My wife’s gall bladder surgery took place at 8:00 this morning.

In my life, I have rarely felt as powerless and weak than I did sitting in that waiting room. Although I understood what was going to happen and trusted everyone involved, it was hard to sit there and hope that someone wasn't making a big fuckup just a few yards away. I sat through offensive morning network shows blindly, only noting the little clock that perpetually hovered in the lower right of the screen. The nurses were extremely nice to me, and put up with my constant desire for information with kind smiles and reassuring conversations.

Much earlier than I expected, I was abducted from the waiting room by the surgeon, who ushered me through secret antechambers to my wife, fresh from the operating room. The surgeon said that the procedure went very well, and she should be back to normal in a week or two. The hospital staff kept her there for another couple hours, keeping track of things and making sure she came away from it okay. My wife was tended to by the same nurse I had on Friday for my vasectomy, and I believe this made things a bit easier for both of us.

Although she could have stayed overnight for observation, my wife decided to come home to heal. She ended up with four incisions: one just below her belly button, and three in a small arc just below the right side of her rib cage. It seems a bit silly that the apparent results of invasive surgery can all be covered in band-aids, but this it the amazing technology of good laparoscopic surgery. In the few hours that she has been home, she's regained most of her color and her appetite, though sitting down and getting up are proving to be a bit difficult. I've been trying my best to fulfill her needs without being overbearing or panicky.

Once again, I want to thank everyone for the messages of support throughout this whole ordeal. Your kind words have been very comforting for both of us.

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I have just returned from another funeral. i suppose i had better get used to it. I'm aging, my friends are aging, my parents are aging. My father once told me that he goes to a viewing or something once a month.

I don't like putting on a suit and tie nearly that much.

But this is not about mourning, the dearly departed or the existential nature of death. It's about food.

You, see in an attempt to limit my personal growth I've put myself on a diet. Not the Atkins diet, or any of the stylish diets. Not even my favorite the 'see food' diet, but the boring plain policy of eating less, cutting down on fats, substituting water for sugar and other stuff that you don't have to buy a book to accomplish.

All you need is willpower.

But as Hamlet once noted, therein lies the rub. Willpower is not always somethng i have in surplus. If I had a ton of willpower I'd be skinny now, my house would be clean, and I'd have finished my third novel and be on literary tour, hoping for groupies.

Worse, i have well trained my body to crave sugar and fat. Consider this transcript of an actual conversation I had with my inner voice.

Bad TM: You're really hungry.

Good TM: Of course, I'm hungry. I'm on a diet. If you're on a diet and not hungry, you're slipping or turning into Bugs Bunny. I know i'm hungry, and i don't need reminded of it.

Bad TM: But there's a Burger King just ahead. On the left. See the sign?

Of course I saw the sign. And I had no intention of admitting it. Then my stomach decided to add it's point of view, with an inner quake and a contraction that made me know that it felt like some poor, starving puppy

Bad TM: See, you really are hungry. But you don't have to be. Just one quick left and you could be tasting a nice, juicy, flame-broiled whopper. And fries. Just think of how wonderful a king-sized order of fries would taste, dripping in ketchup.

stomach contraction

I kept my foot on the gas and my eyes straight ahead. Focus on the road and ignore all those enticing fast food signs. But Bad TM's voice gets ever louder, and faster as i refuse to lift and engage my turn signal.

Bad TM: It's close. We're almost there. And we're soooooooo hungry.

Good TM: Gritting Teeth I don't need a hamburger, don't need a thing.

Bad TM Now very shrill, an with same note of desperate pity Sally Struthers has when showing you some starving Somali children. You're going to miss it!

Good TM: Must go sraight. Drive down road. Think of ice water. Imagine celery.

Bad TM; No, you can't! You're going to misss it. That whopper they made just for you!

Good TM: I am not hungry! I am not hungry!

Bad TM Stop! Turn now! You can still make the corner.

Good TM; Almost past . . . .

Bad TM: Nooooooo! You drove right on by! Now we shall starve! Sssstarve us you will!

Good TM: Whew

Bad TM; We're going to die, slowly, just like Bobby Sands. But wait, what's that i see up ahead? Could it be Wendy's?

And so it went for four and a half miles!. My inner voice carefully pointed out every single item on the menu of every single restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. The monologue was unrelenting and reduced me to grunts and moans. But i did not yield to my temptation. I made it home. I ate the carrot. I drank water.

So today i found myself at a funeral. If you've been to a funeral you realize that everyone in America believes that the bereaved are in immediate danger of starvation. Death leads dozens of people to fire up their ovens, determined to provide butterfat in their loved one's time of need.

And so it was immediately after the funeral when we were ushered into the parlor for a reception. And to my left, sat a cornucopia of sugary goodness. Carrot cake, spice cake, lemon cake, chocolate cake bundt cake. Brownies with chocolate icing. Brownies with chocolate icing and pecans. Brownies with vanilla icing or no icing at all. Cookies of all shape and form. Apple pie whose crust glistened with juices.

I closed my eyes and kept walking. They would have coffee All churches have coffee. Not a single calorie in caffeine.

I made it. i found a group of friends and i took my seat, careful to turn my back to the siren song of pastry that beckoned to me from behind. I sipped my coffee. I smiled and talked about the primary. i shook hands. I networked

And i held on, unti the last handshake and hug had been shared. I had done my duty, and it was time to depart. I ran into Ned, the deceased's brother on my way out. Right next to the dessert table.

He thanked me for coming and we shared some yuks I like him, he's good people. It's a shame to have to meet him under such sad circumstance. But all the while I kept stealing glances at the frosted goodness.

Eventually i made it out the door, safely, with diet intact. My stomach is still quaking in protest. I wonder if it will ever forgive me.

At one of the banks of the student union building's Internet access computers, I found myself sitting beside someone typing a very long e-mail message. The monitors were placed so closely together that I could not help reading parts of her message using my peripheral vision, no matter how I tried to fixate on my own screen.

A sentence I caught made my heart sink in my chest and my eyes fix resolutely on the blue Internet Explorer icon in the corner of my screen: "I'm still bleeding and lactating, and it's been a month." I wanted to turn and give her a hug despite the old-school punk "don't touch me" look she had so carefully cultivated with safety pins and patches and judicious use of a razor. I wanted to let her know that despite the people condemning her for daring to exercise control over her uterus, there also was someone who felt sympathy.

I didn't touch her, though. That's just not what you do to strangers.

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