Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Now it's reality

For, quite literally, years the notion of this surgery has been a very abstract thing. There's been years of wishing, thinking, planning, excitement, disappointment, fear, praying and dreaming. I've been a child again staring at a shiny bike in the Sears catalog and lying awake at night wondering what it would look like in my driveway. The two week liquid diet that is required for this surgery has begun. So it's real. It's happening. I have to admit - I'm nervous.
No, I haven't changed my mind. I want this more than anything. But now we're down to brass tacks. Now we're down to discussing things like pain management, complications and supplements (the improper use of which can lead to malnutrition.) I've had surgeries before. But nothing like this. Nothing like a surgeon going in and reconstructing my internal organs. I've read everything I can find and talked to all the bariatric patients I can find. Between them all I've found not one definitive answer to this question - when we're talking "pain management" how much pain are we discussing?
I'll make one more analogy that's almost a cliche - I'm a kid again bragging about jumping off the high dive when I go to the pool. Now I'm standing on the high dive with a bunch of folks waiting on me to jump. It's a lot higher than I thought it was....

Monday, July 14, 2008

I'm gonna' buy a suit and get a tattoo

Yep, when all of this ugliness is gone I'm gonna' buy a suit and get a tattoo. Yes, I know, those are strangely contradictory notions. But I've always wanted a "Buzz" tattoo and I'm tired of looking like Norm Peterson when I put on a suit.
I put on an expensive suit and a nice tie and I look in the mirror and the reflection screams "lipstick on a pig." I definitely look like I need to saddle up to the corner of the bar and take a cold draft from Sam and tell Cliff Clavin what a moron he is. People who know me well will be shocked that I'm worried about such things. They know me as more of a flip-flops and old Buffett t-shirt kind of a guy. And, for the most part, that's my attire of choice. But when the time comes and it's all about the suit, I'm tired of looking like I slept in the thing. My dear friend Jim - now HE looks good in a suit. When I go buy that first suit I'm taking Jim with me to pick one out. And then I'm slipping back into my flip-flops and t-shirt and we're going somewhere and drinking tequila and chasing it with strawberries (don't ask....not one of our prouder moments. 'BIG FELLA!!!!!!!!!!!' )
I have to wait on the tattoo because, if I get one before surgery and then lose all that weight, the tattoo will look something like a turkey's neck and flap in the breeze every time I hang my arm out the window. So I'm getting one on the bicep and it'll be more pronounced after I'm all buff. I'm gonna' wear a muscle shirt to biker bars and scare people. That's just how I roll. (quit really - quit laughing!!!!!!!!!)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Feeling Fat

I had an interesting conversation with a young lady a couple of weeks ago. I ran into her in my counselor's waiting room. She was there waiting on her husband to finish a session. As we began talking she told me she had gastric bypass surgery over a year ago. I can't remember the exact amount of weight she'd lost, but it was considerable - well over a hundred pounds, possibly two hundred. Anyway, she said something that amazed me. She said that, despite all the weight lost, she still "feels fat." I thought she was a lunatic - until she explained herself.
Although her body is no longer heavy, her mind is still clouded with the anxieties, depression and despair that come with being so large. When she passes someone in public that looks her way her mind immediately responds "oh, they're staring at me because I'm fat" and the pangs of self-hate kick in. She then reminds herself.."wait, they could be staring at me because they think I'm attractive or they think they know me from somewhere or they like the shirt I'm wearing..." Countless times she's walked past outfits in the store and thought "I'm too fat to wear that" only to turn around a moment later when she remembers that "no, maybe I would look good in that." She said "I'm not trying to discourage you. Just don't beat yourself up when you realize that the surgeons fixed your body but your mind now has to adjust to the new you." I'd never considered it, but it makes perfect sense. I'm sure it's a tough fight, but I'm looking forward to fighting that fight. I would imagine it's like waking up early on a saturday morning and seeing the clock and thinking "crap, the alarm's about to go off..." then realizing it's Saturday and the alarm's not going to go off. Pure euphoria ensues.
On the other hand, it's probably going to have to force me to come to terms with many things I'd been able to attribute to weight issues. "Oh, I'm just too fat and depressed to pursue my songwriting." "I'm feel so bad about myself I just can't put anything into that novel I want so desperately to write." Most importantly "I know I'm not being a great husband but she understands what I'm going through and has set her expectations accordingly." That will be the most exciting of all - finally being able to be the best spouse I can be to the person I love the most. She definitely deserves a different me.