Losing weight as a crip could result in side effects

This entry originally appeared on my disability blog, I hate stairs.

By Matt Watson

For the first 21 years of my life, I was a fat kid. I wasn’t the fat kid, because by virtue of living in Mississippi, most all kids were fat. I was content with my unhealthy eating habits, and those habits grew even more unhealthy in college. You know, like most people’s eating habits in college.

Other than the chubby Mississippian, I also fit into another category: the fat kid in the wheelchair. You see, crippled folks usually come in two sizes: really big or really small. I was naturally never able to exercise much, but I ate like every other kid. Other wheelchair users sometimes have medical complications that make it hard to eat and cause severe weight loss. As one who fell on the overweight side of the divide, I listened to specialists for years beseeching me to “stop eating.”

I didn’t obey them, but my sweet tooth may be related to my eventual weight loss. In the fall of 2010, I finally became diabetic, something I suspected might happen since diabetes runs in my family anyway. Some initial high blood sugars and a strict decrease in my carb intake has turned me into skin and bones (by Southern standards).

Pros

This situation has turned out to be a double-edged sword. First, the good part.

I enjoy a little more upper-body mobility now that I’m skinnier. Doctors told me for years that losing weight would make it easier on my atrophied muscles.

I’m pretty sure losing weight takes away a couple of statistical health risks. This reduction in health risks often feels inconsequential, being that I’m a diabetic with SMA and all the side afflictions that arise from those two, but I might as well mention it.

I get compliments on my weight loss, which is nice considering I used never to think I would ever be on the receiving end of those compliments. Let’s face it. I’m sexy. OK, OK, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

Cons

I’m seriously turning in to skin and bones, as I only ever had SMA-style muscles under my protective blubber.

I say protective, because another downside is that my disjointed joints and osteoporotic bones are no longer guarded from surfaces only as firm as my air mattress. My fanny hurts these days. I no longer fail to appreciate the shielding quality of cellulite.

Finally, the seat in my chair barely fits me anymore. I woke up one morning, and I swear out of nowhere my chair grew a couple sizes too big, along with most of my clothes. While it’s kind of nice to be able to say that, I really, really don’t feel like going through the arduous process of getting fitted for a new wheelchair. So instead I choose to sit here and be in a little pain.

Before becoming diabetic and more seriously dieting, I tried my hand at loosing weight on various occasions, always with the idea that I would lose weight and feel great and look manfully sexy (by Mississippi standards). Eh. Whatever.

I’m not saying I’m not satisfied at all with my success. It’s just that loosing weight is not all it’s cracked up to be, at least when you’re disabled. It’s like getting all excited about watching a soccer game for the first time only for it to end in a tie. Fun, but still lame.