The aftermath

So, like I said .. it's been three years since I had my stomach stapled. First, I want to address some myths.

SWING AND A MYTH: You can't eat anymore.
MYTH-UNDERSTOOD: As the doctors and nutritionists told me before all this started ... yes, you can eat again and in time, you can eat anything you want, provided it agrees with you. What you cannot do is eat like you used to.

Technically, that is not true. If **could** eat like I used to, but all I would do is make myself sick ... and I don't know about you, but throwing up is right there with evisceration as the worst feeling in the world to me.

Speaking of eating like I used to, some gastronomic idiocy in my life: Most White Castle cheeseburgers in one sitting -- 26; dinner many nights in Missouri -- one pound of pasta, one stick of butter (time needed to consume it, about 20 minutes); most beers in one sitting -- 24 (an even case in high school ... and since I hated light beer, multiply 24 by 288 to see how many calories I consumed); a normal McDonald's lunch for me when I worked in Missouri -- double QP with cheese extra-value meal, super-sized AND a nine-piece Chicken McNuggets. Amazing I didn't turn my arteries into fuel injectors.

MYTH MANNERS: Gastric bypass is the easy way out.
MYTH BUSTERS: Ahhh, Bill Maher. You fucking jackass.

Before a surgeon takes scapel to skin, the patient undergoes a battery of tests, both medical and psychological, to see if he or she is ready for this. One of the things you come to grips with this change of life.

One of the things you have to do is list all of the diets you've tried, regardless of success or failure. I'm a veteran: Weight Watchers -- twice (including when I was eight!) ... Overeaters' Anonymous ... Xenical ... starvation (like that was going to work?!)

An aside about WW ... I am sure it has changed and been tweaked over the years. My meetings were held on Springfield Boulevard in the basement of an establishment called Zip'z -- a place where you could create your own ice cream sundaes. How's that for delicious irony?

It is not the "easy way out" for most people. I am sure there are some out there who undergo this procedure, lose hundreds of pounds and then go right back to eating the way they used to, completely defeating the purpose. I was taught this is not a solution, but a window of opportunity.

I look at this is akin to clearing a hard drive on a computer.

MYTH COMMUNICATION: Why should my insurance rates go up because some fat slob cannot control him or herself? Just push yourself away from the table.
MYTH-ING LINK: In a way, someone saying this is correct. My surgery cost the same as a mid-sized SUV, about $34,000, and yes, insurance picked up a large chunk of that.

I was 37 when it was done and figure I added, if I stay healthy, about 15 years to my life. Of course, if I hadn't had the surgery, and I lived to say, 70-75, I am sure I would have had at least one heart attack, and I don't want to even consider all the co-morbidities, like diabetes.

I'm sure insurance would be so much more. If I lived. I figure it I kept going the way I was, I'd be dead by 44.

As for just pushing yourself away from the table, I would have liked to, except that walking -- even short distances -- caused my left leg to go weak and then numb. Try having to take a rest on a bench at Wal-Mart because you cannot walk.

By the way, I can walk five miles now easy and probably much, much more.


So, what's it like being on the other side?

The "other side" is what the obese call normalcy. It's pretty good, but there is one side effect.

To look at me, I look like a normal person. The gut it still there, something that needs to be worked off -- preferable to further body alteration: THAT would be the easy way out. Really, the only way you would know I had this done is very subtle ... I have bit of a wattle under my neck and there are some folds visible on my neck when I turn it.

But there are times when I see myself in the mirror and staring back at me is that 373-pound individual hell-bent on eating himself to death. He will probably always be part of me, and that's not necessarily a bad thing ... keeps me grounded.

In fact, I keep my ID card from when I worked the 2002 Little League World Series in my wallet. It was six months before my surgery and I figure I was about 365 in that photo. That will always be a part of me as well.


Things I can do that I never though I could before ...

Walk long distances ... order food at a restaurant and leave with a doggy bag ... give up fast food altogether (OK, I admit it, I do eat it rarely -- but not 4-6 times a week like I used to) ... give up soda with sugar (since all this, I have had about a third of a 20-ounce bottle of that low-carb Coca-Cola, C2 -- awful) ... buy clothes off the rack at a department store ... fit in the driver's seat of a compact car ... not use a seat-belt extender when I fly ... have sex in positions that were all but impossible or incredibly painful before ... not have to get clothes from a Big and Tall shop ... run.


If anyone reading this has any questions or wants to know more, they can leave a message or e-mail me direct at alefko@gmail.com.

Happy Birthday to me!

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