Happy Birthday to me…! Happy Birthday to ME! Happy Birthday… UGH!!!

Birthdays… Who invented this tradition of celebrating getting older?? Can I just shoot them now???

Yes, today is my birthday… Number 53. I was asked today the standard question… If I could go back..? What age would I be?

Many people say they’d love to return to their 20's… 25 seems to be a good age, right? You’re still young and strong and beautiful. But? without the knowledge and experience under your belt? You have SOO very far to go…

Others talk about their 30's… The bloom is off the rose, so to speak, and you’re certainly more sure of yourself… but, there’s still SO much to learn!

For me? I’d be 45 for-freakin-EVER!! I was old enough to know what I wanted and experienced enough to know how to get it. I didn’t worry anymore about what anyone thought of me, so I could speak my mind without worrying about repercussions. I was, for the first time in my adult life free, confident, and capable.

I’ve written about this before, but, it bears repeating here that, when I was 44, I became one of thousands of people who undergo Gastric Bypass surgery. I’d struggled with my weight my entire life. Slowly gaining 2–3 pounds a month no matter what I did.

At one point, I realized that I was waiting for the light to turn green before I tried crossing the Avenues of New York City streets. As in… if the light was already green when I arrived there? I’d wait through it, and through the next red, until I got a new green light. Otherwise? I’d never make it across in time.

See? My feet hurt. A LOT! I was told it was Plantar Fasciitis, and there was a surgery they could do to fix it, if I wanted. I looked at my doctor and he said “Or…? We could fix the real problem instead.”

Gastric Bypass. Dangerous. Potentially deadly. My girl was only 9. Christ!

But? I looked at my life, and the path that I was on, and I did it. I got lucky in that the surgeon did his surgical magic well. His aftercare? Well… It sucked. Plain and simple.

My first post-op visit, he accused me of having ice cream and milk shakes because I’d only lost 20 pounds. Only. 20 pounds. 30 days. Only.

Riiiight…!

Then he informed me that I should be following the FDA’s food pyramid in order to maintain a healthy diet. Um… Wait… WHAT???

For those who don’t understand this, let me fill you in on the life of a new post-op gastric bypass patient…: It’s hard to eat. Period.

You’re on a liquid protein shake for the first 60 days. That’s pretty much it. (Oh, and by the way? My surgeon didn’t believe in protein shakes. Broth. That’s what I was to have… Just broth. … )

SERIOUSLY???

Your body NEEDS protein in order to survive, heal, repair and maintain. It doesn’t get it? It starts to eat itSELF. Muscle mass disappears because you’re basically digesting your SELF.

No protein for me…? Dumbass with an MD.

I went home (never went back either, just in case you were wondering!)and .started re-educating myself on what to eat.

Turns out you’re suppose to have around 70 grams of protein per day. Tough to do when all you can eat at one sitting would fill a medicine cup. Time to find alternatives. Oh… And to step up the protein shakes..!

I lost 20 more pounds my second month… And I didn’t follow the idiotic Food Pyramid once. Have you ever looked at that thing?? It’s positively STOOPID!!

It took me a little over a year to lose 110 pounds total. From a high of 284 at my discharge from the hospital, to my current low of 165. And it’s been quite the journey.

I don’t think I could have handled the change if I were in my 20’s, or even my 30’s. Eating is now a management issue. Going out to eat is a challenge, mentally and physically. I have to think about every bite I take, because if I choose wrong? I won’t be holding onto that food for very long.

But, it was a challenge I welcomed in my 40’s because it let me take back my life. My body had become my enemy, and now it was my friend. I had walked the streets of New York in pain and anonymity for so long? I was astounded when I realized that I was being seen.

There’s a funny story I told about that here:

Anyway… So, here I was, in my mid-40’s, single, with my young daughter, and I felt like I could do ANYTHING!! Who wouldn’t want to go back to that age? That time? That place..??

So… Today’s my birthday. I am another year older. Big Whup!! I’m facing health issues of the normal variety… Thyroid, blood pressure, bad knees, hips and my shoulder needs to just shut UP already! I have a pseudoaneurysm in my neck which prevents me from doing many things that I love… but, that will eventually go away and I can get back in my garden… But? mostly? life is GOOD. So, who really cares?

I know some people care about the lines and the white hairs… Some days, I’m one of them. Most days I’m not. My dear Granny, when asked by a very rude 13 year old me, told me that the lines on her face were the roads she’d walked to help those she loved. And the white hairs? They showed how many pieces of her soul she’d given away to help others. I thought it was a beautiful idea then. I still do.

So…? If YOU could go back? What age would you be? And why? I’d love to hear…

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