Greg White learns the hard way after liposuction: Quick, painless solutions to long festering problems are the stuff of campaign promises, not physical reality.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If Americans followed that adage closely, we wouldn’t fall for a politician’s promise or quick weight loss miracles.
While our economic path has led our nation into insurmountable debt, our over-consumptive society now has many of us facing huge personal debt. A veritable beer belly. Last week I watched Chris Christie speak at the RNC, and he was so worked up—I feared he might pop. I felt he would go in peace though, satisfyingly full from his last meal.
Glass houses? Nope. A few years ago I found myself with a few extra pounds. Not enough fat to load onto a Red Flyer wagon and drag across a stage on national television, but enough that made me want to arrest the situation.
It was only my midsection. And not hanging-over-my-belt, can’t-see-my-shoes gut fat, more like, why don’t I just have it liposuctioned? It seemed like the fast, easy alternative to slow and painful dieting. I actually had no interest in cutting down or cutting out anything I was eating, so having it sucked out seemed the smartest option. I used religion as my logic, which allows us to sin, repent, then sin again, then repent, ad infinitum and still make it into heaven with a clean bill of conscience.
The physician explained the process in a quick consultation: In a few minutes, a few pounds would be sucked out, and after a few days of recovery you could scrub laundry off my abdomen.
My recovery plan was simple. It was simple because I didn’t have one. You can’t be ready for what you will be like after surgery. All I did was buy Gatorade and some ready-to-eat food. Oh, and some bags of frozen peas to use as icepacks. I figured I could use the peas in my salads later, and that diet would help me not gain weight again. I am a thinker, not a planner.
After surgery, a nurse’s aide escorted me to my house, into bed and left. I was groggy and doped up, and the first few hours was happy to lie there, deliriously imagining the process that occurred while I was unconscious under anesthesia: As the doctor jabbed the long, thick vacuum needle in and out of my soft belly over and over and over with great force, he said, “Still think Father’s Office has the best burger?” or “This just bought my ticket to Aruba!” and maybe “I got an awesome parking space today.” Rape of the Hedonist.
The pain was not that bad, but I suddenly had to pee, and found that I couldn’t sit up in bed. The million jabs had compromised my abdomen muscles. I rolled over on my side, and then sort of fell out of bed, on purpose for once, and landed on all fours. I wanted to stand, but that wasn’t possible. I crawled to the bathroom. If you haven’t crawled since you were a baby, and you think you might have to at some point—practice.
Once near the toilet, I used the bowl to brace myself and stand up. I was in an elastic body suit that the nurse must have rolled onto me after surgery, like a thick, black condom to hold everything in a desired shape. I braced myself against the wall, and rocked myself into a steadier position. I ran my hand along the crotch of the body suit, looking for the pee hole. There wasn’t one. I have needed to pee badly before. I usually just jiggle my leg as I drive home, hoping to shake some more space into my bladder like bumping a toner cartridge on my desk to get more ink.
But now I was in pain, unable to walk or stand and had no exit route for my penis! I considered just peeing, but then I would be wet too, and I can’t even walk, much less change my bandages and wet body suit.
I crawled back to my bedroom, and searched though my dresser. I found some scissors and sat upright on the floor. I had done some crazy things in my bedroom, but to come at my groin area with scissors, under the influence of narcotics was new. When I chop onions I’m really careful with my knife because I don’t want to cut my finger and ruin my dinner party. When I cut a hole in my leotard after liposuction so I can pee, I don’t want to cut my penis and have to explain that to an ambulance driver.
Leotards are made of stretch elastic. A small hole will expand. Had I known that, I would have cut a small hole, but I cut a big hole. I also would have cut a hole on the side of my crotch, and not directly in the center. When I was finished peeing I had a permanent, gaping hole in the groin area of my leotard, leaving my entire genitalia region no refuge or privacy. If I weren’t all bruised, bandaged and bleeding, I might have appeared quite eager and prepared for easy-access sex.
Exhausted, I crawled back onto the bed. The night passed in sporadic chaos. I would wake up, randomly paw at the nightstand, crush the bottle of Vicodin open and shove a couple in my mouth, not caring about the proper dosage. I made a mental note to promise to call a friend before eating fries again.
An amazing service is after-surgery massage. This big, strong woman came each day and climbed on the bed, and gently rubbed my wounds. She raked a plastic cup that looked like a photographer’s loop across my skin. It suctions the buried bruises and causes them to rise up to the surface. You heal faster, or at least look less bruised. It hurts like hell. If I had control or even use of my muscles, I would have heaved her off me, and onto the floor. But I was grateful when she came because she would change my frozen pea packs and make sandwiches. She never made judgmental comments; in fact, she fixed me up with a good friend of hers. I dated him for months, and though I never asked, I figured my tempting description from her was something like, “He’s bruised, but underneath he might be cute. Once the bandages come off, I bet he can walk just fine.”
Each day things got easier. I had heard that once you had liposuction, fat could never again accumulate in that area. It is not true, trust me, if I am not careful, I can get fat again.
I do not recommend that Chris Christie have liposuction to reduce his weight. To expand that wish to include my fellow Americans, I do hope that everyone is able to slim personal debt down. Overconsumption is what got us ridiculously fat in the first place.
Liposuction is not an option for this country, or me—it is costly, too quick and painful. I’ll just use discipline. It’ s crunch time.
Image of Chris Christie courtesy of AP/J. Scott Applewhite