In the middle of a conversation the other day, one of my friends blurts out “So what are you going to have for your last meal?” For a second, I felt like a death row inmate getting ready for the big sleep. And then I realized I haven’t really thought about the foods I’m not going to be able to eat anymore…which makes me totally proud because two years ago when I made the decision to get lap band surgery I headed straight for the Little Debbies. And that doesn’t make me proud.
Just to set things straight for those of you who haven’t been reading this blog for two years, I didn’t have lap band surgery two years ago. Instead, I jumped through hoops for six months for my insurance company and then when the surgeon called to schedule me for surgery I called it off. Because I wasn’t ready. And I wasn’t convince the lap band was the right thing for me to do. And it turns out I was right…because I learned that ice cream slips right past the lap band – and ice cream is responsible for at least one of my four asses, peeps. Fuck’in mint chip demons.
Still, my friend’s question got me thinking…what should be my “last meal”? Should I even think about it that way? It’s not like I’m not going to eat again…but I am going to be on a pretty wicked liquid diet the week before surgery. And the week before that, I’ll be on a very limited high protein/low carb diet. So perhaps I should think about sowing a few wild oats before I have to kick it into pre-op mode.
I remember a little over ten years ago when my closest friends were lining up for gastric bypass surgery, we would go out the night before their surgery and eat the entire town. We ate everything. Pasta. Steak. Small cars. Babies. Okay, maybe that’s embellishing a little bit…but back then surgeons didn’t require any kind of good behavior before surgery so I saw some pals inhale some major calories in the days before their surgeries.
I feel like it’s a feather in my cap that I haven’t really concerned myself with what foods I’m not going to be able to have after surgery. I attribute about 95% of this to the fact that I’m ready for this step (and that I’m fucking awesome) and about 5% to something my surgeon said to me during our consultation. When he was telling me about a patient who tried to eat a brisket sandwich two days after surgery, I told him I wasn’t really much of a sandwich person and that I’d decided I wasn’t going to have bread after surgery. Or dessert. Ever.
“Can I suggest something?” he asked with a raised hand.
“Please don’t do that. I do want you to eat your protein first. Always. At every meal. And once you’re done with that, we want you to try to get in some veggies or fruits – but in time, your stomach will be able to handle more and this tool is about learning moderation. So please…if you want a little bite of cracker or chips or even cake once in a while, I don’t care. I don’t want you to set yourself up for failure by saying ‘Never again’ about any food. Let’s just try ‘Not now’ for now…ok?”
I wanted to hug the guy, seriously. I realize he sees fat people all day long and has years and years of experience at this, but that is exactly what I needed to be told. Because after all this time of learning how not to fall into black & white thinking, I’m still guilty of it once in a while. And he reinforced something else for me: listen to the experts…because they’ve been much more successful at weight loss than I have lately. So even if it sounds stupid, I’m going to try it their way and prove it wrong before I think I know shit that I really don’t.
For the most part, my thoughts have been consumed with the things I’m going to be able to do next year…not with food. HMH and I have a couple of tentative trips planned. I’m looking forward to rollerblading. Dancing. Bike riding. Going to see my beloved Texas Rangers play a game…and fitting in the seat. And, of course, riding a rollercoaster again. Those are the things I’m thinking of, not what foods I’m going to miss.
In the spirit of my doctor’s message, I’m not going to permanently say goodbye to any food – but I am going to tell certain foods goodbye for a year. One year. And then I’ll reevaluate. Even when I think about my worst vices, I could give up any food for a year. It’s not uncomfortable to think about in the least. So…over the next few weeks I’m going to treat myself to the following items on the “Fuck It List”.
Fuck It List
Pizza. Ice cream. The cheesecake at Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe. The garlic fries at Boomerjack’s. And a big bucket of buttered popcorn at the movies. And Twizzlers. Because you can’t have movie popcorn without Twizzlers, yo.
Six things. And it’s not goodbye…it’s “I’m going to boot camp for a year, my darlings. I won’t be able to visit, but I’ll see you again.” They don’t need to know it’s possible I’ll never eat them ever again. I don’t need to know that either. I don’t need to heap that shit on my shoulders when I’m going to have enough to deal with just learning how to eat again. These vices have been my companions for many years, though, and attention must be paid.
And then there’s the Bucket List. It’s not a real bucket list. This isn’t a list of every single thing I want to do before I kick the bucket. That would take much more thought. This particular Bucket List is a list of everything I’m looking forward to doing after surgery.
The Bucket List
Fly in an airplane without a seat belt extender. Ride a rollercoaster. Take dance lessons with HMH (he promised!). Go hiking – including Holy Jim Falls in my native Orange County, California (it’s always been too advanced for me). Rollerblade. Ride bikes with HMH. Be able to sit in a booth at a restaurant. Volunteer for charitable events for America’s veterans that I can’t do now because they require prolonged walking or standing. Sit in a seat at Ranger’s Ballpark without it making bruises on my thighs. Jog. Go to First Monday Trade Days in Canton and be able to walk all day. Go to Disneyland with my niece. Ride the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios Florida with my BFF. Go to the State Fair of Texas and not have to sit and rest every 30 minutes. Go clothes shopping in a regular sized store. Wear the diamond and sapphire bracelet HMH bought me for Christmas 9 years ago that I have never been able to wear…because my wrists have always been too fat. Stand close to HMH under the mistletoe. Wear a dress. Walk up a flight of stairs without panting. Put on my tap shoes again…and dance.
That’s six foods to bid a temporary farewell to…and twenty miracles waiting just up the road. Sure, the Fuck It List is going to be a little fun – but the Bucket List is what’s going to make a monumental difference in my life. It’s what I think about before I go to sleep at night. It’s what I talk to HMH about…incessantly. It’s the smile on my face and the spring in my limpy step even now. It gives me something I have desperately needed for a long, long time:
What’s waiting on the other side of the rainbow for you? I’d love to know!
The Food and Feelings Workbook: A Full Course Meal on Emotional Health