11 July 2011

Feed me weird things

In which our hero learns that a waist is a terrible thing to mind...

Friday saw us pass two significant milestones here in the Unkie Dave household, the first being that it was a full calendar month since I was discharged from hospital, the longest single period that I have been out of hospital since March 10th (Yay!) and the second being the six-week anniversary of my surgery (double-plus Yay!).

Being a manager at heart I find it almost impossible to mark any anniversary of significance without comparing my progress against some notional targets and/or key performance indicators, however an extended illness tends to lower your expectational horizons somewhat; gone are the lofty goals of 'Change The World For The Better', 'Create Something That Will Last The Ages' or even 'Make Them All Pay For The Humiliations They So Casually Rained Down Upon Me', to be replaced with the somewhat less Herculean 'be in slightly less pain', 'move bowels regularly' and my current favourite, 'put on a bit more weight'.

On this last I can report some not insignificant progress. When I came out of hospital a month ago I weighed 60.9 kilos (about 9.6 stone or 134 pounds), and after just over four weeks of Hansel and Gretel-style enbiggening I can now proudly report that I weigh in at the truly gargantuan 63.5 Kilos (10 stone, or 140 pounds on the nose). This is still not great for someone who is 6' tall, but just inside the lower level of a healthy BMI.

The trouble is, however, that it is not going on in the most even of proportions. I've put on just enough weight on my face to stop old people nervously challenging me to a game of chess when they see me shuffling towards them, but I still find trousers with a 30" waist too big for me, sliding comically down my legs as I walk along and exposing my underwear to the world like a hippity-hop young person. The surgery left me with a seven-inch horizontal scar across my abdomen, about halfway between my rib-change and my navel, curved downwards asymmetrically leaving my torso with a permanent acerbic frown. Scar-tissue doesn't grow, so as I have put on weight the flesh above and below the wound has inflated around the scar, leaving me looking like a deformed balloon animal made be someone who has never set eyes upon an actual animal, nor who has even a passing familiarity with balloons as an artistic medium.

I'm meeting with a physiotherapist this week to try and develop an exercise program that will herd the weight around to where it is most needed, but in the meantime I am left ruminating upon the various reactions of people to my new found super-svelteness. Last week I met up with a number of former work-colleagues, most of whom hadn't seen me in about eighteen months. As I walked in to meet them, their first reaction was "wow, you look amazing, have you been working out?". This threw me, and I think I stammered back, "um, no, I look like poo, I've been in hospital for three months in intense pain", which quickly silenced the table. Yes, I can be a bit of a mood-dampener, but at least I didn't lift my shirt and say it with an acerbic frown-scar.

The reaction from my family and friends has been altogether different, with concern quickly replaced by the need to stuff me, foie-gras like, with as much food as possible. Cake, biscuits, fried-food and lunches-a-plenty have all been offered up, and received with genuine gratitude, and this weekend I wandered from one food encounter with friends to another like a munching mendicant on a high-calorie Camino de Santiago. All-in-all a good time was had by all, especially me.

The reaction of my former colleagues was not callous, rather in the absence of any information about the cause of my weight-loss they defaulted to the societal-norm of weight-loss being a good thing and assumed that it was intentional or, at the very least, desired. My friends and family, knowing what I have been through, are more comfortable saying, "you look better than you did last week, but here, have another chocolate cake".

This will all work out fine in the end as long as I figure out how to send that extra cake to my arms, legs and other areas where it is needed most, and stop the warlords of my abdomen from hijacking it and adding it to their growing stockpile of purloined and sequestered calories.

Seriously, how can putting on weight be so complicated?



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