Manatees, Steriods and Self Esteem


I weigh how much? BUT I JUST EAT LETTUCE.

I make the joke that I am a manatee.

I do actually fit the criteria to be such a creature.

I live in Florida, I eat healthy and all natural food and I’m still overweight…therefore I am a manatee.

Before being treated for Addison’s disease, I was very close to death and very underweight. At 23 years old, 5 foot 4 inches, I only weighed 87 pounds. My frail little body had succumb to the lack of cortisol, electrolytes and aldosterone.

Fast forward one year, after adding the necessary exogenous cortisol medications, my weight went up.

It happened just about overnight….

I literally woke up one morning and everything in my closet was tight. I had to wear a skirt to work because nothing fit.

The steroid effect… hit me….hard.

I went to my doctor that week and expressed my concerns regarding my weight. He asked me about my diet and activity level. I explained to him I was on strict gluten, dairy, egg free, low sugar and all natural diet. He looked at me, smiled and told me that the steroids were the reason I was overweight and not anything I was doing. I had been on steroids a year now, and they will put weight on you regardless of how strictly you eat. He also credited me for how I had only gained as much weight as I had. I was still disheartened at my weight and inquired about anything I could do. He reminded me that I was in recovery for total adrenal failure and exercise wouldn’t be a quick fix for me and I needed to just do the best I could. So there I was, stuck with this fat. I took the doctor’s words to heart to just do my best and left the appointment accepting my weight.


I was working in the field of geriatrics when my weight gain issue started. Old people will tell you in a mili-second every flaw that you have. Everything my doctor said was bombarded by snide comments from elderly ladies.

There was a lady in the community that was a Cuban immigrant who spoke broken English. She came up to me and in her lovely accent told me, “Win-so, you were so BONITA, now you so big. You need to stop eat.”

Later that day another resident scolded me for getting pregnant out of wedlock.

My self-esteem plummeted. I was ugly now. I was fat. I was gross.

Some people seek comfort foods and over eat when they self loathe. I did the opposite. Food became a source of irritation for me. I did not want any of it. I ate, but not as much as I was supposed to.

I didn’t lose weight, I just weakened myself even worse and ended up in the hospital.

I let what those mean old ladies said get to me.

I ignored what my good doctor said.

Why do we hold negative comments so much closer to our hearts than the positive ones?

I was lying in the hospital bed, hooked up to an IV, heart rate and BP going crazy. Who was next to me? None of those old ladies.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I laid on that gurney. My pain was high and my spirit was low. I had to realize what was important. People will say mean things, no matter what you weigh, how you look, how smart you are or how much class or money you have. Negative people seek to destroy others. Positive people seek to build up others.

 I knew I was holding onto the comments from the wrong people.

I closed my eyes and thought about every positive thing that had been said to me that week.

The hospital staff not only treated my physical problems that night, but also my spirit. My nurse told me it was okay for me to slow down and jokingly said I needed to be like a turtle. The patient care tech told me he respected me for all I went through. He also told me to live my life to the fullest despite my illness. After being discharged, he pushed me in the wheelchair and told me how he was 40 and wished he had lived a better life. “It goes fast, kid. Just be sure you are enjoying as much as possible.” His words could not have fallen before a more appropriate audience. I began to think about how many hours I had worked that week, how much schoolwork I had forced myself through. I thought about how I cried every time I had to get up in the morning from pain and walk into work like I was fine. I really had put myself last. I was not enjoying life. I was in survival mode. I stepped into the car from the wheelchair and thanked the patient care tech for his advice. I determined from that day forward to never let negative comments destroy me again.

When I did go back to work, the comments did not stop. The pregnancy rumor had spread even further. I, being a sensitive person, had a really hard time not taking the judgmental looks and mean comments to heart. One of my favorite residents came into my office as I was fighting back tears one morning. “Oh you’re not listening to these old bitties are you?” She asked me.

Trying to hide my hurt, I responded “No, but I do hear what they say.”

In the most serious manner, she pushed her walker over to my desk and said “You listen to me, next time someone asks you if you are pregnant you tell them yes. You also tell them you are having triplets and ask if they want to adopt. Tell ’em you’ll charge a thousand bucks a baby and you’re taking donations too!”

I erupted in laughter. I held onto her funny advice and to this day still laugh about it.

That day helped me learn to stop obsessing over the negative comments and truly hang onto the good ones.


One thought on “Manatees, Steriods and Self Esteem

  1. mpsmudge October 30, 2017 / 6:44 pm

    I have cried and laughed at this the way you have written it, it struck such a chord because I can totally relate to all you have said, I myself still dislike myself for my weight although we have no choice but to take our steroids. I try to hide from cameras, mirrors if possible. I have lost friends because I don’t fit into their clicks of groups of skinny couples and being disabled in a wheelchair. Do we not fit into life of does life not fit into us, I hope one day it will. I love the manatees. Wishing you well my Addison’s friend 💐


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