Chapter 17

Thelma went on birth control when she was in her late 20s. She had to be on some kind of birth control because of her polycystic ovary syndrome. As soon as she went on Norplant she broke out in bad acne. It was horrible.

   “Get those out of your arm,” Alma kept telling her.

   After that, she put on 85 pounds and it would not go away. She went on every diet known to man and beast. She would lose some weight, get down to a certain number, and then just stop, or get it all back. It frustrated her, and pissed her off, too.

   “I’m going to do gastric bypass,” she told Steve.

   “Oh, no, don’t, I love you the way you are,” he said.

   Steve is a good guy. He comes to the beauty salon every day. There isn’t a day he doesn’t stop in. He gets mocked for it sometimes, but he can take it.

   “I’m going to do it,” she told him.

   Thelma went to St. Vincent’s Hospital when she was forty-two years old, signing on the dotted line.

   “I highly recommend the full gastric,” her doctor said.

   “I’ll do whatever you recommend,” she said, although she asked him about the band.

   “If you do the band I go in and put the band in your stomach, but you don’t start losing weight right away. First you have to wait six months for it to heal, and then I’ve got to tighten it, and…”

   “Screw that,” she said. “Let’s do the one where I start losing right away. I don’t want to wait.”

   She dropped 85 pounds, which was exactly what she had put on.

   One day she went to her chiropractor for an adjustment. His jaw dropped. “Where did the rest of you go?”

   It was right after she lost all her weight, although it was more about her getting rid of it. She had no intention of ever finding it again.

   “I know, I know, it’s great,” she said.

   “There’s nothing left of you.”

   She had always been a small person before the implant. Most of the women in her Bible study group had eating disorders and weight issues. “I know what it’s like. I was anorexic in high school.”

   “My brother Brad’s wife is 38 years old. She’s a double zero and she’s lost all her teeth because she’d made herself throw up so many times. All her teeth corroded, just eroded out, and she’s lost her esophagus. So, that’s gone. Then she had to get a double mastectomy because she found out she has the x marker. She’s teeny-weeny, but her mother is heavy, and her sister is almost five hundred pounds. Her sister’s husband used to be normal, but he has put on a lot of weight since they’ve been together, too. She’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, but she stinks. She stinks to high heaven. How do you bathe when you’re 500 pounds? She’s the sweetest person, but she knows.”

   She wanted to have a hysterectomy because her ovaries were so bad. “My female parts are diseased and horrible, but they won’t do it.”

   “You should keep all your parts, like you keep your teeth,” her doctor always said.

   “Why would you want me to keep them?” she asked her. “You pull out rotten teeth, don’t you?”

   But her doctor said she wouldn’t do it. She gave Telly three options.

   “You can go back on the pill.”

   “I’m 49 years old,” she said. “No.”

   “We could try an ablation.”

   “I’m not doing that. I probably have cystic ovarian disease. And I have anemic cyanosis. It’s only the inside of the uterus. I’m not doing that.”

   “All right, we can do an implant again.”

   “Fuck that,” she told her. “I’m never doing that again, gain all that weight, so forget it.”

   The diet she follows is the blood type diet. It’s the eat right for your type diet. Anybody can get any disease, any ailment, any affliction. But there are some blood types that get some more than others. More of the O’s, like her, are going to get more blood clotting, rheumatoid arthritis, and have more sinus issues. A’s have heart issues, high cholesterol, heart disease, and all the things that go with that.

   Her chiropractor told her about the blood type diet.

   “If you’re willing to do the gastric, are you willing to go a step farther?” he asked.

   “I can try anything for a month,” she said.

   After a few weeks Telly started to feel good. After two months she noticed she hadn’t had a sinus infection for two months, so she kept going.

   Steve went on the diet, too. He follows his blood type diet, which is awful since he has to be a vegetarian. He hates it, but on weekends he completely splurges, and eats whatever he wants.

   Ever since Telly started following it, she hardly ever got sinus headaches anymore. She used to get them all the time. In the last seven years, since she has been on the blood type diet, she’s had a sinus infection exactly seven times. There’s something to it, although her husband’s aunt, who is their doctor, doesn’t believe in it.

   “It’s funny,” Telly told her, “how I used to see you all the time, but now I never see you.”

   She just shrugged.

   “Steve has to be a vegetarian, but I love my meat. I’m a Christian and I believe animals are here for me to eat. I’m not about vegetarianism. At the same time, I think there’s so much in our food we don’t know about, like preservatives and chemicals. Why do they have to torture animals before killing them? They inject them with drugs and rip their feathers out while they’re still alive.”

   Treat them humanely, at least, she believed.

   Last Christmas they were a out for a party with friends, driving around in a limo, all lit up like Christmas trees. They were hammered. When wtheygot to their restaurant Cheryl’s husband went right to the bathroom and threw up.

   Steve ordered veal, since it was the weekend, and since she had never had veal, she wanted to try it, so she did. She stuck a piece in her mouth, but she has a thing with texture. It was just not steak texture. She didn’t like it. Steve must have seen the look on her face, because when she spit it out, he picked it up and popped it into his mouth.

   Everybody at the table laughed, but that’s love.

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