Monday, November 26, 2007

Worth quoting

The ObesityHelp Lap-band forum has wonderful folks in it, many of whom are excellent thinkers and some of whom even write well. One of our most successful members -- Bette in Connecticut, who has lost over 200 pounds and maintained for a while -- periodically re-posts the following essay that she wrote when she was about one-third of the way to goal. The essay is one of many reasons I love Bette.

The Easy Way Out

“Well, you’ve lost 69 pounds. How do you feel?”I must have looked at the doctor like he was speaking Swahili. How do I feel? Lighter. Overjoyed. Smaller. Happy. Healthy. Exhilarated. Terrified. Doubting. Is weigh loss surgery a “cheat”? Is it “the easy way out?” That, unfortunately, seems to be the opinion of a lot of people, probably more than anyone realizes, since most people with that opinion seem to be smart enough to keep their mouths shut. Hell, if you had any balls, you’d lose weight the old-fashioned way!

The rest of us are toughing it out with exercise and the ability to push ourselves away from the table!

If you had any willpower, any self-restraint, you wouldn’t be fat!

Jeez, try a salad once in a while!

All you had to do was get some doctor to staple your stomach a little and, voila! Instant thin person! Anyone can that! I can’t imagine that two dieters would say to each other,

“You’re doing low-carb? You’re taking the easy way out!”

“Oh! Weight Watchers – that’s taking the easy way out!”

“Jenny Craig? Hell, you don’t even have to COOK! That’s the easy way out!”

But what damn difference does it make HOW anyone loses weight, as long as the result is the same: better health and a better quality of living.

“The Easy Way Out.” I wish I could have been reminded that I am taking the easy way out five minutes ago when I was throwing up my dinner. Again. You know what I ate? Two baby shrimp and two strips of chicken that, together, were the size of my little finger. Folks, this IS the hard way. It means that I’ve tried a lifetime of diets: Slim Fast, rice diet, high-carb/low fat, high-fat/low carb, cabbage soup. Hell, I even tried those diet candies called “Aids”. Remember those? Yeesh. What a publicity nightmare that product name turned out to be after about 1985! But they sure were tasty! The diets never worked or, rather, they worked for a while, then they didn’t. I lost weight, and gained it back. Lost weight, gained it back. It’s like the instructions on a shampoo bottle: lather, rinse, repeat. Diet, gain, repeat. And those returning pounds never came alone; they always brought a bunch of friends with them to take up residence in my ass.To make the decision to have weight loss surgery is to face the realization that this is it: the end. I’ve heard people call it “the last house on the block.” Your options are gone. You’re never going to get any thinner. You’re certainly not getting any younger. Those knees, hips and ankles are going to need replacing sooner rather than later. And chances are, you might not live much longer. The short time you have is going to be filled with can’ts and don’ts and never agains. Stares, giggles, comments.

“We don’t have anything in your size here.” “Wideload.” “Fatass.” “Orca.”

The short time will be full of big things like diabetes and high blood pressure, of osteoarthritis and edema and congestive heart failure. Of annoying things like recurring yeast infections and skin ulcers. Of little things, like not being able to cut your own toenails or wipe your own ass. Then, finally, it’s resignation; it’s just giving up. You reach the point of living the rest of your increasingly short life in discomfort, pain, illness and depression, or reaching out and praying that there is one last hope. It’s reaching the point of being willing to subject yourself to dangerous surgery, pain, and possibly even death. It should be given a scenic kind of name, like “Desperation Point”. They could sell postcards:

“GREETINGS FROM DESPERATION POINT” This IS the hard way. Every meal has to be as carefully and scrupulous[ly] studied as if you are on a diet: because you are. Not for a month, or until your vacation, or until the wedding.

For the rest of your life.

But it is so much more than just a diet. There is the missing element of eating as pleasurable. Instead, there’s constant worry. Is that food, which you always loved, going to “agree with you” still, or will it make you sick? Have a couple of bites of your half-cup sized dinner before your last meal has cleared your new stomach, and it’s coming back up. Have one tiny, pencil-eraser sized bite of food too many and it’s coming back up. One chew too few and it’s coming back up. Too much fat or sugar and you’ll get “dumping syndrome”. Not enough protein and your hair will fall out. Not enough iron and you’re anemic. Not enough potassium, and your heart will stop.This IS the hard way. It’s living with the terror of gaining the weight back and knowing that there will be NOwhere else to go. There are NO other answers. This is it: the last house on the block. It’s there, every minute of everyday. And it’s not “the easy way out”. This is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do. THIS is the hard way. And is it worth it? Hell yes. The joy is overwhelming. To be able to buy clothes in a regular store. To tie my shoes. To be able to walk even a block again. To lose the painful edema in my feet. To sit comfortably in an armchair. To wear my cowboy boots again. To know that my blood sugar levels are down and that I don’t need to take as many meds. To know that I’ll be able to spend even a few extra years with the husband I adore.

Worth it? Oh, yes, yes . . . YES!

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