Posted on March 04, 2015 by Dr. Deah(Take a moment and see why the idea of a one size fits all approach to health is barking up the wrong tree). And the second...My sister lost 50 pounds. It took over a year. Her pain was pervasive and engaging in weight loss exercise regimens, out of the question. And still the doctor refused to replace her hip. Until last week. With perseverance and determination, she found a surgeon in Florida, not far from where she lives, that agreed she needed to be out of pain and conducted the surgery. I am thrilled to report she was just moved to rehab and is doing amazingly well. With that piece of good news under my belt, I felt energized enough to tell you the story of Robin King and John J. Mccallion. It is a beautiful love story about connection, loss, acceptance, and anger. There is no happy ending per se, but if you count finding out that you have more people in your community than you thought, well then, the ending is a bona fide happily ever after. Last fall I received the following email: “Dr. Schwartz, You have been emailing my LATE wife Robin. I continue to visit her mail regularly. This is her husband, John J. McCallion, writing. Congratulations on the excellent work you are doing. I am disposing of the estate slowly and wonder if you or someone you know would care to acquire her books on size acceptance? I feel those especially should go to an appreciative home - free of charge and posted at my expense. I will make a list if you or someone you know might be interested. Robin's deteriorating condition (Primary Pulmonary Hypertension that afflicts only around 30,000 people in the entire US) led to an ultimate weight loss of 144 lbs. - a side-effect of the Remodulin medication she had to take. The bitter irony is that it put her in the establishment weight range that permitted her to be placed on the LIST for a double-lung transplant. After all, we cannot have obese people survive, can we? Did her body become so weakened that it could not stand the trauma of the surgery, despite initial reports that she emerged with her vital signs intact? The autopsy I permitted was inconclusive................ Can you imagine my reaction when I read about that splendid intellectual, Jessica Simpson, complain that she thought her life was over when she gained several extra pounds.... THEN hear my primary physician tell me (despite complaints from concerned acquaintances that I was looking poorly) that losing weight was one of the things to do to become healthy?! I think part of me went through the roof and is still up there somewhere in orbit around the outer planets........................... I wish we could have "met" under happier circumstances - and that we lived in a much less aggravating world. John Mccallion - and Robin King, who will always be a part of me." I was filled with so many emotions as I read the letter and responded to John as best as I could. "John, as good as I may be with words, there are never words to express condolences that don't sound pat or cliche...so when I say I am sorry for your loss, it doesn't come close to voicing my empathy for the grief you must be experiencing. Thank you for writing such a personal note, your story is enraging and confirms how our medical system continues to treat people poorly based on weight criteria. The irony you describe is heartbreaking and asks so many more questions than it answers. I would be honored to have Robin's books and will treat them as precious reminders that connections are made via social media that are meaningful despite efforts of the trolls to banish fat/size acceptance advocates from the internet. I will of course be happy to keep YOU on my mailing list if you want to continue to read my blogs and newsletters. Lastly, if and when you feel up to it and if it's something you would be interested in doing, I would be honored to post your story/tribute to Robin and what your doctor told you on my blog. What you have to say is very important. All my best wishes and gratitude for contacting me. Deah" John wrote back: “…Robin’s passing happened in the cruelest possible way. We knew that 70 percent of patients died before suitable lungs were available and 20 percent expired during surgery. When the operation was announced to have been a success with the seventh set of lungs finally deemed good enough (she emerged with excellent vital signs) my brother in the old country cheered on the phone and promised the rest of the family would join him soon...It was to be a short-lived moment of triumph: When she did not regain consciousness quickly, a brain scan revealed that she never would....She had suffered two MASSIVE strokes (a "very rare occurrence") that had wiped out her faculties beyond redemption, and it was left to me to authorize removal of life support. God, I MISS her desperately and am convinced beyond any shadow of doubt that I always will. You have my permission to quote what I said and disseminate our story. Robin was extremely unhappy to have slid onto the transplant list in such a random way, but I would not have let her refuse on principle EVEN if she had wanted to. Best wishes, John” Deah: "Thank you John. By the way, I just heard from a woman who is doing research on medical bias towards fat patients for her doctorate. Is it ok if I share your story with her? Also this article came out yesterday, I thought you may want to take a gander. I promise not to bombard you with info on this subject. I'm sure it is all too new and sensitive of a subject. But just know there are fat activists out here in the world calling the medical profession to task. http://today.uconn.edu/blog/2014/10/doctors-must-examine-own-weight-bias-before-treating-patients-researcher-says/?utm_source=FacStaffDailyDigest The book package arrived safe and sound. They are a fantastic collection and very dear. Thank you, Deah” John: "I am gratified that the books have arrived at such an appreciative and welcoming home............The only other email that came at the same time as yours was one telling me to love my body again by eating something that would avoid the need to diet...................God help us! Have you seen this link? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathleen-brooks/being-fat_b_6097544.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592 Deah: "Thanks John. I hadn't seen this one. Isn't it so awful that this woman survived an organ transplant and is unable to enjoy her "second chance" of life because of body hate? It breaks my heart!" John: "Dr. Schwartz,...mingled with pride. Among the NUMEROUS papers Robin left behind I discovered tonight Certificates she gained for winning first prize in Rump Parliament's first Writing Contest (Fiction) in late 1994. There is also a phenomenal amount of correspondence relating to levels of Mathematics I could not reach in my wildest dreams. That big girl married far beneath her station: No wonder I miss her?! John." John and I continue to be in touch, sharing links from time to time. He sent me two other links about him and Robin which I have included as well at the end of this post.* And I received a box of the Rump Parliament zines that brought me waaaaaay back in time. It is difficult to look at the collection of books and magazines that John sent to me without feeling appreciative of the fat activist and size acceptance pioneers that clearly found their way into Robin and John’s lives. Like a fat history channel documentary the boxes were filled with issues of Radiance, BBW, and books all about the importance of loving bodies of all shapes and sizes and rejecting the "tyranny of slenderness." I wonder how many other books would have found their way into Robin's collection and whether or not she would have written more on the subject herself? The collection pointed out to me that our movement is gaining momentum and our presence provides safety and support for so many folks. And even if we think our blogs are not being read by anyone and our writing just goes into a vacuum somewhere because of a lack of comments or feedback appearing in our inboxes, we may be surprised at how much we are helping to create a community. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, It’s time to put the HEAL back into HEALth and the CARE back into healthCARE. And thank YOU John, for caring and sharing such a precious part of your world. *Here is a link to a perceptive obituary (scroll down when you reach it). *The story of our life together is here: Til next time, Dr. Deah
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About Dr. Deah
Dr. Deah Schwartz, clinician, educator, and author specializes in Expressive Arts Therapies, Eating Disorders, and Body Image. Deah is the author of Dr. Deah's Calmanac: Your Interactive Monthly Guide for Cultivating a Positive Body Image and co-author of the NAAFA award winning Off-Broadway Play, Leftovers, and its companion DVD/Workbook Set. An outspoken “New Yawker,” Dr. Deah believes that it is everyone’s responsibility to point out and eliminate size discrimination even when it means battling the mainstream media, and even more challenging...family members! To find out more about Dr. Deah’s work or to book a session visit her website at www.drdeah.com
Categories: Blogging, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, Dr. Deah, NAAFA, Obesity, Size Acceptance, Social Media and Weight Stigma, Weight, Weight Stigma | Tags: Amy Herskowitz, ASDAH, body image, dr. deah, Dr. Deb Burgard, fat acceptance, healthcare, obesity, Poodle Science, size acceptance, Stacey Bias, Weight Stigma | 3 comments