I have been reluctant to share this part of my story. But something significant happened recently, so I feel ready to share.
In 2023, I had emergency spine surgery when two of my vertebrae collapsed. That kind of health scare is REALLY confronting. But then I saw a photo, taken of me last February, and I was shocked at how I looked. Tired, yes. But also very overweight. Truth be known, that seemed just as confronting as the spine surgery!
Before: Feb 2023
In September 2023, I went to my doctor for a checkup. I needed a prescription refill and he, like every doctor before him, wanted to talk about my weight. I usually go along with whatever they tell me because, I’m in my mid-fifties and I’ve heard their advice a thousand times before. It’s always the same. I do exactly as they say and… not much changes.
Except this time the discussion was different.
When I mentioned to the doctor that I wanted to walk another Camino, I told him I was nervous because of my spine surgery. The doctor looked at me and said he was concerned about my weight, because with the surgery I had, and with the weight I carried, it would impact my journey. Especially with arthritis in my spine.
Then he asked if I had heard of Ozempic, and asked if I’d be interested in trying it.
Here’s the funny part of that story…I had never heard of Ozempic. Seriously. No clue. (Yes, I live in a bubble. I had to go home and Google it. Obviously I was surprised to learn how wide spread it is!)
I’ve now been on Ozempic since October 2023.
I know this is a controversial topic. People have opinions.
I also understand the argument for those with diabetes, not being able to get the medication. But I also see it from my perspective. I have a chronic condition called Cervical Spondylosis and I need to lose weight. I would have loved a different option, but, as mentioned, I’ve done everything I can to lose weight. I would have loved to have been offered a different option than the diabetic medication, but Ozempic was the only one available at that time. And, for the beginning part of my journey, Ozempic was not available to non-diabetics anyway.
I waited weeks for Ozempic to be available. Mounjaro suddenly became an option – a different solution with the same results. Unfortunately, Mounjaro was also twice the price of Ozempic, but I tried it anyway (I prefer it over Ozempic, to be honest, as it has less side effects. But the price… oof. Neither are cheap, and private medical insurance only covers part of the cost). Fortunately, for all concerned, Ozempic is widely available again.
As of Feb 2024, I’ve lost about 15kg (33lbs), balancing the Ozempic prescription with diet and exercise.
The doctor and I have a plan, and that plan is to take off the weight slowly. I’m not like the celebrities before me, looking for a quick fix. I’m on the turtle plan.
Feb 2024. 15kg down. Still a lot more to go.
I’m proud of my progress. I’m still far from my goal. But, because of the fact that I’m mid-fifties and menopausal, the plateaus occur more often than normal – and they are a bitch.
The hard part – although not surprising – is that even though I’ve reduced my size, the judgement regarding my size is still prevalent.
Here’s the incident that pushed me to finally share my story:
Recently, we went to get our car serviced. We’ve been having an issue with squeaky seats. The issue is all over the internet for Subaru owners. Initially, I thought that maybe I broke something on the seat when I was being rushed to hospital, desperate to find a comfortable position. I mean, it had to be something like that, right? Our car is only two and a half years old.
But, after getting the run around from the dealership (a whole OTHER story), I was told – by the Service Manager no less – that the issue was not mechanical. He said it was because – and this is the part that shocked me – that my overweight, wide hips, pushed the buckle a certain way, and that’s what was causing the squeak. And when he said it, it wasn’t kind.
I was dumbstruck. I seriously could not speak. I blocked out the thought: Who the hell was he to say that to me?! My mind went into practical mode, because the man was done. He was heading back to his office.
Rather than admit it was a design flaw, or something wrong with the belt mechanism, he implied I was fat, and his attitude was that I just needed to accept it. His solution? Silicone lubricant. When I asked what we needed to do WHEN the issue returned, he said, quite simply: ‘Try a different lubricant’. With that, he returned to his office.
Needless to say, I was fuming. But I was so distraught, I couldn’t say anything to him. I flipped him off as he walked away. Eventually, I said something to the customer service rep who originally helped us, about how I found his response unacceptable. She was gobsmacked herself. Then apologised for HIS behaviour. It should have been HIM apologising. But he is her boss, and she was simply trying to diffuse a customer’s (inner) rage.
(Meanwhile, I was thinking: Why was this the case after two years of having this brand new car? I mean, I’ve driven plenty of cars in my life – and even in the last two years with rentals – but only THIS car has this issue? Needless to say, we are done with this car, done with this dealership and, when we can get to it, we will be looking for another car.)
I’m not one to put up with this kind of thing. When I got home, I submitted a formal complaint to the company’s head office because, even if my wide hips did cause the issue (which I don’t believe is the issue), the man should never have said anything about my wide hips or my weight, nor should he have brushed the entire thing off. Especially given his role as Service Manager.
It made me realise that the judgement against anyone plus size is still front and centre. I’ve dealt with this kind of thing ALL my life and, just because I’m now the most common size of most Australians, I’m still facing the prejudice.
But it doesn’t stop there. Being I’m on Ozempic, I’ve seen the judgements against those on this medication. Comments like ‘they’re taking the easy way out’, are just as far reaching as the comments about how lazy we are. Or how fat we are. With this medication, we trying to make improvements to their life. Seriously, we can’t win.
Let me be clear: Taking this medication is not easy. I deal with constipation like never before. I have no appetite at all, and now I’m struggle to ensure I’m putting enough nutrients into my body, every single day. Especially protein.
So for those casting judgement about anyone on Ozempic, or thinking this is an easy solution, it’s not.
I’ve been on the rollercoaster of weight loss/gain all my life. I have genetics against me, for one. Both my parents were plus sized for most of their adult lives. Hell, my father could have been mistaken for a garden gnome! I’ve tried everything under the sun to lose weight. I’ve tried every program (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc…). I’ve met with dieticians. I’ve fasted. I’ve grazed. I’ve tried a carb free diet. I’ve walked. I’ve exercised manically. Hell, even walking 800km across Spain for 45 days had me losing only a small amount of little weight.
This is the first time I feel like something is working.
But it’s not just a physical change. I am working on my mental wellbeing, because people (like the misogynistic service manager), who only see the overweight, middle-aged woman, still feel it’s okay to say whatever they like. Or pass judgement, because all they see is the body. Well, that’s not okay either. These kinds of comments cut me in half. Even though they shouldn’t, they still do.
But onward I go. I will keep fighting the fight.