Sunday, June 13, 2010

I Know What I Weigh

I know how much I weigh, so you don't need to tell me I've lost weight.

Well, strictly speaking, that isn't true, since I don't actually know what I weigh. But I'll address that a little later in this post.

But here's the thing: In the last five years or so, I think I've lost almost 35 pounds -- most of it in the past few years -- and people I barely know are making comments to me about it. It gets sort of tiresome after a while -- especially when they ask how I did it, since I don't even know -- and I guess I'd be happier if the loss of weight weren't so obvious to everyone, but I suppose it's still better than gaining 35 pounds.

If you read my previous post, you know that I was diagnosed with cancer about five years ago, so you might jump to the conclusion that I'm being slowly eaten alive by cancer, and I'm losing weight accordingly.

That idea had crossed my mind, and I still haven't ruled it out, but my oncologist doesn't think it's a factor. He tends not to jump to conclusions, however. So far, in my conversations with him, he has jumped to one conclusion and has refrained from jumping to two others. But as far as my weight loss and cancer are concerned, he doesn't think there's a connection.

He says that people with cancer lose weight when they don't eat enough -- for example, if they can't tolerate their medicines or if they're prone to nausea or if they're just too sick to want to eat.

So far none of those conditions holds true for me. I haven't had any side-effects from the medication, I can't remember the last time I felt nauseous, and I continue to eat like a two-headed pig.

And one other thing: when I said I lost 35 pounds in the last five years, that isn't necessarily true. Since I don't have a scale at home, I never weighed myself. It wasn't until the last five years that I got weighed regularly, because that's when I started seeing doctors regularly. And because I don't have a scale at home, I don't know what I really weigh, since they weigh you when you're fully dressed at all the doctors' offices I've been to.

So perhaps it's appropriate to explore some other possibilities.

Since I'm always weighed with all my clothes on, maybe my weight is remaining constant and my clothing is losing weight. A simple investigation of the lint trap on my clothes dryer seems to confirm this possibility, but I'd have to guess that my clothing has, at most, lost only one or two pounds.

The second possibility has to do with exercise. I know, usually when people stop exercising they get disgusting and flabby and fat, but not always. In my case, I know I've lost some muscle mass, mostly in my thighs. I don't know if I've lost 30 pounds of thigh muscle, but I do know that it's easier to fit into pants.

Or maybe my metabolism is changing as I grow older. I know that as you age, it's harder to stay lean, but maybe I'm an exception. I don't have anything scientific to back this up -- all I have is the fourth possibility, which is that I'm entering the next phase of my metamorphosis.

And by the way, by "metamorphosis," I don't mean that I'm mutating into something (since I believe, possibly incorrectly, that mutation can only occur from one generation to another) -- I'm thinking more along the lines of what happened to Gregor Samsa in the short story "The Metamorphosis." Just to refresh your memory, I'll quote the first sentence from the Willa and Edwin Muir translation: "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."

And as a further side-note, in casual discussions about the story, people often talk about how Gregor Samsa turned into a cockroach, but in two of the English translations I know of -- the Muir translation and a translation by Ian Johnston that I just found online -- no mention of the word "cockroach" is ever made.

So I don't know what the next step of my metamorphosis will be -- or even if there will be one. Keep in mind that at this point, it's only a theory, but my guess is that whatever is causing me to lose weight is probably a combination of the possibilities I mentioned above, along with any explanations I'm likely to think of in the future.

But I don't think I'll come up with any future explanations, because the truth is, I don't really care that much. For the last three months or so, my weight hasn't changed at all.