Monday, February 24, 2014

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Snoring, High Cholesterol, and Green Smoothies- Part II

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Mel and I were in the kitchen eating lunch the Saturday after my doctor visit. I’d already told Mel about my upcoming sleep study and how there wasn’t much that could be done concerning snoring. But I hadn’t told her that the doctor said I needed to lose some weight. I didn’t want her to know. Ever since I met with the doctor, I’d felt a little different about myself. I felt older, a little more out of shape. I kept looking at myself in the mirror while pinching my mid section, and wondering if this fat I’d put on in graduate school would never go away. I kept wondering if it was defining me.
Mel ( the vegetarian)
I was eating my usual spicy microwave chicken from the frozen section and drinking a Coke Zero. Mel was eating a salad and drinking water. She was on her computer, checking our joint email account.
“Oh,” she said. “Your test results are in.”
At first I didn’t know what she was talking about, but soon realized that she was referring to my blood work. I was a little surprised that it had been done so quickly, especially considering how long it took for me just to get a doctor’s appointment. I was also surprised that they emailed them to us. 
“Let me see those,” I said.
I reached for the laptop, but Mel pulled it away from me. Then she looked at me like I was hiding something.
“Just a moment,” she said.
She kept reading.
I gave her a moment to read through the email. Then I said, “So am I dying?”
“You have high cholesterol!”
She nearly shouted it. Her tone was one of shock and surprise. It reminded me of the tone she used when discovering one of the kid’s dirty secrets, like when Norah colored on one of our living room chairs, or the time she found a collection of moldy food under Tristan’s bed. 
She looked at me for a while without speaking, and I tried to read her face. Mel is a vegetarian. She’s the kind of person who shops at the farmers market and often drinks smoothies that mix fruit with vegetables. She’s been commenting on my meat consumption for years, but she’d never had clear evidence that it was doing me any harm. But now, on her computer screen was that missing piece.
The testimony of a doctor that proved her case against me.
After a few moments of looking me in the face, she looked down at the breaded Tyson brand chicken I was eating. “Do you realize that crap is killing you?” 

I put my fork down and placed my hands on the table.
“How high is it?”
She told me it was about 10 above what it should be. It wasn’t dangerously high, but it was still high. She started reading all the recommendations from the doctor’s office. It suggested that I get more exercise, eat more fruits, vegetables, and fiber, and cut back on my intake of meat and cheese. This was the worst thing I’d ever heard from a doctor’s office. I hated fruits and vegetables, meat was my favorite block on the food pyramid, and cheese was like heaven cut into slices.
“It even says here that making these changes will help you lose weight. Isn’t that what you’ve been complaining about since graduate school?”
I cocked my head back. And that same feeling of anger and frustration that I felt the day before in the doctors office, I felt again, only this time it was directed at my wife.
Once again I was blaming the messenger.
I didn’t want to change. I just wanted the problem to go away. I didn’t want to deal with it.
            Mel reached across the table, gripped my hand, and said, “I just don’t want you to die. Is that okay with you?”
            “I suppose,” I said. 

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His essays on parenting and marriage have been featured in Huffington Post Parents, Huffington Post Weddings, and The Good Men Project. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo by Lucinda Higley