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Dragon Slayers


Benedict

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When I first learned that my initial band adjustment was going to be four weeks after a whale’s wake of hunger that had kicked in, I was a little disturbed. I was in fact terrified that the substantial weight that I had kicked off over the previous weeks would come flooding back with a vengeance and all would be lost (or indeed gained). Then, that fear was replaced with a certain feeling that a challenge had been set - a challenge for me to have one more attempt to combat and defeat the beast that had been haunting me all my life. A chance for me to stare the dragon that is my hunger directly in eyes as I plunged my sword of resistance and self-control into its black heart and watch it crash to the ground. I envisaged my heroic pose as I stood on the reptilian carcass and decapitated it for all villagers to see.

After a whole (almost) day of winning this melodramatic crusade, I tripped and fell on my own bloody sword.

Imagine my joy, when in my death throws I received a call from the life-saving Rhoda to tell me that Mr Byrne’s secretary had actually made a mistake and the appointment had been booked in incorrectly and my adjustment would be in a few days time. Rhoda, the guardian angel that sat on my shoulder that day, is my assigned nutritionist. She gives me the impression that she has never had to defeat her own appetite, being so slender herself - which is why I imagine she is so good in being able to exterminate that state in others. I may well be mistaken in that assumption and could find that she is indeed a past-life big momma. That said, her seemingly clinical detachment from the whole process that I and others attending her “class” are going through leads me to assume that she has never quite been there. No matter - she called with joyous news!

I naturally spent the rest of the week berating myself. I live alone. What else is there to do?

Over the next few days, after the humiliating stumble, I took stock once again and managed to not exactly drown my hunger, but recognise it. With the recognition of the excessive need for sustenance comes a certain self-control that would normally disintegrate as I buried my head in the sand and thought more on my need to satisfy my urges than to maintain or improve my health. Also, having a close date to aim at for the band fill gave me that little more encouragement to hold off from the recently emptied larder.

So, Saturday morning came and I marched defiantly into the hospital. For those that have not recognised, my love of acting ensures that I can’t just “walk into the hospital”. That just wouldn’t be luvvie enough darling! So, I walked defiantly (perhaps even majestically) into the hospital. I took my seat in the waiting room and waited for the moment when I would take the next step on the road to recovery. As I waited, I started to get a little nervous about the impending appointment. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am a terrible coward. I started to fear the obvious needle that was amplifying in my mind into a rusty bayonet. Then I started to insanely ponder about the possibility that if the band was over-filled it would explode and send shards of medical prosthesis into my now rapidly beating heart. I had to take my mind off such ridiculous meanderings, so I took hold of my iPhone and Twittered something juvenile about small pricks and my forthcoming swallowing abilities. At the tender age of thirty six, I like to think I can publish puerile innuendo along with the best of them.

Mr Byrne, the surgeon that performed the operation and the recent object of my total gratitude, walked into the hospital. A knight in the shining armour of a rather expensive looking suit. He approached the receptionist to ask where he could park his steed called Range Rover. After leaving again to settle her into the stables of the private car park, he came back to check into his non-permanent residence of the private hospital. As he walked past, he greeted me…then another two people in the room. It dawned on me - they had been sitting next to me in quiet consideration of the same fate. These were the same people that had been under the knife that day at the end of February. They were fellow bandsters! We all shuffled in our seats and returned to the inner sanctums of our own contemplation.

I was immediately called in. The time had come.

When I first met Mr Byrne, he seemed a very cold and aloof person. His distant emotional approach caused me a little concern. I rather xenophobically assumed he was German. But, having met a few Germans, I now realise they are not quite as cool and emotionally reserved as Indiana Jones had led me to believe. The surgery day reaffirmed my opinion that his bedside manner was a little chilly. However, he was now an entirely different person. He was affable and entirely friendly. I confirmed my thoughts of the last month. I very much doubted that anyone would like to get to friendly with someone they were about to slice up and put their life in your hands. It would be much easier to play around with the offal of someone who was more of a statistic than a person. So, at this visit, I was happy to see he was indeed a human and not a weight-loss designated cyborg.

After an initial bout of banter, I was invited to lay on his bed. As much as I have yearned for similar situations with the occasional lady-friend, I mounted the tissue-lined trolley with a tad less excitement.

I made the mistake of briefly glancing over to see the preparations that were underway. My fears of a bayonet were well founded. I had never seen such a thing! Before I wonder off into what seems like another tirade of smutty double-entendre, I must confirm that I am describing the medical syringe that he was filling with saline. The needle was pretty much akin to a Biro pen. I tensed up and shut up.

With his newly found amiability, he attempted to ease my tension (please people…gutter minds!). He said that I would feel a small scratch and I tensed every muscle in my body as I awaited the stabbing sensation. I started to wonder how long he would take faffing around before I felt the imminent piercing. As I wondered, he walked back to his desk saying it was all done. What?! I felt nothing. “Bloody hell”, I pondered to myself. I really need to insert a little courage into my life before I tremble to death. Oh my lord..do you think I could tremble to death!?

Mr Byrne, then turned round and proclaimed “Strawberry or Raspberry?” - he was offering me a low-fat yogurt! How very nice of him.

It was apparently time to see if the 4cc of saline pumped into my band was enough to cause ample restriction to help and not hinder. If I could swallow about half the pot without throwing it back into my lap, it would be alright for me to go home. If it did end up all down my shirt, he may need to deflate the band slightly. I was shown to the waiting room, where I could self-consciously chow down on the chosen Strawberry, while he attended to one of his other flock.

As I sat down, I tried to think of a way that I could casually open a pot of yogurt in a waiting room filled with strangers (probably in for a variety of consultations unrelated to weight loss) without them assuming I was a glutton unable to eat in the privacy of my own home. There was no way. I just had to turn the pot slightly so that “low-fat” was visible to all and sundry and read the paper casually as I spooned it in carefully.

By the time I had eaten half the pot, I had read quite a lot of the news and fifteen minutes had passed. Was this possible? Was I feeling…full?! On half a pot of yogurt!! I nearly wept. It seemed as if the dragon had been finally slain. The effect was immediate and astounding.

A lady sat very sheepishly opposite me. She produced a small pot of yogurt. I gave her a knowing smile and raised my half full pot in a toast to our new adjustment. And there we sat for a few minutes discussing our experience to date, until Mr Byrne came out to give us the all clear to go home. He pointed out that he was going on holiday for a week the next day - so if we had an urgent need for deflation…could we have it in the next few hours.

As I sit from the comfortable position of having been “adjusted” and see how pathetic my struggle against hunger was last week, I can perhaps understand a little why the majority of naturally lean people look down on us more fleshy creatures. With the benefit of having a suppressed appetite - the huge emotional strain of over hunger looks ridiculous. I looks like an easy-to-conquer and dare I say lazy affliction. However, having been involved in the fight, I know very differently.

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