LITTLE JABS OF
9 November 2002
There is a feeling you get...little jabs of pleasure...whenever a swordfish takes
the hook, or a great bullfighter enters the ring....
It's a quote from my favorite movie, A Star Is Born (the Judy Garland version,
of course). The alcoholic movie star, Norman Maine, is trying to explain to the young
singer, Esther Blodgett, how he felt the first time he heard her sing--that special
feeling that you get on rare occasions.
The phrase came back to me as I leaned down to pick up a piece of paper off the floor
by my desk. Now that may not seem like an event worth of a little jab of pleasure, but I
was remembering a year ago when I would have to go through all sorts of contortions to get
past my huge belly to pick up a piece of paper on the floor while seated in my
chair--often I just gave up, got up, held on to the desk, leaned over and picked it up.
There was a similar jab of pleasure when I needed to get something out of the back of a
bookcase shelf and realized I could get down on my knees, remove the item, and then get
back up again without feeling like a beached whale.
There was a jab of pleasure when I tried on some size 22 pants and realized that they
were much too big. I remember only a year ago when I could barely squeeze into a size 26.
And there was a big jab of pleasure I felt during a patient's exam recently. When a
woman is being examined I stand at the head of the exam table as a chaperon (required by
law when a male doctor is examining a female). On the floor by the head of the table is
the office scale. This isn't one of the balance scales that you see in most larger
doctors' offices. It's a floor scale like you and I have in our bathrooms.
I stepped on the scale to verify the weight that had been recorded at WeightWatchers on
Tuesday. They match, fortunately. But then I looked at the number where I had started.
Holy cow (literally!) The pointer on that scale had moved halfway around the circle--and
I know people tell you to go out and try to lift an item that is equivalent to the
weight you've lost (I don't think I could lift 81 lbs, even in my new buff jockette
condition) to get an appreciation of the weight you've been carrying around, but somehow
seeing the dial on that scale was more meaningful to me. That was no little jab of
pleasure--that was a huge jab of pleasure.
Perhaps the biggest jab of pleasure came at my doctor's appointment a week or so ago.
First of all, it's a wonderful jab of pleasure to want to be weighed and to be
unembarrassed by numbers which would have embarrassed me terribly 30 years ago. (I
remember once feeling horrible when one of the kids developed a case of worms and the
whole family had to be treated. In order to know how much medication to give each person,
the (female) pediatrician had to know how much we each weighed. At that time I was about
200 lbs and hated to admit that to her. "No woman should have to admit that,"
she said to me, as she decided not to record my weight on paper, as a kindness to me. 200
lbs no longer sounds huge to me...in fact, it sounds downright slim! It's all in your
But the bigger jab of pleasure came when the doctor and I discussed putting me on some
medication to lower my blood pressure (even though I'm doing all the right things, the
pressure remains marginally elevated, because, he tells me, of the diabetes). Before
writing the prescription, he checked my lab results on the computer--cholesterol, A1C (the
test for blood sugar level), etc.
"Well, I certainly can't treat you for this," he exclaimed. "Your
test results are great!!!"
I don't think any doctor has ever said that to me. There's always been some part of my
lifestyle that needs changing (always having to do with exercise, usually having to do
with diet). So it's a wonderful jab of pleasure to be told that I'm doing everything
It seems that there are a lot of jabs of pleasure these days, all of them having to do
with embarking on this new lifestyle. On days when I might think wistfully of the time
when I could eat a cube of butter and half a loaf of bread in an afternoon, I need to
remember how much more pleasant today's jabs of pleasure are compared to the fleeting feel
of some comfort food in my mouth.