Posts Tagged ‘Overeat’

Defect or Disease?

October 11, 2010

Do you have a Congenital Heart Defect, or Congenital Heart Disease?

Most people I know use the two phrases interchangeably – even my hero, Dr. Helen Taussig. She preferred to use the phrase Congenital malformations but even she fell into the Heart Disease/Heart Defect trap occasionally.

On paper it is an easy choice: a defect is a design flaw, while a disease is an illness. My heart has several design flaws (a missing valve, holes in the wall) so obviously, I have a heart defect. But my heart defect causes several heart diseases – if my heart wasn’t defective, I wouldn’t have to worry about Congestive Heart Failure, Cyanosis, or Atrial Flutter. So really, both terms fit the situation.

I may say “Congenital Heart Disease” but others only hear “Heart Disease.” That’s not so bad, since it is usually applied to the health problems that affect the heart as you age. Even though there is a misunderstanding, at least the discussion involves the heart. I can use that as a starting point. But the phrase “Heart Disease” is becoming a code for “unhealthy living.”

Heart Disease? Son, you need to step away from the cheeseburger. After all, if you didn’t open wide and literally shovel the food down your throat, you wouldn’t be having these problems. And don’t give me that look, no one held a gun to your head and forced you to have that second helping!

I have been sitting in the Cardiologist’s waiting room and been asked “So what are you in for?” (In the same tone of voice used to ask Prisoner #6298965 what he is in for!) When I replied that I had a heart defect, I was told in no uncertain terms that I should have been more careful! Her husband had the exact same problem and she had thrown the salt shaker away, cut out the cholesterol, and didn’t fry any foods at all! Knowing better than to argue, I nodded and just kept saying “Yes, Ma’m… Yes Ma’m!” I also wondered if her poor husband actually enjoyed eating cardboard boxes at every meal.

It seems to be a grim comment on our society that it is assumed if you have an illness, you’re automatically at fault. When I volunteered at the museum, my boss was participating in a county fair parade when he suffered a heart attack and fell off of his horse. During his recovery period we occasionally heard comments about how he was going to have to lose weight, watch what he ate, and other advice. These people didn’t know that he usually tipped the scales at 165!

This “It’s your own fault!” attitude has also led to almost making “obesity” a crime. The problem is, today’s definition of an “obese” person would have been quite acceptable in the past. Look at any of the paintings by the great masters: since most of the subjects were at least partially nude, it is easy to tell that they carry a few extra pounds. But what was recognized as healthy and attractive back then is seen as repulsive today.

And it is not because we have gotten smarter or more health conscious or “nutritionally aware.” The Body Mass Index (BMI) charts were accurate in the 1950’s… but humanity has grown taller and heavier, distorting the results. According to a BMI chart, all of the members of the 1996 USA Women’s Curling Team is obese. Actor Tom Cruise – all 5 foot 7 inches, 160 pounds of him – is considered just barely “overweight”. (A BMI of 25 is considered overweight, Cruise’s BMI is 25.1)

Young people today, especially young ladies, are held to an impossibly high standard. Anything less than perfection is unacceptable, and open to ridicule.

Pass the plate, gain a little weight. Walk a mile, make your doctor smile!

December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas Day 2008!

Thanks to the economy, this may not have been the most exciting Christmas on record (at least to the retailers) but the important thing is that we are all here!

Today was quiet; my family has our gathering on Christmas Eve. And I love every moment of it… until I step on the scale the next morning.  Then I’m not such a fan. I am so glad that I don’t have a talking scale, because this morning  it would have said “Unnnnh…. Come on, come on, read the dial and get offa me! Whew, that’s better… wait a minute, getting back on isn’t going to give you a lower reading! That’s not gonna wo-UUUHHH!”

There was a lot of options to choose from yesterday; starting with my mom’s barbeque. I can enjoy her barbeque because she uses very little salt, so a good bit of that goes on my plate. I get a little slaw but that’s it; the Vitamin K found in most leafy greens doesn’t get along well with my blood thinner. At least, that’s what I tell myself; I’m also a junk food junkie. My membership in the That’s not Good for Me Club is pretty much honorary these days, but old habits are hard to break.

So far, I’m doing ok – barbecue, rice, some slaw, and a piece of bread. Once I finish, I examine the desert table very carefully. Coconut Pie, Peanut Brittle (Already in individual plastic bags, so it is meant as take-out) an Orange Slice Cake – the candy, not the fruit – and “stickies”. Some people call these “haystacks”; they are Graham Crackers dipped into a Carmel coating and then coated with chopped pecans. When the Carmel coating dries, the pecans will stick to the crackers.

My aunt called and is running late, she sent word just to go ahead and start and she would catch up when she arrived. She walks in the door carrying a large container of thin cookies and a homemade pizza loaf. The cookies are a family favorite, but the pizza loaf… we’ve been having this Christmas gathering for years and I’ve never seen this before! Have you been holding out on us?!?!

She turns the oven to broil and shoves in the pizza loaf, and in a few moments in begins to smell wonderful. Well, I thought I was through eating… but I’ll take a small piece. I really shouldn’t, but it smells so good. Oh. Dear. Heaven. This is delicious. Maybe one more small piece….

More? I think you guys are trying to kill me, but hand me some before I pass!  Yes, that one right there, please!

And so on, until this morning, when the scale gave me the bad news. I hate pizza loaf! It is an abomination, and a pox upon my house! Keep it away from me!

Well, it is dreary and rainy today. Weather does funny things; after it rains, I can hear the train whistle blow as it passes through town, five miles away. I normally can’t hear that sound. Inclement weather will also cause your weight to go up. I’m sure that’s the problem… right doc?

‘Till next time!