I’m rolling into the holidays, forks a-blazin’, eating everything in sight. This time of year is not fall, it’s food. To me, anyway. Chili, pumpkin pie, Sunday football noms, anything that can be Cool Whipped. Double frappamochalattechino with extra whip please. Plus, I’m about to get weight loss surgery, so I’m doubling up on favorites because I can’t have them after November 28th. I get one last Thanksgiving feast.
I don’t think I’m alone in the “fall means food” boat. All of the Facebook is littered with holiday recipes and treats. I hide as much as I can, but the singular, tempting food post inevitably makes it way on to my News Feed (Ha. Feed. I see what you did there Facebook, you slut). Usually from a newly-acquired friend who doesn’t understand my food obsession, heart failure, low-sodium diet, and is totally oblivious to my compulsions. As it should be. No one is responsible for my wanton foodlust.
I grew up in a culture of food porn. Every gathering, holiday, celebration, church function was a food orgy of epic proportions. I didn’t care who showed up as long as they brought something good to eat. The formalities of greeting everyone was simply a tease to the main event. Chow line. If I was seen scribbling in a dark corner before the dinner bell rang, it was to calculate how much food could be piled on the provided paper plates. I became an expert at knowing how much those suckers could hold. Score! Chinet. Going back for seconds. As if that were in question.
At Thanksgiving, at Grandma’s house, I remember my Aunt Dorothy. She was a kind woman. Short hair, no makeup. Terribly obese. I always remember her at the dining table. She poked my ribs when I drew near and gently joked with me about any questions I would ask. I wasn’t very close to her, but more and more, I see myself as Dorothy.
She seemed happy. Ate what she wanted. More than she needed (but everyone did). Didn’t seem to have many worries. She usually had a smile. Cracked jokes and didn’t stress over her waistline. She had some sort of thyroid disorder that she took medication for and now, I wonder, did I get my thyroid trouble from her?
I am terribly obese. Super morbidly obese, in fact. Never really had issues with what other people thought of me. In fact, I was defiant of anyone’s criticism of me. Until I landed in the hospital for heart failure. That was a frightening wake-up call. After 2012, my health issues took a flying leap off the high wire. It’s been a circus of hospitalizations, tests and procedures since.
I’m headed in for weight loss surgery in December. I lost my thyroid in 2015. It had a large benign tumor on one side and 3 small cancer nodules on the right. They took the whole thing. How long have I had problems? That is the question I’m left with after a total thyroidectomy. It doesn’t matter, but it completely stalled my weight loss. I could have been struggling with thyroid my whole life. Probably. I had lost about 100 lbs. on my own after I was diagnosed with heart failure, before thyroid cancer. Then after the thyroid-removal surgery, I gained about 40 lbs. back.
My health is deteriorating and I have decided to go in for WLS. I don’t see that I have any other option. It’s for my health. Not for my looks. So with that looming in the near future, I have to say, I’m terrified of what the holidays herald. Where will I find my footing? How will I connect with people? What joy will the holidays hold without food? I mean, think of it this way…what if I came into your home and destroyed your Xmas tree? Told your toddler that there’s no Saint Nick? Burned all your Xmas presents in the front yard and sang “Feed the World” with a drunken, belligerent, disheveled Santa? It might ruin the holiday spirit for you. Well, taking away food between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, that’s just un-American. One of our country’s oldest holiday traditions is passing out in a food coma to celebrate how thankful we are and how abundant our nation is. To excess is patriotic. To gorge is hand-over-heart waving of the flag. So what’s a gal to do?
I’m hoping to find my joy in the kindness of medical professionals and the ever-downward plunging scale. I’m hoping to find joy in the quiet moments between white-knuckled affairs filled with food and festivity. I won’t be indulging my sweet tooth or eating disorder this year. I will be finding my joy in a cornucopia of strangers and unexplored emotions. Christmas won’t be the same this year. But that’s okay. I’m kinda glad. But still, a little scared.