I’m saying this up front: This is triggering. I’m asking that my Size Acceptance friends don’t try to intervene or convert me. Just acknowledge or don’t read. Please.
In less than two weeks I go in for my first colonoscopy. Yuck. I’m feeling horribly anxious, but not because of the procedure. It’s the prep. And not the awful laxative. That would be okay, by itself.
I fear the fasting. Not the discomfort, but how I will respond and rebound afterwards.
For the day before the procedure, I can have clear, golden or brown liquids and I can suck on hard candy, but nothing red or purple. Selections include water, jello and popsicles (orange and lemon-lime flavored), apple juice, tea and coffee (sweetened, okay, but no milk). That’s mostly carbs. Except that I can also drink clear broth.
I will be hungry. Anxious. I know that I’ll be drugged for the procedure, but when I’m out of the fog, I’ll eat, and I don’t trust that my body will respond as I’ve been promised by all the people who have undergone this procedure before me – “Oh, it’s no big deal. You lose a bunch of weight from the fast and the laxative, but it’s only temporary. Once you’re eating again, you just jump right back to where you were.”
Many people laugh about how they tried to hold on to their losses, but just couldn’t. Ha ha. They write it off as personal weakness. We who are maintainers or who have given up on the weight-loss pursuit all together know it’s not weakness. The body puts up an enormous fight to regain homeostasis at a particular weight. And for those of us maintaining big losses, the body seems to look for opportunities to reclaim a pound or two, or five. A yo-yo jolt like this may be just the ticket.
When I awake from the fog, I’m sure I’ll respond to the hunger, but will I then be hounded by those dreaded “eat now” impulses? If so, for how long? A couple of days? A week? Until I give my body back a pound? Two? How many? I am edgy beyond what is “normal” for this procedure, and it’s because I’m a maintainer, I want to remain one, and I don’t take maintenance for granted.
This is not the first time I’ve gone nutty. But here’s the question: is nutty, perhaps, appropriate, even if based in some disordered values?
My maintainer friend, Marilyn, goes in for regular “tune ups” at Duke University – weeklong review sessions with support group meetings, and the like. She says she’s noticed that among the people who have shown any long-term success at maintenance on that program, the most likely precursor to major weight regain is surgery. I get that. I got that intuitively before she even brought it up. After surgery, you have to go through a recovery and rehabilitation period, and they don’t want you restarting exercise too soon, and they want you to eat easily digestible foods, which are also easily assimilated – simple carbs.
I went nutty when I was hospitalized after emergency gut surgery to repair a hernia and remove two feet of intestine that had gotten entangled by it. Every day they weighed me. In five days I gained 19 pounds. I was in the hospital for seven days, but they didn’t weigh me the final two. They knew I was gaining, and that it made me a cranky patient.
“What’s in those bags?! I want to know how many calories are in those bags!” I’d say, pointing to my IV.
“No calories. Those are just fluids. You’ll lose ‘em in no time once you’re home.”
“I don’t believe you. There’s a whole line of dietetics devoted to coming up with the recipes for those bags, to provide just the right nutrients to maintain people, and they do too have calories! I want you to research my bags, and tell me the truth!”
They evaded the question and just stopped weighing me. My husband, for check out, brought me a pair of zipper-front shorts, which I could barely squeeze over my hips. The blouse he brought covered the wide-V of the unzipped fly. I didn’t weigh myself at home for two weeks, because I knew I’d go nuts at the number.
Actually, the doctors and nurses turned out to be right about losing the weight. I did return to my old number after about three weeks at home, but I suspect it’s because I was exercising more than what they recommended, and I was back on the job counting and balancing.
I go nutty in other, more common situations too.
A restaurant. The server brings me my plate. It has fries. This has happened several times. Maybe it’s because “fruit” and “fries” both begin with “fr” and servers use unclear abbreviations.
“Oops, I’m sorry, I asked for fruit, not fries. Could you take this back please and bring it with fruit?”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Sweetie, I’ll just bring you a side of fruit.”
“No, I’d really like you to take these away.”
“Oh, it’s okay, we won’t charge you extra.”
“That’s not the point, I don’t want the fries.”
“You don’t have to eat them.”
“TAKE THEM AWAY!!! Please.”
Now, depending upon how short my fuse is, I may say something pre-emptive.
“I’m sorry, I ordered fruit and this has fries. I need you to take the fries away and bring me fruit, and I’m serious about that, don’t just bring me an extra side of fruit. Okay?”
I’m sure my dining companions wish they had a brown paper bag with eyeholes. (Perhaps I should carry one in my purse.) I recall once, with a very persistent waiter, evoking the dreaded “I’ve lost a bunch of weight, see, and you need to understand these fries are not some big bonus. They’re a distraction. I didn’t order them. I don’t want them. Take them away!” That got the biggest waiter eye-roll I’d ever seen, and one from my husband too – that day’s companion – so I haven’t said that again.
So, I face my colonoscopy with dread. Is it undue dread? Will I, as promised, just jump back to the weight I was, or will my body outsmart the know-it-alls and reclaim a pound or more? (Yes, I know in the grand scheme of the universe that’s a trifling stupid question, but in the micro-world of a maintainer it can be the beginning of a depressing slide.) Have any maintainers gone through this? Is there a secret to it? Do I still have some maintainers reading this blog or have we chased you away?