Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Post-Birthday Hangover


Birthday Card designed and created by Kristina Daniels.

...you know, the one when you wake up and realize you not only have a mile-long list of stuff to do today but also have to catch up on all the stuff you didn't do yesterday because you were busy goofing off? Yeah. that hangover.

It should have been a great day, really. Due to unexpected circumstances, I got to see my parents and my brother, as well as one of my best friends, who made me the card you see above and brought me a bouquet of flowers as well. (Yes, men are allowed to like flowers. I checked.) I got an awesome lightweight laptop from my in-laws, who wanted me to have something to write with while I was in the hospital and recovering from surgery next month. I had dozens of birthday wishes from friends and family all over the country.

So why didn't I enjoy my birthday more?

In a word: food.

I wanted to go have a beer or three to celebrate. I couldn't.

I wanted to go out to dinner somewhere, like I've done for my birthday every year that I can remember. Not only was this a bad idea from a diet perspective, but I couldn't exactly go by myself. (Lor is still recovering and on a liquid diet besides.)

I wanted a birthday cake and ice cream so bad it almost felt like physical pain.

I got through the day successfully, managing to stay under my daily max of 105 grams of carbs with room to spare. But I was miserable all day. I smiled while visiting with everyone, did my best to be nice to Lor, and spent most of the day trying not to think about food. It was hard - probably harder than any day I have experienced since the first week of our low-carb diet switch. As a result, I was probably not as friendly as I should have been, and my nursing care for Lor definitely suffered. As did all the stuff that I should've been doing around the house. Which I am getting to do today. Which is not making me very happy.

See a pattern here?

At the beginning of this pre-surgical process, I was really worried about being restricted from various foods, because fat men love food, right? (And no, I am not afraid of the term "fat", political correctness notwithstanding. That is probably a whole other post.) These days, I am beginning to resent my attraction to food. These overwhelming cravings just drive me crazy - they make me feel like an addict in recovery. Ok, ok - I am an addict in recovery. But that doesn't make me like it any better.

Many post-bariatric surgery patients talk about how their entire relationship with food had changed. They no longer want to eat, but now look at food as nothing more than fuel - the body has to be "gassed up" every once in a while, but otherwise they do not enjoy eating. And that whole idea makes me sad, too. Because deep down, I don't want my love of food to be removed from my life.

Because I love eating so much that it has made me obese.

Someone help me off this carousel - it is making me so dizzy that I want to throw up.

Looking For The Nearest Trash Can,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Another Appointment Closer



Patient Progress: Lor managed a half mile walk last night (logged above by Map My Walk). 5 days out from surgery, mind you. She is setting the bar impossibly high for my surgical recovery, I have to tell you.

In the midst of all the commotion surrounding Lor's surgery and recovery, it has been pretty easy to forget that I am going through this process as well. For example, last week when Lor dropped a whole 8 pounds around her surgery? Yeah, I gained 2 pounds. I am not holding it against myself - I ate more fast food last week than I had eaten in the previous 2 months or so. Hard to make good food choices when you are shuttling back and forth from a borrowed room in your parent's house to the hospital. In defense of the hospital, they did have high-protein, low-carb items available, like omelets and salads. They even had Muscle Milk protein shakes! I should've just stuck with eating there.

These are the lines I am rehearsing, as today I have to go into meet my nutritionist for my final dietary meeting. After today, I will have seen her a total of 6 times - 3 visits with Lor, and now a total of 3 for me. I am not sure there is a heck of a lot left for her to say to me at this point that we haven't covered in the previous 5 meetings in one way or another. But, it represents one of the final 2 steps before I begin my 2 weeks of liquid-only diet to prep for surgery in July, so I want to make sure I make it to the appointment, even though I do have a surgical patient recovering at home.

Luckily for me, another one of our friends has stepped up and offered to come hang out with Lor during the hours when I will be gone today. What we ever did do deserve the support we are getting from our friends and family members, I do not know. I am constantly reading horror stories about bariatric patients being forced to go this alone, due to lack of support from those closest to them. I honestly do not know how they succeed at this, and my hat is off to them.

Tomorrow is also my 46th birthday, which makes me feel a little weird. Why? Because I will weigh less tomorrow (267) than I did ten years ago on my 36th birthday (285). I am reminded of the Bowflex commercials from a few years back: "I am 44, and in better shape than I was when I was 24!" Heck, for that matter, next year at 47 I may very well be in better shape than I was at 27.

How's that for a brain bender?

No special plans for the birthday either, despite all the emailed coupons for free pancakes, free stir-fry, free ice cream and free pizza. This year I will just stay home with my lettuce wraps and chicken salads, and try to work off the 2 pounds I earned last week. I don't want two weeks in a row of bad dietary choices, right?

Mmmm....Lettuce,

- Hawkwind

Monday, June 20, 2016

Post-Surgical Reflections




The guest room is empty, the phone has stopped ringing, and calm has descended over the house once more.

Guess we'll call this one a successful weight loss surgery, right?

After a week of chaos and worry, hundreds of communications passing back and forth, and more activity than Misdirected has ever seen, Lor is resting comfortably in bed, binge-watching Heartland and managing almost a whole protein shake a day.  Her color looks good, her bruises are (mostly) fading, and she is doing laps around the house regularly to get back into fighting trim. We might even try walking up and down the driveway this afternoon, just for giggles and grins.

The post-surgical changes are pretty remarkable already. She has no interest in eating at all - her mother and I have been having to remind her to drink water and protein shakes. She has deemed us "water Nazis", and not looked kindly on our attempts to keep her from being re-hospitalized due to dehydration.  Now that her Mom has gone home to catch up on all the sleep she has missed this last week, I am the sole arbiter of hydration and nutritional discipline in the house, a position that has not made me very popular. Lor has vowed revenge when it is my time to go under the knife next month. I tremble in fear.

Her weight is also already dramatically responding - with a total weight loss of 8 pounds in the last 7 days. It is quite humorous to watch her clothes falling off her as she walks back and forth down our main hallway. Next week, when she intends to return to "civilization", I am sure one of our first stops will be at the thrift store to pick up some new clothes. No point in buying brand new, full price stuff just yet, right? This rapid weight loss can last up to a year after the surgery.

Most importantly, her blood sugar levels dropped to normal and have stayed there since the surgery. We continue to hope for a full remission of her Diabetes but won't get official confirmation of that happy state for another couple of months. But so far, so good.

There have been lots of discussions between the two of us about lifestyle changes from here on out. Lor had expected to maybe lose a few pounds, but was mainly concerned about addressing her Diabetes. However, at this point, she is already within shooting distance of her weight back in high school! Similarly, I had hoped to maybe get back down to around 250 pounds when everything was said and done.

Today I am at 267 - and I am still 5 weeks out from surgery.

We are no longer dealing with questions like "Will this work?" We are now moving into "Where will this stop? and "Who the heck will we be when this is all over with?" Neither one of us has any clear idea of what our lives are going to look like 50, or 75, or even 100 pounds from now. It is tremendously exciting and completely terrifying, all at the same time.

One last time - thanks to everyone who stayed plugged in during Lor's surgery. It meant more than you can ever know to have so many people so interested and concerned about her status and well-being. We will keep you all updated with her progress now that her time in the trenches has truly begun.

Able To Breathe Again,

- Hawkwind

Friday, June 17, 2016

It Is Still Friday, Right?


2 PM in Albuquerque, NM. The recovering patient is asleep in her own bed, my mother-in-law is cleaning my house from stem to stern, and I am hiding in my office, "working."

It has been a hectic 24+ hours since I last posted here. Lor was walked around the hospital floor several times last night, discovered the reduced capacity of her new stomach pouch the hard way (no room for error on drinking just a little too much anymore!), and been awakened by hospital staff asking "Are you sleeping?"every two hours.The hospital staff members have been great, but anyone can tell you that a hospital is no place to get well.

So, by 6 AM this morning, Lor, her mother and I were all sitting around the hospital room, waiting for her release. A doctor showed up promising freedom at about 7 AM, and by 11 AM or so (you know, hospital time) Lor was finally out the door and on her way home. She arrived here at noon or so, and is now resting as comfortably as you can with 5 new holes punched through your abdomen, and the MIL and I are doing the best we can to avoid interrupting that rest. 

Lor is actually doing pretty well today, all things considered. Her mobility is good, she has had little interest in pain meds, and her biological functions are slowly returning to normal. Once the post-surgical inflammation recedes a bit we will get a "real" idea of what her new stomach capacity is. Right now she can only have a couple of sips of anything before she is forced to quit for half an hour or so. It seems slow to us, but she is right on target according to her medical team. We are doing our best to not get in the way of the folks that do hundreds of these a year, even when certain things seem weird. Not easy for control freaks like Lor and I.

For this weekend, we plan to just let her recover, walk her around the house (slowly), and get this healing process underway. I continue to hope for a steady recovery for her, but knowing her tendencies it may be necessary to apply the brakes now and again. If she had it her way, she would be ready to run a marathon tomorrow.

I will let everyone know how the process is going on Monday morning. Enjoy your Father's Day weekend!

Very, Very Tired,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, June 16, 2016

There's Got To Be A Morning After

6:00 AM. So early that even the nesting birds are wanting to know "What the heck are you doing up so early, man?" as I walk by their nests.

The good news, since I know you have all been waiting for it, is that Lor came through the surgery 100% successfully. Her surgeon nearly gave us all a collective heart-attack when she emerged after only 45 minutes of surgery, but, no, the news was nothing more significant than that the surgery was completed, and we could see Lor shortly. There was much rejoicing, Facebook posting, telephone calls, etc. Others in the waiting room probably thought we were celebrating an ethnic holiday.

There isn't any bad news exactly. But there were some...surprises.

Post surgery, I think we were expecting a glowing, healthy person who was now totally committed to weight loss. What we got was someone who was in major amounts of pain, and suffering from the effects of anasthesia. Stupid of me to expect otherwise, but I was taken aback by the fact that the preson who went in for surgery was not the person who came out. Though she had returned to normal within a couple hours, it wasn't something I was mentally prepared for, and maybe should be included in the pre-op "training" - "Dont take anything said in the first couple of hours after surgery seriously."

A little later on yesterday, I got to see the reason that Lor was in so much pain. My first glimpse of her post-surgical abdomen gave me a serious shock. She looked, bluntly, like she had been in  a knife fight.

I know, I know - what the heck was I expecting after she had scopes inserted into her abdomen in 5 different locations? What ever I was expecting, it wasn't this. Big bruises surrounding obviously punctured tissues, all across her tummy. I don't know how she is carrying on conversations, or breathing for that matter. I have a certain amount of experience with knife injuries (how is not important here), and these ones look like they are no fun at all.

So, next time someone asks me if bariatric surgery hurts, the answer should be an emphatic "yes". Got it.

We also had some administrative snafus that wound up with Lor finally getting comfortably settled in her bed, just in time to be informed that she had to move to a different room. On a different floor. Of course. Out came the wheelchair, the dance of disconnecting cables and monitors and leg-squeezers, and she was shipped up one floor, to the room literally directly above the room she had already been in. Administrative logic never ceases to confound me.

Lor's Mom took the overnight shift last night, and they are both currently still asleep 5 floors above me. I have camped out here in the cafeteria to jot all this down after sneaking out of my parent's house at 5:30 this morning to drive the 5 miles over to the hospital Lor is at. Thank God for our families - this would have been a nightmare without all the familial help and support we have received.

Thanks also to all of you - Lor was the subject of prayer chains, the focus of positive energy flows, and the receipient of remote healing energy from across the country. I can't thank everyone enough for your care and interest in the well-being of the person who is the center of my life. My heartfelt thanks to all of you.

Wondering If 7 AM Is Still Too Early,

- Hawkwind

PS - No pics for the next few days, my poor Kindle isn't the best tool for blogging.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Surgery Day -1


Photo Credit: pw_tumblr via Compfight cc
After months of planning, preparation, and planning, our first "Life Transition Day" has arrived.

Lor's surgery is tomorrow.

The upheaval is awesome. We have Lor's Mom moving in with us for a few days to help out after the surgery. We have packing to do since I will be staying with family members closer to the hospital. We have drugs to pick up, groceries to buy, and I have a mile-long list of people I am supposed to be keeping informed every step of the way through her procedure. The stress level is high, and I am not even the one having the surgery.

Well, not yet, anyway.

The endless questions are all coming up: is this really going to work? Will we get to a point where this will have all been worth it? Or, six months down the road, will we be wondering why we did this in the first place? We know that a "buyer's remorse" phase is coming, where Lor will be angry that she decided to go through all this in the first place. How long will that last? How severe will it be? What complications might come up? Have we learned to do everything right, so that we don't wind up with Lor re-hospitalised?

Yeah, like that.

Oddly, neither one of us is terribly concerned about the procedure itself. The staff at ABQ Health Partners Bariatrics have done TONS of these procedures - they specialize in them. So we've been spending our time worrying about before and after, not so much "during". Thank goodness they have been so calm, reassuring and collected through all this - if we were worried about the surgery too, I am not sure we could stand the stress.

By the next time you read a post here, we will be a mixed marriage: one pre-bariatric surgery patient, and one post-surgery. I still have 41 days to go before my procedure, which means that I will be able to watch what I can expect to happen to me over the first 30 days after surgery just by caring for Lor. It seems a little odd, and in a way unfair that she is experiencing the process by herself, but I still think we made the right choice. I make a horrible patient, and Lor deserves to have me at 100% while she is making the transition to whatever post-surgical life will look like for her.

She has taken it like she does most everything - bravely, confidently, and making jokes about how, since she was the oldest of 3 children, she is used to being the guinea pig. I admire her, and am very excited to see what a life without diabetes will be like for her. I can only hope that I handle my last two weeks before surgery with as much grace and composure as she has.

But, I probably won't.

If you are moving about your busy life tomorrow and happen to have a free moment, I would appreciate a prayer, a thought, or some positive energy on Lor's behalf. We'll take all the spiritual help that we can get.

See You All On The Other Side (Part #1),

- Hawkwind

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Elephant in the Room

Image courtesy of Jacksonville.com


I have spent the better part of 2 hours this morning, trying to get something going on this page pertaining to surgery, weight loss, or life changes. But I have been completely unable to get a clear train of thought, due to a tragic event about 1,500 miles away.

You know - in Orlando, Florida.

I have a pretty broad constituency of friends and family. I know people prepared to vote Republican, Democrat, and Independent. I have family members who are part of the LGBT community, and other family members whose religious beliefs tell them that homosexuality is "sinful" behavior. I have been acquainted with atheists, adherents of all the major religions in the world, and followers of many of the "minor" ones.

I have yet to meet a person who thought it was right to arm themselves, walk into a busy nightclub, and start shooting people because the beliefs or lifestyles of the people inside didn't line up with their own.

The politicians are already talking, like they always do. The voices of the pundits are in fine form this morning, making sure that their particular beliefs are voiced. The forces of division and polarization are at work already, asking us to line up on our assigned side. For or against. Right or wrong. Pro or anti.

We can not even, for a single day, agree that these people did not deserve to be killed and wounded, and try to reach out to them and their loved ones. For once, can we leave the politics out of it - knowing full well that it is we, the citizens of America, who are so divided and polarized that we have created an environment within which this hate can exist and thrive?

Guns did not cause this.

Islam did not cause this.

Homosexuality did not cause this.

Hatred caused this.

As long as we only turn inward to embrace only the members of our chosen communities or ideologies, we will never overcome tragedies like these. It is time to start placing the blame where it belongs - on those of us who are too afraid to reach out to those we don't understand, to find common cause in that which represents us all - our humanity. As long as we continue to place our personal beliefs upon altars of ideology, we will never acknowledge the vailidity of the choices and experiences of others.

Today, I challenge you: reach out to someone whose beliefs you do not agree with. Ask questions. Listen, and do not argue. Walk away knowing that you understand more now than you did a few minutes ago. Ignorance breeds fear. No one attacks what they do not fear. Expand what you understand, and diminish what you are afraid of. Do it today.

Because none of us wants to look forward to fear acting out again like it did yesterday in Orlando.

To Peaceful Rest For The Departed, And Speedy Recovery To Those Still With Us,

- Jeremy