I had my own personal Come-To-Jesus moment the other day, the first since having bariatric surgery.
This was about a week ago. Things were going well. To that point, recovery had been uneventful, not even a whiff of complication. Just the way you want it. And it would have kept going that way, too. But I started getting cocky.
In my mind, I was killing this bariatric shit.
One of the things they drill into you in Bariatric class is: don’t skip to the next phase of the recovery diet, even if you feel great. I was feeling great.
“I can handle this. Hell, I can handle anything.”
It was a mouthful of Pad Thai that showed me just how wrong I was, fresh and hot, from a container that had been tossed casually on the counter while plates and knives and forks were brought out and set on the table. A forkful. A bite.
I couldn’t handle it.
Within two or three minutes, I started salivating like a rabid dog, my mouth wet and sour. My gut felt like a January haggis, stuffed to nearly bursting, and on the verge of emptying itself.
Thank Christ it didn’t.
Forty-five minutes later, I had pretty much recovered. But the point had been made: don’t fucking rush it. Some things are greater than you and this, clearly, is one of them.
Since that day, I’ve hewed hard and close to the diet appropriate for the recovery stage I’m in, which is currently the second of three. I’ve taken pains to take small bites and chew my food thoroughly and without mercy, savoring the flavors as they come. I’m eating slowly, putting down the fork between each mouthful.
And I’m putting it down for good before I feel full, because that action may come on late, but when it does, it comes on hard and I don’t want to feel that way again. Ever.
And it struck me the other day that perhaps I’ve become a Clockwork Bariatric.
On the surface, Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange is a novel about aversion therapy, which is used to “cure” a juvenile delinquent of his predilection for ultra-violence. At its heart, though, it’s about free will. It asks, Burgess said in The New Yorker back in 1973, whether it is better to be bad by one’s own choosing, or good by choice of the authorities.
I like to think I’m being good of my own free will, that I’m doing what’s right in this recovery because I choose to do so. But I’m not so sure. The memory of that moment has not faded. I’m sure with time it will, but it hasn’t yet, and I think about it every time the notion of eating something I shouldn’t crosses my mind.
Which itself is more often than I care to admit.
Of course, I don’t have the velvet fist of the benevolent state behind my treatment; no one forced me into my decision to have bariatric surgery. It was a decision I made on my own, after a long and hard period of consideration.
But the sense of finality that comes with knowing that there’s no going back can be disquieting, to say the least, particularly at three in the morning when sleep has left building.
But I suspect that, too, will probably fade with time.
I certainly hope so.