You sit on the hard orange chairs, the cold plastic rubbing painfully against the bones that protrude from the base of your spine. Normal people don’t have those bones sticking out, but you, the college freshman home for the summer, do have those two little knobs poking out at obtuse angles from your back. You look down at your thin tan legs, and see the creases your thighs and calves make when you sit criss cross, one boney limb draped over the other.
fat fat fat fat fat fat
You think you need to get rid of that fat, have clean lines, no folds or dimply cellulite lining your legs.
You’re only 19 years old, 19 year old women shouldn’t have fat on their bodies. They are long and lean with an effervescent beauty that screams
LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME
The nurse calls your name, and you quickly glance up to her troubled eyes. As you stand she quickly looks you up and down, averting her gaze to your veined arms and hollowed cheekbones. You follow her down the sterile white hallway to a small examination room where she asks you to remove your clothes and put on a creased paper gown.
You were told by your pediatrician—yes, even at the age of 19 you still see a pediatrician—to immediately go to the hospital after he saw you two days ago for a checkup. With a frightened look, he explained that you might collapse at any moment, that the months of running and weight lifting and bicycling and swimming on 200 calories a day has weakened your heart so much that you could go into cardiac arrest at any moment, that people have just fainted and died
the words swam around in your head swam around in your head
a whirl of threats and fear tide pooled in your mind
You don’t really know if you believe that you could have a heart attack—you just completed your first year of college, and no one this young has heart attacks—but you do know that you are tired. Your eyes are tired from studying late at night, your legs are heavy pieces of lead from the miles you ran around the school campus, your arms are too weak to open doors to the music classrooms. Your head hurts and even though it’s only 10 in the morning, you want to lie down in bed and sleep until the next day.
Your mother cried that summer afternoon you returned home from college. You knew you had lost some weight, but didn’t think it was too much—yes, you had to roll the waistband of your shorts one, two, three folds, otherwise they would fall around your ankles—but you could still pinch some skin around your stomach, and you still had the fat creases around your knees when you sat. At first you thought your mother cried because she was so happy to see you, the magnificent musician, intelligent hardworking student returning home from her first year at a renowned music college. Then she told you that when you walked out from the gateway, she didn’t even recognize the 78 pound girl wearing fleece in the middle of May. She didn’t know that that girl was supposed to be her daughter. You remember her tight grip of her hug as she finally realized it was you
Mom, it’s me, I’m right here, you cried
and then the look of shock and fear in her eyes as she pulled away from you. Your heart ached at that look.
A knock on the examination room jars your thoughts and a kindly middle aged man in a starched white coat enters the room. He explains in a calm, monotone voice the battery of tests that will be run on you
potassium level assessments
you don’t know what they all mean, but you nod your head in agreement as he goes over the list. The doctor then makes you do simple acts, stand on one leg, he says, close your eyes and touch your nose, walk in a straight line with your feet touching heel to toe heel to toe. You don’t understand why you have to perform such trivial and elementary tasks, but you do it, and as you do he jots notes down on his paper pad.
You sit back down on the examination bed, and watch with an intensely growing fear of dread as the doctor slowly shakes his head at his notes. He looks up at you with the same shock and fear your mother’s eyes held that day you stepped off the plane, and slowly explains that he will have to consult with the head administrator, but you may have to be admitted to the hospital
RIGHT AWAY. NOW. AT THIS MOMENT.
At the sound of the work “hospital”, your heart drops into your stomach like how it does on your favorite roller coaster rides, and you picture yourself
with needles sticking out of your right forearm, saline solution pumping through your dehydrated veins
your tiny body tucked under rough white sheets
your mother sitting on the straight backed hospital chair, tears slowly dripping down her cheeks
your father with downcast eyes, folding his fingers, intertwining them into a white knuckled grip
The doctor leaves the brightly lit examination room to walk down the corridor to the administration office, and as his footsteps grow fainter and fainter you feel a welling of strength burning inside of you, building up from the bottoms of your feet, pulsating to your chest and heart, radiating up to your mind your thoughts.
You avert your gaze down to your legs and for the first time notice how your knobby knees form round bumps and are surprised that you can actually see the individual muscle fibers in your calf. You look back up to the white walls around you and know
Even if you are admitted to the hospital
Even if you are fed three meals and three snacks a day
Even if your legs are dimpled with cellulite
ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING
Is better than the existence you are living in now.by: Lauren Takao
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