Hi. I’m Martha Maggio and I have problems.

Today is the day. I see the doctor one last time before WLS (in two weeks) and I won’t eat normal food for about 1-2 months. I’m already hungrier than I’ve ever been.

I started the liquid diet last Monday and it did not go well. I was tempted many times and had already resolved to eat on Thanksgiving. By Sunday, I had at least lost a few pounds, but I was still eating solid foods about once a day.

I didn’t have to start the diet last week, but I knew I needed to ease into this process. No more excuses. I have to start today. I have not eaten anything so far and I feel sad. Really sad. Tired. Really tired. And hungry. Really hungry. Hangry even. My life without food so far is pretty dismal. There is nothing to look forward to and there is nothing to celebrate. I don’t know who I am without food.

I don’t know what to do with myself. I could DO a million things but when you’re an addict, the most interesting thing to do when you can’t have your fix is to think about having it. At least for me.

If I was eating…what would I eat?
What is she eating??
I wonder what that tastes like?
I bet they’re enjoying that.

It’s kinda sick. It’s torture. It’s the next best thing to eating-thinking about eating. But IT could be sex, drinking, getting high, working out, overworking, shopping, gambling, lying. What’s your sweet torture?

Every time I want to eat I think about this though-I give my liver a voice. That’s the reason I’m on this liquid diet to begin with. It’s a liver-reduction diet so the doctor can get to that big ol’ stomach underneath my big ol’ fatty liver. My liver’s voice is this, “You can’t have anything that will hurt me, Martha. Not alcohol, not fats, not sugar, not anything that I can’t handle. Gimme a break. Don’t make it hard on the doc.” (Watch Sugar Coated and you’ll see what happens to your liver when you have too much bad stuff! I call it “the liver quivers”.) I’ve even given my liver a name, Oliver. Har. Okay, Ollie, I won’t hurt you.

I want this surgery. And I don’t want to make it more difficult for the surgeon. I want a swanky, svelte liver so he can get at my stomach. I’ve heard horror stories about being cut open and being refused stomach surgery because of the inability to get to the stomach. So all of the dieting and cutting and none of the benefits!

Oh my friggin’ Lord God in heaven, no! Nightmare! Please, God, no!

I know they don’t tell me to do these things to punish me. They want me to be successful. So, as much as I want to have that leftover slice of Prime Cut Minsky’s pizza in the fridge, I won’t. I can taste the bacon and cheese. The cold, greasy triangle of love. The spice of the sauce. The satisfying chew. The hard swallow followed by a cold soda or glass of milk.

Eating is my favorite thing in the world and I have to learn to live without it. Today is the day.

Last Meal and Testament

John 6:35 KJV “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

My official last meal will be Thanksgiving dinner. Today, I started my liquid diet for weight loss surgery. I didn’t have to, but I wanted to. I was supposed to start next Monday, but I’ve been feeling more and more bloated and more and more guilty. I have had all my favorites and then some. I have eaten out. I have ordered in. I have eaten all the things. I had pizza, burgers and tacos. I had bacon-wrapped crab, crab rangoon and sushi smorgasbord. I had BBQ, KFC and NEP (Never-Ending Pasta). I am officially full. Forever!

My daughter seemed sad at the thought that I would never have another “normal” meal. She asked me if, after I recover from surgery, we could make homemade pretzels. (She had hot, soft pretzels last night, add pretzels to the list). I told her, “I can’t ever have bread again. They told me to stay away from it.” The reality of a breadless life settled to the bottom of her little heart. She knows about my food addiction and how much I struggle. And she knows that bread is a go-to comfort food for us. But I told her, “I’ve had a lifetime of eating whatever I want. It’s time to eat right. I’m okay with that.” It’s important that my daughter see me willing to do what it takes and give up something so important (if not important, then something so treasured) to live a healthy life. I’m teaching her a tough lesson with my body. For that, I’m thankful.

You see, I’ve always had my way when it comes to food. I realize now that it’s a spiritual, mental and physical discipline that I must face and accept. It’s an animal to be tamed, a demon to be exorcised. I haven’t served anyone by eating what I want. I’ve only served myself and had others serve me when it comes to food. I’ve eaten whatever I wanted to the point of severe degradation to my physical well-being. That’s an addiction. I’ve put my physical body at risk. For food. An addiction is something to overcome, not indulge. If I never get over this mountain, I’ll die trying to climb it. It will take my life. And I don’t want it to. I’m ready to do whatever it takes to be healthy.

I am going to have Thanksgiving dinner with my husband’s family on Thursday. One last meal because I can’t go to someone else’s home and not eat while everyone else is eating. I could stay home, but I don’t want to. I want to enjoy one last holiday without restrictions. I am not going to pay attention to calories, portion size or fat/salt content. The only thing I will pay attention to is taste. Savor. Every. Bite. If it tastes good, I’m eating it. I can’t imagine that anything will taste bad. It will be my last meal. The last time I eat what I want. The last time I indulge.

It just got real, y’all. Can you imagine never doing something you love ever again? Kissing your spouse? Hugging your child? Talking to your friend? Food has been my companion for 43 years. My best friend, my keeper of secrets, my deep gorge of feelings. Thursday is more of a funeral than feast.

I’ve been waiting for this surgery for over 6 months. I knew this moment was coming. I’m not exactly ready, but I don’t have a choice. It’s like getting married or having kids. You’re never ready, but it’s the best thing that ever happened to you.

Wish me luck. Or power. Or discipline. Or love. I’ll need it.

Holidays on Hold in KC

I’m rolling into the holidays, forks a-blazin’, eating everything in sight. This time of year is not fall, it’s food. To me, anyway. Chili, pumpkin pie, Sunday football noms, anything that can be Cool Whipped. Double frappamochalattechino with extra whip please. Plus, I’m about to get weight loss surgery, so I’m doubling up on favorites because I can’t have them after November 28th. I get one last Thanksgiving feast.

I don’t think I’m alone in the “fall means food” boat. All of the Facebook is littered with holiday recipes and treats. I hide as much as I can, but the singular, tempting food post inevitably makes it way on to my News Feed (Ha. Feed. I see what you did there Facebook, you slut). Usually from a newly-acquired friend who doesn’t understand my food obsession, heart failure, low-sodium diet, and is totally oblivious to my compulsions. As it should be. No one is responsible for my wanton foodlust.

I grew up in a culture of food porn. Every gathering, holiday, celebration, church function was a food orgy of epic proportions. I didn’t care who showed up as long as they brought something good to eat. The formalities of greeting everyone was simply a tease to the main event. Chow line. If I was seen scribbling in a dark corner before the dinner bell rang, it was to calculate how much food could be piled on the provided paper plates. I became an expert at knowing how much those suckers could hold. Score! Chinet. Going back for seconds. As if that were in question.

At Thanksgiving, at Grandma’s house, I remember my Aunt Dorothy. She was a kind woman. Short hair, no makeup. Terribly obese. I always remember her at the dining table. She poked my ribs when I drew near and gently joked with me about any questions I would ask. I wasn’t very close to her, but more and more, I see myself as Dorothy.

She seemed happy. Ate what she wanted. More than she needed (but everyone did). Didn’t seem to have many worries. She usually had a smile. Cracked jokes and didn’t stress over her waistline. She had some sort of thyroid disorder that she took medication for and now, I wonder, did I get my thyroid trouble from her?

I am terribly obese. Super morbidly obese, in fact. Never really had issues with what other people thought of me. In fact, I was defiant of anyone’s criticism of me. Until I landed in the hospital for heart failure. That was a frightening wake-up call. After 2012, my health issues took a flying leap off the high wire. It’s been a circus of hospitalizations, tests and procedures since.

I’m headed in for weight loss surgery in December. I lost my thyroid in 2015. It had a large benign tumor on one side and 3 small cancer nodules on the right. They took the whole thing. How long have I had problems? That is the question I’m left with after a total thyroidectomy. It doesn’t matter, but it completely stalled my weight loss. I could have been struggling with thyroid my whole life. Probably. I had lost about 100 lbs. on my own after I was diagnosed with heart failure, before thyroid cancer. Then after the thyroid-removal surgery, I gained about 40 lbs. back.

My health is deteriorating and I have decided to go in for WLS. I don’t see that I have any other option. It’s for my health. Not for my looks. So with that looming in the near future, I have to say, I’m terrified of what the holidays herald. Where will I find my footing? How will I connect with people? What joy will the holidays hold without food? I mean, think of it this way…what if I came into your home and destroyed your Xmas tree? Told your toddler that there’s no Saint Nick? Burned all your Xmas presents in the front yard and sang “Feed the World” with a drunken, belligerent, disheveled Santa? It might ruin the holiday spirit for you. Well, taking away food between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, that’s just un-American. One of our country’s oldest holiday traditions is passing out in a food coma to celebrate how thankful we are and how abundant our nation is. To excess is patriotic. To gorge is hand-over-heart waving of the flag. So what’s a gal to do?

I’m hoping to find my joy in the kindness of medical professionals and the ever-downward plunging scale. I’m hoping to find joy in the quiet moments between white-knuckled affairs filled with food and festivity. I won’t be indulging my sweet tooth or eating disorder this year. I will be finding my joy in a cornucopia of strangers and unexplored emotions. Christmas won’t be the same this year. But that’s okay. I’m kinda glad. But still, a little scared.