I am living with pain, both physical and psychological. If that sounds dramatic, you'll have to forgive me --- I am a bona fide diva, you know, even if under normal circumstances a rather low key one (or so I flatter myself). It's a torn meniscus, and plenty of people just live with such an injury, never bothering to have it fixed. It's not cancer, it's not neuralgia, it's not even rhumatoid arthritis. It's not any one of a million horrific injuries, diseases, or painful conditions that millions of people have to endure every day. But the knee hurts. Not so much that I can't do my job. Not so much that I need to regularly take medication for it, but daily and enough. It's weak enough to concern me that I could reinjure it if I'm not careful. Weak enough that, as a precaution, I've gone nearly two months without doing any significant exercise, the longest period of inertia since 2008, and the most costly.
The psychological pain is, as you might imagine, harder to deal with.
Here's the gist: my knee surgery did not happen as scheduled on Friday, and it's unlikely to be scheduled for some time. To say that it is disappointing is an understatement, but there's more to it than that.
This is a hard post to write. Parts of it have been thoroughly mulled over for months, as I struggled with how much to say and how and what and when. Things came to a head a few days ago when a mystery call came from the hospital. It was a mystery because my surgery was scheduled for the surgery center at my orthopedist's office --- the same place I had wrist surgery after breaking it in 2008. Suddenly, it was moved to the hospital, and after a chain of phone calls, I finally found out why. That was the first hit. The second came on Thursday morning, hours before my pre-op meeting was scheduled. The hospital called again, with an estimate this time.
They wanted $23,000 for a 15-minute, minimally invasive outpatient procedure, and that price tag does not include the cost of the surgeon or anethesiologist. That price, my dears, is well over six times what it would have cost me were it to happen in the surgery center.
I did some very quick, dirty research and figured out that I could actually fly to New Delhi, stay for two weeks in a moderately priced hotel, and have the surgery for a little over a quarter of what it would cost me to have it at the hospital ten miles from my house.
Now, I am insured, but my insurance would have covered less than half of those costs. I have also applied for worker's comp, since this injury happened on stage during the opening night of a performance. But that claim is still being processed, andI have no idea how much of this will be covered or when, and I was really, really hoping to get this matter taken care of before my next gig. It is terribly upsetting to have to wait, especially since I have to wait for a stupid reason.
You see, I could have had my surgery on Friday as scheduled in the surgery center, and paid less than one sixth of what the hospital would like to charge, and even if I'd had to pay for every cent of it out of my own pocket I could have managed that. But I am not eligible for surgery at the surgery center, as I was in 2008, because my BMI is now too damned high. They have a limit, and I am over it.
There it is. After all my struggles, my work, my research and education, my hours of sweat, and yes, my pontificating, I have gained back enough weight that I am too fat to have surgery at the surgery center. And that, my friends, is humiliating beyond words.
I realize that it probably does not come as a surprise to anyone who's been following this blog, either; but I've been reluctant to come right out and say it in plain terms, for reasons you can certainly imagine and some you probably can't. But I've always tried to be open here. So it's time to come clean.
I do not, by the way, regret having made the big effort to lose weight and to become healthier. I don't regret a single minute of exercise or a single cookie skipped. I would do it all again and in fact, I plan to. (The" how" part of the plan still needs work; after all, I've been fighting this for some time now without the amount of success I want).
I do not count my past accomplishments as now somehow being invalidated, either. I did what I did, and I'm proud of it. I hope I can do it again.
I don't believe my methods were flawed. They worked. I lost 130 pounds, reversed my Type II diabetes, got off all meds, and got into the best shape of my life. I started running. I did two rounds of P90X. And I'm still at a lower weight than when I started.
So why have I, despite fighting hard, despite being well-educated about nutrition and weight management and general fitness, regained so much weight? There isn't a pat, easy answer. Some people are going to raise the usual refrain, "You have no willpower! No discipline!" and I shall pre-emptively call bullshit on that. I have plenty of both, and I've proved it. Weight loss and weight management and food relationships are complicated.
I thought, at one time, I had mine under control. Maybe I did, at one time. I know that I got so far off base a little, tiny, bit at a time and I think I can trace the start of it back to a specific time, place, and set of behaviors. That's a start.
What happens next? Well, now that I've got this off my chest, the plan is to go back to where I started. Tomorrow I'm rejoining the little neighborhood gym where I spent an hour a day on the elliptical, for about two years straight. They have a great Pilates class, and they have yoga, both of which will help a lot with strength and flexibility and will be good for my knee. They have my elliptical machine and they have stationary bikes, which I dislike intensely but are probably better for my knee than the elliptical.
Two days ago, when I still thought I'd be recovering over the weekend, I planned healthy meals. I made split pea soup and vegetarian noodle-less lasagna so nobody would have to cook and we wouldn't be tempted to go out or order in. I made sure we had plenty of salad fixins' in the house. I'll be planning ahead more, something I'd let slide in recent months.
While I wait for my claim to be processed, I plan on losing some weight. While I was writing this, I popped over to a BMI calculator and checked to see how much I'd have to lose to qualify for surgery at the center.
Ten pounds. Ten lousy pounds. When you're as heavy as I am, that's nothing.I'm not sure whether to be more embarrassed by that, or pissed off that the nurse didn't tell me that's all I'd have to lose. It would have saved me a lot of grief. Hell, armed with this information, I may just go on a smoothie and salad "fast" for a week and then try again. Crash dieting is not, of course, a solution to longterm weight loss, but in this one case, it just might be worthwhile.
But slow and steady is, of course, best, and ultimately that is what I'll return to. I'll give all my old tools another try, a really good try. And I'll look for new solutions, too.
It's a journey, not a destination, and as with all journeys, sometimes you get off track. Sometimes way off track. Sometimes you have to make a U-turn.
Consider this my turn signal.