Panorama of San Bernardino

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Food Wise

My relationship with food is complicated. 

The problem with food is that it is not something you can give up.  You cannot go cold turkey on turkey.  Instead, I must learn to live with my demon, albiet in a more sensible way. 

In case you don't know, I had gastric bypass surgery and for the last three weeks since surgery, I have been on a liquid diet.  The hard part for me now is getting enough food to sustain myself .  In the morning, I force myself to eat a cup of yogurt.  I cannot eat the whole thing.  The most I can get down is half a Yoplait.

So things have changed.  I have changed.  I have lost twenty five pounds and feel pretty damn good.

My cure was extreme I must admit.  I am not the only one.  Yesterday at the hair salon (I call it a salon but it really was just the Fantastic Sam's down the street), the woman who cut my hair had lost two hundred and fifty pounds after having the same surgery.  She still weighed over three hundred pounds. She told me how her biggest accomplishment was getting behind the wheel of a car again.  Yet, she still struggles and admitted to me that she can cheat and that she eats candy and drinks beer.

My surgery was not a panacea.  I should click my heels and say it three times so that I do not forget.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


How does a marriage end?  It is with a word?  Is it a compilation of a little million pieces of disappointment?  Is it with the thought of something else?  Or is it with a moment that cannot be taken back?

I have always been a giver.  My first love/boyfriend Cesar drove me crazy in love.  I followed him around, bought him jackets and shoes and watched him cheat on me at the Metro.  No matter what he did to me, I wanted him.  I loved him more than I loved myself and that was the problem.  Years later, he called me and told me I was the one.  I was smart enough to turn away.

To turn away.  That is what is required to end a marriage.  For one of the married persons to turn away and not look back.  That is probably why so many marriages end with an affair.  It is easier that way.  To have someone else to turn to, I imagine, has to be easier than turning to a life alone. 

I have never been good at keeping ultimatums.  For years, I told Adrian to marry me or I would leave him.  I never did.  It was seventeen years before we tied the knot.  The knot that binds.

A binding can be used as an adjective or verb.  As a noun it means a strip sewn or attached over or along an edge for protection, reinforcement, or ornamentation.  Thus, marriage can be protective and/or reinforcing (for me at least, it has never been ornamental, I make a bad trophy wife).

When used as an adjective, a binding is defined as uncomfortably tight and confining.  To marry someone and compromise is hard.  The daily necessity to try and try again can be confining and at the very least uncomfortable.  At times, it can be downright painful.

Like I said, I am a giver.  I give and give.  Yet sometimes, I feel it doesn't come back.  As if I am sitting at the end of a dinner table in the last seat waiting for a meal that never comes.

Dinner.  I wish.  Just in case you don't know, I can't eat right now.  My stomach has been stapled and my system re routed.   And yes, if it isn't obvious, my heartburn is caused by more than the surgery.  I am hoping it goes away like most heartburn does.

Now dear reader, just in case you read too much into this, my marriage is not over.  Marriage is hard and I have a feeling my weight loss will change many things including my marriage.  Change can sometimes be big and sometimes change can be small.  But, just so y'all know, I feel a big change is coming.  A big change.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Surgery day

I opened my eyes at three a.m to the sound of my alarm.  The hospital had pushed my gastric bypass surgery up from ten in the morning to five a.m..  My husband and I drove over to Orange County nauseous from fatigue.  We arrived at the hospital early.  It was only four-thirty.  The guard instructed us to wait in the lobby.  I tapped my feet and considered bolting for the door. 

I thought about how the Fourth of July fireworks looked last night from our front yard and my nephew's shouts of delight as each one of them lit up the sky. 

The receptionist checked me in at five a.m..  I changed into a white hospital gown with nothing underneath and a blue shower cap for my head.  Adrian stayed with me as I waited to go into surgery.  Doctor Ali stopped by at seven and said surgery should be starting soon.  He told me not to worry. 

They wheeled me into the surgery room half an hour later.  The nurses joked about how much they ate the day before.  The anesthesiologist looked at them and said, "C'mon guys, no talking about food."  He leaned over me and whispered, "I will have you asleep in a second."

The next thing I remember is waking up in my hospital room moaning in pain.  I felt as if someone was stabbing me with a knife in my stomach over and over.  I screamed at Adrian, "Why did I do this?"

The next two days in the hospital were unpleasant (ahem, understatement).  The morphine helped me through the pain but every two hours or so I would be poked and prodded.  There were also mandatory breathing treatments (three a day), chaperoned bathroom trips and blood draws.  I tried to take liquid down but it was hard.  For the first time in many years, I was not hungry.

My favorite part was walking the hospital floor sans underwear.  A young nurse wrapped a second hospital gown around me like a robe and giggled as she said, "I wouldn't want my butt hanging out." 

The whole time in the hospital I didn't sleep.  I merely rested.  I couldn't even read.  My body had no energy for anything except my daily ritual of "The Price is Right".

My second night in the hospital, Wednesday night, was surreal.  A woman screamed as she gagged in the room next door.  She seemed to be having some serious complications from the gastric bypass surgery.  I kept thinking, "Make it stop."  I couldn't imagine how painful it would be to throw up with a stomach punctured by six open wounds. 

They took me off the morphine late Wednesday night.  I was sad to see it go.  Pressing the button was comforting.  "Drink this," the nurse said with a smile.  Feeling a little bit like Alice in Wonderland, I took a sip of the foul poison tasting concoction and gagged. 

"Do I have to drink this?" I asked.  "It will help with the pain," the nurse responded with a stern look.  I wanted my giggly nurse back.  The nurse watched as I drained the cup.

At about two a.m., I woke up from my drug induced coma and couldn't breathe.  My chest felt tight.  I paged the nursing station and the same stern nurse came by.  "I can't breathe," I told her with a gasp.  Her face turned concerned.  They checked my vitals and asked me if my chest hurt.  When I nodded yes, they paged the doctor.  An hour and one EKG later, I was diagnosed with gas and a bad reaction to the liquid pain medicine.

It just goes to show, our bodies know things.  If something tastes vial, do not drink it. 

Thursday morning, the young giggly nurse brought me the same liquid pain medicine.  This time I was firm.  "I cannot take that I said.  Give me something else."  She obliged.

That afternoon, the doctor released me from the hospital.  The nurse wheeled me out to my sister's car and my weight loss adventure began.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


I had a cousin named Mickey when I was little.  Mickey was fat.  Very fat.  He probably weighed over six hundred pounds.  Obesity was less common in those days, but according to my mom, it ran in my dad's side of the family. 

Mickey lived with his mom Gladys in Deer Lodge, Montana.  Gladys was my dad's aunt and Mickey was my dad's favorite cousin.  My mom recently told me that we used to drive to visit him on vacation. 

"You sat out on the steps with him don't you remember?  It was 1976, the same year Roberta got married," my mom said.  She rambled on, "Mickey was such a nice person."

Mickey was supposed to be Jackie's nino (godfather), but something happened and my uncle Roland offered to fill in.  I had to share my godfather just like everything else in my childhood. 

In 1977, Mickey had weight loss surgery.  Soon after, he had a heart attack and died.  Mickey lost his weight too fast and his body couldn't handle it.

At Jackie's high school graduation in 1989, Uncle Roland brought Jackie a present and gave her a big hug.  I remember thinking, I wish we had different godfathers.  Mickey's image flitted through my mind the way long forgotten memories sometimes do. 

I watched Jackie and my best friend Tracy graduate from the bleachers.  My mom wouldn't talk to me.  My former classmates looked at me with awkward faces.  I had dropped out after sleeping my way through most of my senior year.  That time is still fuzzy.  No one thought to ask why I slept so much.  I took my GED that summer. 

I was always skinny when I was little.  My favorite outfit in elementary school was a pair of "slim" pale blue dittos and my green frog shirt.   Jackie struggled with her weight.  I never had to worry.

My dietician and I went over my weight history about six months ago.  My weight gain has been slow, about ten pounds a year for the last ten or twelve years.  It has been a gradual slide downhill. 

Yet, I refuse to categorize myself as merely a fat girl.  I am more than the sum of my pounds.  About twelve years ago, I graduated from UCR with high honors and watched my mom and dad cry in the audience.  Nine years ago, I graduated from USC Law School and got a job at the largest law firm in Texas.  Yeah, that's right, this high school dropout and former waitress rubbing elbows with Texas elite, except, I never really fit in.

Six years ago, my dad died and I moved back home and started writing about my childhood.  Four years ago, I decided to share my stories and attended the VONA writing workshop in San Francisco.  That same year, I applied to the Public Defender's Office.  In short, I found my bliss.  Then, my weight started to get to me both emotionally and physically.

Life is strange.  If you are not careful it can pass you by.  I am almost forty and I hope I can change again.  I have a lot left in me.  Just like I know I have a book in me, I know there is still a skinny girl inside of me.  She is gorgeous.  Her outside matches her inner strength. 

In ten years, I hope I will look back at the last years as my fat, albiet productive, phase.

Friday, July 1, 2011


My fat girl surgery is this Tuesday.  I got a call today from the surgeon's assistant who told me my surgery had been moved up to five a.m.  My surgery was originally scheduled for ten a.m. and I knew it was too good to be true.  After the assistant called, I ran into the house to tell Adrian.  He teased me into almost believing he wouldn't take me that early. 

I walked outside to let the dogs out and looked down at my feet.  The polish on my feel was chipped and my souls were calloused.  I was going into surgery with ugly feet.  Not good.  I drove down to the pedicure salon and waited an hour to get my toenails cut and polished and my soles buffed until they were soft.

The days before surgery are going by fast.  Some days, I wish I was a super hero who had the power to slow down time.  Other days, I want time to speed up so I can hurry up and get it over with.  I have never had surgery before and the prospect of being "under" and at the mercy of others makes me nervous. 

What bothers me the most is the idea of not knowing what will happen after.  Will I be hungry?  Will I be in pain?  How long will it take for the weight to drop off? 

Was it Bob Dylan who said that the answer is blowing in the wind?  If so, the answer is a hot breeze that makes me sweat.  The day before my surgery I have to scrub down with an anti bacterial soap and take off all my jewelery and wear no lotion or deodorant.  It is fitting.  This is a new me, a new season and a new day.

Three days and eight hours to go.  But who's counting?