Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An Open Letter to Myself . . .

One of the more uneven parts of the post-surgery voyage for me is the gift and the curse that is the "support group."

Unlike any AA meeting I've ever seen on television or in a movie - there are no tears, there are no pins or ribbons, there are no donuts or stale cups of coffee. Andy Garcia does not get up and talk about his (movie) wife Meg Ryan's 1,000 smiles and how the all light up a room, etc.

There is, instead, a sign-in sheet, a water cooler, some protein bars that people bought and disliked so they somehow think the horrid flavor of them will appeal to their fellow GBer and - inside the doors of the meeting - simply a room full of people that have a sort of shared experience and very individual perspecitves and opinions on what life could/should/would be both before and after surgery.

One of my monthly support groups, lead by Bill Gillotti (I'm sure I'm butchering the spelling of his last name - my apologies) met last night and our assignment was to write a letter to ourselves about the surgery and what it means to us.

I decided to share the letter with you, my loyal readers.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dear Sean –

I am writing to you – largely under the pressure and fear that comes along with being the only person at support group tonight who has not written a letter to myself – to reflect about your gastric bypass surgery and the impact it has had or might have on your life.

You’ve lost 145 pounds. Great . . . you have 115 more to go to reach your target weight. You are on target to hit your goal weight by or around the one year anniversary of your surgery. Congrats . . . you will then have about 50 years of life ahead of you to maintain that weight. You have lost 14” off your waist, 3” of your neck, 12” of your chest and your wedding ring fits you like the adjective “liberal” fits the Catholic Church.

You’re doing really well but – please know that ALL of it is temporary.

I choose the word “temporary” very carefully. I would not be the first one to wonder around, hint at or suggest that you might well, if prior diet experience is any indicator, gain every pound of that back and more but I will not infer any of the above. I won’t do that because I truly believe, for the first time in your 31 years of life, in you. You are on the cusp of being the person you always wanted to be. You are serious and committed and devoted to this process and life after surgery. That change in you, I believe, is solidified. It is not temporary.

Instead, I choose “temporary” because I don’t want you to pause, focus or rest on the early success of this process.

You have a long way to go. You have a lot more weight to lose. You have a long life ahead of you post surgery to maintain that weight. You have the future temptations of food, new found comfort and complacency to stare down. Your exercise routine will not always be fresh or fun and you won’t always see the results you are seeing now for the effort you put in. You will not always drop weight at the rate you are now and you will someday (gasp) plateau.

Today, self, is “temporary” because you are going to have to work harder, eat smarter, look more introspectively and reinvent yourself externally to keep it going. It is temporary because tomorrow should be and will be better. There will be further progress. Further weight loss. Further development. The day after that – more. The day after that – more.

I hope that you succeed in this pursuit. I hope you succeed beyond your wildest dreams. I hope you fall under that 220 pound goal weight and, instead of being done, you just keep on dropping weight and gaining muscle. I hope you never again crave sweets or fatty foods or anything that is not on the “eat up, GB-boy” diet list. I hope exercise just becomes part of life. I hope that your temporary changes lead to a permanent life modification.

More importantly, I hope you still believe tomorrow what you have thought/feared all along and have just started to really accept – that it is just weight. It is just your body. It is just the physical casing of who you really are.

Do more. Be better. Become the husband that Joy deserves. Be the kind of father that Ava will always be proud to call “dada” and that will set her a proper example of what she might want in the man she might someday spend her life with and raised children with. Return to the friend you once were to those that you love who are not connected to you by blood and reinvent yourself as a brother and son to your immediate family.
This surgery carries with it all the keys to success you might ever want. It is what you do with them today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow that will really tell if the surgery was a success or not.

Remember, this is all just temporary. It could continue to get better or it could, pray God it does not, get worse over time. It will be that day that you will want to remember that it is just your body, it is just your casing, it is just the physical vessel for the real you. Make sure you get the “you” right accordingly – this is, as I’ve said repeatedly, temporary.

With my hopes, prayers and best wishes for continued success and long life and health, I hope you hear my words and know they come from the heart.


PS - Do these pants make my butt look big?

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