LET’S START WITH A quick update: I’ve spent the last couple of months, and especially the past month, dealing with a big health challenge. To those I’ve not yet had the chance to fill in, well, surprise! It all happened fast, a few days from diagnosis to hospital to surgery. A giant sarcoma was removed, and with it around 70% of my liver. I’m healing well, and have been home for a bit over a week now. (Anyone wishing to follow the play-by-play can join at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/daveshealingteam.)
Of all the elements of my healing, in my mind I was most fixated on gaining weight. I felt like if I could get my body back to where it used to be, it would feel and function as it used to. Not a bad theory. And I’m sure that vanity didn’t figure into it at all, haha. Seeing my totally transformed torso with its massive “Mercedes Benz logo” (without the circle) scar and patchwork chest hair, the loss of virtually all muscle tone, the straight line extending from my back to the back of my legs, where an ass used to be, now flat and with folds like old theater curtains, was, I have to admit, a little shocking.
I had been fighting at every meal to push myself a bit past full, to considerable discomfort, toward fulfillment of my goal. I thought that I could stretch my stomach back out to normal size. And it seemed to be working: I had gained almost 2 pounds. As I stepped on the scale yesterday morning to collect my 5th post-surgery data point in what I hoped would be a continuous upward arc, slowly working toward completion of the neat parabola begun many months ago (when exactly, I’m not sure), I was met with the unexpected: not just a blip in my trajectory, but my lowest weight yet.
“Oh no,” I said out loud as I moved my cheap-ass Big Lots scale to different spots on the floor trying to get a different reading (which sometimes works, but not today). It wasn’t a doomed, tragic “oh no”; it was the arrogant “oh no” of “I don’t think so—this so does not fit in with my plan.”
I didn’t want to be stuck in a negative mindset (who does?), so I went searching for the lessons. First, that all disappointment of this sort comes from unrealistic expectations. What was I thinking? Second, I need to be patient. Third, discouragement is useless.
I asked my doctor later that day about the problem of weight gain, and he confirmed that I can’t push it, I just need to eat as well as I can and it will all come with patience. (I also confirmed at his office that my cheap scale is accurate.)
My meeting with Dr. Hassoun was wonderful. I got to ask him the question every one of my visitors has brought up: what’s the deal with liver regeneration? He said in my case, I should expect my liver will regenerate to 80% or so of its original size over the next 6 to 8 weeks. Weeks!!! I was floored. And his advice about eating has me convinced I need to back off a bit and just do the best I comfortably can.
I’m eating. I’m alive. There is no rush. There can be no rush.