blast from the past

Sometimes this is scary, and that is something I often forget. In
the beginning, it was hard to get away from the fact that I was about to go out
and get some major surgery done on myself–that they were going to slit me open
and rearrange my insides. Then they slit me open, and rearranged my insides, and it was impossible to forget what I had done while I was hurting all the
time, and tired, and my body felt strange and looked strange and even smelled
strange. There were constant reminders of what I had done, and how very serious
it was.

I waited and waited and waited for things to get better, and
it was agonizingly slow, for so long. The wait was interminable, and it hurt,
and when I was feeling the most exhausted and struggling to get all my water and all my protein and to walk around the block without wanting to die, I
regretted it, quietly, in my heart. I wondered what I had done to myself, why
the hell had I thought this would be a good idea, and was it too late to go
It was too late to go back.

It hurt all the time, and it sucked, and that was a very
good thing, because it kept me on track. It kept the water bottle in my hand
and the cans of tuna stacked up. It kept me alert, at the ready, always on
track, a warrior in pursuit of my own health and well-being. I was determined
not to fuck up, because there was no way I was going to go through all this and
end up failing because I was too stupid or lazy to remember to take care of

One of the reasons it took me so long to decide whether I was
going to go through this surgery–besides all the, what can I call them? Moral
implications? Of turning my back on the way my body was and worked and
looked–was that I was so afraid I would get complacent. That I would
not be–what is the word they use for patients?–compliant. I would not be
compliant with the health and nutrition guidelines, and I’d end up depleted and
dead because I slacked on my vitamins or exercise and ended up with shattered
bones and a pulmonary embolism, splat. I thought, of course I’m going to do
this right, where do I sign?

Then, I was delighted that I was So Good and Pure, and it
became incredibly easy to be a superstar. But it turns out that I was only a
superstar because I had to be, in the beginning. Because I couldn’t forget, and
because I wanted so desperately to feel better, as soon as possible, to get as
close to normal as I could. Every
calcium pill I choked down was a step closer to that, I felt, and things got
better and better, and it has gotten to the point where I cannot recall exactly
how terrible those early months were. I know they were hard, and I remember
being miserable and scared, but all that time when I couldn’t stand up
straight, when it hurt to lie down flat, when all I wanted was to roll over on my
side but I couldn’t, when the gas pains started, the bathroom misery–I remember
it happening, but it seems distant and not so real.

Now it’s eight months out, and I feel
completely normal almost all the time–fine, healthy, active, like I had never been sick and have
always been full of Life! Energy! Excitement! Happiness! And that is when I
start to forget that I need to keep vigilant. I need to take care of myself. I
have obligations to this new body with its new plumbing. That’s the problem–it
doesn’t feel new any more. It feels like ancient history, and something I
should go ahead and let time swallow, as time does. Except then, things happen.

Maybe because I had forgotten my vitamins all last week;
probably some of the week before, too. I hadn’t been drinking water the way I
should be. I hadn’t been eating my protein–finding good protein when I’m out
and about, sometimes, is so hard, and it’s easier to just grab a slice of pizza
and take a couple of bites and peel off the cheese. Isn’t that good enough? It’s so hard to plan. Why do I
have to plan all the time? I have to
plan because I shouldn’t be standing on the train, swaying, holding on tight
because the world is going white and wobbly, and my gut is being knifed, again
and again and again.

I stumbled off the train and sat down on the middle of the
sidewalk, and I cried because the world wouldn’t come back into focus and my
stomach hurt so much and I didn’t know what was happening to me or why and
what was I supposed to do? I breathed in, and breathed out, and waited for
things to stop hurting. And eventually they did, after a long, grey time. Guy,
who is wonderful, bolted out of work and came and got me. He took me home in a
taxi and was mad when I wouldn’t let him call my doctor, but I knew what had
happened, by then, and I knew it was my own fault, and I couldn’t tell that to
the doctor. Of course, doctor, I follow all your instructions to the letter.
This is so crazy, what is wrong with me, when I am so perfect!
I did it to

I took my vitamins when I woke up, and drank all the water
in the house and filled up the Brita pitcher and I slowly worked my way through
several cans of tuna to get my daily protein allotment, and swore, and swore,
and swore I would never do this to myself again. So angry that I could have let
things go, so ridiculous that I am so stupid. Because I am not going to
continue to be stupid, I am getting blood work done, and I am going to go tell
the doctor that I used to be stupid, and make sure I have not done any lasting
damage with my forgetting. I don’t want to need any more reminders.

9 Replies to “blast from the past”

  1. Oh, my this could so be me. I am only about 4 months out, but there are days I have to remind myelf that I am different now. I love reading you because you articulate your words and message so well, and it is exactly what I was thinking, but not as eloquently as you put it.

  2. That blows man. But don’t punish yourself. It happened, you learned, you corrected. Your goal is to be healthy not beyond reproach.

  3. I don’t agree that you will have many of those times. The negative reinforcement to not do that again really can work. I didn’t have many more of those after the first year. Then it happened a couple of times a year, then every other year. I’m eight years out now, and it’s been a long, long time since I’ve fucked up.

    You can do it, too. Promise.

  4. Man, that sucks. Yep, we pass all the time, but have to keep reminding ourselves that we chose a different road to get there.

    I actually carry the damn things around with me in my purse, so that I don’t forget when I’m out and off schedule. I also keep small prescription bottles filled with both the vitamins and calcium so that they are always on trips with me and I lay them out on the counter with my allergy medicine.

    Protein, like gravity, is a cruel mistress, no? I’m working on upping my “Vitamin P” this week as well, so I’ll be thinking about you. Beef jerky is my new, dried-out friend.

  5. I don’t think that any amount of not-feeling-well will change how we navigate our lives. How many alcoholics have stopped drinking because the throwing up and hangovers were just too awful? How many overeaters have stopped because they just got tired of their stomachs hurting so much? How many people have stopped smoking because a smoke hangover is almost as bad as one from alcohol? My guess is none. It feels bad at the time, and we all say, “I will never do this again!!! This is too horrible for words!!!” And then the memory of the misery fades, and the underlying pattern of behavior still exists, and soon enough, it happens again. Self-destructive behavior changes when your belief about WHAT YOU DESERVE changes. When you do things that make you feel bad, it’s because there is at least some part of you that thinks you don’t deserve better. I quit smoking and overeating because I finally believed that I was worth something. You deserve to BE healthy, LOOK beautiful, and FEEL wonderful. You must believe these things deeply & truly or you will keep forgetting your vitamins and pretending that pizza cheese is a good source of protein. YOU ARE WORTH the time it takes to plan your food. You are worth it. ;-)

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