Monday, June 30, 2008


Let me get this straight. There's parts of the world where folks eat this stuff by choice? They marinate meats in this stuff? Some animal gives its life and you slather it in yogurt and throw it on a fire? Were it not for doctor's orders (literally) this stuff would never touch my lips. Come to think of it no dairy products would touch my lips when it's 112 degrees outside. Serious yuck factor. I have to laugh at the names they give it. Honest to God we've got some yogurt in the fridge right now that's called "berry crumb cake." I can put a label from a 12 year old bottle of scotch on a bottle of water but guess what? It's still a bottle of water. I'm staying away from the "berry crumb cake" yogurt. Sounds like they're trying too hard to hide something.
Two HUGE food occasions on the horizon - Fourth of July and vacation. What's the Fourth without some ribs? What's vacation without some obscene dining out? Please notify the restaurateurs in Pigeon Forge TN that they won't need to do their normal mid-July overstock in preparation for my arrival. I'll be there, but I won't be grazing.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ready or Not....

So I mentioned in my last post that I'd be attending the support group meeting that the Bariatric Services folks hold every Tuesday night. It's at those meetings that I weigh in and have my weight sent to my counselor. As I've mentioned, it's supposed to be a blind weigh-in, meaning my counselor doesn't want me to get caught up in numbers. The usual suspects weren't around to weigh me so I asked the nutritionist who was present to weigh me. I told her the situation and she said she would certainly get the information to my counselor. But then I begged. I begged her to tell me the number. I assured her I only wanted to know because I needed to know when I was nearing the 50 pounds lost that Dr. Richard required before surgery. She hesitated at first, but finally relented. "You better call Dr. Richard," she said. "You're down 45 pounds."
I wasted no time. I called my coordinator Wednesday morning. She said "let's go ahead and schedule your surgery." So, after years of waiting, this surgery that I want to change and save my life is actually going to happen. August 12th is D-Day.
I don't guess it's any surprise that I'm as scared as I am excited. Suddenly I'm a kid going to the pool and dying to jump off that high dive. Then, with my toes clinging for life to the very edge of the high dive, I'm amazed at how much higher it looks from up there than it did when I was at the bottom of the ladder spewing bravado. I'm suddenly more focused on the numbers that tell how many people die as a result of this surgery more than I am the dozens of success stories I've encountered. I'm suddenly more focused on staples in internal organs that can come loose than I am how quickly weight will come off. Did you see all the stories on the news about people that are aware of what's happening to them while they're supposed to be under the influence of anesthesia? Remember Junior Mints in someones body cavity on Seinfeld?
I tend to put out those fires of doubt by thinking about the jeans. The jeans that I went to put on last Sunday only to find out that I can't wear them anymore. I'd only worn them once but now, after just 45 pounds of weight lost, wearing them puts me in danger of indecent exposure. I can take off the shorts I'm wearing right now without unzipping them. Oh my God! When I'm driving there's room between my stomach and the steering wheel! There's enough good happening to throw a bucket of cold water on the scary! Staples coming loose? Child's play! Anesthesia?? Hell, Doc..give me shot of whiskey and a stick to bite down on it and let's get this over with!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Other stuff.....

OK, so a bit of a deviation from the norm. Not much happening in the way of weight loss. Still losing, I would imagine, as I was sick for the better part of the week and ate little. Actually, that may have done more harm than good - my metabolism may not have had enough fuel to burn fat last week so there may have been minimal loss. Going to my support group meeting tonight, despite the fact I look like an industrial accident. Since childhood, anytime I run a fever I get monster fever blisters on my mouth and in my nose (there goes breakfast, right?) Well, last week the fever got up to 104 and I ended up in the emergency room. So this week I've got the lovely battle scars to show for my increase in body temperature. The poor dog can't figure them out - she gets up in my face and sniffs and stares. "Wow, whatcha got goin' there? Those look pretty nasty!" But weight and food and protein and carbs aren't on my mind this morning. Summer's on my mind.
I'm listening to folks on the radio and t.v. sound shocked that it's hot. It’s Georgia. It’s summer. It’s hot. Get used to it! What’s there to not like about summer? Can you remember a more perfect time than the summers of your childhood? I seem to remember the summers more than I do the Christmases!
Of all the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that should trigger memories of summer, I find it strange that the unmistakable, grinding song of the Cicada always takes me back to hot summer nights that were the best part of growing up in the south. Nights spent pulling catfish out of Lake Lanier. Nights spent sitting on the carport of my parents’ house in lawn chairs, trying to catch whatever breeze might be blowing and listening to Ernie Johnson and Milo Hamilton call a Braves’ game on the radio. Nights spent sleeping in somebody’s backyard pretending we were 90 miles from nowhere, when actually we were close enough to hear parents snoring out of open windows. And, on all those nights, there were the Cicadas and their symphony which, in and of itself is an ugly sound, but it was the soundtrack to a lot of perfect days.
But let’s get back to folks fussing about the heat. I think our air-conditioned world has made us soft. I think back to 1973. That summer my family moved from East Atlanta to Stone Mountain. The house we moved into didn’t have central air conditioning, but did have a window unit in every single room of the house. My father very promptly removed each window unit from each room because, in his words, “the Georgia Power Company makes enough money.” He left the window unit on the main floor of the house so that we’d be comfortable while we ate supper. That’s the only time I remember being cool – at suppertime. Other than that it was hot. But you know what? I don’t seem to remember minding it at all.
I remember leaving the house in the morning on my bike, joining up with the kids down the street and being gone all day. There were creeks to navigate, salamanders and frogs to catch and forts to build. We might stop back by the house for a bologna sandwich at lunch and then off we went again for more adventures. I’d like to have about half that much energy now. And I realize it’s a much different world now – parents can’t let their kids out of their sight for a moment, much less hours on end. But during those long days of the summers of my youth, I don’t remember the heat being a deterrent to anything. Even after supper at night, the extra hours of daylight gave us even more time to be outdoors, mostly catching lightning bugs at dusk. And make no mistake – they’re lightning bugs, not fireflies! If you call them fireflies and you think it’s too hot, it might be time to consider a move.
On a recent evening, the subject of homemade ice cream came up. I told my wife that July 4ths always meant homemade ice cream at my aunt and uncle’s place in Dawsonville. I can remember the sound of multiple freezers going but there was always at least two that didn’t have the motorized whine coming from them. That was because my cousin Alan and I were providing the elbow power necessary to keep things churning. I can hear Aunt Nell now – “I think the hand-cranked freezers make better ice cream!” I told my wife “I think it was just one of those character building things that old folks make you go through...sweating buckets out on the porch just to make some ice cream.” She said “yeah, but what would you give to be sitting out there with Alan cranking out some ice cream right now?” I’ll save you the paraphrase of the credit card commercials that remind us of the things and times in life that are priceless. There are plenty of medications that promise to relax us and make us less anxious and depressed. People meditate, pray and send money to television preachers looking for peace of mind. On my tough days, I write myself a prescription of iced tea and an hour or two on the patio listening to those noisy Cicadas. The other night, much to my wife’s amusement, I tried to catch a lightning bug. You know what? They’re a lot faster than they used to be.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

No dice!

So she wouldn't tell me. She was sitting right there with the numbers in my chart and she wouldn't tell me how much weight I've lost. "I don't want you to get caught up in numbers!" she says. Oh really? You wanna' get caught up in a good ol' fashioned Abdullah The Butcher headlock until you relent and give up the numbers? She said my surgeon would be pleased and she was pleased. So I guess I should take it at that and be happy.
I guess I'm surprised by the overall "mentalness" of all this. I went in thinking "fix my stomach, make me thinner and let's call it a day." The breadth of the program is set up, of course, to deal with issues that brought me to this point in the first place. And, I must admit, that I'm finding out more and more about those issues and myself every time I speak with her. It's amazing how long the human mind holds onto things. Some of these things took root in my childhood, for God's sake.
Suppertime - when I was a child suppertime wasn't a meal. It wasn't just a refueling of the body. It was an event. Some of my fondest childhood memories go back to my Mother's supper table. Every night was Thanksgiving as all three sisters and I gathered around the table with our parents. It was where LIFE happened. It's where I heard my father talk about his job and my sisters talk about school and where rules were laid down and plans were made. So forgive me if it falls flat now when I have my 7 ounces of protein, one starch, one veggie and...and...well that's it. I have those few bites alone a lot of the time because I'm eating early on my bride's late nights (to avoid the obvious downfalls of eating late.) I fed the dog the other night at the same time I ate. I asked her how her day went. She came over and used my leg for a napkin, wiping a lovely mix of slobber and mushy dog food on my shin. It wasn't quite the same.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Enough to make a man crazy...

As part of this whole process I'm seeing a counselor that specializes in eating disorders and weight management. Not just folks on my side of the scale but folks on the other end that don't eat enough. As part of the process she wants me to "blind weigh." Meaning she wants someone to weigh me and then get the results to her without me knowing them. Gotta admit, I didn't like the sound of that when she mentioned it. I mean it's MY progress and MY results and I want to know them, dammit! But, being the charitable soul that I am, I tried to comply.
I was going to a support group meeting anyway, up at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Lanier Park Campus. Their bariatric services group works in conjuction with my surgeon - Dr. Richard at Obesity Solutions in Gainesville - and they have facilities there where I can weigh, get support materials and have open dialogue with their dietician. It's an outstanding program. I can't say enough about their staff. Connie and Natalie are angels dressed in normal folks' clothes. But anyway....Natalie weighs me after the meeting on Saturday. Says she'll get the info to my counselor. Then she says "Wait a minute..what was your starting weight?" I told her and she said "Wow! You've done REALLY good on your own... REALLY good."
For the first time in.....well, I can't remember how long, something positive had been said about my weight and something appeared to be working. See, in preparation for surgery, I've been on a strict eating plan suggested by my counselor. While doing her plan (which isn't that hard, really) I'm easing into the modified liquid diet suggested by my surgeon. It consists of things like jello, cottage cheese, broth, cream soups (strained), sugar free popsicles, protein drinks etc.. Apparently, I've actually done some good. I don't FEEL like I've lost a lot of weight. But, at my size, it's like emptying the ocean with a teaspoon. The surgeon wants me to lose 50 lbs before surgery. Hopefully, when I meet with my counselor this afternoon, she'll give me some idea of what "really good means." She may not tell me but I'm going to try to pry it out of her. Cross your fingers.

Monday, June 2, 2008

It's not about pity...

I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. This is 80% my fault. I say 80% because I'm quite certain that (at least) 20% of it is genetics. I overate. I over-did a lot of things, but that's another story for another day (suffice it to say that there were portions of my life where a majority of my caloric intake consisted of liquid carbs.) So no, I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. But I would like for folks to be able to see some of what I've been able to see while living like this. It'd change your view on lots of things, not just weight control or eating right.
The most important lesson I'll take away from life as a large person was best described by C S Lewis. He said "We're not bodies who have souls...we're souls who have bodies." Not to repeat myself, but I'm not defined by my weight. Anymore so than some of the folks I see touted as "pretty people" - celebrities, models, actors etc... - should be defined by their appearance (that said, if a genie popped out of a bottle and said I had three wishes, it wouldn't hurt my feelings if he could make me look a little more like George Clooney and a little less like Jonathan Winters. The other two wishes would involve bad things befalling the University of Georgia's football team,,,but I digress.)
Did you see the woman on the news last week who had lived her life in an iron lung (I didn't know there really was such a thing?) Did you read the list of all that she'd accomplished while living this way? Have you seen Oscar Pistorious, the South African paralympic athlete? They're just a couple of the countless people who have refused to let their bodies define their souls. Here's the difference between them and me - neither of them did anything to cause their limitations nor could they change them. My lifestyle has caused mine. If they can find courage to live life in spite of the hand they're dealt, then surely I can overcome a hand I've dealt myself.
My soul literally thirsts for things my body will no longer allow. I spent a lot of time in my youth camping and hiking. I long for the day when I can climb a mountain, spend a night on top and walk back down in the morning. I desperately want to go to a baseball game, but I can't fit in the sits. I'd like to go to a hockey game with some friends and misbehave and yell rude things to the refs and bang on the glass like a moron. Again, the seats prevent it. I'd like to stand up in front of a group of people, as I've done many times in the past, and tell them a joke or two or play my guitar and sing some silly song I've written. But more than "physical" things I can't wait to look into the face of people and know that they're accepting me on terms that go beyond how big I am. That's gonna be fun......