Saturday, March 25, 2006

Fat Man Walking

“You sound thinner on the phone.” The client’s father said to me at the courthouse.

I’ve never been of average weight. I’m fat, big and jolly (just as the world, and my conformity to it, wants me to be); you know the type. The big uncle that you love so much who dies young from a massive coronary? Yeah, that’s me; the “why do the good die young” guy. I’m still fit enough to have the muscular frame needed to propel my bulk efficiently and quickly but old enough to see that that the extra strain on my joints and ligaments is beginning to take its toll. I’m 37.

You hear all kinds of smack when you are the fat kid, adolescent, adult. You get used to it. Some of it is pretty good other talk is just plain dumb; oral ejaculate from someone who is insecure enough that they think the fat guy will be easy prey. Ah yes, humans and jackals – what’s the difference? Anyway, I’ve heard most of them but this one was perhaps the dumbest; and that’s saying something. It gave me moment to pause and for a brief moment I was speechless. That doesn’t happen too often; there’s an impressive feat from a guy who was presently and most recently at court for a peeping tom charge.

“Yeah, I get that a lot.” I said.

But enough about him; this is about me and people like me. Of course I can’t speak for all of corpulent people of the earth, just this one. I have never been called thin or skinny. This is due to several factors including a love of food, a lack of cardiovascular exercise, genetics and metabolism. As for any health Nazis who shriek, “they all say genetics and metabolism!” Screw you (how’s that for jolly). Know that I smile each time I hear that a jogger, has keeled over dead from a heart attack. Not because of a tragic loss of life but because I know it will make the health enlightened say, “But he was so healthy.” What an amazing position to act as if dying is a personal decision instead of inevitability. How about that; the grim reaper takes you too. : )

Hey, I’m not bitter – I’m Jolly!

Speaking of “Jolly,” it is my belief that humor is, as with almost everything else, is part genetic and part environmental – or part shaped. It is a wonderful coping mechanism, tool for acceptance and weapon. The world will accept you if they feel that they are in on the joke. Leave ‘em smiling. I think that is why so many people such as I (fat guys) have had the term “Jolly” applied to us since the beginning of time. Humor gives many an opportunity at being accepted by the community at large. That’s not something that is exclusive to the fat guy community. So many thin, “healthy” comedians and funny people have deep seeded self-esteem issues. The adage is true; comedy is most certainly tragedy. It is best to laugh then it is to cry, right? Well, at the end of the day, it is.

Still and all I’m not blind. Someone my size is the odds on favorite for health complications and an early grave. To keep things moving let me just say that I have “yo-yoed” with my weight on several occasions. No fat, no sugar, Atkins, Nutra-System, just plain dieting? Yeah, I’ve done that. 50lbs here, 80lbs there; each loss didn’t last and the lbs came back to me like a stray puppy looking for a home; “We’ve missed you big boy! We’re coming home!” Atkins and the low-no carb lifestyle worked fine until that first slice of bread; then it was like pulling a ripcord on a parachute. Poof! You’re fat.

So what’s next? Do something or do nothing? Doing nothing means that I’ve got maybe 15 or so years left. How so? Family history; we don’t get too far into our 50’s before we keel over dead. Doing something means changing longstanding habits (eating & exercise) or Gastric Bypass Surgery followed by portion control, exercise and vitamin regimens. That’s it. Those are my options. Quite honestly, cardiovascular exercise is boring, it doesn’t hold my attention; of course compound that with the negative reaction my body has to it and I’m out. Kayaking and biking are the exceptions to the rule. Neither is boring in the least for the simple reason that you are doing something. Unfortunately neither is really cardiovascular exercises and instead specialize on either the upper or lower portions of ones body. After discussing this issue with a few of my poker mates (health gurus as you would imagine) the concept of Aikido was mentioned as a cardiovascular exercise. Aikido is something that I have never tried, it is not boring and it would be something that I would not be deem pointless once I’m winded or if my body starts to resist. The other option is Gastric Bypass Surgery. Why consider something as drastic as this? My wife and my three daughters; I want to be alive to see my grandchildren and healthy enough to go kayaking with them. There are things that I want to do and I can’t; legendary things – things that are not possible now since I’m just too big. Kayaking with either killer whales or humpbacks, hiking down – camping and hiking back out of the Grand Canyon, exploring the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon and canyonearing the other national parks of southern Utah, Yosemite in California to climb the base of El Capitan, learning how to SCUBA dive and seeing the Jesus of the Deep and other sunken treasures off the coast of the Florida Keys & Jamaica (especially the sunken city of Port Royal); experiencing all of these things, from the glaciers to the rainforests, with my family, living life and writing about it.

I’ve got too much to live for to do nothing. If I were to be cut eating would change for me. There is no such thing as second helpings for a post op GBS individual. That would be ok. One of the worst things is the concept of having to take (or rather remembering to take) B12 vitamins for the rest of my life. GBSer’s have to do this since the section of their upper intestine that would have assimilated the vitamin has been surgically rearranged to be part of a much smaller stomach. Hey, survival ain’t pretty. At best with GBS, I’m looking at a 2 to 5 day hospital stay before I can come home. At worst I’ll have intestinal leakage where digestive enzymes leak into my body cavity causing great pain and, if not surgically fixed, death; or I’ll have a pulmonary embolism caused by a blood clot which would mean death or worse. Worse? Yes worse. Imagine if you will a clot going to ones brain causing a stroke that leaves one’s mind and body paralyzed. Having a vague sense of what has happened and wishing that the path of 15 good years was chosen instead of the living hell now faced for the rest of ones days in a health care facility. Thanks to the GBS, that should be a good long time now. Just shoot me. Wikipedia says about GBS, “The operation has a mortality rate of approximately 2% overall: 1% suffer immediate complications and death; another 1% will commonly have post-operative complications that lead to death within one month of surgery. This can be mitigated by compliance with the surgeon's post-operative plan and using a doctor who has performed more than 200 procedures. A full 25% of people undergoing this operation will have some form of post-operative complication (hernia, gall stones) either requiring a further procedure or change in habits.” So there it is. 2% will not get out alive from the proceedure. That’s akin to getting onto a plane, full of a hundred people mind you, that you know is going to crash, kill at least two passengers and leave 25 with extenuating medical circumstances. Hmm, what to do?


It looks like excersise and dietary changes are in store; for now. If this fails or if I fail it; then I will seriously consider the knife. If that is the only way for me to grab another 20 or so years (in addition to the 15 he said with a wink), then I’m all in. More time to be hike with grandchildren and be jolly. I’m alright with that.

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