Monday, September 28, 2009


Before I knew that there was a fat acceptance movement I stopped dieting. I decided that I was going to live as happy a life as I could as a fat man. At the time I though to myself, well if the risks of me dying sooner are going to increase, then that is a consequence of my decision that I am going to have to live with. I din;t know then that there was perhaps a chance that not dieting could do more to improve my health than I thought.

I gained my way up to about 300 and started doing things that I love. I started riding my bike, which is one of my favorite things to do. I started salsa dance classes and found a love for movement that did something to me on levels of my being that i didn't even know I had.

I joined e harmony and put full length photos of my fat body dressed in clothing that I purchased with the help of a fancy New York City Stylist (had a lot of fun working with her and she had a lot of fun working with me!! Hey NYC fatties.. she is awesome ) I started going out on dates with a few nice girls.

I was living my life.

I have Crohn's disease (in remission for a long time, THANK GOD!!) and over the course of the last 15 years I have had about 8 surgeries to cut out the diseased parts of my intestines. The geometry of my digestive tract was amended for an ostomy and all the various complications from Crohn's and multiple surgeries.

At the end of June 2007, at 330 pounds I had an awful weekend of stomach cramps and fever. On Friday night I went on a first date with a nice girl but had to cut the date short due t my fever and chills. I went home and tried to sweat it out but at 4 am on a Sunday I called 911 and was on an operating table a few hours later. My intestines had strangulated and ruptured, sepsis had set in, and all the mesh inside from prior surgeries was riddles with the yucky stuff that infections create.

The short version of my odyssey is 12 weeks in ICU, the first five in a coma on a ventilator. Paralyzed from the chest down when I woke up. 16 more weeks in a rehab being nursed back to the point where I could get in and out of a wheel chair so I could go home with a health aid. I weighed in at 217 when I entered the nursing home from the nasal feeding and the loss of muscle mass. The moment I was allowed to eat I gained all the weight back.

One of the thoughts that I held onto was going back to dance class. I would imagine myself twirling some beautiful girl around the dance floor of a salsa club, flirting, perhaps meeting someone, perhaps, (Dare I Hope?) find someone to be in relationship with.

The fat stigma, fat hatred, and pressure from most of my family was so intense that I had to set boundaries that made talking about my weight, health, diet, and moment off limits.

I knew I wasn't going to try to start to lose weight. I knew that wouldn't work. I was too weak to walk, let alone ride the bike or go to dance class. I wasn't moving much at all so the weight creeped up to 380.

But I held onto my vision of dancing again. I am not sure how I am going to get there. Most recently I have severe breathing problems that makes the slightest exertion cause me to lose my breath. I want to get back to dance class but I am in the chair gasping for air after 20 or 30 seconds of dancing. No matter. I believe in the thought system called the Law of Attraction and the how isn't anywhere near as important as my believing in the possibility.

I found my way to HAES and FA and knew that the movement that made my heart sing was dancing. However, while my heart was saying yes yes yes, my lungs were saying not yet.

Well…. I found a dance class here in NYC that was a mix of spirituality, expressive movement, emotional therapy and it was open to all levels. I showed up with my 380 pound body, my leg braces, my walker and I must confess a tremendous amount of excitement. At the door we were asked to remove our shoes, which is not an option for me anywhere other than my apartment. The gyrations, and the struggle with the leg braces and just reaching my laces is a big deal with the way my giant pearish apple shaped body. Long story short I couldn't participate in the class because of my street shoes.

The lung thing got worse after this class and I skipped the next two classes because there weren't any chairs for me to take a break on.

While this was disappointing it didn't detract from my knowing that I will dance again. I love dancing and I have no idea when or how, but I am certain that it will happen.

I went to this dance class on Saturday night. When the email came announcing it a few weeks ago, the teacher added something called a Drum Circle. After a few emails, and a search on Craig's list, I showed up for the class. When I got out of the cab, I could hear the drumming three flights up. I rolled my walker and my drum up the elevator, slipped off my crocks ( which I vowed never to buy ) and I took a chair with the drummers.

There was no music. Only drummers. About 15 of them. The dance studio was filled with about 40 dancers or all ages. I sat in my chair and I started drumming. And I started Dancing in my chair while I was drumming. And the tears of joy overcame me because I was dancing. I knew I would. There was never any doubt I would. It looked a little different from Salsa, but every molecule of my being rejoiced, celebrated, sang, and cried out in joy as I pounded my drum, and danced my dance in the chair.

And ya know what, I never lost my breath!!! I drummed for two hours straight. It was about the sitting.

On the cab ride home, I felt that endorphin rush that I hadn't felt since before the surgery.

I found my dance!




  1. Aww, that's awesome!


  2. You don't know me, but this brought tears to my eyes. I'm so happy for you! Do what makes your heart sing; you don't have to be on your feet for your spirit to dance.

  3. That's awesome Ivan! I'm so glad you've found something that you love to do that gives you the movement you've been craving. I hope you keep us posted on the drum circle as you continue along.

  4. Ivan, this is an amazing story and you are an inspiration. I am so glad you found the Fat Acceptance movement and it is a pleasure to have you on the Fatosphere feed. I hope you will keep sharing, I think we all can learn a lot from you.

  5. Ivan, thank you for linking to this post on the fat studies e-mail list, so I would have the chance to read it!!!

    I can just see you dancing and drumming for all those people and I'm sure that your joy makes the music and their dancing that much more wonderful. I'm so glad you found a new home for your dancing. And I think Crocs are wonderfully stylish in the sense that they are jolie-laide, with an emphasis on the jolie side of the balance.

    Marilyn Wann

  6. Hi,

    Salsa dance lessons are not only good for the body but are also good for the mind. The act of socializing at the Salsa dance lessons and the up beat music will a pleasant effect on the participants.

  7. I have tears in my eyes reading this. I am in awe of your determination and grit -what an inspiration you are!

  8. I know I'm late to the party, but I have to comment - this post just made me smile so wide - that's fantastic! Music and dance mean so much to me, it's just awesome that you've found a form that brings you that joy again, after all those difficulties.

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