Tag Archives: Rubenesque

Reframing The ‘F’ Word …

fattyIt’s weird.

I’m more likely to define myself as ‘fat’ than as ‘living with MS’.


I’ve struggled with weight gain since I was diagnosed back in 2012 – through a combination of medication, thyroid, stress and comfort eating.

I’m not going to lie, I put my chubby hands up to the last one.

I had a wonderful conversation with a friend on Monday and mentioned that I tell everyone I’m fat, almost as a matter of course. Why do I do this? I mean, they can see it; I probably fill their entire periphery vision in one fell swoop. I’m kinda hard to miss.

She asked me why I did this and I really had no explanation other than I’m so unused to being this size – I’m the biggest I’ve ever been – it’s almost a novelty. A curiosity. To use an unfortunate phrase, is it about getting the elephant in the room out the way?

MS is such a ‘normal’ part of my life now, but being this size isn’t.

I’ve tried to embrace this new body, but found out I really didn’t want to. And I don’t understand this. I’ve met incredible women over the years, through my travels and in the UK, who were far larger than me but happier. Celebrating and indulging wholeheartedly in life in a way I can’t imagine.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy, just miffed. More so as I have beautiful clothes hanging in my wardrobe that look a bit silly on me. But do they? Maybe I should stand a bit taller in the mirror and not give a damn about the spare tyre(s) and let my character, my inner essence, do the talking? Isn’t that what life is all about?

I watched an eye-opening episode of ‘First Dates’ this morning (I’m always up early and have ages to fill before work). There was a lovely guy, a tailor on Savile Row. He’d lost a lot of weight a couple of years before but was still conscious and a little overweight. The date went well although he mentioned his weight at every opportunity and you could see his lack of self esteem.

The result? His date thought he was wonderful, but his confidence issues were a turn off.

A great insight. But it got me worried about my potential dating advert, which was already dire:

40-something, divorced, one Teenager, one cat, have an incurable progressive illness – WLTM similar

And fat?

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Positively Confusing?

RubenesqueI have been fortunate enough to be interviewed recently about my book.

Half-way through, still being recorded, I asked, ‘Gah, am I sounding too positive about MS?’

A conundrum.

Rewind two years and the interviewer would have discovered me flat on the floor, holding up a wine glass, chomping on a family-sized bar of Dairy Milk. And no doubt crying. I was in a dark, shadowy and very different place.

How best to portray life with MS, almost three years after being diagnosed? I don’t want to be labelled a ‘survivor’, ‘a sufferer’ or to be hailed as ‘fighting back, despite all the odds (TM).’ I am just me, who has forged an entirely new and unexpected path through the maze that is MS. I’m still eating far too much chocolate, I’m still fat Rubenesque and I’m now officially over the hill at 41.

Is there such a thing as being positively ok with MS? Hmm. It depends.

If I’m honest, 90% of the time I think I am now used to the vile intruder that is MS. I love my home life, I love my work and I love being in Uni. Life is looking rosy and positive. It’s the other 10% that can be problematic, as anyone living with MS knows.

It’s the relentless fears, the creeping spectre of progression that haunts our darkest moments and I’m not immune to this.

But. In the meantime, as I said to the reporter, I have achieved a lot more since MS than I could ever have dreamed of. Being sacked unceremoniously from work simply for the crime of having MS was merely the start. Being bullied into submission by the very same colleagues, who just before diagnosis treated me with respect, ignited a passion to ‘live well with MS’.

So I am now living a life I love, in spite of MS. MS is with me every step of the way, excuse the pun, and it still continues to trip me up when I least expect it. The dark days are still with me and I doubt they will ever leave, but I am learning to live with them.

The article comes out tomorrow in the national newspaper of Wales. My only fear is the photograph. I am quite possibly the most un-photogenic person ever. The word ‘chubby’ springs to mind, as does ‘Paleo’, meh.

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