It didn’t start out like that. Although my wife was just a bit overweight when we married, the condition grew like a slow-moving cancer over a decade. She enjoyed eating and had a fondness for sweets. I didn’t really notice any of the telltale signs until it was too late. We ate out and she ordered a dessert at many opportunities. We had ice cream and chocolate in the house most times and snack foods became more prevalent. By the time my daughter was born, she was 75 pounds overweight and the pregnancy didn’t help. The additional weight gained became part of her body indefinitely. We used to play golf, tennis, bowl, and go for walks together. Now she was unable to be as active, so we stayed in more. That led to even more eating and snacking.
We always liked to travel and continued the trend, even with my daughter now in the picture. But the walking tours took their toll and time in the motel room always involved eating. It was shortly after my daughter turned five that my wife noticed knee problems. A doctor affirmed the early signs of arthritis, which ran in her family. So now, not only was the weight a problem, the degenerative condition she contracted would get worse as time went on.
Over the years, I had tried to be supportive. I would mention the weight gain on occasion and suggest better eating habits. I never brought sweets or snacks into the house on my own. But, she would buy certain foods or, when I went to store, ask me to get them. If I refused, a mini-argument took place and I let it go. I encouraged exercise and had a slew of machines from exercycles, to rowing machines, and treadmills. I became the only one using them. So years passed and the weight kept piling on.
Over time, she had tried every diet known to man: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Slimfast, the Scarsdale Diet, the Grapefruit Diet, diet soda, diet cookies, diet ice cream, diet everything. Every time she lost some weight, she would gain it back and more. Our family doctor counseled her to no avail. She was quite simply, addicted to food.
The problem became acute. She was slowing down and unable to join my daughter and myself on simple walks at home or on vacation. She would stay in her chair and eat. Her knees were causing her a great deal of pain and she began cortisone shots and took handfuls of Tylenol in between, Her weight was over 300 pounds and I feared for her health. I finally couldn’t stand it anymore and took drastic action. I began reading about a surgical option.
Without going into great detail, we explored gastric bypass together. It was spring and she was not happy with what the process involved. After pleading to allow her to try dieting for a desperate last time, I agreed. By that fall, she had grown by 25 more pounds and acceded to my wishes, admitting defeat. We had the surgery, but it was too little too late. The doctor told me that her heart had been under too much strain for too long with all that additional weight. She died at age 55.
This article is a warning and love letter to all spouses facing a similar issue. Do them and yourself a favor and get help before it’s too late. I waited and my wife paid the ultimate price. Who knows what would have happened if I had acted years sooner? I’m not sure if she would have done anything back then, but at least we should have talked. I know that obesity is a killer and few victims live a long and productive life into their later years. I know that my wife is reading this in heaven and would want you too, to save a life, if possible.
Jeffrey Hauser’s latest book is, “Inside the Yellow Pages, ” which can be viewed at http://www.poweradbook.com
He was a sales consultant for the Bell System Yellow Pages for nearly 25 years. He graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Advertising and has a Master's Degree in teaching. He had his own advertising agency in Scottsdale, Arizona and ran a consulting and design firm, ABC Advertising. Currently, he is the Marketing Director for thenurseschoice.com, a Health Information and Doctor Referral site.