Monday, March 20, 2006

The Deep End of the Gene Pool

The deep end of the gene pool

So far in discussing fat people, and primarily women, I’ve discussed those who weigh between about 200 and 550 pounds. These are the people you’d meet on the street or in a restaurant or perhaps in a store. For the most part they are just like everyone else, but fatter. Though, as you approach the over 400 or over 500 pound group, there are significant differences in the ability to move, increasing restrictions which might be called mobility issues.

Mobility issues tend to appear at different weights and ages depending on lots of factors, including genetics, activity level, mental approach, personality, environment, weight gain patterns, weight distribution on the body, etc. However, as weight starts to creep beyond about 550 pounds, except in unusual or exceptional situations, or where people are quite tall, all have significantly reduced mobility. Long walks are a thing of the past, stairs are a hazard and obstacle to be avoided unless absolutely critical, and driving a car becomes either difficult, dangerous or impossible.

However, to move well beyond this weight, to 700, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500 or more pounds, and mobility is measured in different terms. No mobility outside of the house is the first thing to go, then limited mobility between bed and bathroom and perhaps couch/wheelchair/walker. Finally, the body is trapped in a bed except for the intervention of heroic efforts, usually requiring large numbers of people, specialized equipment, significant physical effort on the part of the movers and movee(but not requiring the television cameras of a daytime talk show host to report or show the activity). Soon mobility is defined by the ability to move around within the bed and then by the ability to move parts of the body, such as forearms and hands and feet, even if the lower arms and legs are not movable by the fat person without assistance.

In the past I’ve chatted with folks at all sizes of large on up to more than the weight of Carol Yeager, reputed by Guinness to be the heaviest person ever at about 1600 pounds. Many will say that folks who claim to be so big are lying and frauds. Some are, some aren’t. Over time I’ve developed a sense of what rings true and what has the odor of fish and is likely not true. The clearest evidence that a person is as big as they claim is to see the person with your own eyes. But, in the real world, visiting such a person would be extraordinarily unusual. Anyone who’s grown to a weight so large that it’s shockingly large, say over 700 or 800 pounds, and those who care for them(more about that later) are highly protective of their privacy. There is a significant concern that the “authorities” would step in and take control of the fat person in an effort to bring their weight down to more “normal” levels. In most cases there are either no photographs or a few photographs shared very cautiously, because of the way in which such photographs always seem to appear and spread on the internet, in Yahoo Groups, and other sites, private and commercial, regardless of the absence of permission to share those pictures.

In those chats I’ve learned many things which seem to exist in essentially all of the extraordinarily fat(“X Fat”). First, is that none of them are light eaters. While some are clearly food addicts, others just love to grow fatter, and others are in submissive relationships with one or more people who seek to make the X Fat person keep growing. However, all of them eat significantly more than even a big eater that you would see around eats.

Second, none of these people have reached their X Fat sizes without the assistance of others. No such person can manage their lives to take care of even the food procurement side of their lives, not to mention the obtaining and maintaining of housing, heating, cooling, clothing(to the extent they wear any), bathing, bathrooming, etc. As folks grow into X Fat sizes, they develop a need to be supported in all of their activities, often even the eating. This support can be needed in stages and over time, or it can be needed all of a sudden in the event of an injury or illness.

Third, not everyone can grow to X Fat size, no matter how much they eat. Genetics clearly play a significant role in how fat any person is or can become. Many fat people tend not to eat as much or much more than “normal weight” people, but are somewhat or much heavier than their skinnier brethren. In some ways their genes have made their bodies more efficient in extracting all the chemical energy(calories) from the food they eat and in retaining that energy, stored in natures favorite energy storehouse, fat.

Fourth, none of the X Fat folks went to sleep one night weighing 200 or 250 pounds and awoke the next morning weighing 750 or 1000 pounds. Contrary to the weight gain fiction which posits a magical formula or spells which make the weight pour on impossibly quickly and without limit, this doesn’t work in the real world. Their bodies have to grow to adopt the new fat and size, by expanding the area of the skin, growing new blood vessels to support the newly added fat, and additional muscle to move the new weight around while they’re moving. Unlike an ice sculpture which melts in perfect proportion, retaining the exact same shape as the ice melts, people gaining weight don’t just scale up in size, retaining the same proportionate shape. Similarly, when they lose weight it’s not in the same order as its gained. In addition, when questioning how a person could get so fat that they weigh 1200 pounds, the answer is by weighing 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000 and 1100 pounds, and all the pounds between these numbers first. Which sort of leads to the question that most folks really mean to ask.. which is I can understand how you got really really fat… but how did you get to 1200, didn’t you know at 500, 800, 1000 pounds that you had to stop and lose weight?

Fifth, X Fat size people are generally not either mentally retarded, incoherent or uneducated. While this may seem gratuitiously sensational, I’ve put it in because many folks talking about such people assume they must be stupid, doing something which they have no idea of the consequences of, or are misinformed about what they’re doing because they haven’t read any thousand of stories and reports of the dangers of obesity. While the X Fat size people I’ve spoken with have varying levels of formal and informal education, sophistication of mental approach and spelling skills, I’ve never chatted for very long with any X Fat size person, who I’ve believed is actually that fat, who isn’t well informed, mentally active and part philosopher. They know what they’ve become, have seen it happening to them and generally, have either encouraged the development or been sanguine and comfortable with the process and result.

Sixth, sexual relations with and by X Fat size people are possible and the X Fat size people and those close to them in a sexual sense always seem to find a way to satisfy themselves.

The level of support required by the X Fat person is extraordinary both in terms of cost, time and physical activity. The support team, and generally it isn’t just a single person, has to acquire, prepare and deliver food in sufficient quantity and with sufficient regularity to try to satisfy the needs/desires/wants of the X Fat person(and the support team which often seeks to continually ramp up the quantities of food being eaten). They need to take care of the bathroom needs and bathing of the X Fat person, which are, well, beyond the scope of this post. As many SSBBW’s know the skin is a very finicky organ which requires constant monitoring and special care to avoid problems resulting from skin on skin areas, like under the pannus, breasts, in fat folds, etc. Such needs and cares are multiplied in the X Fat person because of their even bigger size and plethora of folds. This exceptionally large size results in their skin becoming even more fragile because it has to cover a much larger surface area (its not unusual for a person over 1000 pounds to have dimensions well into the triple digits, with waist/hip measurements approaching or exceeding 200 inches and thighs approaching 100 inches around).

Medical needs of such folks are an entirely different issue. Many require constant oxygen to get sufficient amounts for breathing, and apnea requiring BiPap machines because the pressure required to allow breathing are too great for them to breathe out against. And, ironically, it often requires a serious health emergency before outside medical assistance is called for. Surprisingly, many of the X Fat are surprisingly healthy in conventional terms. Their blood pressures are in the normal range, their sugar levels normal and many are rarely or ever sick. Of course this isn’t always the case and many times a simple illness can be life threatening in an X Fat person and diseases like cellulites and lymphedema are not uncommon. When the X Fat person has a condition, disease, or problem it is generally attempted to be treated in situ by the support team. The two main reasons for this are that it is so difficult to move the X Fat person that it is safer to treat them where they are if possible. The other reason is the fear that the X Fat person and the support team have about making the outside world aware of the size of the X Fat person. There is a tremendous fear that once the outside world gets its hands on the X Fat person they won’t let go unless and until very substantial weight loss is undertaken. Treatment by medical professionals often requires transportation to a hospital facility, and the ability of an ambulance corps to transport X Fat people is spotty and generally totally inadequate. Even 700 pound folks who are marginally able to move with assistance are regularly dropped or injured in being moved. The trauma and injury from the moving is often the cause of more serious problems in the X Fat person beyond the original reason for medical attention. Those who are unable to move themselves at all are even tougher to move without the proper equipment, vehicles and practiced teams of X Fat People Movers. The effect of this is that the X Fat and those around them enabling the growth to X Fat size tend to resist being moved for treatment until their situations are often critical and there is no time for proper planning and securing a safe transport. Not a pretty picture.

But, like the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster, the X Fat people are figures of such privacy and public rarity(not really sure how common such folks are, but everyone I’ve spoken to on this subject, primarily FA’s attracted to the biggest of the big, assumes that there are many more than most people would guess, and they’re getting bigger and bigger), that for FA’s there is a special surge of interest in such folks even if there is no realistic interest in forming a physical relationship with them. Like the big game hunter in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s in deepest darkest Africa, there is a certain cachet in FA circles associated with knowing folks who are bigger and fatter than anyone else has ever seen. People who are often twice as big as the biggest fat ladies in the circus.

For me, my dealings with the X Fat people has always been about trust, not sharing any aspect, picture, story about a friend who is an X Fat person with anyone else unless and until the X Fat person has told me its okay to share. I always assume, unless hearing otherwise, that what I’ve shared withan X Fat person, or SSBBW or BBW or any other friend, or they've shared with me, is private and not to be repeated and shared without their permission. The X Fat people are exceptionally careful about who they interact with and what they share about themselves, apart from their real concerns about the "authorities", since there are some FA’s who are absolutely fanatical in their efforts to actually meet the X Fat women of their dreams. I’ve heard a number of stories of police becoming involved due to stalking type activity. While this has always sounded rather bizarre to me, I’ve heard it enough to sense that it’s likely true.

So, I’m curious if any of the readers of the blog are interested in hearing more about X Fat folks, are attracted to them, repulsed by them, both attracted and repulsed by them, have stories they'd like to share, or just bored by the discussion. I also wonder if any of the X Fat are readers of this blog.


Blogger emily pound said...

Hi Huge,

Very interesting post. I've always thought that the X Fat people you speak of, who are too big to leave the house or move around, etc., are the size they are not so much because they love to eat so much but because they are afraid of the outside world. That is why they have allowed themselves to become as big as they are. A simple love of eating or love of food is just too simplistic. I love eating but I have no desire to be bedridden or totally dependent on someone else.

I'm actually more curious about the "caretakers" (pun intended) or enablers or feeders, or whatever you want to call them. What is their motive for being the enabler for the X Fat person? To have someone totally under their control, who cannot get up and leave? To have someone grateful to have them around? To feel important?

I'm curious to know how many X Fat people you have spoken with, and if they have given you the okay to share their stories with other people, what those stories are.

20/3/06 11:53 AM  
Blogger hugehugefan said...

I think your comment is very telling because your first paragraph about how the X Fat got to where they're at is relatively one dimensional. One of the things I've learned is that every story is different. I'm sure there are some who are afraid to go out(agoraphobic), but there are plenty of agoraphobic people who are not that fat. I know that some get so fat that they are embarrassed to be outside and that contributes to them achieving X Fat size, but that's only a portion of the whole mix.

The group you call the "caretakers" is one that I will write about more if there is general interest, because I think that on the whole many of these folks really do have good intentions and do love the enormously fat person they care for. There are, as might be expected all various less honorable types in the mix whose motivations are similarly diverse.

I've probably spoken with between one and two dozen folks who are over 700 pounds over the years, perhaps more. Some of those contacts were for a brief time, others I've been in contact with for extended periods. The saddest contacts are those which go dark after a long period, without warning.

20/3/06 12:36 PM  
Blogger emily pound said...

Hi Huge,

I don't think my take on the housebound X Fat person is one dimensional at all. The bottom line is, however they got there and whatever the motivations were, they are simply not participating in life as we know it.

I realize that not all of the caretakers are evil or have bad intentions, but the point is, it is a sick relationship. Both people are "feeding" off the other's insecurities in a very unhealthy way. (Is there a healthy way to feed off someone's insecurities?)

20/3/06 12:59 PM  
Blogger hugehugefan said...

Dear Emily:

While I understand how from your perspective the X Fat folks have copped out on life as we know it, going out and meeting it day by day, I'm not sure that this is a fair criticism. For some of them that is certainly true, for others its just the way that things have happened and for others there isn't a whole lot of choice that they have. What I find interesting is that if someone were a smoker who developed emphysema and required oxygen and had to stay at home you wouldn't suggest that they copped out. You might properly say that they got themselves into the pickle they're in by smoking too much, but most would have a whole lot more sympathy for someone like that then a person who's addiction is food.

I've always believed that food addiction is much tougher to break than drug addictions because with drug addictions cold turkey is an option. With food, the only cold turkey option is to eat it from the fridge, since you can't stop eating completely. So you have to deal with your addiction to food by controlling yourself, rather than being able to quit completely.

Again, your suggestion that the caretakers are all involved in "sick relationships" is overly broad and thus not accurate. Clearly some have fostered sick relationships based on dependencies and insecurities. Others have relationships based on love and affection and caring which in some way morphed into the relationship which you consider sick. Still others have tried their best, based only on their efforts to do the best possible thing for the ones they love. To call that sort of a relationship sick is in my view inappropriate and judgmental.

One thing to consider is at what point does the person who cares for and about a very fat person "cut them off"? And how do you do that if the person is already to large to work, care for themself, support themself...

21/3/06 7:41 AM  
Blogger emily pound said...

Hi Huge,

I take your point, especially about the inappropriateness of branding the relationships the caretakers have with the X Fat person "sick". How about unhealthy instead?

Your example of the person with emphysema is a little different because a person with emphysema could at least get some kind of medical care. They could go to the doctor, be assessed, see what could be done. But an X Fat person who is housebound or bedbound never gets to see a doctor, and even if a doctor could come to the house and see them, what could he or she do, besides move them to a hospital for better care? The person taking care of them is playing God in a way, because they are the one who ultimately decides if they should see a doctor or not.

I understand that addiction to smoking or drinking or drugs is much "easier", in a sense, to quit, because none of those are necessary to life. With your example of the person with emphysema, however, if you loved someone who could barely breathe and they said, "Please get me a pack of cigarettes?", would you? Would your conscience allow you to, knowing how you would be contributing to their poor health if you did give them the cigarettes? Probably not. But if you did, you would have to know you are helping to make someone's death wish come true.

I think all addicts are bent on self-destruction, and if they want to do that to themselves, there is nothing anyone can do about it. But it is THEIR choice. If you help them with their addiction and become involved, that's something different.

21/3/06 8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post, HHF!

Quick comment on your last comment -- I want to reiterate something I think you said in your actual post... that food addiction, while perhaps one of the primary causes for the X-Fat person to become X-Fat, is not the only reason. Some of them get off on it sexually. *grins*

And speaking of that... Emily, I don't think you "get" the whole sexual attraction to weight gain. And that both the "gainer" and the "encourager" (or "enabler") can be into it. The gainer is not necessarily a victim. Re-read HHF's post... in his inimitable style he really does an admirable job of presenting a very rich, multidimensional look at this topic.

Nicely done, HHF. And you finally inspired me to leave a comment. *smirks at him*

- "Pulkis"

21/3/06 10:09 AM  
Blogger hugehugefan said...

Thank you Pulkis, your pulchritudinous presence is profoundly pleasurable. Please post plentifully.

21/3/06 12:30 PM  
Blogger emily pound said...

No ... I definitely do not get it. At all.

21/3/06 1:40 PM  
Anonymous didgyreandgimble said...

The only thing I have to say is that it really pisses me off the way x fat people are treated by society as a whole and that thin assholes seem to act towards them with a religious vigor to change them 'for their own good.' I like the way you talk about caregivers being loving people. Many loving people have issues (don't we all?) and are not completely emotionally healthy (are any of us?). But it made me think of caregivers who work with terminally ill people or those with advanced AIDS. Ultimately caregiving is about unconditional love.

I don't understand the draw intentional weight gain has for some people, but then I don't get the S/M attraction either, nor the need for some to control every aspect of another's life. But, I do understand and know that it exists, even if it is outside of my own particular imagination.

I can't imagine either that being completely bedbound to be terribly comfortable or easy although getting there may have been. There are people who just love being taken care of. I know plenty of thin people for whom this is true. They are only happy in relationships where their partner dotes on them. I personally want something more equal, but I do have to say I like being indulged 'just because'!

So what is my point? No point I guess, (so what else is new?) except that it is much easier to judge than to walk in another person's mocassins. I think we should take the plank out of our own eye before we try to take the plank out of another's.

I have never actually known anyone who was/is x fat.

4/4/06 3:35 AM  
Blogger hugehugefan said...

Dear Jabberwocky

Your comment was very interesting because while you didn't understand why some people willingly enter this size, sacrificing much that the rest of us would never contemplate as non-negotiable, you didn't stand on a soapbox and berate those who do it. Instead, you admitted that you really don't understand it, but could see how much of what causes the X Fat to reach their size and conditions is readily understandable. I laud you for your open mindedness and intellectual curiosity, two characteristics I value highly.

As a special bonus I can relate that I'm hopeful that soon I will be able to post a real life X Lifer's story. We've been discussing an appropriate format and protections which would allow a number of the issues which I didn't identify or stress which make this a desirable condition for some clearer in the person's own words(or perhaps their words massaged by me). Also, it would allow this X Fat person the opportunity to network with other people of such size.

One of the common concerns among the X Fat I've chatted with is their sense of isolation beyond the physical separation that advancing immobility brings. The internet helps, but presents serious issues of concerns for invasion of privacy.

Cross your fingers because this would be a major leap of faith (in the way in which I'll present this and the way it will be received)and a significant emotionally stressful activity for this person, who I've come to know as a very intelligent, thoughtful, perceptive and.. yes, very fat individual.

5/4/06 10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing

10/3/10 2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not going to be original this time, so all I am going to say that your blog rocks, sad that I don't have suck a writing skills

13/3/10 8:46 AM  

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