A Bittersweet Birthday

Normally what is happening over on Lor’s side of the journey to bariatric surgery is closed off from public view: as I have said before, it is not my story to tell. But, this last weekend was significant enough that I have asked for, and received, Lor’s blessing to talk a little bit about what I saw over Lor’s final pre-surgery birthday.

Lor’s journey to bariatric surgery is significantly different than mine. She is active. She is proud of her looks and her shape. She is a fabulous cook, and especially enjoys baking – bread, pies, cakes, you name it, she is the one that gets the call when someone in the family needs a dessert for a special occasion. She is nowhere close to where I am on the BMI scale and would be perfectly content to stay there. So, why, then, go through the huge life changes that surgery forces a person through? Why give up freedom to choose her own path, and instead be forced into the regimented lifestyle that she will live with for the rest of her life?

One word: Diabetes. It runs rampant in her family, it has killed several of her loved ones, and despite her youth, she has been struggling with it for years. She has taken the high road and chosen a more difficult lifestyle recommended by her doctors (and her family) so that she can remain healthy and vibrant for decades to come.

She was treated to two different birthday meals over the weekend, one by my parents, and another by her best friend. From my parents, she received a life-saving gift: a new digital scale for us to use in food prep. Our old postage scale had been returning suspicious results for quite a while, and verifying weights between the two demonstrated that we had been WAY off in many of our food measurements in daily prep. (2 oz of Kale does not fill a small child’s cereal bowl, for example. It overflows the bowl and creates piles on the counter.) Lunch was filled with encouragement and speculation as to how different her next birthday would be. Though she smiled and laughed, 25+ years of experience with her showed me the tension in her shoulders and her face – her surgery does not represent freedom like mine does.

Dinner was at a local sushi house and was a whole different experience. Her best friend also suffers from pretty severe dietary restrictions, and here the conversation was able to deal with fears and doubts realistically – with a pro who has been there and done that in having to make changes to her life that were forced upon her by health issues. I am sure the bottle of sake didn’t hurt the spirit of full disclosure much. Here, too, was another comforting thing: this was not the last time Lor would ever be able to eat at this particular restaurant. Though California rolls will vanish from the future menu, many other things (sashimi, for example) will not have to. For the first time in weeks, we were not having a “food funeral” at a restaurant. The difference in atmosphere was huge: here was a place we would be returning, not another thing we were waving goodbye to.

All weekend long she was deluged with messages from friends and calls from family members, all saying the same thing: we are proud of you and we support what you are doing for yourself. And, by the way, happy birthday. It was amazing to watch. I am always proud of her, but this weekend I was really proud of the community around her – admiring, encouraging, uplifting. You have made me very proud to also be a member of the “Loralia Fan Club.”

Wishing Everyone Had Friends And Family Like Lor’s,

– Hawkwind

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