In early August, I was having tummy troubles and therefore was not eating much. I was nauseated, had terrible stabbing pains in my stomach and had simply lost my appetite. By the end of the month, my knee (clearly jealous that my tummy was hogging the spotlight) decided to rebel in a dramatic fashion and began to hurt and swell to the size of Charlie Brown's head for no apparent medical reason.
Following doctors orders, I started throwing back high doses of ibuprofen and percacet. The pain in my knee was so intense that I lost what little appetite I had regained in the few days since the tummy troubles had finally begun to subside. I was advised to take my many pills with food for fear of wreaking further havoc on my delicate stomach lining. The only thing I could bear were triscuits.
After two weeks of triscuits, pills and ginger ale, I was told that knee surgery was necessary. The post-surgical recovery prolonged my nauseated state, and the triscuit diet was continued until I could finally tolerate light meals. While Husband enjoyed full dinners and dessert, I pushed away half eaten bowls of salad, sick at the thought of having to eat another bite. I only ate enough to cushion my stomach from the harsh pills that I was continuing to gulp down. The thought of real food filled me with disgust. What was happening to me?
My stomach had shrunk. It had been well over a month since I had eaten to my usual gluttonous capacity. I was losing weight. I became skinny.
Although I am no where near overweight when my appetite is healthy, I am not 'toned' and do occasionally succumb to the insane standards of beauty that are thrust upon us by society. My lack of contact with reasonable humans in the outside world and the endless hours of television that I was watching did not help. In order to distract myself from my loneliness and the depression that I could feel creeping closer every day, I spent time admiring the fact that my pot belly was now flat and that my clothes were looser. I wondered how much weight I was actually losing and if I could keep it off once fully recovered.
I was soon told that I had to start Physical Therapy in order to regain the range of motion in my knee. Three times a week I am subjected to an hour of torture with a certified Physical Therapy Sadist. Three times a day I must perform agonizing exercises to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility. At first I cried and howled in pain every time I did them. I was convinced that my neighbors would call the police to report abuse.
One night Husband and I were sitting on the couch. I started the lengthy process of grabbing my old lady cane, standing up and shuffling into the bedroom for nightly exercises.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"Time for torture," I told him.
His face fell. "Oh, I was going to make myself an ice cream cone. But I can't sit out here eating ice cream while you are in there suffering."
"I want one!" I demanded, even though I knew that my stomach was indifferent to - perhaps even slightly opposed to - the idea. But my brain told me that I deserved it after surviving a month and a half of hell and brain finally triumphed over stomach.
"We'll have them after you finish your exercises," he promised.
And so it began.
Now every night after I finish my third and final round of exercises I am treated to an ice cream cone. During the day when I am blinded by pain and home alone, I will hobble to the freezer and eat ice cream straight from the container. Who needs percacet when you have a gallon of chocolate ice cream?
Somewhere along the weeks of ice cream trophies I began to crave sushi, pork chops and mashed potatoes, roast chicken. I remember the first time I ate a full meal. I could actually feel my stomach stretching back to its original dimensions. It was extremely uncomfortable, yet I was pleased. After almost two months, I was starting to finally feel like myself again. It was as though the ice cream was a frosty wake up call to the part of my soul that had remained under the spell of anesthesia, reminding me that food is more than just sustenance. It is a reward, a comfort, a delight.
Though my knee is taking its own sweet time to heal, my appetite and Buddha belly are back. I wouldn't want it any other way. I'm not called Fat 'n' Happy for nothing.