Casualty

This isn’t a post about weightloss but I’ll start with the stats anyway, because they’re impressive this week.

This week I lost 6 pounds. That’s nearly half a stone in a week. Crazy that it can still happen to fast so long into the process. So my new total lost is 10 stone 6 pounds (146 pounds or 66.2 kilos).

The reason I lost so much this week is that I basically didn’t eat anything on Wednesday or Thursday and I ate almost nothing on Friday.

Warning: I wouldn’t recommend eating while reading this post. I am, as usual, overly honest and overly descriptive of my medical symptoms.

I wasn’t eating this week because I was sick. This is a problem I’ve written about before. It started last November, when I had two weeklong periods of pissing blood. Yup. My piss was thick, smelly and coffee-coloured. Peeing was painful and after the loo, I felt not as if I’d been passing liquid, my entire groin felt raw, as if I’d been pissing sandpaper.

I went to my lovely GP, a handsome young man who touched my penis and made sympathetic noises and with whom I therefore fell in love. He decided it was probably an infection and put me on antibiotics and told me to drink more water.

I really am very bad at staying hydrated. I can’t remember ever drinking water for years at a time. For instance, I don’t think I ever drank water when I was at university. I drank Diet Coke and milk and Carlsberg and Southern Comfort with Red Bull and WKD and Smirnoff Ice but I have no recollection of ever drinking water during those four years.

In my post-operative life I don’t drink any fizzy drinks or alcohol, and I don’t like coffee. Literally my only source of hydration now is water. And I’ve been trying so hard. I was used to a life where I just peed twice a day, once in the morning and again before bed. But now my doctor was telling me this wasn’t enough. So I got myself up to drinking 1.5 litres of water and a third trip to the loo every day.

Everything went fine for about two months and then in February I started pissing blood again. The pain was worse this time. I went home from work sick. I made another appointment with the doctor for the following morning. That night was the most painful of my life. I got a stabbing pain in my lower back and started vomiting from the pain. I sweated and moaned and didn’t sleep a wink. Peeing was horrendously sore.

I felt a little bit better by the time I was due to go to the doctor. My appointment was for 11:50. I’m not the most punctual person in the world. I arrived at 12:01. The receptionist wouldn’t let me see the doctor. She said that the ten-minute grace period had elapsed. I was gobsmacked. If an appointment is at 11:50, surely it’s expected to go on until at least 12:00 so if there is a “grace period” then it should start at 12:00 because from 11:50 to 12:00 is my allotted time and then if I arrive at 11:55 I’ve arrived in time for my appointment. Anyway, I was eleven minutes late, so I was sent to Clapham Junction where there’s a drop-in clinic.

I shakily sat on the train and went to the drop-in clinic where I saw a doctor after about a two-hour wait.

He was perfectly nice, but dismissive in the way that doctors are. He dismissed the idea of an infection, saying men don’t tend to get UTIs. He told me to get an STI test. I told him I was unlikely to have an STI. He made an appointment for me anyway. I had been googling and I was fairly sure I had a kidney stone and this was the cause of the problem. He dismissed this and said that kidney stones are very painful. I assured him that the previous night had been the worst pain of my life. He didn’t believe me. He asked me to give him a urine sample. I explained that I’d already peed that day and would be unlikely to be able to produce anything. He didn’t believe me. (Doctors never believe anything I say.) I went and tried and couldn’t pee. I’ve always been jealous of those who can pee on command. He dismissed me, telling me to bring some pee to my GP when I could.

Tests showed nothing very much. They confirmed the presence of blood in my urine. I had a little too much uric acid in my blood. There was a lot of protein in one urine test, but not in the next. There was no sign of infection. They booked a urinary tract ultrasound for me on 8th May.

I obediently had my STI test. I was very early for my test and was seated near reception. I watched numerous patients being turned away for being late for their appointments. No one who was turned away had an English accent. Some were African, some Eastern European, one other was Irish. It’s just something about English culture I’ll never understand. In general, I find London to be so much more compassionate than Ireland. You’re much more likely to see people in London engaging in conversation with the homeless than in Dublin, where I’ve witnessed teenagers and businessmen shout abuse at homeless people more than once. I also find customer service here to be much friendlier than at home, and I just find London an awful lot more tolerant than Ireland in general. The exception is the English’s ruthless obsession with punctuality, applied without any sense of compassion. I hate it.

Anyway, I love an STI test. It always makes me feel so deviant and adult and London-y. They gave me a Hepatitis A vaccination. Hep A isn’t sexually transmitted, it’s faecally borne and is usually caught when eating food prepared by someone who hasn’t washed their hands. But the British government has decided to give free vaccines for it to gay men because we are literally more likely to eat other people’s shit. I’m so proud of my people.

I did all the tests, including the one where I stick a super long cotton bud up my bumhole and rotate it 10 times. Straight guys don’t do that bit either.

I’m clean. STI-free.

Kidney stones were still the only obvious reason for my symptoms. I just had to wait for my ultrasound in May.

This week I felt fine. It was my last week at work and I had lots of plans. I took Tuesday off as I had one more day of annual leave left. I didn’t want to take it off. I was already sad at the thought of leaving and I didn’t want to miss any more time there.

On Wednesday, I had three days left at work. I felt a bit dodgy in the morning, but I put it down to tiredness. I went into work and at 9:15, our weekly staff meeting started. As soon as I sat down, I knew I felt wrong. Within 5 minutes, I’d left the meeting and thrown up in the bin in our office. I recognised the pain while I vomited. It was in my lower back again. My kidneys were back to punish me again.

I left work. I vomited again outside Sainsbury’s. I got on a bus home and got out outside the Imperial War Museum to throw up again and finally threw up the rest of my stomach contents on the walk up the street to my house.

I have never been in so much pain. Ever. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t read or browse the internet or watch tv or even listen to music. I writhed and moaned and occasionally screamed. It was horrible.

The pain alternated between stabby and achey and eventually around midnight, I painfully peed out a bloody mess and everything began to calm down.

On Thursday morning, I felt better, but still in pain, and I texted to say I’d be coming into work. My colleague texted me back to tell me to go and see a doctor. I didn’t take her seriously until I started getting out of bed and as soon as I straightened my body out I realised that there was no way I’d manage a whole day at work. I phoned my doctor and made an appointment for that afternoon and crumpled back into bed.

The doctor was very nice. He didn’t examine my penis, but I liked him nonetheless. He told me it did sound like kidney stones alright and sent me for more blood tests and asked for urine which I couldn’t produce immediately, but managed to get to him later in the day.

That night I began to feel alive again. OK. It was Friday morning. I had one day left at the job I loved. Time to go in, clear my inbox, do a good thorough handover with my successors. (I’m literally getting replaced by three people, which is gratifying.) And then, most importantly, I had my going away drinks.

It didn’t work out the way I’d planned. At about 12:15 I got a phone call from my GP’s surgery. They told me that my blood test results were back and I needed to do to A&E immediately. Apparently one of the kidney tests essentially showed that I had no kidney function. It’s meant to be a number above 70. In February my reading was 111. On Thursday it showed 36. I told the doctor I was feeling fine. She said it didn’t matter and ordered me to go to A&E anyway.

I told my colleagues I’d try to be back for 2:30 when I was due to meet a trainee, but they all knew I wouldn’t be back.

The hospital was lovely. Very new and very comfortable. They did blood tests within ten minutes of my arrival. And I was examined by two doctors another ten minutes later. Maybe I would be out soon. Then we had to wait for results and wait for me to produce a urine sample. I managed to get one out after drinking a litre of water and waiting three quarters of an hour. Three quarters of an hour with a nurse coming up to me every five minutes asking for my pee.

The blood test results were fine but my pee was super bloody.

I was sent for a CT scan. I waited hours for the results. At 4:00, I emailed everyone at work, putting off my going away drinks for another time. At 4:55, I gave up on going back to work ever again and sadly took off my tie and my lanyard.

Eventually, I was told that I’d been right for months. Yes. I do have kidney stones. My left kidney was inflamed and had clearly had a stone recently (my guess is until about midnight on Wednesday.) And there’s another stone in my right kidney, waiting to inflict its own pain.

They let me out, after making an appointment for me with the kidney stone clinic and ordering me to come back to A&E for the next stone and not stay at home without any painkillers again.

It was now nearly 7:00. I walked to the local pub round the corner from work. My going away drinks had been going on in my absence.

I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a noise as loud as the cheer I was greeted with. In fairness, they had all been drinking for two hours at this stage.

They lined up in the pub and sang “If you leave me now” to me and I did start crying but not embarrassingly badly. I can’t believe I’m leaving somewhere that I love so much with people who I love so much.

They bought me vouchers for London theatre because they know me well but also because you get way better presents when neither alcohol nor chocolate are options. I cried again as I hugged them all goodbye and again on the bus home as I read their card.

It was a damp squib of a last week. I only actually managed to work one day this week. I’m still writing my handover notes and clearing my inbox and theoretically I finished two days ago. And I’m heartbroken to be leaving my original London home but delighted that even if I couldn’t mark my leaving properly, my colleagues did. I went home on Friday feeling both valued and loved. It was a perfect ending.

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Reasons not to lose weight

I’ve spent the last few weeks telling people that I’ve lost ‘nearly ten stone’. My weightloss had slowed down and there was a part of my brain that said maybe I’d never actually lose ten stone. But this week, I decided to stop eating chocolate and lost four pounds and made it to the ten stone mark. It’s amazing the sense of control you feel when you genuinely feel you can choose what to eat, which is how I feel now. Anyway, ten stone is way, way more than I’ve ever lost in the past. (For Americans, ten stone is 140 pounds and for Europeans it’s 63.5 kg). And when did I cross this milestone? The same week as I went past the six-month mark after my operation. It’s all just too poetic and perfect.

And of course there are bad sides to losing weight. Here we go:

Reasons not to lose weight

  1. Starting with the most serious one: I feel like I’m abandoning my tribe. I know this sounds like nonsense, but it’s what I feel. I feel like I’m making it more OK for people to throw abuse at fat people (which happens all the time) because I’ve deserted them. I’m moving over to the side of privilege and skinniness. By losing weight and by loving losing weight so much, I feel like I’m endorsing all the awfulness that’s been heaped on me as a fat person. I’m making the bullies right, by doing what they suggested I should do. I think this is a dichotomy I’ll always live with. To love my fat self, I had to be thin and therefore to kill my fat self, as if my fat self wasn’t (isn’t) worth loving. It bothers me. OK. That was the only serious one. The rest of these are lighthearted.
  2. I’m spending so much on heating bills. I feel the cold SO much more. I think I’m turning into someone who wears layers. Last winter, I only turned on the heating at home when someone was visiting. This winter, I switch it on almost every evening when I get home from work. Luckily, I’m saving tonnes of money on everything else. I barely spend anything on food. I don’t buy alcohol any more. I used to have to buy a lot more toilet paper. I’m never so tired that I get an unnecessary Uber. There was more than one occasion, during the time when they were repairing the lift at Brixton station, I used to get off the Tube at Vauxhall and get the lift to street level and get an Uber home rather than just climb the stairs at Brixton. I was permanently tired back then. It’s much better to be permanently cold.
  3. People sit next to me on the bus now. I used to be guaranteed that the last seat on the bus to be filled would be the one next to mine because I took up so much of the seat next to mine. Now I (almost) fit into a single seat and people sit next to me even when there are other free seats on the bus. Boo!
  4. My skin is empty and saggy. My right ass cheek has literal creases, like I left it at the bottom of the laundry basket for weeks. My tummy has a used-balloon appearance. Every morning, I smear Dr Palmer’s Cocoa Butter all over myself and every night I cover myself in (ridiculously expensive) Bio Oil. I think this probably does smooth things out and it does make my surgery scars and my stretch marks less visible. But it doesn’t take away the loose skin. Loose skin will be a fact of life in my future, until my inevitable vanity plastic surgery and subsequent scar-concealing tattoos. My body will never ever be the body of Taylor Lautner in 2009. And I know I shouldn’t expect to ever have the body of Taylor Lautner in 2009. But reader, I do. I really do.
  5. My ass is always sore. My tailbone is not used to having an ass with so little padding and so sitting down is murder. The pain settles down after a few weeks and then I lose more weight on my ass and I get sore all over again. I’ve never needed cushions as much in my life.
  6. People think I’m not the craic any more. I don’t drink and I’m not great in a restaurant setting because I will waste food. But I think I’m still fun. I like sober me. And I’m very happy to have pints of water while you have pints of beer. I just need other people to believe that too.

For all that, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

ANNOUNCEMENT

It’s been a while since I made a good old-fashioned ANNOUNCEMENT.

I’m going to do it again. I need an exercise goal. And I’m so able for it. I noticed the other day that I walk faster now. Just naturally. Because I can. I choose to walk faster even when I’m not in a hurry. I’m better at exercising. And now I have to do more cardio and lose this last six or so stone.

So I’m signing up for a marathon. As people who started reading this blog back in 2010 will remember, I ‘ran’ the Dublin marathon before, but didn’t train, so I walked, and still only made it halfway round the course. In the years since, I registered for the Dublin Marathon once more, and also for a marathon in Las Vegas, back when I’d convinced myself that I was moving there (remember that?) and also for one in Stockholm in 2017. I never ran in any of them, every time just giving up on training. This time it’s different. This time I’m a skinny minx. And this is a barrier I need to break once in my life.

Here’s the plan. It’s 26 weeks from today until 6th October 2019, the day of the Isle of Wight Marathon. (Why the Isle of Wight marathon? Because the Dublin one is sold out and it’s around the same time of year and sounds like a vaguely romantic place.) That gives me 8 weeks to get ‘from couch to 5k’, which I previously did when I weighed 24 stone, so I can definitely do it at my new tiny weight. And then I have 18 weeks to do Hal Higdon’s novice marathon training programme. It’s ridiculous. But I’m going to do it.

And once I’m done with that, it’ll be time to start on weight training and building a buffer Connor. Stay tuned.

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Domestic enemies

It’s been a good week. Let’s start with the stats. I now weigh 18 and a half stone, still obese, but about the weight of a (big) professional rugby player and I’ve lost a total of 9 stone 9 pounds (135 pounds in American, 61.2 kilos in European). It’s undeniably good. In other good news, I’m just back from a lovely holiday in Spain and I have accepted an offer of a new, senior and much better-paid job starting on 15th April.

I have no complaints.

My body is wondrous. Even though I don’t know if I’m done with my kidney problems yet, my body is just making me happy on a daily basis. The ability to move around without joint pain still surprises me. I’m so much more functional on days after I don’t sleep than I used to be. The fact that my toilet problems have gone is almost enough alone to have made all this worthwhile.

What I’ve noticed recently is that I fit better in the world. I no longer approach chairs gingerly. I don’t think they’ll break under me any more. When I use a classroom at work and it has chairs with flappy desks in the arms, I can now sit in them and lay the desk down flat, because those chairs are not one-size-fits-all. When I was flying to Spain last week, I didn’t need a seat belt extension and the tray table lay flat. It didn’t even touch my belly! I remember flying to Vietnam and having to have dinner on my knees because the tray table was basically still vertical when I put it down because my belly was so far in the way. And I’m not afraid to sit down in the Tube any more. Not only do I fit in a seat there but I can also fit my hand down my side and access things in my pockets. Just like a real boy! I can also cross my legs again. And I keep doing it. It’s such a comfy action! I didn’t realise how much I missed it.

The two biggest changes are ones I’ve written about before: the extra energy which means that my weekends are now usable and no longer have to be spent on bed and the lack of feverish binge-y thinking, meaning that I’m calmer and happier and able to concentrate better and think more clearly. They really have revolutionised my life and made me happier.

With all these benefits, could anything be going wrong? Of course it could. Although I’ve lost weight every week since the operation (my longest streak in history), I can feel this slowing down. I’ve let chocolate back into my life. I know I can eat most of a small bag of crisps (if I suck the crisps for a minute to soften them before swallowing), I know I can have four chciken McNuggets, I can have a good saucer-full of pasta. And it’s fine to have a treat. And so far, it hasn’t been a real problem. Even on a bad day I’m having laughably few calories. But I’m absolutely terrified of letting these things back into my life. Chocolate especially. I don’t want to turn back into someone utterly defeated by food. And every now and then, I swallow a Cadbury’s Creme Egg whole and I can see it all crumbling away and those 9 stone 9 pounds creeping back and it all being for nothing and the daily death of my former life coming back. I think I’m strong enough now to fight it, but I have plenty of moments of doubt too. As I say, I haven’t stopped losing weight yet and my stomach still has a hilariously small capacity. But every small increase in stomach room feels like a time bomb waiting to go off.

I haven’t had any alcohol in six months. I haven’t had any bread or biscuits or cake in six months. I haven’t had any fizzy drinks or caffeine in six months. And to be honest, I’m fine without them all. I really am. I can control myself. I just need to be careful. “Head hunger” is real. And I need to stay on my toes to make sure I don’t let it win. I guess the difference this time is that I actually believe I can win over it. Back in the old days, I used to ask readers to keep their fingers crossed for me when I wrote about my food troubles. I don’t need to do that any more. I’m the boss of my eating now. So it’s ok. I do panic sometimes, but I’ll be fine.

As the poem says, I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my belly.

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Fear of change

This isn’t about weightloss, for once. But let me just share the stats quickly. I’ve passed the nine stone lost mark. Tomorrow it’ll be five months since my operation. I now weight exactly 19 stone, so I’ve lost nine stone two pounds (that’s 128 pounds or 58 kilos). It feels great. I’ve lost a whole person and I feel better literally every single day.

Now, to the main business of today’s blog post. For the last two years, I’ve essentially had two jobs. I had my day job and I had my freelance proofreading gig. I’ve needed both. My main job paid my rent for my lovely flat and my proofreading paid for everything else. London is expensive. And I chose to live in a nice big flat and I chose to live alone, so I didn’t make life cheap for myself, and having two jobs was exhausting, but it was worth it. On a typical day, I’d do about half an hour of proofreading before going to work and then maybe an hour or two in the evenings when I got home. There were times when I felt like I was working 24 hours a day.

Then, in November, the proofreading began to dry up. It didn’t go completely, but the steady river of work turned into a trickle. I went from averaging about €1000 a month to about €200 a month, so even though I got a pay rise from my main job, I was still down by hundreds a month. Last month, for the first time in two years, I missed a loan repayment to my Irish bank.

And then I got an email from an acquaintance, suggesting I apply for a job at her company. I did, on a whim. And I got an interview and it went well and I’ve been invited back for a second interview this week, a more informal chance to “meet the team”. It’s all looking very positive. There’s a good chance I’ll get the job.

And it’s exciting and it’s breaking my heart. It feels like fate, that this job walks up to me and knocks on my door at a moment in my life when I needed more money. But the idea of leaving my current job upsets me.

I remember two and a half years ago, sitting in Cork airport, waiting for my flight to London (via Copenhagen – I left for London in such a rush that the cheapest way to get there from Ireland was to go via Denmark.) I distinctly remember my whole body sighing. I was so excited at the thought of an adventure. Of a big city. Of a new life. But at the same time, I had this feeling of “here I go again”. Like when I was 22 and moved to Poland or 25 and moved to Dublin or 29 and became a full-time student again or 33 and moved to Vietnam or 34 and moved to Longford. Here I go again. Another suitcase in another hall. I felt rootless. I felt alone. I felt that this was my last chance, that I was down to my final reserves of bravery and that this had to be my last big move.

And the first months in London were so worth it. So, so worth it. But they were hard as well. I lived in a succession of shitty hostels. I had part-time hours of teaching and then training and I had online work but I constantly ran out of money. But I was electrified by London. I slept with so many men when I arrived. I did things I’d never done before. I woke up in TravelLodges with strange men and got late night trains and buses back to my hostel from the flats of kinky men in West Dulwich and East Ham and Clapham and Highbury and it was a brand new life. I started going to West End shows and sobbed at Mamma Mia that I was finally really here and really living a life of dreamed of. I went to my first gay sauna. It was all amazing.

But it wasn’t a settled life. My first birthday in London, I treated myself to an expensive hostel near St Paul’s Cathedral that had clean showers. I was sharing a room with five others and I spent most of the day idly browsing the internet. I considered contacting some old friends in London and asking if they wanted to do something for my birthday, but I’m bad at staying in touch with people so I didn’t. But I couldn’t spend my birthday alone, so I worked Grindr and GROWLr for a few hours until I found a man. I wasn’t going to be alone. I went to his flat where he stripped me and forced me onto my knees and slapped me and put a gimp mask over my head and forced poppers on me and it was thrilling and degrading and I was lonely so I accepted that as my birthday treat.

That’s not my life any more. I have real people in my life now. I love the people I work with. I now see them outside of work too. I don’t need to have a maths teacher in North London rough me up so I’m not alone. It would be such a wrench to leave the place and people that I love. I know I’m good at my job. I’ve carved a niche for myself there. I look forward to going in every day. I genuinely love my colleagues. And I know I wouldn’t lose the friends I’ve made if I left, but I also know that it would be different. And that’s a change I’m afraid of.

But fate seems to be speaking to me. And it’s not just the money. I wrote last week about how I’ve been reading and writing more and getting more curious, about how I’m better able to concentrate and better able to remember things and working faster. This job would be more academic than my current one. It would be a new challenge. I spent a long time being scared of academic work after being burned during my PhD. But I don’t feel scared any more. I’m ready for this. Working in the world of CELTA is very much my safe space. And I like it. But I think it’s time to leave that comfort zone. A new adventure would be good.

At least until I make my break and achieve true stardom.

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Bye Floyd!

So, I now weight 19 stone 4 pounds and have lost 8 stone 12 pounds (124 pounds or 56.2 kilos) since my operation 20 weeks ago. I started googling things that weigh 124 pounds. You guys, I’ve lost a featherweight boxer. An adult human being.

I googled famous featherweights so I could post a picture of one of them on my weightloss instagram account (@theweightlosshomo – follow me!) Featherweight might sound tiny. They’re not. Famous featherweights include: Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Carl Frampton. They’re not tiny, tiny men. And I’ve lost the equivalent of a whole one of them. Imagine. A few months ago, I was walking around with Floyd Mayweather strapped to my belly. How did I manage to get anything done?

And life continues to be happy as a result. It’s not perfect, of course. I have horribly painful kidney stones and my finances have got temporarily rocky again, so there’s plenty for me to complain about, but not in this post. Instead, I’ll write about three happy things:

Happy Thing Number One: My penis is definitely bigger. Yay! The fat pad around it has receded and at some stage I need to stop looking at myself naked in full-length mirrors. But not yet.

Happy Thing Number Two: My favourite jacket fits me again. It’s a little bright green, stripey Britpop-esque jacket that I bought back in 2007, the last time I was this size, and I’ve kept it through 12 years of it not fitting because I love it. And now I can wear it again. I did another session of trying on all my clothes yesterday and there were another two bags of clothes to go to a charity shop. I’m shrinking so fast! The best thing was getting rid of my awful navy blue coat that I’ve worn for the last three winters. I hated it. It was so dull and it shrouded all my clothes in depression when I wore it. It never fitted right. For the first two years I had it, it didn’t zip up at the front and it didn’t keep me dry. This winter it did zip up, but it was too baggy on the shoulders and too long in the arms. Because a jacket is something you wear day after day, it should be one of your favourite pieces of clothing and I despised this coat. I love that I’ll never wear it again.

Happy Thing Number Three: I barely believe this myself, but I think it’s true. Losing weight has made me cleverer. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s a healthy body leading to a healthy mind. Or if it’s the clarity of mind I have from not always obsessing about food and how to stop eating. Whatever it is, I can read more and for longer. I find myself craving books. I can concentrate better. I can work faster. I get the same amount done on a work day now in about an hour less than it used to take me a few months ago. I can write faster. I’m consistently reading every day and writing every day. I find myself craving knowledge again. I remember being amazed at how much my brain and my motivation to study slowed down between my Masters and my PhD. I attributed it to all kinds of personal issues. But I was nine stone lighter when I did my Masters than when I did my PhD. I can feel my inner nerd waking up, wanting to learn new things again. I feel cleverer. Maybe it’s just that I haven’t had any alcohol in four months. I don’t know. But whatever it is, it’s a good thing.

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Doing more stuff

As I type this, I can’t lift my arms. But more of that in a minute.

Regular business first: more success. I lost another three pounds this week, for a new total of 8 stone 5 pounds lost (117 pounds or 53 kilos). I didn’t think it would be that good a result. I’d had a dicey week for eating. I’m definitely eating more than I was a month ago. But I guess I was eating so little that having more is still eating very little.

And because I’m eating very little, I’m smaller and so I’m better able for life. On Saturday, I was going to the filming of a TV show. (I love London.) When I first moved to London, I went to lots of shows. I was always nervous if someone else booked the seats. What if they didn’t book me an aisle seat? I only fitted in theatres if I could leave the bulk of my bulk hang off on one side. I don’t need to do that any more. I can just say yes to things. I fit in the seats the world sends. I don’t need special ones any more. I can just say yes.

As it turned out, we were too late to get into the show. It wasn’t starting till 7:35 and we were there at 4:00, but apparently people had been queueing all day. Who knew The Greatest Dancer was so popular? One of my friends suggested the five of us go back to mine to watch it. I didn’t hesitate. I just said yes. I cannot tell you how bizarre this is for me. I’m very protective of my own space, for one thing. For another, I used to need a lot of time to prepare before someone could visit because I used to spend the weekends lying down because I was just so tired. I wasn’t able to bend over and pick up dirty clothes off the floor. Or the pizza boxes for that matter. I used to be breathless from bending over to fill the washing machine and sometimes I’d have to wash clothes twice because I didn’t have the energy to bend over and empty it and the clothes would start to stink and I’d just wash them again because that was easier than bending over to empty the machine. I couldn’t bend over to plug in a hoover without taking off my trousers first. My digestive issues meant my bathroom was a battleground to keep clean. I’m not saying I lived in filth, but it was really, really hard to keep the place clean and tidy and any visitors would have to be prepared for in advance.

But on Saturday, I didn’t blink an eye. Sure. My house was tidy. I get great joy from tidying now. And it’s not just a Marie Kondo fad (though she helped). It’s rediscovering an ability that was lost to me. I can be that person now. I can keep a house tidy. It’s fine to just drop by. Hey world, you don’t need an appointment to call in to Connor’s place now. It’s ready.

So on Saturday night, I had five people over.

Not only that, but I was doing something on Sunday too. It’s not that long since I would have refused an invitation to do something on a Sunday if I was already doing something on a Saturday. I wouldn’t have had the energy. Now I can. I can say yes.

We were going to an escape room for a friend’s birthday. We were on the Dark Side of the Moon, killing Space Nazis and it was so much fun.

At one point in the battle against the space nazis, we had to slide down an actual slide and then roll/crawl/squirm under a giant tube. As I went down the slide, I shrieked. I shrieked loudly and at length. Apparently, people in other escape rooms could hear me. It was amazing. I visualised my death. But I was fine. I can slide!

I don’t know if I can explain what it’s like not to trust your body. When you have a body that is too big for furniture, that breaks beds and chairs, a body that doctors can’t find a blood pressure cuff big enough for, you accept that you can’t do things. And I really never trust my body. I’m not the sort to jump over things, or to jump on things, or to climb anywhere, or to wriggle through a gap, or to stand on a chair. Falling is a big risk for me. Nothing is strong enough to hold me upright. And 28 stone crushing your ankle is a lot worse than a normal-sized person crushing their ankle. I’ve never gone skiing. I’m afraid of doing things like getting up on a skateboard or into a canoe. Even as a fat child, I never learned to swim or to ride a bike. I don’t trust my body not to sink or to topple over. I’ve been afraid all my life. So just saying ‘Fuck it!’ and going down a slide meant a lot to me. I can trust my body. I didn’t die. I didn’t break anything. It was wonderful. I felt something I don’t think I’ve felt since I was a child.

And afterwards, I was able to crawl under the giant tube, which I literally wouldn’t have been able to even attempt four months ago. I just wouldn’t have fit.

If I did the escape room four months ago, the space nazis would have got me. I’d be dead now. On the moon.

And then today after work, I went to an exercise class at my gym. I haven’t been to a group exercise class since I was in the university boxing club six years ago. It was a “sculpt” class, where you basically do aerobics while lifting weights. And it was everything.

It was a very gay experience. It was all done to dance remixes of Rihanna and Little Mix. The instructor had a Britney-in-concert microphone and she shouted at us about clenching our bottoms. All very gay. I’m still not an elegant mover. I was the guy in the class that went left when everyone else was going right. I also managed to pick the wonky step that was shorter on one end so I looked like I was surfing while I was doing my bicep curls. But I loved it.

I’m so tired now. I can’t lift my arms. But I have more life than I did.

This operation has been a miracle for me. I can live so much more. I can be part of the world. I can slide down slides. I can have friends over without planning it. I can crawl under things. I can empty the washing machine without using up my quota of energy for the day. I can go to the gym and move inelegantly to Rihanna. I can be out in the world and do more stuff and I can be at home and do more stuff. I can do more stuff. I have more life. And it makes me cry with gratitude that I have this now.

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Tinder

Change come dropping slow. Too slow. I’m making one of the biggest and most dramatic changes of my life. This experience is thrillingly fast. And yet, it’s not. It feels slow.

Every day, multiple times a day, I look in a mirror. And I’m overjoyed at how much I’ve lost. And yet, every day multiple times a day, I look in the mirror and see someone who is still a very fat man. Remember when Gok Wan was famous and was doing “How To Look Good Naked”? He used to line up people of different sizes and then get that week’s star to stand in their place in the line and they invariably thought they were fatter than a person who was fatter than them? I imagine we all think we’re fatter than we actually are. If I see other fat people I always wonder if they’re fatter than me because I genuinely have no idea and presume I’m always the fattest person in any given room.

I know I’m still fat. If someone wanted to describe me and fat or some polite synonym for fat wasn’t in the description, then it would just be a straight up lie. The other day, I didn’t give a beggar any money as I passed him outside Brixton Station. I never have change on me any more since contactless became a thing. He got in my face and called me a chubby fucker. Because, even though my whole existence for the last four months has been about the unfattening, the fat remains. My core life project right now is not being fat and yet my primary characteristic on display to the outside world is my fatness. It’s an uneasy marriage within my self.

I’m trying to abandon Fat Connor. I’ve given my fat clothes away to charity. And I deleted two apps from my phone at the weekend. One was Chasabl and the other was Grommr. One is an app for men who love fat man (for so-called chubs and chasers), the other for men who love men who are gaining weight (for so-called feeders and gainers). It was liberating. When I first came to London, I used to hide the fact that I preferred Diet Coke to real Coke from the men I went on dates with because they wanted a man who loved his fat. I’ll never be that person again. I’ll hopefully never have to pretend to love being fat again.

But I’m not in a new category yet. I’m still only attractive to the men who fetishise fat. What to do? Maybe I could try landing a man with my personality? I hear that happens sometimes.

So I updated my Tinder profile. New photos of the less fat me. And more sparkly photos too. In previous times on previous apps, I’ve tried to butch it up. If you like fat men, you want to shag an ox, not a unicorn. But Tinder Connor is going to be honest and he’s going to wear his pink trousers. Who knows what might happen?

I spent the weekend swiping left and right. I made 13 matches. At first I tried what I’d always tried before: friendly messages, complimenting something in their profile, maybe asking a non-judgmental question. No answers.

It was time to change tack. Instead of saying hello, I changed my greeting and I asked the prospective matches for their opinion on What Naomi Smalls Did In This Week’s Episode Of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars. Literally within seconds, answers started flooding in. Lesson learned. To make a gay talk, just mention Drag Race. Admittedly, some of the men were offended that I presumed they watched Drag Race just because they were gay and one poor boy panicked because he hadn’t seen this week’s episode and didn’t want me to spoil it for him, but overall, it was a great success.

Sometimes I think all I want from life is someone to discuss Drag Race with. I mean, I’d like naked time too, and none of these conversations went there, but that was kind of refreshing. The kind of conversations I’m used to having are ones where men ask me things like “I bet you pant really hard when you wank” or “Would you sit on my neck and jiggle your belly while you squash all the breath out of me?” Discussing drag queens and frocks and lipsyncing and snatching wigs might not get me laid, but for now I think that’s ok.

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