Very good!” my teacher said. “That is why, you need to re-orient your patient.”
“Alam niyo, feeling ko,” my seatmate Teddy said with a naughty grin, “pag si Chris ang nagka-seizure, iba ang tatanungin niyang una.”
“Ano?” I asked.
“Ano ang ulam natin? Haha!” answered Teddy, and we both had a good laugh over it.
I guess that should give the reader an idea of how I look like. And if it is that of a man whose weight can deflate the tires of a car, he would be right.
For most of my life, my size didn’t matter to me at all. Of course, people would call me “Baboy,” but I more often than not would respond by just raising my eyebrows, marveling how uncreative people had become. Labeling a fat man that way was so cliché that anyone who used that line surely belonged to a race that lacked creativity.
At that time I didn’t care about abs and biceps as much as I cared about chicken wings and barbecue. I would eat anything I wanted without giving it a thought. I reasoned that life would end when it would—and that was something predestined and out of any earthling’s control—and so I could enjoy as many bags of French fries as I wanted.
Well, that was 250 plates of spaghettis ago, back when my self-image was great and my self-esteem tightly packed together. But, of course, things change. Taking up nursing made everything a little bit more complicated.
One time, a classmate told me, “How can you tell your patient to maintain normal weight when you yourself cannot do it?”
I didn’t know the answer to his question then and even today. Although I have come up with several answers in my mind, I am not quite sure which one will work. I suppose I will have to wait for the time when a patient does ask before I can come up with the best reply.
Although my classmate’s question sounded much too harsh, it was actually brought up during one of our intimate conversations, so my heart wasn’t totally broken. But it opened my mind to what my chosen profession expects of me. And by the way, just imagine the agony I had to endure while listening to our Pathophysiology teacher enumerating all the diseases caused by obesity and stressing how these diseases directly lead to certain death.
I often tell myself that being fat is not my fault and follow it up with one of the most popular rationalizations: “I was born this way.” But when I look at the babies in the nursery, I realize that every one of us started alike—tiny and diapered—but as we grow, we make decisions that make us who we are now.
Being fat is difficult. There are certain things you cannot do, like climbing a tree or making your elbows touch each other. But then I would tell myself that while I cannot climb trees I can always climb the ladder of success, traverse the mountains of charity and leadership and reach the pinnacle of nobility and virtuousness.
I consciously strive to be a better person so that at the end of the day, I can ignore the heaps and heaps of adipose tissues underneath my skin and still see a person with good intentions and a pure heart. And the beauty of it is that one doesn’t need to have a bulging bicep or a flat stomach to be so.
I once promised myself that if ever I should decide to become thinner, it would be a personal decision, something that I want to do for myself and not because of how people view being fat. After all social norms can be very fickle. There were times when society abhorred homosexuality but today it’s becoming more acceptable. There are societies that consider being confident as arrogance, while there are those who consider confidence to be admirable. So, where do you stand? What will you be?
I hear a young lady say life is too short to spend trying to fit what society prescribes. I realize that before we can become good, social individuals, we should first try to understand who we really are and who we want to be. Then as we strive to assimilate ourselves in the world of varied personalities, we should continue to build ourselves according to the personal ideals we have set.
Today, I am still the same man—still huggable and larger than life. I try to control my diet and get as much exercise as I can (although my friends probably don’t know this). But as I have said, if there is anyone I’m doing this for, it’s not for the man who thinks being fat is ugly or those who believe people with bulges have no discipline or for those youngsters who make fun of plus-size individuals as a matter of habit. I am doing this for myself, for my own health, for my family and for the many people who appreciate what I do for the community.
A valued friend once told me not to put my happiness in the hands of other people; I should put it in mine, so that it will be always within reach. So, my happiness stays here with me.
Christopher Millora, 21, is a registered nurse and a graduate of West Visayas State University. He was recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines in 2011. He works as a retention specialist in the Center for Student Development and Leadership, University of Iloilo.
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