We arrived at the airport, which for someone of my size, was always cause for anxiety. I was no stranger to how a heavy person gets treated on a plane. Still, I was excited. The wedding was finally over and I was off to embark on the great adventure. This was what I was waiting for. I had already checked the tickets for roughly where it was on the plane and if one of us would be sitting next to another person. I wanted to have a plan to make it to my seat and sit down as quick as possible. I also wanted to be first, so I could chose the seat, which would be the window if possible. Then my husband would have to sit next to the other person. Once I sat down, I tried the seat belt. You may not know this, but fat and skin can sometimes be squeezed in a way that will allow you to buckle such things and hold position until the seat belt on light turns off. After trying every move I knew, I quickly realized that I was going to need a seat belt extender.
This is a sad and important milestone for a heavy person. It’s one of those instances where you can not turn a blind eye or try to convince yourself there is an explanation for it. No, it’s black, white and in your face. This wasn’t my first time down this road. I carefully assessed my next move and tried to ask the stewardess as discreetly as possible, but she looked at me with utter loathing and disgust and said in a very loud and annoyed voice, “Excuse me? Did you say you needed a seat belt extender?” I felt like I was being talked to like a disobedient child. I was humiliated, embarrassed and my husband said and did nothing. About a quarter of the way through a 6 hour flight, the lady in front of me put her seat back, which would push on my knees and make my legs tingly. I asked her at least 3 times to please put it up and she wouldn’t. I asked to stewardess to please ask her to do it as it was affecting my circulation or to find me another seat, but she wouldn’t and said their were none available. Funny, I looked around and spotted at least 5 empty seats on the plane.
By the time we landed, my legs and feet were so swollen that I could hardly walk. My first day in paradise was not going to go as planned. We rested that day, instead of exploring like planned. A day behind, we finally made it out to Volcano National park. It was beautiful with lush rain forests, waterfalls, lava tubes and beautiful beaches. We even saw an extinct lake of lave with in an ancient volcano crater. It was amazing. I was inspired to hike down to the bottom where a trail led the way to the hardened lava lake. It was a long trail that zig zaged down the lush steep hillside of the extinct volcano. It took me over an hour to hike down to the bottom. Once at the bottom, we were met with large jagged pieces of hardened lava that jetted out at all angles from the cooling process and waves of molten lava on the other side. Once we climbed over those, we finally were able to walk on the smooth surface. In the distance, you could see the rim all around you as well as pillar of rock from active steam vents that reminded you of the unpredictable power of the earth. I was exhausted, but proud of my accomplishment, especially for someone of my weight. Then it was time to hike back up…
This is where I would be forced to face reality yet again. I was already tired from the hike down the mountain and out to the hardened lake of lava and totally unprepared for the hike back up. My feet had blisters; I was out of water and out of breath. My body was heavy with exhaustion and I had to stop several times and rest on the way back up. People would stop to ask if I was ok. I waved them off as if I just needed to rest more, but in truth, I was afraid I was going to have a heart attack or something and was on verge of calling in for help. But I didn’t. I would not, could not go down like that. It would make everything everyone has ever said about my weight true, and I wasn’t going to let them be right. I wasn’t going to let it have control of my life.
After what seemed like several hours, I finally made it back up. My muscles were ready to collapse and I was physically unable to explore the rest of the park that day. Luckily we had already gone on a couple smaller hikes that allowed us to see a massive waterfall and lava tube, but I didn’t get to do or see so much that I wanted to. I was really disappointed. Deep down I knew that my weight limited me and for the first time I saw how much I was missing in life because of it.
These past memories are part of another blog I want to write called My So Called Bariatric Life, where I talk about my journey through self discovery and losing 210lbs.