“BETWEEN THE FOLDS”
As I was checking out after a recent dental appointment, a handsome, tall young man was approaching from my left side, pushing a wheelchair to go around behind me – the older, oxygen fed woman in his apparent charge was in need of the restroom.
Initially, I made no other observation than this, until a moment later I hear the woman directly behind me crying, “HELP ME! SOMEBODY HELP ME!” and the young man – whom I now learn was only her taxi service – is nowhere to be found. The woman couldn’t wheel herself into the tiny unisex, single door room, and she was exclaiming she couldn’t control herself and needed help right away!
I don’t work for the dentist office, nor for any care service; though I did once live with and care for an elderly lady in her home for almost two years, and I suppose my more “human” instinct took over. (I didn’t even think about our litigious society – so I had no fear until AFTER the fact, that I could be sued for trying to help her! Thank God nothing went wrong!) I just took charge of her for a moment, straightened out her chair, helped her line up properly so we could inch her inside, had to lift the backside of her chair a couple times, and finally .. Success. (During this process, I could see the 20 year old wide-eyed young girl behind the counter who had been checking me out after my own appointment was clearly trying very hard not to panic – she was sputtering and asking what she could do, thanking me profusely, and despite all the shuffling and awkward movements between the three of us, no one else around gave any indication of even noticing our little fuss.)
I asked the woman her name, gave her mine, told her I used to live with a lady and help care for her and I’d be glad to help, I just needed to know what she needed. She said she could get herself up on the toilet herself, so I aimed to leave her in privacy – but explained I would leave the door unlocked if she needed anything. I was waiting outside not even thirty seconds when she was crying for “HELP!” again. I quietly entered, and found she had caught herself on her oxygen tubing with her pants half down, and she had clearly already wet herself – thankfully with some kind of absorbent undergarment, but she had no clean replacement on hand. So I made sure she was sturdy holding herself up by the railing beside the toilet, got her untangled so her oxygen could flow freely, and then proceeded to help remove her soiled “adult diaper” and get her settled. She couldn’t get on the seat properly by herself and wasn’t able to “aim” without risking further mess ..
“BETWEEN THE FOLDS”
She was a heavy woman – easily twice the weight she should have been. And I learned she was only about sixty, though she looked twenty years older than her real age. And her body put off a VERY foul odor .. her rolls of fat were marred with myriad stretch marks front and back, her skin pale and clammy, and between the folds was growing some kind of systemic yeast infection – the worst being a thick, blackened nastiness, visibly fuzzy, completely coating the crevice of her buttocks. As I tried to help maneuver her, I couldn’t quite tell where her fat ended and her “real body” began, and apologized for my clumsiness – I didn’t want her to feel embarrassed ..
In the end, she agreed to several folded paper towels, padded with toilet paper to soften, to replace her soiled absorbent padding. We got her cleaned up and dressed and re-situated in her chair, mindful of the oxygen tubing, and wheeled her out just as she was being called back for her own appointment .. the hygienist obviously making the same erroneous presumption about me that I had made about the man who wheeled the woman in in the first place – that I was her care-giver.
I tried to graciously extricate myself – I had to get back to work!, and the woman was once again … left alone.
TWO POWERFUL OBSERVATIONS
1) Thank you, Lord, that I was in the right place at the right time. The woman needed help, and I was perhaps the best possible person to offer it in the moment. I consider this a gift to the woman .. even if it was for just one tiny moment of her obviously difficult life ..
2) The more painful observation .. I have lost over 130 lbs .. I need to lose about 30 more, and I will be (God willing) LESS THAN HALF the size I was when I started this journey … I WAS morbidly obese. And at (then) 36 years old, I already looked at least 10 years older, and I was carrying rolls of fat riddled with stretch marks from years of abusing my own body. Please realize my above horrifying descriptions are not statements of judging this woman, but this woman IS what I could have become, but for the grace of God intervening in my life ..
“THERE, BUT BY THE GRACE OF GOD, GO I ..”
I was disgusted with myself for being disgusted by this woman’s condition .. but I also was powerfully struck by the living example of a life imprisoned by the consequences of decisions (or a lack thereof) made during her earlier years. I KNOW obesity isn’t always or only the result of overeating. Mine was in large part an issue of spiritual strongholds, including a desire to HIDE from the sexual attentions of men as my way of dealing with some past abuse.
But sometimes it is just as simple, too, as realizing that our decisions DO have consequences.
Dear God, please let me sow good seed! ❤