Fat-fighter Feherty battles squididdlies, catheters and a nurse named 'Joy'

Fat-fighter Feherty battles squididdlies, catheters and a nurse named ‘Joy’


Correct or not, I credit my regular readers with enough
intelligence to know by now that I’m not right in the head, but
once again, folks, it appears to be time for another therapy-by-writing
session. I apologize for using you, but frankly this is about
me, so just keep reading. All my life I’ve battled with my weight,
and when I look back I can see a direct correlation between the
times during which I was successful and productive and the
kind of physical shape I was in at the time. Any time I won a
tournament, I was running and not drinking too much, at least
by Irish standards. The same applied when I had a big project, like
a book, or my children’s English
homework. But as in Newton’s
law, each success was balanced
by an equal and opposite failure.
For me, “success” was always followed
by a period of “excess.” I
would get lazy, eat and drink too
much, quit exercising, and then,
only when financial circumstances
forced me, I’d get out my running
shoes, lose the blubber, and
win enough money to start the
whole cycle again.

The only fun part about losing
weight is putting it back
on again. Just like anyone who
gets addicted to anything, I was
making the critical mistake of
confusing fun with happiness.
Now that I’m four years sober I
know the difference, but I’m an
addict, so I also know it will always be something. For most of
the last four years it has been about a half-gallon of ice cream
a day, along with an insane cycling habit.

Shortly after becoming an American citizen, I noticed that
once again, at 5′ 10″ and 240 lbs., I was a fat sack of crap, and
was struck perhaps by my first uniquely American thought.
“Wait a minute, Tubby,” my lard-assed subconscious said to
my aching back via my swollen front as I was trying to pry my
bulbous love-handles out of She Who Must Be Obeyed’s car.
“This is America, and you’re an American. Here, you’re guaranteed
life, liberty, and the pursuit of skinniness. Dude! Why
not buy yourself thin?”

The following week, I woke up in the hospital with six tiny
wounds in my abdomen stapled shut, 75 percent less
stomach, and a screaming dose of the squididdlies
that would last a week. Through overconfidence and
a series of mental mistakes, this cost me exactly seven
pairs of underpants, five of them in one day. No matter,
I was on my way back to 170 lbs., and for the first time in my
life, I knew I could stay there. The gastric-sleeve procedure is
normally a one-night in-and-out experience, but normal is not
what I am. Most of you will know that in order to escape a hospital
after surgery, one has to be able to both pass gas (never been a
problem) and urine. But with a prostate gland the size of a life
preserver, details were sketchy on the piddling part.

So I had to be catheterized, and sweet Mother of Lee Trevino
on a velvet-quilted skateboard, what an ordeal! A regular soft
catheter wouldn’t go through the tiny caliber with which I’ve
been squirting Morse code into
the toilet for years, so a harder,
flexible-tipped wee jobby called
a Foley catheter had to be hammered
into my southern plumbing,
and suddenly Little Dave
developed an astonishing ability
to duck and dive—of his own
volition! He was like the cartoon
worm avoiding Elmer Fudd’s fish
hook! If I had known that he was
capable of such rapid independent
movement, I might have had him
try out for conductor of the New
York Philharmonic years ago. I
always wanted to make the Arts
section of the New York Times…

Anyway, in a cruel irony, the
nurse in charge of this procedure
was named “Joy,” and bless her
heart, she almost had to have me
restrained in the bed like a mental patient. I screamed abuse at
her, yodeled The Sound of Music, and threatened to disembowel the
Surgeon General with a broken bottle before Joy got it done—but
then it got worse! Before I was capable of wringing out the pitiful
dribblage required for my release, this torture had to be repeated
four times, rendering Joy incapable of finding her happy place,
and me a hollow-eyed basket case, trapped in the corner of the
room like a rabid wolverine.

But that was then. Now, if I say it myself, at 52 years old I
am 170 lbs., with a new hairstyle I like to call “Insane Civil War
General,” an utterly magnificent panty-waisted specimen of windswept
and interesting manliness, rivaled only by the great Barry
Melrose in his prime. I can eat whatever I want, I am taking half
the amount of insanity medicine I was previously on,
and in my greatest triumph, one of those nine Camilo
Villegases now owes me lunch. Of course if I eat more
than six bites of it I’m liable to woof it all over him,
but whatever, that works for me too.