Apparently, a growing number of people in this country are so obese that emergency helicopters and other medical transport units can't pick them up off the ground.... literally. They estimate that 5,000 patients a year are denied pickup because they are too heavy.
As a large, ahem, voluptuous, ahem, really fat woman, I couldn't help but take notice. Anyone who is really heavy knows that flying of any kind induces serious anxiety. I mean really heavy, not people (ahem women) with body image disorders who think they're "fat"; we're talking serious poundage.
The sleepless night before the flight praying that the laws of physics change ... just this once. Sweating all the way through TSA and hoping it doesn't make you look suspicious.
- Will I fit down the aisle?
- Will I fit in the seat?
- Will the seat belt buckle?
- And please let me be seated next to a child. (Fat people are probably the only people on earth who pray to be seated next to children on a transcontinental flight.)
I actually have a seatbelt extender that one of the flight attendants handed me during one of my flying "incidents" that I'd rather not go into here ... although I probably will at some future date. Writers, we'll tell you everything eventually.
I came by it honestly ... or jetlaggedly. The flight attendant gave it to me and somehow I found it later in one of my carry-ons. I don't think I took it intentionally, but when I found it at the hotel, I wasn't about to hand it back.
Just having that extender has calmed me more than once ... even though I don't have to use it anymore. It was as calming as .... ice cream at the end of the day.... alright, now it's frozen yogurt and small portions. By the way, the big cup makes it feel huge. Free tip! And part of the reason that I don't need the extender anymore. Score!
Back to EMT helicopters stranding fat people, here is the quote from the article that I found most disturbing:
"So when a patient reported to weigh 250 pounds actually tips the scales at 350, emergency crews have a dilemma. Even if they fly around for 15 minutes and burn off fuel, they may not have enough lift to transport."As if we all don't lie about our weight. The difference is that, once you're in the fat zone, you could say 250 or 350 and people wouldn't know it. Not really. Fat is fat and once you're fat, you're just fat. The next line you cross is the one where you need two canes to walk or a crane to get you out of your house. There is a vast array of poundage in between ... for some unknown reason.
I could totally see telling some hot, male EMT with muscles bulging out of his shirt that I was 250 out of embarrassment ... even if I was dying. As these people were ... and did (lie about their weight not die). That's how deep the shame goes. And 5,000 people lived through it ... or not. The article didn't actually say how many of the stranded died.
250, as we all know, seems to be the cutoff for normal in our culture. Fitness equipment will rarely claim to hold over 250 pounds ... without irony. It is conceivable after all that a 6'4" man with extensive muscle mass could be 250 pounds and healthy, so let's cut it off there. Good choice! It's not like people over 250 pounds might need the exercise equipment or anything.
I have spent many an hour on an elliptical machine praying that I don't break it because I'm over the stated weight limit. Sweating and panting in my crappy sweatpants and Hanes T-shirt (because they don't make workout clothes over a certain size, again without irony) I came up with load after load of bullshit I would tell the beefy gym attendant - or worse, tiny gym attendant - if the machine broke. None of them mentioning my actual weight.
I can't remember any of those stories now, but they were brilliant and totally believable.
My other vision - who needs TV?! - was of me sprawled out on the equipment after collapsing from the exertion and then electrocuting myself because I barfed over the machine before collapsing. Then, they'd have to call the EMTs - at which point I would plead, "Please don't wheeze... send any ... gasp ... hot ones."
Now, I can add that they would call the helicopter and it would come ... but it would just circle overhead like a vulture over a landfill, the hot pilot radioing the hot EMT, "She's 350 if she's an ounce."
Circling ... circling with the propellers making that whop whop whop whop noise as I lay there thinking, "Hot. Why are they always so hot?"
Am I the only woman who fears being rescued by hot men? It's just so much more extra super-duper humiliating. I want to be rescued by Andre the Giant (RIP).
This lying about the weight business reminds me of the time - the one and only time - I went skiing. It was college and I had not yet learned to heed my sister's advice that I should get fatter friends. My friends were skinny and skinny is as skinny does and skinny goes skiing.
If you don't have your own skis, you have to rent some from the chalet or the lodge or the whatever the hell they call that place. Weellll, did you know that they ask you how much you weigh? In front of a whole room full of people? Who are standing behind you wearing expressions that say, "Hurry up, lady!"
This is it.
The line between skinny and fat people. Fat people would never, ever engage in an activity where they have to say how much they weigh in front of a room of non-fat people!! Weight Watchers is the obvious exception ... because it's a room full of fat people. I have attended 12 step meetings for overeating where no one says how much they weigh.
Only skinny people would think that telling some "dude" who keeps having to jerk his head to get the overgrown bangs out of his eyes your weight ... in FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE is no big deal.
They want to know your weight so that they can figure out how large the skis need to be to hold you.
And I lied ... a LOT! By about 150 pounds. So, people who told the EMTs they were 100 pounds less than they were? I feel you. I do not and cannot judge you.
I don't think they make skis big enough for my actual weight at that time ... and I don't think it's legal to try to go down a mountain with canoes strapped to your feet.
I made it down the mountain by the grace of God, the angelic kingdom, and my large, fat ass upon which I fell the second those toothpick slats hit the snow. I inchwormed my way down the mountain on all the cellulite I had spend years acquiring. Finally, an investment that actually paid dividends.
I tried to break my fall with my hand and injured the large pad of my thumb. It hurt like hell and I really thought they were going to have to take me to the hospital. Hot ski bums and hot EMTs? No. Fucking. Way.
Thank God I wasn't really hurt. If so, I'd still be on that mountain today waiting for the helicopter as it circled above, the hot pilot radioing the hot EMT, "Did you give her the toddler skis?"
Jesus! I really could have killed myself. Like I said, people stranded after lying about your weight, you have all my compassion.