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  Ellen Davignon: Lives of Quiet Desperation

Adipose Tissue

January 15, 2001

You thought you had it made this year, didn't you?  "Look at this," you marvelled.  "Into the last quarter of the year and she hasn't said a word about diets!"  I'm sorry, my friend.  I simply had not yet got around to them.  And I might not, today... who knows where these things are going to end up?   But first, I want to talk a bit about an article I read in an old magazine about a related subject, the gastric by-pass. 

Also known as partitioning, this is nothing, more or less, than stapling off 90 percent of the stomach, drastically limiting to seven, or so, teaspoonfuls the amount of food you can ingest without throwing up, thereby causing you to lose pounds and pounds and pounds until all that is left is the quintessential you. 

Quintessential ME, I translated.  Hurraw, I exhulted, surveying my too, too solid flesh.  Deliverance was imminent!!

Alas, a few discreet ("I have this friend who needs to lose weight and she wanted to know...") inquiries later, I discovered that just NOBODY approves this technique (after all, the body is a finely tuned machine and we don't feel it should be tampered with,) YHIP wouldn't cover it, and unless I wanted to go shopping with our all of our retirement fund, I should forget the quintessential me and get the hell back on my diet. (Oh, there it is.)

So, what's new?

More years ago than I care to think about, I went to our kindly old family doctor for help.  We already had one child more than the two we'd planned and I shyly asked to discuss the possibility of Phil having a vasectomy.

A VASECTOMY??  Why not a frontal lobotamy for our hyperactive 2-year- old?  And perhaps I'd like to discuss the most humane way of putting away my aging parents, while I was at it!!  Of course, if we were in- tent on pursuing this wicked course, we COULD go to Juneau where some unscrupulous doctors were obliging some equally unprincipled Yukoners. Shame blazing on my chubby cheeks, I slunk from his office. 

Nine years later, when I burst into tears at the confirmation that I was indeed pregnant with our fifth child, my new family doctor asked me if I wanted to consider an abortion.

I can see it all coming.  A time in our near future, when I am so old and decrepit that it won't matter anymore, they will not only be stapling stomachs on demand but will also be installing zipper and snap fasteners to facilitate adjustments for special occasions.  In the meantime, I suppose I'll just be getting the hell back on my diet.

Which diet?  Oh, I don't know, the Scarsdale or the Pritikin or the Atkins Low-Carbohydrate, Richard Simmon's Deal-a- Meal... I've done 'em all. And I've walked and jogged and lifted weights.  Given up peanut butter and Bailey's. Joined a friendly neighbourhood branch of an internation diet organization, who promised me help in shedding the extra chins, to say nothing of those pesky lumps and mounds of adipose tissue.

Adipose tissue?  Wellsir, that's what we were after, alright: no more adipose tissue.  So I looked it up in my trusty Webster's to see just  what it was that all those nice ladies do desperately didn't want me to have anymore of and I had to agree, I didn't want any more of it either.

Adipose - ('ad-upside down e-pos)adj. tissue n: connective tissue in which fat is stored and which has the cells distended by droplets of fat.  It seems that in my case, the droplets had become something more.  Whole rills and freshets of oily little globules were busily at work, distending my unsuspecting cells to a degree hitherto undetected in a human being.  No wonder I couldn't zip up my black jeans.

In the past 18 months, I've lost 40 pounds, nearly 50 if you count the ten I dropped trying to get up the nerve to join the support group.  The distressing thing is that nothing has changed.  Literally.

I'm still fa...er...chubby.  My dress size is still the same, only a smidge looser and my underarms bobble and sway just like always.  How can this be?  I mean, if I'd had forty or fifty pounds of butter hanging off my backside and then leaned on a hot stove, well, it would damn soon be noticed that they'd melted and run off, wouldn't it?

In an effort to explain this phenomenon, I found a tape measure - and a length of string and a piece of chalk - the other day and took a reading. Friends, I have to tell you that I am one magnificent armful! Maybe two, even.  One hundred and fifty four...oops, I think I added in the date there... well, one hundred and thirty (give or take) inches of pulchritudinous female.  Of course, I measured everything two at a time, both thighs, hips, bazooms, chins... But the fact remained, all my good effort nothwithstanding, I am still nearly as big around as I am old.  I wonder out loud if that measuring tape is properly calibrated?

"Well, you do have a big frame. Maybe this is as good as it gets, that what's left truly is the quintessential you," Phil tries to reassure me.  Prodding a suspicious lump with a questing forefinger, I shake my head gloomily.  Adipose tissue, no doubt about it and tomorrow, it's back on the diet.

Phil looks morose as he contemplates another winter of deprivation and next week's menu of Dessicated Breast of Chicken, Melange de Mustard Greens and Mung Bean Sprouts, and a sparkling Potage de Perrier.  Because we all know that the family that diets together... Something like that.

And besides, sometimes at night when it's really quiet and my adipose tissue is momentarily at rest, I can hear the jingling and squeaking of distending cells.  And the sounds are coming from HIS side of the bed.

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