Thursday, March 20, 2008
Happy Surgaversary To Me . . .
This will sound weird for a guy who has been typing long, typo-ridden, rambling open notes to the world at large for the last seven months but . . . somehow . . . I am sort of at a loss of words this morning as I ponder the fact that one year ago today . . . 366 days (leap year) ago . . . 8,784 hours ago . . . 527,040 minutes ago . . . I was lying flat on my back, sedated, with a catheter in me, a surgery team standing over me and little laser beam cutting my pouch away from my over-stretched stomach.
I'm sort of focused in on all the things that have happened in the last year but FOCUSED on nothing at the same time. Joy sort of touched on it a little bit and I guess, rereading some of my old posts, I've always sort of refered to it but this last year has not, for a single moment, been ABOUT weight loss. It hasn't been about how many pounds I could lose (although I did set some pretty high goals and I worked my butt off (insert pun-indicated elbow nudge here) to fall just nine pounds short of that goal). It has been about taking back my life. It has been about what I CAN do with a minute, day, week, month or year versus what I had been doing with that time.
It makes me think of Rent and my favorite song from the musical . . . 525,600 Minutes. Then I remember that to compare my life to a broadway-musical-turned-movie is as absurd as I've probably ever been. That includes the 14-year-old tall-tale that has been told thousands of times about "the time" I relieved myself on the feet of an overly zealous roasted chestnut vendor on the streets of New York City (if you've heard and feel for that story and today is the first you've found out it was all an elabroate and FUNNY lie . . . welcome to the light).
Anywho, the point is that I've been trying to figure out, for the last 24 hours, if I have done enough to measure this year a success. I think, risking sounding overly proud of myself . . . that I have.
I also look at my relationship with Joy and how much it has changed and evolved over the last year. I've never made any bones about my love for Joy but, truth be told, my love for Joy may not have always been that obvious to her. As I got heavier and heavier and more and more frustrated with myself, she was the natural and obvious target for my frustrations and anger. I've never intended to harm her but my words and self-doubt have, none the less, caused her a lot of heart ache over the years.
The last 366 days are, sadly, the first 366 days in our shared life that I can honestly say that I have been even half as kind and loving as I could be. As I should be.
The reality is that, without Joy, I would not be here today. That isn't drama or me blowing smoke up my wife's butt. I would not be here. I would have died from my own excessive eating, depression and general self-loathing. Joy changed that. In an instant. I saw her and I feel in love with her and I NEEDED to live and I needed to live a life with her. Now, that being said, it was not easy for me to abandon everything I ever assumed about love and marriage and family (or even dating and owning a car (for that matter)) to get to where we are today but - with her help - I made it. I figured it out. I overcame.
I can think of a handful of moments that define who Joy and I are and, frankly, there are more hard times that we've endured together than there are sunsets-on-the-beach moments. We've struggled a plenty in our blessed life together but, through our love, we've always come out ahead.
We've taken the lumps and the knocks and we've grown and evolved from them. This year has just been different. It has been more good times than average or poor times. We moved. We found a new job. We went back to school. We lost 200+ pounds. We have seen our daughter take her first steps and speak her first words. We've been to the opera. We've been to the ballet. We went to the zoo. We went to the movies and SHARED an arm rest. How do you measure these things? How do you determine what is important or why it is important?
How about how much more honest and communicative we are today than we ever were in the past? How important is that? How much value do you put on the amount of trust and faith that Joy has placed in me as she starts to open up about her life and her hopes and dreams more than she ever felt she could in the past? Does it matter that I don't feel stress or anger nearly as often today as I did a month ago, or the month before that or the month before that OR that I don't even think of food any more when I get stressed and/or angry? How do you value or weigh these moments and happenings against each other?
I don't try. I just remember that Joy and I (and Ava too) are living, day to day, a life that neither of us had ever been bold enough to imagine. Not until one year ago today - when I finally woke up from my surgery and heard Joy at my side. I held her hand and I said "We made it. It's over. Welcome to the first day of the rest of our life." Now, I'm sure that - in the druggy haze what I really said was "LKalkdflkja. LKjalkjdffiejfewo. Jlflkak." but she smiled at me, knowingly, none the less. We started, in that moment, to think and dream bigger than we ever had before. Because we finally knew we could.
I sit here wondering what the next year will bring. I will lose the last 75+ pounds to get to my goal weight, this I know. Ava will start speaking in complete sentences and will continue to amaze us. Joy will finish a few more semesters of school and continue to open up and explore herself and who she is and will continue to amaze me. These are all big things but - in the next year - I assume that I'll hopefully get my pile of "must read" books cleared out. We'll probably see a dozen or so movies. I'll probably spend way too much time watching television I don't really care about. It will probably be filled with a bunch of mundane moments. Little accomplishments. Small happenings. I don't think the next year could possibly compete with the year we've just lived through so, by default, I assume it will be less fantastic but - that's the thing about the life Joy, Ava and I are building . . . you just can't ever assume anything. It WILL surprise you. It WILL exceed expectations. It WILL inspire us if not onlookers too.
I am so very, very thankful of all that I have been through in the last year. I'm thankful for the love and support that I've gotten from my friends and family and, for that matter, the complete strangers that read this blog day after day and send me e-mails to thank me or to ask me for my advice. I'm deeply appreciative for the support of medical professionals like Techia Palmer and Dr. Zuccala and Mary Lou who have gotten from where I was to where I am today. I'm excited for the chance to reconnect with old friends and for the peace of mind to be honest and direct (but not angry or vengeful) with people who I have long wanted to speak my peaceful mind to. I'm glad that I have Tricia across town for a little bit of high school meets a little bit of Wichita (everyone lip synch together . . . "Just look over your SHOULdah, baby"). I'm excited that spring is here and we have a park near by for lots of afternoons outside. I'm truly looking forward to our trip back east later this year so we can see and reconnect with old friends and I'm hopeful that my brothers will come visit us to behold the beauty of the Wichi-Wichi too.
So, today, I say goodbye and thanks to the best half-million-plus-consecutive-minutes my life has ever dreamed of having and I say "Hello" to the next half-million-plus-consecutive-minutes that will improve on the last.
And to all of you who are sharing my journey with me I look at you, smiling, and I say - "We made it. It's over. Welcome to the first day of the rest of our life."