I've got to say out loud the things you probably already know but can easily ignore since nobody really talks about it. If you're genetically predisposed to getting fat, you're going to get fat. If all you eat is junk food, you're going to get fat. If all you do is sit, you're going to get fat. If you do all of the above, you're going to get really fat. Trust me, I know first-hand. I got really fat, fast. It's really easy to pile on the pounds.
Macaroni and cheese was my 'comfort' food. I'd tuck into a bowl when feeling down, pig out until my gut hurt, then eat more. Then, I'd dig into that luscious richness when I was feeling fine, and the bowls got bigger and bigger. Needless to say, so did I. "Oh, I'll make up for it tomorrow by not eating," I'd think to myself as I slobbered all over my chin. I'd forget by the next day and slobber that chin up yet again.
Not only was it impossible to button and zip my jeans, but I'd knock things over with my hips. I'd misjudge the amount of available room and black and blue myself up pretty good. Shirts and coats wouldn't fit over my massive upper arms, and my collar bones disappeared, along with every other bone in my body. The worst part was that it seemed that my arms became much, much shorter; so much so that 'personal care' became quite the challenge, if you know what I mean. I was as round as I was wide, and no physics known to man was going to stretch those arms to reach places that never used to need wild contortions to reach. My back killed me, my knees screamed constantly and I walked (waddled) as slowly as an old lady in her 90s. Not fun. Not fun at all.
I'm 5'3 and weighed 237 pounds. Ouch. So, I got in gear and started exercising enough to lose 10 pounds in one month. That takes us to January, 2012. Then, it all turned around when I became ill with a digestive system problem, a biliary blockage. I lost 40 pounds during the 6-week hospital stay and continued to lose when I came home. Now, a year later, I weigh 116, which is lighter than I've ever been in my adult life. No need for wild contortions to wipe now.
What you won't hear and won't read about is what happens when you loose a lot of weight. Sure, it's great to find you do have bones again, you're not knocking over the same plant every time you pass it, and you really do have a neck instead of numerous chins. It's great to wear clothes again that you haven't been able to fit in for years that you held onto just for shits and grins. It's great to see your toes and pubic hair again and actually walk beside someone through a doorway. Those are all the great things about losing all that excess poundage.
The bad thing - the only negative - about losing weight is that the fat may have gone away, but the skin doesn't seem to care about that. Yep, a whole lot of excess skin hangs and sags and flaps all over the place. Skin doesn't seem to shrink to fit. The good thing is that clothes hide most of it, so it's not enough of a deterrent to weight loss. But, it surprised me, took me off guard. Forget about tank tops and shorts, not unless you don't care about taking flight if a good wind kicks up.
So, I'm going to enjoy this New Me and look into maybe donating this excess skin to a burn unit. I hear Arkansas Children's Hospital has one of the best burn programs in the country, and maybe they'd appreciate the skin I'm no longer needing. What do you think?
I’ve been putting off telling this story in hopes that it would fade into the past like a good, well-behaved memory. I’d rather forget it, truth be told. But, it seems like my mind has a mind of its own and the horror of the experience is with me every day, loud and intrusive, keeping me from moving forward. About the only trick I have left in the bag is writing about it in hopes that it, too, fades away like everything else I write about and then promptly forget.
To recap, back in March of 2012, I was jaundiced and finally managed to get an ERCP scheduled. That should’ve been good news. I arrived at the hospital, had the procedure done and since it was outpatient, I headed home. Within a few hours, I was in agony, had Tim call an ambulance and was taken to the ER of the local hospital. What I remember is that the EMTs wheeled me into the ER and was waved away, told to go to the hospital in Little Rock instead. Tim told me later that they had wheeled me into the trauma room, doped me up good, and we were there 7 hours before I was loaded back onto an ambulance and taken to Little Rock.
There it sat, balanced on the tines of his fork that abruptly halted on the way to his mouth. Glinting, shining in the sun’s rays from the kitchen window, the tiny, round shrimp caught my eye in all its glory. Why the pause? Dragging my eyes away from that magical round of shrimp to glance at my son’s face; pensive, seeming to contemplate the food on his tines as I was.
“Yeah,” he said, “I turn 27 and all of a sudden, my wake-up farts are baritone. Just like that. Baritone…”
What? I’m supposed to offer up a bit of profound, motherly wisdom to explain away this sudden departure from his physical norm. My mind, still on the shrimp, let itself offer up a few shallow, inconsequential reasons that I rejected as far from profound or wise. ‘We’re Polish’ or ‘when you gain weight these things change’ didn’t cut it. He’s only one-quarter Polish and skinny as a rail. I failed. I said nothing.
“…and they smell bad!”
In a flash, the magic was gone. That glinting, glimmering circle of shrimp completed its journey. Chomp. Chomp, chomp. Gulp. Gone. I had to say something.
“Eat anything different lately?”
I felt absolved from the need to impart wisdom and was thankful to kick my mind into some sort of working order enough to spit out that question. Talking about farts, smelly farts, at the dinner table…
Ah, free to return to the memory of that shrimp. I got to thinking: For most of my life, I’ve said I did not like shrimp. I wracked my brain, but could not remember why I didn’t like shrimp. I just never eat it.
“Hey, remind me. Next time you order shrimp, let me try one. I don’t remember why I don’t like shrimp.”
There. That was profound enough.
This golden girl’s saga continues…
Suffice it to say that it was a bit premature to feel better about this whole Obstructive Jaundice/Gallstones mess that I found myself in. (Read What healthcare system? and Life goes on for this golden girl to get the full story.)
By Sunday, my tolerance for the lack of forward motion dwindled to nil. The surgeon’s nurse didn’t call me back with the answer to the question about taking the gallbladder out before having an ERCP.
Deflated and angry, and feeling worse every day that passed, I vented in the only way I know how: I wrote. It took a bit of searching to find places on the UAMS site to communicate, and stumbled on two. One was a form found by following a bunch of links through the physician referral section, and the other a “comment” email address.
Diagnosed on February 29, and still, nothing has been done. I’ve called myself “the golden girl” for the past week, jokingly. Despite the obvious yellow color, I’m not overly sick; just uncomfortable now and then. And tired.
I figured I’d hear something on Monday. For me, Mondays are productive. I get organized, I tie up loose ends, I plan out what to do when. Mondays are also the busiest days of the week in the office, so the day flew by. It wasn’t until the day was done that I realized UAMS didn’t call and didn’t schedule the ERCP. It wasn’t until Wednesday that I had the time to call the surgeon’s office.
The sweetheart of a nurse was surprised when I told her I was still sitting and waiting. She’d call down there, then call me back, and she did a few hours later.
Take a ride with me. I’m going to tell you the story of my latest bump. I’ll get over my angst about ranting over a personal problem, something I find a bit uncomfortable, because I know with certainty that my experiences aren’t unusual.
About a month ago, I ran through the drive-through of a local fast food fish place after a long day. I ate about half of the fish and cole slaw and went to bed. A half hour before the alarm went off the next morning, I was in the bathroom, sending that poor excuse for a meal down the drain in a projectile manner. Convinced I was dying, I called in sick to work and went back to bed.