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September 20, 2012 9:22 am

The Amend Corner: More hot fudge, please

Written by Don Amend

I’ve made way more than my share of visits to medical facilities this year.

If I added up all the hours I’ve spent in doctors’ offices, labs, operating rooms, recovery rooms, therapy sessions and waiting rooms since January, it would be far more than the total time I spent in such facilities in the 67.755 years of my life preceding my episode last February, even if I count all the time I’ve spent in line for the Health Fair blood draw and the delivery time of our two kids.

Some of the experiences have been distinctly unpleasant. For example, if I were given the choice of another three-hour session in an MRI or being water-boarded by the CIA, I’d probably ask for a couple of days to think about it.

Recently, though, I had a somewhat more agreeable experience during a visit to the Mayo Clinic, when a doctor said something I had never heard a doctor say before.

He told me to go home and gain some weight.

Now this came as something of a shock, given that I had on more than one occasion had a doctor tell me that it might be time to slim down, and I had, in fact, finally heeded that message a couple of years ago and managed to trim down to a more reasonable bulk. Not only had I cut some 30 pounds of excess Don from my frame, I had managed to keep it off for more than a year, and I was feeling pretty good about it.

Well, then came February and a rather sudden trip to Billings, and by the time my April birthday rolled around, another 20 pounds had taken leave of my frame. I am back to my high school weight, and quite a few of my bones have become visible. 

OK, so now I’m facing some more surgery sometime around the end of the year, and the surgeon involved thinks I should have a bit more flesh to accompany my spirit into the operating room. Otherwise, there might not be enough of me left to actually operate on.

To that end, he sent me to a nutritionist, who squeezed me in between her other appointments and talked to me about what I might do to put a bit more strain on the battery in our bathroom scale. We discussed a number of ways I could do that. She suggested, for example, that I might try eating peanut butter, although she gave an emphatic “no” to my suggestion that I could try eating four or five Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for breakfast.

Still, I left her office with a prescription that most of us would welcome — permission from the prestigious Mayo Clinic to fatten up.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been that easy. In my two years of  careful eating, I have actually changed some long-standing habits regarding size and content of meals. Fewer carbohydrates slid down my throat, and portions of meat became smaller while vegetable servings expanded. I learned to get by with ordering pizza only once a month, and to stop after two slices instead of four; for example, I once came home from Johnny Carino’s in Billings with a doggie bag big enough to provide two more Italian meals. Probably the most important element of my success was ending all, or at least most, between-meal snacking.

Now, I’m having a hard time changing those habits, and in the month since I received the directive to fatten up, I have made only small gains, despite such escapades as visiting ColdStone Creamery, a place that had been off limits to me for nearly three years.

So it appears that I must step up my efforts to increase my calorie intake, which would be a lot easier if I could just see the darn things. Since they aren’t visible, I’ll have to depend on the advice of a local nutritionist and various resources concerning nutrition. My live-in cook and I will have to do considerable weighing and figuring, not to mention making some rough estimates and downright wild guesses, to determine the proper portions on my plate. 

I’ll also have to drop that rule about eating between meals.  I suggested to my wife that we should just buy a steam table so she could lay out a buffet every morning and I could just eat all day. She didn’t think that was a good idea, and she’s probably right. After all, I do want to gain weight, but I haven’t had a chance to wear out the smaller-sized clothes I bought a couple of years ago, and my old fat sizes are all pretty much worn out. Getting too fat would require a bigger wardrobe budget, so I’d better be careful.

In the end, though, having medical permission to eat more ice cream — although the nutritionist did say something about not every day — is a pleasant prospect, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy making the effort. I will, however, be careful not to overdo it.

With that in mind, I guess I’ll skip the hot fudge this time.

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