So there was the wedding. And I will talk about it, because it was very beautiful, and my brother is now married, and everyone was happy and we danced and drank and cried a little bit. Cried a lot, actually. And then, more dancing. But today, I can’t really think about it, because celebrating, it turns out, is pretty bad for my new digestive system, and it is entirely possible that I am going to die. Imminent death is pretty distracting. The nice thing, however, is that it was worth it. I think. Mostly.

It started Friday, when we landed and I was so hungry and so happy to see Carrie, who was stressed like a person whose head was about to explode. So we took her out to dinner, and we drank a bottle of wine, and my stomach said, "Oh, you’re funny. You just wait, funny lady."

I ignored it, because fuck you, stomach. You are not the boss of me. So
when Ken got home, we took him out for drinks. And with every whiskey,
my stomach stored up a little more resentment. But I said fuck you,
stomach. My baby brother is getting married, and we are doing shots.

And then, eating onion rings bought from a questionably sanitary
all-night fried chicken shack. My stomach seethed quietly and sharpened
a knife.

For breakfast: a latte. Then, another latte. And then soy chips, and
another latte. And then the rehearsal dinner. Drinks! More drinks!
Pizza! Hey, Carrie’s related to a guy who was on the Sopranos!
Calamari? Cala-MORE-y! Nom nom nom mashed potatoes, you are so nice,
and yes, Mr. Veal, I will eat you all up yom. And then, I will take a
fork and help decimate the dessert platter, and then I will go outside
and wish I were dead. But still I have to keep living, so I will have
another glass of wine, yes please, thank you. I bet that will settle my
stomach, which is currently fashioning a noose.

The day of the wedding, the champagne was broken out early, and then it
was steadily downhill from there. Drinks drinks drinks drinks,
happiness and crying, drinks soup bread drinks toasts to the happy
couple drinks salad chicken dancing dancing drinks. Cake! A dessert
table? A dessert table! My brother the pastry chef, he has provided a
table full of things that, oh God, are the best things I’ve ever eaten.
Drink? Don’t mind if I do! My stomach hired an assassin.

This morning, in the dark of the predawn, that is when my stomach made
its move. I woke up, and barely had time to think oh, holy God, to roll
out of bed and shoot into the bathroom and spend the next 45 minutes
regretting everything I had ever done and wondering if it was too late
to find Jesus, who I bet was under the couch cushions this whole time.
That 45 minutes of my life are among the worst 45 minutes I have ever
spent. I put my head down on my knees and cried a lot, feeling sorry
for myself. And then 10 minutes later I was back in the bathroom,
feeling sorry for myself again. And then again, and again, and again.

Of course I don’t get to feel sorry for myself–I am perfectly aware of
why, exactly, I was crying in the bathroom at 4 in the morning, and at
6, and 7, and 8 and 9. I am fully cognizant of exactly what happened,
and who, precisely, caused the chain of events that led to my
preferring death to this kind of deeply painful dishonor on every
level. I take responsibility! I take Pepto Bismol, which is all the
hotel had, and I smile through the cramps like such a brave little
toaster and I say my goodbyes to all the people streaming out of the
hotel, and I say fuck you, self-pity.

I knew what I was doing. This was my brother’s wedding, and I was not
going to worry about diets and protein, or turn down wedding cake
because I was trying to be good. And every step of the way, I knew that
there would be consequences. But I thought, before I embarked on my
Lost Weekend, that I was prepared for them, that I was ready to deal
with whatever punishment my body would mete out. The not-so-much is not
something I ever want to deal with, ever again. I do not ever want to
do this to myself; I can’t believe I did this to myself, and that I
could have been so stupid. I will never be this stupid again.

I’m going to be exactly as stupid again, and probably in short order.
Maybe even within the month.  Definitely within in the year. That is
the thing about this surgery–it helps to teach you good habits, or
better habits than you used to have. It reins you in, daily, with the
tiny size of your stomach, reduced hunger, a blessedly reduced craving
for sugar.  But it doesn’t cure you.

It feels like magic, the first 6 months, maybe, maybe a little longer.
It feels easy to do, but there are small slip-ups, here and there.
You’re eating a couple bites of bread, you have a sip of soda, you run
across a bag of chocolate chips in your cupboard, and suddenly half a
dozen are melting on your tongue. It is a little terrifying, how easy
it can be to start escalating that. Suddenly I can see myself going
from a corner of a roll to the whole bread basket, a bottle of Coke, a
sack of fun-size candy bars. How long is the memory of how I feel right
now going to keep me afraid to do this to myself again? How long before
I remember the consequences and think I am fully aware of the price to
pay, but still going off full-bore crazy again? It scares the shit out of me.
I hope that will be enough, but I am not convinced, and I am not cured.

13 Replies to “aftermath”

  1. It sounds to me, that you actually did learn something – if you read your last paragraph you seem very present in what you did and didn’t do this weekend. You’re being honest and that’s, to me, a huge part of change. Plus, HELL, it was your brother’s wedding. Today is a new day.

  2. Ah, a woman in pain who still writes with such wit and humor! I am so sorry for your distress.

    I did not have WLS surgery and maybe I therefore should not comment. But I assure you that even without having gone through the surgery I can relate, to some degree at least.

    I have on many, many, many occasions in my life eaten to the point of being physically sick (hello, binge eating disorder!) and every single one of these words could have been written by yours truly:

    “How long is the memory of how I feel right now going to keep me afraid to do this to myself again? How long before I remember the consequences and think I am fully aware of the price to pay, but still going off full-bore crazy again? It scares the shit out of me. I hope that will be enough, but I am not convinced, and I am not cured.”

    I am, to the outside eye, a success. I have maintained a large weight loss for many years. But do you think that means I’m cured? I could have written the above JUST LAST WEEKEND.

    It was Father’s Day weekend, and a couple of other things were being celebrated within a few days of that as well. I started out attempting moderation and then it became a free for all. It was, simply put, a four-day-long drinking and eating festival of shameful proportions. My usual eating habits went completely out the window. And every moment of it I was telling my head (and my stomach) Fuck You! just like you did. Because, damn it, I want to be able to eat and drink what I want!

    And then I spent the next week with a very elevated weight(seriously, I gained about ten pounds in a few days, although luckily most of it was temporary, due to my body’s lovely habit of bloating up like a blowfish, especially with all the delicious carbs–sigh, how I miss them so–that passed my lips), not being able to zipper my pants, not being able to avoid my swollen (and ashamed) face and body in the mirror, and also (here comes the fun!) for a day or two or three spending more time in the bathroom than you’d believe, suffering from a painful and undignified amount of intestinal distress, which I will not detail here (you’re welcome!).

    Cured? Nah. These things happen to me from time to time. Usually, these days, it’s a pretty long time in between. And, you know, I’m human, so whatever. I pick myself up and move on (after feeling really, really sorry for myself for a few days, convinced I’m going to gain it all back, convinced I’m the most pathetic and weak person on earth. I’m really good at the Woe Is Me thing, but I eventually get over myself).

    Glad you had fun at the wedding, except for that part about crying and praying to the porcelain gods. Does it help to know how many were reading along, nodding their heads? We get it, you know?

  3. I just wanted to let you know that as a pre-op, the following words struck me the most: “I put my head down on my knees….”

    I couldn’t do that if someone paid me.

  4. I feel your pain (kind of). I said “to Hell with it” on Friday and drank an entire beer with a beer chaser.

    OH. MY. GOSH. I burped and farted my way through the weekend.

    Today I feel like I might actually be a normal person and not an entire frat party.

    But hopefully I learned from my experience, right?

    Dammit, this is hard.

  5. This sounds like my hangover today.

    Oh, girls night was so much fucking fun last night, it was ridiculous, but… worth today’s pain? Worth almost puking on the plane to San Francisco tonight? Worth puking in between meetings when my boss sent me home “to pack”?

    Somehow, I will forget all of this, as will my girlfriends, and by the time the next girls night rolls around, I’m sure we’ll all do it again…


  6. You have my compassion and understanding. I’ve had two (unwanted) abdominal-area surgeries, and I can find myself in the head-on-knees, pray-for-death position without even whatever comfort might be had from having celebrated before hand.

    What concerns me even more on your behalf, though, is the last paragraph. I’m perfectly prepared to be scared on your behalf, too. The fact that you can envision your eating escalating, despite the consequences, doesn’t mean it has to happen. Maybe you can take it and make it mean that it won’t happen. You have loved getting smaller, Anne. Do you love it more than the food? Because the only way the weight will stay off is if you can answer “yes.” Doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate weddings, or even holidays. It does mean you probably shouldn’t celebrate the entire holiday season as hard as you’re able; it does mean that if you have something to celebrate every day, you should probably find something other than food to celebrate with. The consequences are more awful to contemplate than the misery of a day on the throne. I cross my fingers for you; you’ve been so happy about the changes, I want them to stay changed for you. I want you to be happy. Food is not happiness. Food is food.

  7. Dolley, please don’t feel I am attacking you; I just wanted to comment on your thoughts.

    I agree, food is food and not happiness. But, speaking for myself, food can be used for reasons that having nothing to do with nutritional sustenance, and that’s the real work behind weight loss. It’s not just about the mechanics (i.e., the diet and exercise), it’s about reshaping the way one thinks.

    Sometimes it’s easy. So damn easy. And sometimes it’s the hardest thing in the world. It’s a learning experience all the way the through. I’m glad that Anne is sharing her experiences here, the victories and the struggles, the triumphs and the frustrations.

    I’m not scared for her. I think she’s going to be just fine.

  8. Anon, thanks, I don’t feel as if you’re attacking me. As it happens, I absolutely agree with you; that’s why I was expressing my concern. Anne has stated (in the old blog, if not this one), that food is more than just something to eat for her, as it is for many of us, and she acknowledged that she was not addressing those issues with the surgery; but she was going to have the surgery for the assistance it would give her, and the other issues would have to be dealt with in their time. I guess I was hoping that a small mantra might help her deal with it: Food is not happiness, food is food.

  9. Sounds horrible. As a once a week pooper I’ve tried far too many “speedthingsalong” remedies and some have sent me running for the potty bolt upright at 4 am. So sorry man – it can be almost as bad as labor when it gets like that.

    And you now officially know too much about me. Hello.

  10. Ah, darlin’, it could have been worse. At least you didn’t have to lose it in a cheap plastic bag and do a “Kenyan Flying Toilet” at 75 mph on some turnpike. Yes, it has happened even though I’m not much of a binge eater. But my stomach does rule me in a moderating sense. Had to pitch most of an In-and-Out lunch today, which goes against the grain, but, damnit, it’s all gonna end up in the sewer anyway!


  11. Thanks, Dolley, for understanding (and sorry, Anne, for highjacking your site with my dialogue with Dolley!).

    I know that even without WLS, losing the weight was the “easy” part. It was hard, don’t get me wrong, but it was only after I was done losing and had my first binge that I realized, oops, I’m not done with this process yet.

    Many years later and I’m still learning. Most of the time I do well, but sometimes I find myself reverting to old habits. I seem able to keep those episodes shorter now, with less damage. Or at least less physical damage (i.e., weight gain); it has a big effect on me mentally. But I continue to work on it, and address the issues, and I’m usually successful.

    One final thought: as I said, I agree food is food and not happiness, but I read something on someone’s blog recently (can’t remember who it was, but I bet it was linked from this site) that I really liked. Basically it said (I’m paraphrasing): Yeah, yeah, food is supposed to be for fuel and nothing else. But to say food is JUST for fuel is like saying sex is JUST for procreation! And if indeed we were just supplying nutrients to our bodies and not deriving anything else from it, we’d all just be popping some kind of food supplement pills by now.

    There IS enjoyment to be taken from food, there IS a social aspect to eating. And again, speaking for myself, I feel much less guilty for overindulging when I am happy and in a wonderful setting with loved ones (like a wedding), as opposed to home alone cramming food down my throat, trying to fill something that has nothing to do with hunger.

    Ok, sorry. Done now. I know my comments are always too long!

  12. “Fuck you, stomach. You are not the boss of me.”

    That is how it starts, isn’t it?

    I too (I neither?) am not post-WLS. I am, however, some 30 pounds into lowcarbing (the right way, once figured out with a nutritionist) and weight-training and can remember a recent, vivid, family-member-Carnegie-Hall-debut related, um, tussle — no, bloody skirmish — with risotto.

    2 kinds.

    And wine.

    And cream.

    BLEAH does not begin to describe it.

    As Dylan McDermott sang off-key to Holly Hunter in Jody Foster’s glorious “Home for the Holidays”:
    You pick yourself up. You dust yourself off. You start all over again.


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