Saturday, January 29, 2011

Escape from the waiting place

Dr. Suess said it best

The incomparable Dr. Seuss wrote a book once called the “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” As always it was a book designed to help teach children to read, but he wanted to take it one step further this time. He wanted to inspire kids with a sense that they would be successful, see amazing things, and do well in this life.

There is one heavy chapter in this book, out of line with the optimistic tone of the rest of work, called the Waiting Place. I’m sure he inserted this chapter because had to give a little realistic balance to the book. He couldn’t tell the kids it would all be sunshine and light. He would be accused of being a false prophet then. The waiting place goes like this.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

There’s a heavy scene in the 2007 movie titled Fractured in which Ryan Gosling reads this Dr. Seuss poem. He got cocky and screwed up his first prosecution of Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins beat him and made him look extremely stupid in the process. Now his career and life are stuck. He can’t move forward until he fixes this. He’s stuck in the waiting place, waiting for another chance. His reading of this passage really brought out the pathos found there.

2010 was the waiting place

In 2010, I was stuck in the waiting place. The whole year was spent in the waiting place. I began by waiting for a second knee surgery. Waiting for my knees to heal and stop hurting. Waiting for United Health Care to approve gastric bypass. Waiting to get underway with the arduous process of losing 100 pounds. Waiting for the knee replacement surgery that will follow. Waiting for the moment when it would be less painful to get up out of bed in the morning and go down the stairs. Waiting for the time when it would be less painful to stand over a stove and stir a pot of Risotto. Waiting for the time when it would be easier to stand up from my chair and walk to the bathroom after two hours of work. I was driven by physical pain all year long.

I’m out and running

Today is day number 8 of the liquid diet prior to my gastric bypass surgery. I’m in surgery on the 3rd. I have had to work within a 1,000 calorie hard-cap, and get all my essentials at the same time. It is an extreme form of CRON {Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition}.

It has been working. I am already 15 pounds down. Although it is far from gone, the pain in my knees is far more manageable. I am already getting up and going down the stairs in the morning with greater ease. Day 5 was extremely difficult, but I pushed through some form of metabolic barrier there, and now it is easy.

One week from today, I should be released from the hospital. This is the first major surgery of my life, and I have had a few sleepless nights about it. This is not a knee or a shoulder surgery. They are going to go inside my torso and fool with my vital organs for the first time. The surgeon is going to disconnect my stomach and bypass three feet of my upper intestine. Effectively, he will pipe my esophagus into my lower intestine.

Lying awake at night at 11:30pm, I have thought many times about whether any reasonably sane man would ever walk in the door at hospital and voluntarily submit to such a surgery. People can die during these surgeries. More than once, I’ve had the feeling that I am eyeball to eyeball with the risk of death.

Why would they do this? The purpose is to spoil the efficiency of my hyper-efficient endomorphic digestive tract. They wish to construct a wasteful digestive tract, such as the one an ectomorph would have. They are doing this purposefully to trigger 100 pounds of weight loss. The end objective is to remove stress from arthritic knees, and make it possible for other surgeons to perform knee replacement surgery successfully.

What places will I go…?

You have to wonder what other benefits this surgery will have. I assure you, I am not undertaking this surgery for cosmetic reasons. I would never have submitted to this if my orthopedic surgeon had not threatened me with a shortened life confined to a wheelchair. But there will be other benefits.

The biochemical studies show that people who successfully undergo Gastric Bypass take 15 years of age off their bodies. Stress hormones, steroids, cholesterols, triglycerides—you name it—all aspects of body chemistry improve drastically after gastric bypass. Conversely, they say that carrying 100 extra pounds around is like putting 15 to 20 years of age on your body. I certainly have been moving around like a 64 year old man over the past year.

The interesting thing is this: People don’t seem to think I look my age in the first place. I have been carded at my last two birthday parties at work. Nobody seemed to believe that I was turning 43 and 44. They thought I was pulling their collective leg. I had to show my driver’s license to prove it. Because I still have a relatively full head of brown hair, people think I am still my 30s. The lore says that we Virgos enjoy the gift of eternal youth. Once 100 pounds drop who knows…

My family and friends seem to be under the impression that I am pretty good looking guy. They seem to think that only my excess weight is holding me back from unlimited amounts of success. I laugh at these statements, but they defend their positions anyhow. I seem to hear these statements a lot, and in independent cases. I understand that friends and family members are trying to cheer me up and give me motives to get through this difficult time, so I discount many things I hear.

However, there will be the opportunity to put these claims to the test soon. We will find out if they are right or not.