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October 14, 2009

To Liposuction or Not!

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – “I like my tummy soft and round, not flat and hard like the cold hard ground” I sang to myself. These were remnants of a song I had heard on one of those PBS radio shows featuring local artists from around the country. I don’t remember the tune except it was country, but the words have stuck with me ever since.


When I quit smoking 25 or so years ago, it was the best thing I had ever done except for the weight gain. I usually went on a diet, quickly lost it and put it back on again in a never ending cycle.


For about five years before I went to Malaysia, I religiously visited a health spa. The trainer put me on a series of exercises and I strictly followed the list. The bicycle, arm things, leg upper and downer ‘cises and the butt crunchers. There must have been a series of 15 or so performances I did every three days followed by a sauna and a dip in the pool.


When I came to Borneo, I vowed to keep up the regimen. The exercise equipment, in the first place I lived, was broken, but my jungle trekking kept the weight off. Identifying trees, searching for orchids and bird watching kept me hiking the trails and maintaining or dropping a few pounds.


The rains made it impossible to get any outdoor physical exercise when the monsoon season hit. I became sedentary for two-and-half months and spent my time in the museum library researching Alfred Wallace.


The weight crept on to be lost again during improved weather with expeditions into the forest with various scientific groups. I was proud of myself. My scientific curiosity coupled with strenuous climbs through the forest melted the pounds. My diet was only oriental, veggies, some small chunks of meat and a curry puff for breakfast.


I traveled back to the States for a month and went berserk. Western food! No more rice and veggies for awhile! You know those breakfast combos at the diners? Yup, every morning. Extra bacon, sausage and scrapple please. Eggs, two of course, with slices of toast with butter.


I convinced myself I would eat lightly at lunch, following the example of that guy on television by eating at Subway. It didn’t work. I made every excuse to go out to lunch and enjoy hearty helpings, especially of French fries. God, they were good. Then dinners with foods I had missed: steaks, pork chops, baked potatoes with sour cream and butter, more butter, greens, rolls and the deserts! Chocolate cakes!


After a month, my expandable shorts with the stretch waist could not stretch any more. More jungle trekking I thought, but it was such an effort and besides, I was tired of the mosquitoes and the leeches. Then the disease kept flaring and that made exercise even more impossible. Truth be told, I got lazy.


LIPOSUCTION! I could afford that. Just go in for an afternoon, have the stuff vacuumed out, stay on a strict diet with moderate exercise and all would be fine. I would be sexy again.


“I want the body of Michael Phelps and can you add a few inches in height,” I responded to Dr Peter Lee, the consultant plastic surgeon who asked about my expectations. He had done his studies in Great Britain, I had checked, much better than the qualifications of the local shaman who lived in the jungle nearby.


I elected to have the procedure performed locally instead of Thailand. Although Bangkok was cheaper, I would have to pay for the flights from Kuching as well as hotel bills. Besides, I wanted to return to my condo afterwards to recover from the non recovery that I was promised.


Dr. Lee and I discussed the realities and the major hitch was my neurological condition. I e-mailed my doctor in the states, and Dr. Lee checked with neurological experts here in Malaysia. We both could not think of a reason why this should not move forward. My babe magnet body was almost on the way.


The cost for the procedure is $1,500, cheap by any standards. In Bangkok, the price for a breast augmentation – $2,600; breast lift $2,600; face lift $2,400; liposuction $1,200; tummy tuck $2,700 and nose job, $540. If you are so inclined, sex re assignment, male to female $6,500, while the opposite costs $15,100. One must include airfare return from your home country plus hotel bills and meals.


I started shopping for new clothes. Gone would be the XL sizes I have been wearing. I figured I could drop down to a medium at least. No more exercise bikes, machines and other instruments of torture. All I would have to do is carefully watch my diet.


Then the e-mail came from my doctor in the states.


“I like my tummy soft and round, not flat and hard like the cold hard ground,” I sang.


…life is good…


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