This is a one-moth post-procedure entry (but the real milestone was four weeks, last Thursday, January 7th, 2010, when I could start back on a regular diet). Before all this started I promised myself that no matter what I did or didn't have to say, I would write an entry on every significant anniversary--1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years and 5 years. I'm also going to write as things happen or occur to me, but that's something else. These essays will be snapshots in time, like a security camera, just what's going on.
The good-looking one in the picture to the right is named Lucas, he was about seven weeks old when this picture was taken. I was about four weeks post-op.
What's going on is I have lifted my surgery-related restrictions on choice of food. That doesn't mean I don't carefully choose my food, in fact, quite the contrary, it just means that I no longer eliminate a food choice just because it is too soon after the procedure to be eating it.
The most blunt effect of that is that bread is back in my diet. I eat comparably tiny amounts of it, and I chew it into a mush (just as I do to everything I eat now) before swallowing, but bread is the last category of food that has been conspicuous by it's absence.
My experience of eating bread is much more intense and satisfying now. I've had two different kinds of bread in the last couple of days. I had an excellent sourdough at a swank mid-town surf and turf, and I've had a bit of the toasty crunch of a sandwich roll. In each case, I gained insight into the contribution of the bread to the experience of eating something with bread.
In fact, the most satisfying and surprising thing about eating since the surgery is this uptick in my ability to arrive at the moment when I take a bite. I've always eaten meals in bites, but I didn't really realize something about it until after the surgery. The biggest meal is just a serial sequence of bites, the bigger the meal, the longer the sequence, but it still happens a bite at a time.
So, when I used to polish off a 12 oz sirloin or filet, I did it a bite a time, just as I polish off my 1.5 oz serving of grilled beef now. There's a difference in the experience of *having eaten* 12 oz versus 1.5 oz, but there's not a difference in the experience of *eating* 12 oz versus 1.5 oz. It just takes fewer bites to eat the 1.5 oz portion.
Since I am going to have about three or four bites to eat my steak, I really am completely present and accounted each time I put that fork in my mouth. I really notice what the food looks like, what it smells like, how the texture arrives in my mouth and then how it changes as I chew it. I am fully present for these bites of steak. I don't remember eating this way before the surgery except on very rare occasions at very special meals. Now I eat this way all the time.
As I only have maybe a dozen bites for a meal, and I have to wait a lot longer between them, when I eat something, I'm not doing anything else. I'm eating. It is difficult to really describe how much more satisfying this is. Also, since I eat so little, I no longer have to really fret about what I spend on my food. I can buy the best of everything, I can afford to eat out anywhere. I can eat something great practically anywhere. For example, I am certainly developing a new appreciation for the Art of soup.
My most frequent dining companion and I have discovered that she doesn't miss the amount of food I eat. That is, we can order for one, we can both eat, and we both have enough. This says something about portion sizes, both our own and what they serve at restaurants.
I also did some clothes shopping in preparation for returning to work. I am down a shirt size, from 4xl to 3xl, and the pants waist-size I prefer (not my actual waist-size mind you, a discussion of that is for another rant about big men's clothing choices) is down 4 inches--two sizes. Clothes shopping is a bit hard because I know I will only be wearing what I am buying for a few months.
My energy levels are okay. Part of that problem may have been too few carbs in my diet. Once I brought them up to about 40% by calorie, my energy returned, but that may have just been coincidental with some other mysterious force alignment, I have no way to know.
My sleep is much more satisfying. I routinely sleep through the night now, and I wake up because I am rested. I no longer need a nap every day. I wake up at about the same time every morning, and I do so because I no longer want to sleep. I used to almost always wake up because I wanted to go to the bathroom.
Maybe it is because my recovery expanded to fill the amount of time allotted, but I needed all four weeks off work to fully recover. I haven't felt like going back to work until today, and I go back to work tomorrow. I am looking forward to crafting plans for how and when to eat at work. I'm ready.
What's not so great about all this? I've lost the ability to tolerate eating quickly. That's not a huge loss, but I do notice it. I have to take about 20 minutes to eat no matter what I am eating, and I am more comfortable with eating when I have more time to eat. I don't mind that so much, most of the time the increased length of meals enhances the experience of eating, but I do miss having the option to eat quickly.
I do miss the experience of devouring a big huge plate of food. I didn't realize it until after the surgery, but I took some sense of foolish pride in eating a large meal. In some ways I say "good riddance" to that experience, but there's a sense of nostalgia that persists. It's not an experience I have any real desire to recapture, I'm just surprised that I miss it.
I have experienced two weight-loss plateaus, at *exactly* the same weight I experienced them before. That's significant. How does the body know what it weighs? Is weight so closely correlated with some other bodily parameter that I can hit a weight-loss plateau at precisely the same weight I experienced a similar plateau in 2004 and 1994? Or does the body know the scale will read 370?
I don't know, but I do know Hamlet was on to something when he says "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
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