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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sixty: Blessed, Depressed, and Obsessed

Have you ever woken up and wondered, what did I do right?

Having a wonderful life is not an easy adjustment to make when it comes on the heels of having a terrible life. How can everything possibly be going well? How does one stop thinking, “when we get through this, everything will be okay” when there is no this to get through? Everything is okay.

I admit that I am developing whining about aging into an art form. I also admit that I have a terribly good life. As much as I complain about being 60, I know that there are those out there who know they’ll never see 60. I thank God I’m not one of them. For over forty years, I’ve said, “I could get hit by a bus tomorrow…” But I haven’t been. And the only way I will get hit by a bus tomorrow is if the driver loses control of the school bus that stops near my house, skids down my hill, across my front yard, and into my house. All the way into my house. And tomorrow is a weekday.

I need to carry a block of wood in my pocket; I am so aware of my many blessings that I should be knocking on it every few minutes. While I bemoan the lot of the poor and hungry, I sit very comfortably at my laptop in my nice warm house. I know there are people sleeping outside tonight and that the weather will drop to the single digits by morning. When I complain that there’s nothing to eat for breakfast, it’s not because there is no food in my house. It’s because there’s no food I’m in the mood to eat.

Although I’ve heard and read much lamenting the plight of the middle class, I know that I am more than lucky to be part of that middle class. The economy may be lousy but it’s a lot less lousy for me and my peers than for an awful lot of people. I may suffer the physical decline of aging, but I also have health insurance so that my medical needs are met. My vision isn’t wonderful, but I’ve had cataract surgery and can afford to buy new glasses when I need them. I can go to the dentist when I need to, and I can have yearly physicals. Thanks to insurance and the fact that my husband has a decent job, my prescriptions are affordable

Compared to my life ten years ago, I am not living the good life; I am living the fabulous life. All my basic needs are covered, and I’m not worrying about paying the rent, where my next meal is coming from, or if I can put enough gas in the car to get me back and forth to work until my next paycheck. As a matter of fact, I don’t even work; I’m “retired.”

Believing that if you have food on the table and a roof over your head is grand, that having the basic necessities is lucky, and that life is a good thing is probably why I haven’t quite recovered from not feeling that way in the past. It’s just too good to…believe? last? be taken for granted?

“Remember when you were a little kid and your parents would take you for a ride…you’d drive past unfamiliar woods and be terrified that they were going to leave you there?” Sometimes when I’d be in a group of people reminiscing about their childhoods and their childhood fears, I’d ask that question. The answer was always “no,” and their expressions usually disbelief. How does a five-year-old develop such a fear of abandonment? That fear has been a constant companion, and refuses to recognize it’s no longer needed. I grew up thinking that all kids felt that way. My parents were middle class when being middle class was a positive thing. Spiritually, however, and emotionally we were poor.

That poverty is no longer a part of my life. I have a satisfying, if sometimes difficult, spiritual life. My personal life is so fulfilling that if I were any happier I’d probably be under suspicion. I’ve somehow adopted the attitude that the past is a room that is best left closed. Along with that and not caring what others think of me, I’ve pretty much attained my peace.

So why all the complaining? I have smoothly sailed into my sixties, my life is better than it was going into my fifties, forties, thirties, and twenties. Truly, my life for the past ten years has been a dream realized. I don’t just know this intellectually, I know it with every consciousness of my being. Maybe I have to complain about aging—oops, I mean maturing—because there was always some threat in my life and, though there isn’t now, I’m staying in practice in case one shows up. Some part of me cannot accept that my life is golden, not just golden-aged.

Confessing all this, however, does not mean that I understand and accept aging. It does mean that I can appreciate the privilege of doing so. How many times have we heard that it’s so much better than the alternative? Being a little old lady in my circumstances is also lots better than so many of the alternatives.

I am never going to be wealthy, and I don’t care. Beauty is decades behind me, and I don’t care. My intellect has peaked and fades—that’s life. Only…it’s so hard to think “I am 60.” Maybe that’s what the belligerence is about. Although not omnipotent, I have been able to change so many things in my life. But age is inevitable and irreversible. I can’t fight it, I can’t negotiate with it, and I can’t really ignore it. Since I don’t want to go gently into that golden era, perhaps I need to kick and scream. A path that includes complaints, sarcasm, and humor isn’t all bad…considering the alternatives.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Games Old People Play

It’s amusing to see the looks on kids’ faces and hear their comments when they see me waiting. It could be in the airport or on a plane, or the ophthalmologist’s waiting room, or just waiting for a friend. They don’t expect to see someone who could be their grandmother fervently playing with a Nintendo DS Lite, unless their grandmothers actually do play Nintendo.

As a virtual vegetable, I spend a lot of time on my DS. Since I have a problem falling asleep, I take the DS to bed with me (and my husband). Chip says “good night,” lays his head on his pillow and is instantly asleep. I find that maddening because I can’t do it. But that’s not what keeps me awake at night. Thinking about all the things that should be done or said or invented is my bogeyman. Those thoughts hide under the bed until the lights go out and I’m nice and comfy in my nest. Then—blam—they all crowd into my head at once, screaming and partying and begging for attention. I’ve found that playing with my DS allows me to concentrate on something that will keep those thought-monsters out, and I start to fall asleep while I’m playing. That’s when I celebrate lights out.

Mini-people walking around the screen killing each other do not appeal to me. Puzzles, word and card games, mah jongg—that’s what I want. I have been hooked on Tetris since the original Nintendo game system came out, and had various versions of it for my GameBoy, GameBoy Color, GameBoy Advance SP, and Nintendo DS. I like variety, so I can’t just play Te`ttris.

Two favorite games for my Nintendos have been Boggle and Dr. Mario. My copy of Boggle, which could not be played on the DS, wore out. There was a DS version but it’s no longer available. I lost my Nintendo Color Dr. Mario, and I don’t think it was ever produced for the DS, unless a conspiracy keeps it from me. Despite the fact that both of these games were timed games, my ideal game offers two features: it’s untimed and I can see it. Being able to see what’s happening on the screen isn’t always so easy for us “mature” adults (snicker, snicker). Time and astigmatism take care of that. Until a few months ago, the only Mah Jongg game that I could actually play is Shanghai Pocket, a goofy little number for the Advance that can satisfy a mah jongg jones. It’s not the greatest mah jongg in the world, but I can see it. That makes it pretty great. Others that I have seen or read about don’t work for old eyes.

Recently, I purchased Quest Trio. The trio is comprised of Jewel Quest Expeditions, “a classic matching game with over 180 unique jewel boards to choose from”; Mahjong Quest, which allegedly “brings the ancient game of Mahjong to life, with a captivating storyline and over 64 tile layouts of increasing challenge to unravel”; and Jewel Quest Solitaire, in which the user gets to “Play tri-peaks solitaire…in a new way using jewel-themed card decks…114 layout and 684 possible card playing scenarios.” I’m tired of the Bejeweled-Bedazzled-Jewel Quest-type matching games, and bought this game specifically for Mahjong Quest. There are three choices here, “Puzzles,” “Classic,” and “Kwazi’s Quest.” I am thrilled to report that all three are visible to the elder eye. The included solitaire is not like any tri-peaks solitaire I have played (on Facebook or DS), but it offers a challenge and a change. I play it more than I play mah jongg.

Another senior-friendly game is Touchmaster; it offers a variety of short games ideal for the gaming granny or granpa with attention deficit disorder (yes, some of us are so afflicted). In an Amazon user review of a game the reviewer didn’t enjoy, the original Touchmaster was recommended. It includes 23 card, skill, and puzzle games, and I have played or attempted to play all of them. Mah Jongg Pairs offers two sets of tiles, but the characters on the classic set are much too small. Mahki is a colored tile game somewhat reminiscent of Tetris; card games Target 21, Triple Elevens, and 3 Peak Deluxe are usually my bedtime story. There are nine card games, including a few classics. Touchmaster passed the old-eyes test.

One of the problems in picking games is not knowing what’s inside that tiny cartridge. The blurb on the box sounds wonderful (surprise! surprise!) and I’ve often fallen for the old “if you love [fill in the blank], then you’ll love this.” After buying the game I find I do but I don’t, and I’ve another bad investment on my hands which I can’t even pawn off on my granddaughter, Chloë. Chloë illustrates another problem. She was adamant that I would love Animal Crossing as much as she and her mother do. I made sure I had it before her next visit, and my reaction, once she taught me the game, was “what’s the point?” That’s not Chloë’s fault. Just because your best friend, husband, or beloved granddaughter loves a game doesn’t mean you will, too. The absolute best place to find out if a game might be for you (without trying before buying) is the user reviews and screen shots on Amazon. Since these games are not being given away, I won’t buy a game that doesn’t have user reviews or is poorly rated. Professional reviews and product blurbs do not sway me. I want to know what people like me have experienced and think. Most people are very candid. Very.

Word Jong is a game I found through reading user reviews. It’s not purely mah jongg; it’s more like taking Boggle and mah jongg, throwing the pieces in a blender, and enjoying the results (except for the broken blender part). It’s enormously entertaining for word game fanatics and “If you love Scrabble, you’ll love Word Jong.” (I do and I do.) I also purchased WordMaster, based on Amazon user reviews, and while I don’t enjoy it quite as much as Word Jong, it is definitely a contender for the senior games. Both are easy to see and untimed.

The reason having an untimed game is more enjoyable is the slower reaction time many baby boomers experience. Some of us cannot enjoy a game when we’re trying to beat the clock, too. The premier game publisher for us is PopCap Games. I have long played many of their games on PC and lost many hours to Peggle, Peggle Nights, Book Worm, Chuzzle (the only matching game I enjoy. There’s nothing like blowing up a few cute, little, fuzzy things!), and others. PopCap’s games are available in retail outlets, by directly downloading from the PopCap Games website, or for on-line play. Many of the games offer the choice of playing timed or untimed. When I read that they were releasing Peggle Dual Shot for the DS, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and pre-ordered from Amazon. I wasn’t disappointed. Combining Peggle and Peggle Nights, Dual Shot is a game you can play for a few minutes or a few hours. I’ve done both. Not exactly like the original games, it’s a great play on DS.

Last fall I learned that PopCap’s Book Worm was soon to be released; I pre-ordered this fantastic word game from Amazon. Again, not better or worse, just different. It’s both easy to learn and challenging to play, and another game that entertains for a few minutes or a few hours. Since the game saves when turned off, it’s possible to continue games throughout several sessions. PopCap games are hugely popular, and their appeal is not limited to retirees. To make me ecstatically happy, though, they should release a DS version of Chuzzle.

For those interested in playing Scrabble, it is available on DS and retails for around $30. As for Scrabble and me, there are so many negative reviews about the technical aspect of gameplay, I’ve taken a pass. I would love playing the game if it worked well, but for now absence will make my heart grow stronger. I won’t be buying Scrabble until the consumers/experts at Amazon tell me it’s been fixed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Celebrity Shocker: Sophia Loren Wears the Same Dress Twice

Us Magazine: “Sophia Loren Recycles Her Golden Globes Dress”

Horror of horrors (or OMG)!!! Sophia Loren attended the Golden Globes awards in a recycled dress. She had actually worn the stunning number once before. I understand fully the outrage Us Magazine called upon when reporting this fashion faux pas. After all, a beautiful woman showed up at a party wearing a gorgeous dress that she’d previously worn to another party. Us further damns with faint praise, “Although the dress was a repeat, the Italian actress did her best to freshen the look with new accessories.” I certainly hope the accessories were new and not something she fished out of a junk drawer. We can only forgive so much.

People are so cruel. “I am so glad you wore that, it always looks lovely on you.” Yikes! I took that as a compliment, never realizing I was actually being slammed for being so ignorant. How could I ever let the same people see me in the same outfit more than once? There were times when I’d worn the same dress to work twice in one month! The shame of it!

My second reaction (I’ll get to my first later) is that when someone shows up on the “red carpet” in vintage fashion from one of the currently fashionable fashion houses, the style reporters ooh and aah. But if it’s “vintage” from your own closet…let’s not even go there. I guess we should be thankful she didn’t pick something up at the Salvation Army Store.

Ms. Loren’s choice of a dress that she already knew was flattering, and probably one in which she was comfortable, is so fashion-forward she should get an award. She is a superb example for all of us. Couturiers would frown on this practice, but don’t we all “recycle” our clothing? Here is my first reaction: I hope Sophia Loren starts a trend. I would much rather see a ravishing dress more than once than to see the same styles executed to excess by different designers. Give me more of Gwyneth Paltrow in her “Shakespeare in Love” Academy Awards dress, and less of mermaid silhouettes and wide, deep cleavage. Lots less. In the past year lots of “stars” appeared on the red carpet in gowns that had lots of “stuff” hanging off them or strangely constructed bodices that looked painful to wear. Booties were shown all over this season; if we weren’t so brain-washed we’d know they don’t look good on anyone. Especially not Sarah Jessica Parker. And don’t get me started on those platform shoes with the sky-high heels. Christian Louboutin, indeed! These women must have something that would look good on them in one of their closets. Must they always go for something “unique” or “original” when so little of fashion is? There’s a reason their pictures end up captioned “What was she thinking?”

Oh, I’m not naïve. I know celebrities’ gowns are “provided” by the designers, that they borrow their jewels, and that the red carpet scene is extremely competitive. Who will be best dressed? Who will be cited by the fashion police? Remember, what Angelina Jolie wears today will be on the backs of American women soon, and at ValueMart in two years. Colors you see on this season’s red carpet will be done to death next season.

Designers who need to showcase their originality too often delve into the bizarre, and celebrities allow themselves to be used as advertisements for these creations. I don’t believe that every clothing item should be practical, but, c’mon, open-toed boots? Our young women need better examples and role models. The fashion lessons can be applied to other aspects of their lives as well. Just think, if celebrities can wear dresses to more than one function, what else they could do. Maybe Britney Spears could recycle Red Bull cans and use them for pencil cups or make-up brush holders.

It’s time for a "less is more" style approach--the less you have in your closet the more you get out of it. It says so much about us when we buy jeans that look like they’ve been worn to the point of being worn out, but don’t actually wear our clothes out. Denim designed to look ripped up is good, a frayed cuff is not. This philosophy is constantly reinforced by magazines that deride someone famous for going out looking like the rest of us. Clearly, they tell us, the way you look is not acceptable.

Fashion is a good thing. The fashion and garment industries provide jobs for many people (even if some of them are making only twelve cents an hour). We need to remember, though, that clothing is a necessity, fashion is not. Us closed the article by asking its readers, “Tell Us: Do you think it's okay for stars to repeat their red carpet looks?” I’d normally hope that “stars” don’t look to us (or Us) for fashion advice, but as of this writing the overwhelming response was basically, “why not?”

“Why not?” indeed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lent: The Cure

For Christians, those folks who aspire to be more like Jesus Christ, personal sacrifice is an expected element of the spiritual path. Christians are not the only ones who sacrifice, just ask any mom, soldier, or humanitarian. Mom, of course, is the only one who will go into great detail on the subject. Giving up something we enjoy for the sake of another is not limited by religion. Parents often make choices, such as Jane’s education vs. touring Europe, and flat screen TV vs. Wii. People make sacrifices with (and within) their careers, choosing social work over medicine (or public defender over corporate law). Although this article is about “giving up for Lent,” the implications reach beyond the Christian denominations.

Most of my life I thought that giving something up for Lent was either a church-imposed, needless ritual or just silly. I didn’t have a clue how not eating chocolate honored God. For the last ten or twelve years, I have observed Lent by abstaining from things I like. I take my Lenten obligations seriously; for me, it’s a promise I have made to God. One year I gave up beef, caramel, and sleeping late. Since I have few responsibilities, I get out of bed whenever I please. So my sacrifice was to be out of bed by 9:00 a.m. every day. I admit, I failed once and got up at 9:01. I did feel guilty. Giving up caramel was interesting because I was pretty much the caramel addict. I don’t particularly like chocolate (I hear the gasps out there!), but I did end up occasionally substituting chocolate at caramel time. Subsequently, I lost my taste for caramel, as well as chocolate, and seldom indulge in either. Giving up beef that year was the most traumatic. I’m a flexitarian, which means that I eat meat, but not much of it. Dropping beef for 46 days (technically, Lent is 40 days because it does not include Sundays), should have been a no-brainer. And it was. Until St. Patrick’s Day. You know, corned beef. I’m not Irish, but on St. Patrick’s Day I do serve the traditional St. Pat’s dinner, corned beef and cabbage. As the big day approached and I could practically taste it, I suddenly realized, “Oh yeah, corned BEEF!” I was disconsolate. I did not, however, break my promise. We had corned beef and cabbage on Easter.

An elemental aspect of giving something up for Lent is a commitment or promise. Sacrifice does not have a season, though, and you can give something up at any time, for any amount of time. “I will not chew gum for a month,” “I’ll never tell another lie.” It shouldn’t be something offhand (“I swear if the next light is green, I’ll give up potato chips”) and it helps if you consciously make the promise to someone else (your child or parent, God, yourself, your spouse). Incentives for adhering to the commitment are that if you don’t, you are disappointing someone important to you (or something, like the planet), and the knowledge that you are only as good as your word. Declaring sacrifices is a lot like making New Year’s resolutions, but it becomes more serious because we are obligating ourselves.

What is the purpose of sacrifice? For me, Lent is a reminder of what I believe in and why, and my sacrifice honors that. I learned from one of my Lenten sacrifices that it can be life-changing.

The year before I gave up caramel, beef, and sleeping late, I gave up beef and spending money on myself. Food and any needed medications were exempt, as were a variety of items that most middle-class people would not consider luxuries, such as soap, detergent, and cleaning supplies. For a shopaholic, this was a major commitment. Despite knowing that I had plenty of everything (not just enough, too much), I was a fanatical shopper. I dedicated certain days of the week to shopping, and it was as much a part of my life as eating or sleeping. I was a slave to bargains.

Temptation was always there, since I had to, at least, go to the grocer’s on a regular basis, and there aren’t very many grocers around. Every grocery store carries goods that can not in any way be defined as “groceries,” i.e., “foodstuffs and various household supplies” (thefreedictionary. com). I succumbed only once, and that was at Dollar General where I bought a “cute” $1 pad. When I got home with my purchases I realized I had goofed (I put the pad away until after Lent). My husband offered, once, to buy me something that I “really really really” wanted, which technically would not be breach of contract, since HE would be spending money on me. After much self-argument and Chip’s repeated “Are you sure?,” I declined. I felt it would be cheating.

When Lent was over, I felt very good about what I had accomplished. Seven weeks and I’d spent only $1 frivolously. I didn’t expect a reward for what I had done; I regarded it as partial payment for something I’d already received. You can interpret the results any way you please. This doesn’t prove the value of Lenten sacrifices; it illustrates the value of honoring a commitment.

The fact is, I stopped mindless shopping. Expecting not to benefit but to suffer from the experience, I had become a better person. Another lesson learned: sacrifice does not equal suffering. Did I grow up? Did abstinence breed contempt? Did God reward me? Was it shock therapy? What ultimately happened is open to interpretation, and a variety of people will have a variety of opinions. However, nearly every time I give something up, and I honor the commitment, I win (let’s not count the getting-up-at-a-decent-time incident). Whether it’s breaking habits, routines, or lifestyles, I benefit. Maybe I don’t like to break promises, maybe I don’t like having promises broken. Either way, without making a conscious attempt to improve myself, I improved. The money I didn’t spend on myself I used to buy food for my church’s food bank. The time I didn’t waste in stores, I spent on things that were interesting to me, whether art or sewing or reading. Finally, Chip and I could stop having that conversation that always ends with “…but where are we going to put all this stuff?” One of the things we normally learn when we are deprived of something to which we’ve become accustomed is to appreciate that thing. I found learning that I didn’t need that thing in the first place is even more important.

You don’t have to be a Christian to make a vow, and it doesn’t matter to whom you make it. What matters is that your word is your bond, especially to yourself.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The One Way to Lose Weight

In an article in the January 11, 2010, issue of The Mountaineer (Haywood County, NC), Garland Scott addresses concerns about obesity, its effect on healthcare, and the rising statistics of both adult and childhood obesity. For the record, Scott is president and CEO of UnitedHealthcare of North Carolina. Among the statistics Scott presents are the report that 27% of Americans are obese, the projection that 47.9% of North Carolinians will be obese within a decade, and the observation that childhood obesity rates have doubled in the past three decades. He is promoting education as the means to avert this “epidemic.”

While education is important (ask anyone who’s got one--or anyone who doesn’t), it appears to be a very slow route to achieving the goal of a healthy America. If eating/activity education is a success, it will take generations of it to turn the tide. There are many causes of obesity and overweight, and many of them are not included in curricula.

What is the difference between “overweight” and “obese”? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), both terms refer to “ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy…also…ranges of weight that have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems.” Overweight is defined, for an adult, as a “body mass index” (BMI) between 25 and 29.9; 30.0 or higher indicates obesity. Here is the formula, provided by the National Institutes of Health, to determine your BMI: multiply your weight in pounds by 703; divide that answer by your height in inches; divide that answer by your height in inches again. A 5’5”, 135-pound individual would have a BMI of 22.4 (18.5-24.9 is considered “healthy.”), a 5’8”, 270-pound individual would have a BMI of 41.0 (morbidly obese).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one billion people are overweight, 300 million of them are clinically obese. WHO declares obesity “a worldwide epidemic.” Epidemic is not the proper term for this problem since an epidemic is a widespread outbreak of an infectious disease; the emphasis here is on infection and contagion. There are many causes of obesity, but so far no one has claimed it’s caused by a germ.

One of the major concerns, besides health and mortality, is the skyrocketing cost of medical care. There are a host of diseases and disease conditions that are caused or exacerbated by excess weight, besides the well publicized diabetes and heart disease. Scott, in his article Obesity a statewide concern, cites projections that the cost to the State of North Carolina within ten years will be $11.14 billion dollars ($1473 per every adult). Educating children about healthful eating and the importance of physical activity can not do much to alleviate that now. And the fix is needed now.

The government has not yet tried to put us all on crash diets, politicians can’t afford to do that to us. So how does America save itself from the obesity beast? Diets, diet plans, diet clubs, diet books, diet pills, and diet gurus are not the answer. The problem with all of these is that once the results are achieved the former fatty wants to return to satisfying, not healthful, food. Satisfaction here is not based on physical needs so much as emotional needs. Although some authors and diet designers address the issue of emotional needs, the solutions offered usually concentrate on a fast fix, because dieters are results-oriented.

The health insurance companies should take a much more active role in defeating the fat monster. It does not have just one cause—lazy people with no self-control—there are many causes (even our DNA is being blamed) and they require more than one solution. Insurers should aggressively promote the most successful weight loss method currently in use, bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery is not for everyone, but it is for those at least 80-100 pounds overweight. For the uninsured, the cost ranges from $15,000 to $35,000, and there are several types of surgery, including stapling and banding. Insurance companies do not pay providers what an uninsured person pays--$15,000 is a lot of money, but the cost of healthcare for a morbidly obese individual over a lifetime is considerably more. Consider the cost of diabetic care or heart surgery. As in all weight-loss methods, there is some obesity recidivism; however the rate with bariatric surgery is extremely low. The health insurers have an awful lot to gain, if an awful lot of us lose weight. By promoting weight- loss surgery and making it accessible to those who need it, they will be doing a service not only to America but also to themselves. And isn’t that what health insurance companies are all about?

Bariatric surgery is not elective or cosmetic surgery; it is a life-saving procedure. It is also a quality-of-life-improving procedure. It’s not fun to be fat. There are some morbidly obese people who profess to enjoy being fat, and I am always astounded to hear this. Fat people’s lives are more difficult, physically, socially, and emotionally. They are discriminated against and the target of jokes. Climbing stairs is difficult, running can be impossible. Compliments are scarce, “well meaning” advice plentiful, mirrors depressing, and dieting disheartening. I would not promote vanity surgery. If someone is 100 or more pounds overweight, vanity may play a part, but this surgery is necessary.

The terms “fat” and “fatty” may seem harsh in this land of political correctness, but as a “recovered” fatty, I stand by them. Ten years ago, on March 8, 2000, I underwent bariatric surgery. I went from being obese (BMI 37.9) to healthy (BMI 22.4) and have maintained this for ten years, with little effort. I have changed from being a draw on my communities to being a contributor. As an asthmatic who couldn’t roll over in bed without having an attack from the effort, I have experienced through the combination of weigh-loss and preventive medicine a reduction from my four or five daily attacks to five or six a year. There have been a number of other health and emotional benefits as well. My life has improved to the point where I want to go up to obese people and beg, “Please. You’re killing yourself. Have this surgery.”

I am not disparaging education, but I question its value in a healthcare crisis. An awful lot of time and money has been expended on tobacco education, but we are still dying from smoking- and chewing-related disease. Sometimes it’s imperative to take more than one approach, and this is one of them. Please, yes, educate our youth on the importance of fitness and healthful choices, but please also eliminate the threat that obesity poses to adults by eliminating obesity.