Saturday, December 31, 2016

...And Looking Forward to 2017

Wallpaper from

Welcome, friends and neighbors, to the last Misdirected post of 2016.

Been a heck of a year, hasn't it?

I am looking forward to 2017 with a considerable amount of hope. Compared to last New Year's Eve, the contrast is like night and day. I am lighter, happier, and more productive now than I was last year, and any year before this for a long, long time. Mainly thanks to an aggressive neurologist and the team at ABQ Health Partners Bariatrics.

Now, it has not been easy. I still have to shake off my disappointment after seizures. I still miss pizza and beer. I still look in the mirror and sigh wistfully over the "apron" of deflated skin I now wear around my waist. And I am still baffled at how eating an ounce each of deli meat, cheese and nuts make me feel like I have swallowed a cow. But my quality of life has never been better, and I choose to focus on that.

I may not be able to run a marathon, but I can walk 5 kilometers. I may not be able to bench press my body weight, but I am able to lift weights again. I may not see the person I want to see when I look in the mirror, but I certainly like the person I see better than the one that was reflected at me back on December 31 of last year.

So, what does 2017 have in store?

Big changes here at Misdirected, for one thing. I won't spoil the surprise for you, but on Monday things are going to look real different, I can tell you that.

I am also going to be moving away from the embedded ads, I think. I intend to convert the site over to support via the Patreon system, essentially crowd-funding the continued existence of Misdirected. I love the Patreon system, and actually am a patron of a couple of my favorite bloggers. More details to come.

Episode #1 of "Inheritance" will be releasing on Fiction Vortex in February of 2017, followed by the remainder of the novel, one episode per month throughout the year. I am seriously quivering with joy at the prospect of producing my first novel, and love the concept of being a part of the cutting edge of producing episodal fictional content. The other 3 stories that will be written as part of the "Welcome To Ash Falls" Storyverse are already excellent, and I can hardly wait to see what the authors have planned for the rest of their tales. Fiction Vortex produces great stories by excellent authors - if you haven't checked out an episode or two yet, I strongly suggest you go read a few episodes now, and get all warmed up for the release of the Ash Falls stories later in 2017.

I will be producing non-fictional content as well, of course, and will keep everyone posted as these articles are released. This will be the year that I shift gears and begin producing regular content under my own byline. I feel like I have completed my apprenticeship working for ghostwriting agencies, and am ready to move on to consistent creation of my own material.

I also intend for this to be the year that "Learning To Live In The Dark" is finished. This is the book I have been working on for a couple of years now, dealing with Adult-Onset Epilepsy. My current intention is not to seek a publisher, but to self-publish it once it is completed, and I will keep everyone posted on its progress and eventual release date.

We have travel plans for Nevada, Arizona, and South Dakota tentatively on the books for 2017. Depending on the success of Inheritance we may also sneak in a visit to Oregon, so I can spend some time near the locales where my novel is set. We will be participating in our first 5K event in May, and should both hit the "100-pounds lost" milestone in 2017.

It looks like it is going to be a full year.

Thanks again to all my family, friends, and followers here on Misdirected. If it wasn't for you, I would be jotting all this down in a journal and never sharing the experiences with anyone. I sincerely appreciate you allowing me to be a part of your lives.

Be Blessed In 2017,

- Jeremy

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Looking back at 2016

313,000 words typed this year. Dang. That is quite a few. Like, if those words were put into novels, I would have written a trilogy. In one year. And I used to wonder how Robert Parker managed his output of books...

Seriously, though, 2016 was the year when I finally decided I had something important enough to talk about on a regular basis. In the past, I have written about Epilepsy - which is important to only a very small segment of the world, though I wish it was important to more people. I've written about gaming, which is important to me, but not necessarily the majority of the planet. But, this year, I finally discovered something that was important to me and a good percentage of the world: obesity, and the life-altering methods that can be required to combat it. 

Despite my terrifically bad memory, I can distinctly remember stepping on my scale in February and seeing the numbers "302" appear on the readout. I felt like my heart would stop beating. I don't know why it was that I was willing to previously put up with scale numbers like 280 or even 290. But cresting that 300-pound plateau was just too much for me. I could barely walk down the street and back (2 tenths of a mile) thanks to my blown knee. I couldn't empty groceries out of the car without gasping for air for minutes afterward. The combination of my weight and my seizures was so overwhelming that we finally had to give up being foster parents, since it was not fair to expect my wife to be raising kids by herself as well as caring for me full-time. My life revolved around my shattered dreams of being a parent and a musician, my sexless marriage, and waiting for the next batch of seizures to arrive.

And, of course, food. LOTS of that.

300 pounds is what it took to get me to accept that I had a problem that I was not going to be able to fix on my own, despite years of trying to do so. After abusing my body for 20 years I gave up my belief that it was all somehow temporary and that I could change any time I wanted to. I needed help from an outside agency - drastic, dramatic help that was going to involve radically changing my physiology, and altering my life not for a few days or weeks, but for the rest of my life. Bariatric surgery from Dr. Tyner, and the unflagging support of my loved ones, provided me with the tools I needed to finally make those difficult choices and changes.

And, so far, it is working. I can walk 5 kilometers without falling to pieces afterward. I go to the gym almost every day. I have a social life again. I have a sex life again. My increased health even seems to have had a positive effect on my seizure activity. A year ago, I was sitting around the house waiting to die. Today, I am constantly in motion, and planning for 5, 10, and even 20 years down the road. Obesity was killing me, and I have now sprung back to life.

And, in the place of being passionate about food, I have discovered new passions. I was able to get a quill and inkpot tattoo back in April to celebrate becoming a published, professional writer. I am halfway through writing my first novel. I have begun work on not one but two non-fiction books. I even went so far as to buy a house, fully expecting to be around when it is paid off in my 70s.

97 pounds lighter and 300,000 words later, I am still discovering new things I want to experience.

Thanks For Joining Me On My Journey,

- Jeremy

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Life in the Freezing Frozen

I wake up in the 5 AM darkness, shivering. I check on Lor, who is still fast asleep, curled up in the fetal position, clutching Vixen for a heat source. I am positive that something has gone wrong with the heating system in the house, so I make my way across the (frozen) hardwood floor, out into the (frozen) hallway, and check our thermostat. It insists that the temperature is 69 degrees. But I know, for a fact, that it is -12 degrees F, and we have been somehow transported from the high desert of Albuquerque to the middle of an iceberg floating through the Arctic Sea.

Welcome to the Freezing Frozen - also known as life after bariatric surgery.

I sit here writing feeling as though I have icicles dangling from my earlobes. I am wearing flannel underwear, thick socks, flannel boxers, a set of "thermal" leggings, an undershirt, a sweatshirt, and a hoodie. Except for the hoodie, this is what I wore to bed last night. It is a whole new world. A very cold and ice-covered world, in fact.

I have had it explained to me many times, and no two explanations are the same. Maybe the body's heat regulator gets completely out of whack after bariatric surgery. Perhaps increased metabolism causes us to perceive heat differently. It is a temporary condition that will correct itself after a few months. Or it is a torment to people who are a decade out from their surgeries. The only consensus is that there is no consensus.

I kind of like Lor's explanation, actually - she tells people that, with having lost nearly 100 pounds each, we have ripped out the majority of our "insulation". What would happen to the temperature in our house if we removed half the insulation in our attic?

I am fairly sure it would feel exactly the way it does right now, actually.

Apparently, we have been talking about this more than a little. One of the gifts we received from my in-laws was a 1500 Watt space heater. My parents bought us clothing gift certificates, and my mother advised me to "Buy something warm." I sincerely apologize to everyone who has had to listen to us complain about the cold.

But, it is either that or listen to our teeth chattering.

Wishing I Could Type With Gloves On,

- Hawkwind

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Post-Christmas Report


Despite 5 days of exercise (including 2 lifting days and one 5K walk) during Christmas Week, the holiday diet was too much to overcome, and I wound up regaining 1.8 pounds, putting me back up over 207.

C'est la Guerre, I suppose. I actually had very little I was unhappy about during the last week, including my diet. It was probably the grazing that did me in more than anything - even eating relatively healthy things will have an impact if you are hitting them every time you wander through the kitchen. That and very poor hydration - once the holidays ramped up, I doubt I hit 64 ounces on any day. 

But we got to spend time with our loved ones, open some presents, and drive back and forth across the state, so I am still mostly content. My creative juices even started firing back up on Christmas morning (thanks, Santa!) and I had to dive out of bed at 6 AM to write down a couple of new story and article ideas before they got away. The break from blogging and writing apparently got my Subconscious Creative Engine running again.

We actually get an extended holiday bonus this year - I get to see my brother later this week, and as a special gift from Lor's brother and sister-in-law, we get to hang out with our nephew all week. Two best Christmas presents we could receive.

The last week of 2016 will be spent playing online shooters with my nephew, continuing some transition work for Misdirected, and re-righting the dietary ship. Sounds like a full plate. (Ha! See what I did there?) Overall it has been a glorious holiday season, capping a year of immense personal change and development. Not something I have experienced for a long, long time.

I hope everyone else's holidays were wonderful, and that you didn't miss Misdirected too much. Keep on eye on us as we make a few announcements here in the very near future!

I Love A Good Cliffhanger,

- Hawkwind

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Week!

River of Lights Display at the ABQ BioPark (Courtesy of

Happy Holidays, Feliz Navidad, and Merry Christmas week to all my Misdirected friends! (Happy Feast of Winter's Veil for all my WoW buddies, too.)

The schedule here is going to be weird this week. We'll be spending the second half of the week up north, which will most likely mean that I will not be posting from Wednesday through Friday. Don't panic! I will back to my normal posting schedule on Monday the 26th, and have no additional travel plans for the foreseeable future. Also, big changes are coming to the blog on or around January 1, 2017, so you can rest assured that I will be hard at work getting those ready to rock.

I must have been good this year, because I've already received two early Christmas presents. First, on Saturday night, I was able to get in and comfortably wear a pair of 38-inch waistline jeans for the first time since, like, ever. Back in 2004, my "ultimate fitness achievement" goal was to be able to do just that. It has only taken me 12 years and bariatric surgery to accomplish it, but I have finally arrived.

On the same note, this week's weight check-in revealed that I have finally broken the 210-pound mark. As of this week's weigh-in, I am at 205 pounds - a tantalizing 3 pounds away from a total loss of 100 pounds from my heaviest point, and only 6 pounds from being below 200 for the first time in 20+ years.

I had originally hoped to hit this goal by Christmas Day, and will be coming up a little short. But I think there is a better-than-average chance that I will be entering 2017 at 199 pounds or less.

Best. Christmas. Present. Ever.

Enjoy your event planning and last minute shopping!

Almost Half The Man I Used To Be,

- Hawkwind

Friday, December 16, 2016

The 6-Month Report Card

A few pieces of information from Lor's 6-month review yesterday:

  • She is still losing weight consistently, just about 1 pound a week on average. Her LPN was very encouraging, telling her that her goal weight of 150 pounds was "totally realistic", and that she expected Lor would have achieved it by her next visit - her one-year follow-up.
  • Triglycerides, cholesterol, and A1c levels are all still coming down. While Lor is still considered "pre-diabetic", we have every hope that by next June she will be just another non-diabetic person. What a major win!
  • Given her diet regimen and commitment to exercise, Lor has received "permission" to stop logging her meals! Just following the basic dietary guidelines is apparently enough now.
  • We were not even passed along for our usual meeting with our Nutritional Sensei, Patti. Apparently, Lor is no longer needing regular nutritional counseling.
What a change 6 months (and a bariatric surgical procedure) can make! Lor has been overwhelmingly successful, and it is an awesome example to all of the rest of us bariatric patients who have followed her. Since I get to see her every day, I sometimes forget just how dramatic the changes have been. But, to remind everyone, here is what the "before" pic looked like, back in April:

And here is "after", from last week:

A little different, no?

I can hardly wait to see what changes another 6 months brings! We've discussed everything from the Run For The Zoo to maybe trying to tackle La Luz Trail later in the summer. All I know is, it feels good to be able to talk about these things realistically, not wistfully and wishfully (is that even a word?) 6 months down, and a whole lifetime to go!

Hoping My 6-Month Review Goes Half As Well,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Trail Breaking

Later on this morning, we will head over to visit the folks at ABQ Health Partners Bariatrics for Lor's 6-month post surgery follow-up.

6 months.


It does not feel like 6 months ago that we sat nervously in the waiting room, watching the clock as the minutes ticked down to 7:30 AM. The folks from ABQ Bariatrics are nothing if not efficient. By 7:30 we were already in pre-op, getting consultations from an endless series of medical professionals, including Dr. Sanchez. A few minutes later, she was gone, rolled off into surgery to start her new life. 

It all happened so fast.

Today her nightly insulin injections are a thing of the past. She is down 91 pounds and still dropping. Where she used to worry about how inactive we were, she is now concerned that 30 minutes of cardio a day is not enough. She has changed the clothes she wears, changed her hairstyle, changed her life.

I could not be prouder of her.

Though we say we went through this together, in truth Lor was 6 weeks ahead of me the whole way. She was our trailblazer, the pioneer who discovered what was waiting on the far side of each hill and mountain. She was the one who learned the hard way about hydration and nutrition post-surgery. She was the person who tried so hard to get active again after surgery that she injured herself and had to return to bed for several days. She was the one who explained to me about how it felt having doubts about the results of the procedure after it was all said and done.

It has been commented on, by Lor and others, that my surgical experience seemed like smooth sailing compared to Lor's. Well, of course it was. I got to watch first-hand everything to expect in a few weeks. The dark corners that she had to peer into were fully lit and empty by the time I showed up. Every trail had been blazed, every trap in the path ahead had already been sprung and safely pushed aside. If I was successful, it is because Lor showed me how to succeed.

In truth, we don't expect a whole lot of earth-shattering news from today's visit. Maybe some new info on her A1C levels, maybe some additional tweaks to her diet. But, for the most part, the heavy lifting has already been done.

Thanks for breaking trail, babe. It takes courage to go first.

Though I Do Wish The Appointment Wasn't So Early,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Real Life Takes Over Misdirected!

Have you ever had that sensation of wanting to undertake a new project or life change, but being unwilling to make that final step? You look at it, you read up on it, you analyze it, but you can't quite bring yourself to make that life-altering decision. It is like looking through the store window at the object you desire but never walking through the door. Or standing at the edge of a diving board looking down but not quite being able to muster the courage to make the jump.

Until, of course, life comes up behind you and gives you a shove.

I've been slowly developing my contract writing business since last year, but have never quite made the jump over to pursuing it full-time. There are so many things to worry about. Sure, this blog is popular, but trying to actually re-enter the workforce as a contract writer is scary stuff. What if I can't find enough clients? What if things start off well but then peter out? What if I suddenly lose my drive to write? (It happens, it is referred to as "Writer's Block".) What if, what if, what if...The voices ring through my head like an out of tune orchestra. So, instead, I remain safe by keeping up with Misdirected and creating a few ghost-writing posts a week for content mills like TextBroker. No way to make a living at it, but no fear of rejection or major impact to our lives should I suddenly stop.

But yesterday, life threw us a curve ball. One of our sources of secondary income just dried up, with no easy way to replace it. There is no real way to slash our expenses, either - we are already budgeted down to the last penny of my SSDI income, and as it is we receive some help from family members every single month. I briefly considered getting a part-time job, but I can vividly remember my last experiences with the regular work force - everything is fine until I start having seizures at work. Then, suddenly, things are not so great, and I am shortly looking for another minimum-wage job. It is a depressing and humiliating cycle.

No cure for Epilepsy yet: there is a reason I am on SSDI.

So, having been pushed off the diving board, I am either going to have to get myself into position for a dive or else go splat when I hit the water. This writing thing is going to have to turn into a regular revenue stream, like, now.

Accordingly, I turn to my "network" - the loyal readers of Misdirected. If any of you know anyone who is looking for contract writing, please let me know! I've written blog posts, magazine articles, product reviews...pretty much any kind of writing you can do on the Internet, I have done. Just some contact information for the person (or people) I should talk to would be great - I am happy to sell myself, but just need to know who I am selling myself to.

(Reading that last sentence creates so many opportunities for misunderstanding, but I think I will let it stand. Mock if you will.)

Thanks again to my loyal readers, and we'll be back to talking about bariatric surgery and all that pertains thereunto on Thursday!

"Thereunto" Just Means I Am Practicing Writer-ish Words,

- Hawkwind

Monday, December 12, 2016

Loralia Takes A Hike (Version 2.0)

It has been growing colder and colder, and the lowering temperatures have accompanied lower activity levels. Despite our new memberships at Planet Fitness, we have been finding it harder and harder to stay as active as we need to. We have teetered upon the edge, ever so close to throwing ourselves into the abyss of couch-dwelling until the Spring thaw arrives.

Last Friday, Lor decided to fight back. Rather than head to the gym for an hour or two on the elliptical, she decided it was time to head out into the wilderness again. I took a look at the temperature (42 degrees), then took a look at the determined expression on Lor's face. I wisely chose to keep my own counsel, and just wore a couple of extra layers of clothing.

As you may remember, my pre-surgery "before" picture was taken on an expedition like this one, back in April. Lor had intended for us to get out into the Sandia Mountains regularly after that hike, but, somehow, the idea never really took hold, and we have been back only once or twice since then. Wearing multiple layers of clothing (even Vixen got a sweater) we drove up to the trailhead and prepared to head into the mountains.

10 minutes later, Lor and I had removed our jackets and taken off Vixen's sweater. Walking uphill over New Mexico sand is a wonderful generator of thermal energy, it turns out. About half a mile up the service road, we came across the trailhead Lor wanted to try today, the Embudo Trail.

We continued forward into the mountains, being dragged hither and thither by our excited dog until she ran into a cactus. After emergency surgery to remove a couple of spines from her foot, she was much more inclined to stay on the trail. At a mile in, I could not help but remember our safari last Spring, where I lasted a whole 4 tenths of a mile before we had to turn back. This was a whole different experience - I was able to talk, was not staring miserably at my feet as I huffed and puffed, and best of all I was able to keep up with Lor and Vixen without straining. Then, after turning into a narrow valley, we were abruptly stopped:

Yes, that is a wall across the trail. I discretely checked my phone. We had come just over a mile to get here. Getting back down to the car would result in a round trip of 2 miles. This was a good day's work for us by any measure. I comfortably waited for Lor to announce that we would head back down.

I had forgotten who I am married to. Without hesitation, Lor announced we were going over the wall.

The next 45 minutes involved us heading further and further up into the Sandias, scrabbling over rockfalls and peering into caves. It became a team-building exercise of sorts, because Vixen was too short to climb many of these obstacles. One of us would climb halfway up, then the lower person would hand the dog up, and climb to the next position, repeating the process.

Halfway through one of these dog transfers, I found myself being grateful that I did not own a Labrador or a Newfoundland.

At last, we finished the vertical section and returned to a relatively "normal" trail running through a canyon between two towering hills. The sun was completely obscured by the tall hill to our South, and despite our exertions I was beginning to grow cold again. We began to find clusters of snow on the ground. Then we broke out into the open and saw this:

...and I just knew that Lor was going to make me climb all the way to the top of the peak ahead of us.

However, sanity prevailed. It is December, after all, and we were already an hour up into the mountains. It was time to turn back and head down to the car before the sun dropped any lower in the sky.

And turning back around, we were given an incredible vista for our efforts:

The peak in the distance is Mount Taylor, over 100 miles away.

I dutifully recorded it, and we headed back down to the relative warmth of the car. 

We managed 3.2 miles in just over 2 hours. Given my performance back in April (one mile in 52 minutes), I have to admit it feels pretty good - a real Non-Scale Victory, if you will. We honestly could have kept going, if not for the fear of being trapped in mountains overnight and freezing to death.

Oh, and the trail we followed? Turns out if we had kept going we would have run into another trail that heads North and South through the mountains, which would have eventually dumped us out near I-40, about 6 miles from our car.

So, all things being equal, I am just as happy we made it a round trip. But I can already hear the gears churning in Lor's mind...

I Better Start Training For Spring,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Putting Down The Cheeseburger

( porn.)

Yesterday, Lor told me a delightful (/sarcasm) tale about a lunch date with two friends that hadn't seen each other in quite a while. One party spent the majority of the luncheon complaining bitterly about her sister, who had recently had weight loss surgery because "she was a lazy ass who doesn't want to put down the cheeseburger and exercise." Towards the end of the meal, the complainer asked her friend how she was managing to stay so trim and fabulous looking.

"I had bariatric surgery, because I am a lazy ass who won't put down my cheeseburger." was the reply.

I would guess that lunch ended soon thereafter.

This story, paraphrased from a tale Lor found on a bariatric social web site, highlights the ongoing issues that we have relating socially after we have gone through bariatric surgery. The great misconception still exists that we have somehow created a trap door in our digestive system that allows us to eat whatever we want and suffer zero consequences from it. 

Can I let you in on a little secret? I have to work twice as hard at maintaining my diet and exercise as a "normal" person. Every single thing I eat is analyzed, weighed, measured, and logged. My daily regimen is closer to that of a professional athlete than that of someone who just wants to stay fit. I live on supplements, protein shakes, and meals that would not pass muster as a salad on a child's menu. And a single dietary mistake lands me locked in a bathroom for hours, expelling the material my rearranged digestive system didn't agree with from both ends. 

Those who choose bariatric surgery are accused of doing this because we want to be more attractive, as a sop to our poor self-esteem. But, the truth is, bariatric surgery did not turn Lor and I into Malibu Ken And Barbie.  I will admit, I no longer suffer from feeling unattractive due to my size. But I now feel unattractive due to the huge piles of deflated skin covering my body like flesh-colored Play-Doh. I don't recognize my face in the mirror, which gives me some real existential crises. I had to shave my head due to hair loss, for goodness sake. (And, yes, the happy accident is that I actually like my shaved head. Thank goodness.) 

And, through it all, I still deal with the lingering suspicion that I am somehow "not doing enough." I should eat less, exercise more, hydrate better, sleep longer. Bariatric surgery has given me many of the symptoms that we would equate with an eating disorder.

Do I wish I hadn't done it? Not for a moment. Societal mores had nothing to do with my decision. I took ownership of my own health, and control over my own body, by going through with surgery. But I still find it very frustrating that our society not only is focused on size as a metric for determining the worth of a person, but is even willing to judge those of us who strike out toward health via the method of bariatric surgery. In a nation where over 50% of the population suffers from obesity, calling those of us who required surgery "cheaters" is disingenuous at best, hypocritical at worst.

Yes, I "put down the cheeseburger". Bariatric surgery was one of the tools I used to help me do so. The idea that this is somehow "cheating" is held by those who have not spend years (or decades) trying and failing to defeat obesity. To those who have not walked a mile in these shoes, I can only say the following:

Get Over Yourselves,

- Hawkwind

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Stupids

It was a day like any other. I got up at 5 AM, wandered through the darkened hallways, and sat in front of the PC. I looked over my writing tasks for the day and then decided to bang out my Tuesday blog post before I did anything else. I then worked through about 700 words, added a photo, attached some keywords, and then went about my other tasks for the day, with the warm and fuzzy feeling that accompanies the completion of a daily task.

The only problem is that I didn't press the "Publish" button.

Welcome, my friends, to the world of "The Stupids". First off, a definition:

Stupids (stoo-pidz), noun: A mental condition characterized by poor short-term memory and lack of attention to detail, frequently brought on by caloric deficit and substandard nutrition.

When you tack the effects of this condition on  top of my already fragile mental state due to my use of anti-seizure medications, you can have some profound results. I have been known to "lose" items that I was holding in one of my hands. I have been observed standing in front of a running sink washing dishes, not noticing that the sink is overflowing and running water is cascading off the counter onto the kitchen floor. I have been sent to the store across the street for an item, only to return with a backpack full of things we did not need, while missing the crucial piece that I was sent to the store for in the first place.

And, yes, I have written an entire blog post, and then forgotten to publish it.

The Stupids. Sometimes it is a state of mind, other times it is a new home I have moved into.

There are some solutions available. Nutrition is the big one: I have learned that when I do not eat 3 meals in a day, I will be affected. Forgetting to take a multi-vitamin will also do it. (Which leads to forgetting other important supplements, etc.) Not enough sleep is always a trigger.

But what about days like yesterday, when everything was pretty normal otherwise? No idea. Some days I just operate with only half a brain. It is frustrating, but after years of experience with epilepsy, I have learned to roll with it. For a person who has just emerged from bariatric surgery, experiencing this for the very first time, this must be frustrating and frightening. It must feel like you are losing your mind.

Take heart - you are not losing your grip on sanity. Your brain is responding to what it feels is a deficit of important nutrients (or sleep) by shutting down what it considers to be non-essential functions like remembering to flush the toilet after you are done. Once you have identified the problem, figure out what you missed. Take a nap. Take your meds. Eat a snack. Then wait for a while.

It is only The Stupids. This, too, shall pass.

This Time I Will Check The Blog Page,

- Hawkwind

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Self-Care Podcast

Over the weekend, we were invited to be the guests on a podcast run by a friend of ours, Nicolina Nicthe, a local artist and comedienne. Her weekly show is called Women, Wit, and Wine, and is a humor-tinged (and adult-oriented) podcast focusing on exploring women's issues through the alcohol tinted haze of sampling local wines. I was honored to be accorded the status of "Honorary Woman" during the hour of our participation, which we spent discussing the subjects of Self-Care and Nurturing.

Lor and I went into the show expecting that our input would be largely focused on our efforts towards self-care via our bariatric surgeries this year. While we did touch on the subject briefly, it turned out that Lor's training as a Massage Therapist quickly became our point of focus, and she was able to discuss a wide range of self-care topics with our host, while I provided mostly comic relief via my embarrassment as I drowned in a sea of estrogen. The topics ranged widely, from filling empty vessels, to stress-based illness, to the self-care value of artistic endeavors. While I would encourage anyone with 80 minutes to spare to hit Nicolina's Facebook page to listen to the broadcast in its entirety, I thought a few points from our discussion stood out, and deserved to be repeated here:

1. Take ownership of your self-care before taking ownership of caring for anyone else: The subject kept returning to the subject of "pouring from an empty vessel" - the concept that a person can only pour so much out of themselves before they are tapped out and no longer able to provide for themselves, much less anyone else. If you want to be able to care for those around you (whether friends, a spouse/partner, or children), you need to have a renewable source of personal emotional energy.

2. Pursue your bliss: One of the best ways to care for yourself is to pursue your own interests. Don't force yourself to try a diet/exercise plan/new life philosophy if you aren't really interested in it. The most valuable self-renewal exercise is one that you will do - whether that is running a triathlon, or learning how to create pottery. Don't embrace someone else's passion - find your own.

3. Carve "me time" out of your schedule: The idea that we can find hours a day for self-care is laughable for most of us, given our busy schedules. So don't start by looking for hours a day. Set aside a few minutes a day (get up earlier, take a shorter lunch, go to bed a little later) and sit alone and breathe. That's it - simple as that. Your body will get used to the feeling and will start demanding more, inspiring you to find ways to create more self-time. But don't start big - start small, and ramp up.

Thanks again to Nicolina for her invitation to participate in her exciting new project, and we look forward to watching as Women, Wit, And Wine expands its reach and audience over the new year and years to come.

Feeling Like Something Is Missing Since I Lost My "Woman" Status,

- Hawkwind

Friday, December 2, 2016

Playing Santa

As Christmas grows ever nearer (23 days as of this post), I have been fielding a few questions about Christmas gifts. What, people are asking me, does one get for a pre- or post- bariatric surgery patient? In the service of Christmas Gifts That Don't Suck (TM), I would offer up the following suggestions:

1. Clothing: You've seen the complaints here on almost a weekly basis. As the weight loss starts happening, the clothes stop fitting. So quickly that many patients (myself included) just stop buying clothes entirely, out of frustration with the concept of wearing something once then giving it away. This eventually leads to sagging pants, tent-like shirts, and underwear that falls off. Some even suffer from the issue of shoes no longer fitting. (Not a problem I have had, but one that is driving Lor crazy, for example.) So, pay attention! Buy a piece or two that is a size below what your patient should be wearing currently. It will be snug for a bit, then it will fit for a glorious week or two, then it will sag and eventually be donated. If you are afraid to guess at sizes, a gift certificate to an inexpensive clothing store like Old Navy might be your best bet.

2. Supplements: It may not occur to many, but the post-surgery life is flooded in supplements. I, for example, am taking a Multivitamin, an Iron supplement, Biotin, and Osteo-Biflex (a joint health product). That is, like, every single day. Though the grocery bill does diminish a bit after bariatric surgery, the supplement bill goes right through the roof. So, get your patient a month or two worth of one of their supplements. If you aren't comfortable picking brands, grab 'em a gift card to a local GNC or even a CVS/Walgreens type of store. This is the one time that buying a gift certificate to a drug store will not be viewed as a lame last-minute gift idea.

3. Dining Out: Our lives after our surgeries are filled with cooking 3 meals a day, every single day. We no longer go out to eat much, because we are afraid of wasting food. Also, the majority of the places we used to go are what made us obese in the first place. So, take your patient out for lunch or dinner - but take them somewhere they would have never gone before. No burger joints or salad bars, please: try places like seafood and sushi restaurants (sashimi is 100% allowable under most nutritional plans), steak houses, and barbecue pits are all great ideas for high-protein, low-carb dining. Your patient will get a meal with a loved one, plus leftovers to take home. (Trust me, there will be leftovers.)

4. Adventures: The great majority of bariatric patients are recovering from sedentary lifestyles where very little time was spent trying new things. Both physical health problems and embarrassment over their size kept them at home, on the couch. Now that they are taking steps in the right direction, help them out! Get them a hot air balloon ride. Take them to an ice skating rink. Buy a month's worth of dance lessons. If you ever heard them wistfully wish they could try an activity while they were overweight, now is the time to strike - get them through the door of that studio/dojo/museum/whatever. Better yet, go with them - nothing defeats fear of the unknown like having someone to share new experiences with.

Hopefully, somewhere in here is an idea or two you can use for the friend or loved one that has gone through bariatric surgery this year. As they are trying to come to grips with this new life, free from the bonds of chronic obesity, you can show them you support their life-altering decision with nothing more than a thoughtful gift. But act quickly - you only have 22 shopping days left!

No Fruitcakes, Please,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, December 1, 2016

All My Sleeve Wants For Christmas Is...

The activity on the bariatric surgery forums and message boards has been ramping up lately, which is great. I love to see new people joining the ranks, asking questions, and getting plugged into the community. However, any time you get a large number of new folks joining an online "community", there are going to be questions. And, recently, I am seeing the same questions posted over and over and over again: all varying versions of "when can I have/why can't I have (insert forbidden item here?)"

I get it - really, I do. Not every bariatric patient got to participate in the awesome nutritional counseling that Lor and I did with Albuquerque Health Partners. Some folks are forced to self-pay and end up getting their surgeries out of the country, meaning they might receive little to no nutritional info at all. So, in the interests of public service, I thought I would share a little information (and personal experience) about the forbidden foods most commonly asked about.

1. Bread/Pasta/Cereal: By far the most asked about food types on the boards, everyone wants to know why they can't have their favorite go-to-in-a-hurry foods any longer. There are a couple of reasons. First, grain-based products tend to have a very poor protein to volume ratio - 2 ounces (2 standard slices) of bread, for example, contain around 20 - 30 grams of carbohydrates and only 4 or 5 grams of protein. Our lives post bariatric surgery are going to forever be focused on increasing protein intake and minimizing carbohydrate intake, to avoid malnutrition. So, sadly, grain-based products tend to be a non-starter for us.

Secondly, once ingested, bread can expand in the stomach for many of us post surgery (myself included.) This can lead to major discomfort, illness and leads to the inability to ingest anything other than a couple of bites, leading to even bigger nutritional deficiencies. Prepare yourself for life without sourdough bread, lasagna, and Rice Krispies.

2. Bananas: Apparently a very popular subject, bananas hold an odd place within the post-surgery diet. They are a fruit (which the great majority of diets want you to be eating), but they make many bariatric patients ill. What gives?

Bananas, as it turns out, are a natural repository of huge amounts of sugar: one medium banana is worth about 25 grams of carbs, over 15 grams of which is sugar. Strawberries, by comparison, only contain about 7 grams of sugar per serving. Though every patient is different, the higher the amount of "pure" sugar one takes in, the greater the risk of "dumping syndrome": the rapid movement of food from your stomach to your small intestine. One can only find out where the tipping point is by experimentation, but I can tell you from experience that once you go over, you will wish you hadn't. Any high-sugar food, even bananas, needs to be approached cautiously.

3. Soft Drinks: Not a day goes by that I don't read on some forum or another "When can I start drinking cokes again?" Soft drinks may be the most evil and pernicious addiction the world has ever known. So, congratulate yourself, bariatric patients: you have kicked the habit. Because there ain't no goin' back.

Soft drinks, aside from being highly concentrated sugar delivery devices, are also repositories of carbonation, which can seriously compromise your reduced stomach size. How? Open a bottle of your favorite soft drink. Attach a balloon to the neck. Shake vigorously. See how that balloon inflates? That is what happens to your reduced stomach pouch any time you ingest carbonation. It inflates, just as it is designed to do, to accommodate larger-than-normal meals for our berry-gathering ancestors. Will one soft drink ruin your post-surgical condition? Probably not. But, I can tell you from personal experience, ingesting any form of carbonation will hurt like hell. You have been warned.

Now, pour your experimental soft drink down the drain. Don't expose yourself to temptation.

4. Beer: My greatest bariatric surgery regret is that I will never drink Guinness again. It hurts me, deep in the secret places of my heart. But it is a sacrifice I was willing to make, and one that comes up frequently in our discussions with other bariatric patients. So, why no beer?

Firstly, see "no carbonation" just above. Beer is delivered in a carbonated liquid, with all the same drawbacks as soft drinks. (Though better taste, in my opinion.) As much as I love the stuff, I am not willing to inflate my new sleeve repeatedly until I can eat half a cow at one sitting again.

Secondly, beer contains alcohol. (Duh.) And bariatric surgery leaves us very susceptible to the effects of intoxicants - in short, we become cheap dates. I used to be able to put away a 12-pack of beer in the course of an evening. A twelve pack will now most likely put me in the hospital. A single drink of alcohol will have an almost immediate effect, and will then wear off pretty quickly as well. I have yet to start experimenting with this myself but have been able to watch it in others. Be wary of any alcoholic beverage, and avoid any delivered in bubbles.

5. NSAIDS: Post-surgery, pain is a big issue. And many patients are dismayed to find out that their favorite pain relievers are no longer allowed thanks to the changes to their digestive system. Those that have previously taken things like Asprin, Advil, Aleve, Motrin, and other Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are informed that these are entirely off the menu and that they need to switch to acetaminophin-based products. Those of us that can't take acetaminophin (like myself) are basically just out of luck.

But, why?

The reduced size of the stomach pouch has many interesting side effects. The one that affects pain relievers is this: a smaller stomach pouch has a reduced size, meaning a smaller amount of stomach acid (for breaking down things like drugs) and a reduced amount of mucus (for protecting the stomach lining against the tissue-damaging effects of things like drugs.) This means that the corrosive side effects of NSAIDS can burn right through the reduced protective layer in your stomach and start directly affecting the walls of the stomach pouch, resulting in things like ulcers. In a large stomach pouch, the side effects are mitigated by the sheer amount of real estate. In our surgically reduced stomachs? Not so much. Switch to Tylenol if you can. If you can't, due to medication interactions like mine, you will have to learn to grin and bear it.

Hopefully, this gives everyone a little clearer idea as to why so many of our favorite things have been seemingly randomly removed from our lives. Just remember - there are a host of healthy food items out there that you have likely not even tried yet. Instead of pining over the comfort foods you have lost, go out and discover some new, healthier ones. I, for one, was happy to trade chocolate chip cookies for the ability to walk  several miles without being in pain. What are you willing to trade your favorite foods for?

Waiting To Trade Whiskey For Beer Next Year,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Where Has The Polar Bear Gone?

(Image courtesy of

Winter has totally arrived here in New Mexico - as I sit here (shivering) this morning it is a mind-numbing 27 degrees outside, with the wind chill further reducing conditions to 20. The poor ancient wall heaters in our home keep rumbling into life and trying to keep up, but the fact of the matter is: it is freakin' freezing in here. No amount of socks, sweatshirts, and jackets seem to take the edge off.

I have never in my life been this cold. Which is odd, because I have certainly been in temperatures that were colder. All my adult life, friends and family members have referred to me as a "polar bear" - I have been able to function in, if not exactly enjoy, really cold weather. So, what happened?

The problem, as it turns out, can be traced back to weight loss surgery. 

Part of this is a no-brainer: fat is a natural insulator. Since I have currently lost 29% (and counting) of my weight, I should expect to be 29% colder, right? But I don't feel like the temperature has dropped by a few percentage points. I feel like I am suffering through the heat death of the universe. So, what gives?

As it turns out, there is a second problem with the results of massive weight loss from surgery: the metabolism slows way down. Why? Because it is no longer having to work as hard in keeping blood flowing, oxygen moving, and digestive processes happening. The energy bill for a 3,000 square foot house is going to be much higher than the bill for a 2,000 square foot home. Since the metabolic process generates energy, it also produces heat as a by-product. (Think of how hot a saw blade gets when making a really long cut.) Less metabolic expenditure = less energy used = less heat generated. That's science at work.

The end result is that we now huddle around our heaters, cursing when they turn off. We shuffle around the house in multiple layers of winter clothing, topped off with ski jackets. And at night we huddle closer to one another (which is nice) and fight over who gets to use poor Vixen as a space heater (which is less nice, especially for Vixen.) At this point, I am not even sure that the end is in sight: some say this problem lasts for the first few months after surgery, but other sources claim we will be this way for the rest of our lives. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, we will just have to shiver, bundle up, and take really hot showers on an hourly basis.

On An Ice Floe Waiting For Spring To Come,

- Hawkwind

Monday, November 28, 2016

We Enter The Eye of the Holiday Storm

The ovens are empty, the dishes are (mostly) clean, and the family members have all returned safely home. As we enter the calm before the second chaotic storm that is the Christmas holiday, everything returns mostly to normal.

I had every intention of attempting to put up a post or two during the holiday. Honest, I did. I took my tiny laptop/tablet along with me and everything. But the driving to and fro, the assistance with cooking, the random tech support, and (most importantly) spending time with my nieces and nephews all conspired to keep my hands off the keyboard.

Now, on to the part you are all curious about - how bad was the damage?

Marginal, really. A little too carb heavy, but it was either eat carbs or eat nothing but turkey and ham. No meal weighed in at more than 6 ounces. Where I fell off the wagon was as expected - desserts. Berry, pumpkin, and pecan pies were all available, and I admit I indulged in small amounts of each over the weekend. To offset this we made sure to put in 2 miles every single day, even in the sub-40 degree Northern New Mexico wind.

The final result? I nudged upward 2 tenths of a pound, from 212.2 to 212.4. Nothing "statistically significant", as my father would say. Especially considering the fact that, over the weekend, I was given and fit cleanly into two pairs of 38-inch jeans. Essentially, I came out of Thanksgiving weekend with a smaller waistline than I went into it with. I will count that as a win.

Lor did even better: she actually lost a couple of pounds during the holiday. I ascribe this entirely to her participation in Black Friday - I am sure the crowds, the stress, and the rushing around madly did wonders for her metabolism. I was too cowardly to brave the crowds, and stayed home with my father in law and watched football.

We both are feeling pretty weighed down by the carb load, however, and will be starting a couple days worth of reduced carb eating, just to kind of reset things. Hooray. I fully intend to restabilise and then go into the Christmas holiday well under 210, and hopefully up to 3 miles a day. I have just under 30 days to make this stick. Then I can deal with the second round of Forbidden Foods.

P3s And Protein Shakes Await,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Long, Dark Tunnel

Yesterday's article on "Fatbrain" led to some interesting discussions about how major changes in our health can lead to corresponding changes in the character of our lives. Whether the negative effects of a major illness, or the positive effects of recovery from a condition like chronic obesity, the wellness of our bodies has a direct relationship to who we are as people.

I probably have a better understanding of this phenomenon than most. 12 years ago, I developed adult-onset epilepsy. This led to some immediate physical changes, of course: seizures, diminished mental function, and the steep decline into my struggles with obesity, to name a few. But it also led to some very significant changes in who I was as a person. Where previously I was outgoing, I became quiet and reserved. I used to be a performer - a musician, in fact. Post epilepsy I lost all my creative impulse. I used to be fairly confident (some might even say arrogant) about my intellect. Spending years not being able to complete a coherent sentence cured me of that as well. The person that I was before my illness developed was entirely different - my entire personality shifted.

I have recently been able to experience the opposite side of that coin, as the results of my bariatric surgery continue to take hold. This time last year I spent probably 10 or more hours a day in front of my PC. Today that number is closer to 2 or 3 hours a day on average. I had no creative outlet for a very long time - today I am writing on a daily basis. Where I used to never leave the house, I now have a calendar filled with at least one social gathering every single week. Then, I did not exercise: now, I do not drive to any destination within two miles. Another sea change is taking place, once again changing not only my health, by but character - my identity, if you will.

I described the phenomenon to Lor as feeling like I am riding a train: 12 years ago, I entered a railway tunnel as a certain person. I was a musician, an IT guru, divorced, healthy, and financially well-off. Then the lights went out.

Twelve years later, I am no longer any of the things that I was when I entered. The person I will see when the metaphorical lights come back on will be a stranger to me, an entirely new person that I will have to get to know like I would any other new acquaintance. Sure, there is a little fear about this developing relationship. But I think I am more excited about its potential.

In short, the thing I am choosing to focus upon is not that I have been in the tunnel for so long. It is the fact that I can finally see a light at the end of it. And from what I can see as the lights get brighter, I think I already like this person better than the one I left behind all those years and miles of darkness ago.

Not All Change Is Bad,

- Hawkwind

Monday, November 21, 2016


Welcome to Thanksgiving Week - the official opening of weight gain season for the majority of us here in the U.S. Great food, lousy weather, and depressed energy levels are a killer combination when trying to stay true to your weight loss goals. It takes determination, willpower, and great mental fortitude to succeed. And many of us that have gone through bariatric surgery find mental fortitude to be in short supply.

This problem is widely referred to within our circles as "fatbrain" - the phenomenon that leads us to still perceive ourselves as obese even when we have lost tremendous amounts of weight post surgery.  We don't look in the mirror and see steady improvement in our health and appearance. Somehow, what we see reflected is the same person that we were before we started the weight loss journey. We take the evidence provided by our measurements, our scales, and the feedback of friends and loved ones, and discard it. We still feel overweight, therefore we must still be overweight, despite any evidence to the contrary.

This phase of fatbrain is insidious, and very difficult to overcome. Logging is one of our greatest weapons here - if we know that last year we were able to down a super-sized extra-value meal, and that today we can only manage a couple of ounces of cheese and deli meat, eventually the light begins to come on mentally. We need to pick a metric - a measurement unit that we really understand, and base our progress on that. In my case, I picked a size of clothing that was impossible to fit into in  (38-inch waistline jeans) and kept checking. Amazingly, this last weekend I was able to get into them. I admittedly had to hold my breath to do it, but, hey, 9 months ago I couldn't even get them up past my thighs. Tough to ignore that kind of evidence.

However, I personally have now graduated to a new version of fatbrain - call it Fatbrain 2.0. I now look in the mirror and see the ghost of my previously massive self looking over my shoulder. I am somehow convinced that one bad day will rocket me 90 pounds back up the scale overnight. This sense of dread and paranoia never leaves me. When I don't exercise, I am convinced that I have failed. When I do work out, I am positive I have not done enough. If my weight loss stalls, I am sure that I am done losing weight. If I do lose weight, it must be a coincidence. The wheels inside my head never stop spinning, orbiting forever around the obese identity locked between my ears.

(Sigh.) Ah, well. A little paranoia probably won't do me any harm over the holidays. Whatever it takes to keep me close to the veggie platter and away from the pumpkin pies and whipped cream, right?

Watching Myself Like A

- Hawkwind

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Clothing: The Struggle Is Real

The ever-shrinking wardrobe problem continues: on a daily basis, Lor and I keep getting rid of clothing and not replacing the donated items. Finally, in desperation, we went shopping for clothes yesterday.

And left the store without a single item of clothing.

Here's how it went down: we had a small clothing budget, so we decided to diligently look through sale and clearance price items only. Lor was immediately faced with a supply problem: it seemed the only sizes available were Small and below, or XXL and above. After finally finding a couple of items that might work, she tried them on. Both were rejected and placed back on the racks.

My problem was a little different. I found a few items that would probably have worked, but they were either too expensive ($20+), or too hideous. Camo-pattern jeggings? Not in my closet.

I finally decided to just grab some sweats and call it a day. I found some lightweight sweatpants I could use for exercise going for only $6. And immediately met resistance from Lor, of all places.

Lor: "Those sweats are too small."
Me: "Too small? They are size Large! I am wearing baggy XLs right this second!"
Lor: "The ones you are wearing right now are old, and stretched, and have been worn more than once. The Large ones are too small."

I would've argued the case, but the Regrettable Haircut Incident was still fresh in my mind. Lor tends to be right, I tend to be wrong. It's a thing. So, I put the sweats back on the shelf, and we left the store.

Why didn't I just get a set of XLs, you ask?

Because buying an XL felt like a failure. It made me feel like I must still be "fat". (Word used on purpose, with all negative connotations accepted.) Even thinking about it now makes me feel like I am moving backward.

It is an astonishingly silly way to feel, I know. But I am still looking at my body and focusing on flaws. My previously beach-ball sized tummy has shrunk to about the size of a volleyball, but it is still there. Previously solid muscle still wobbles. And my hair loss...well, you all know what happened there.

After all I have been through, I am still focused on failure, and paying scant attention to progress.

I am not sure how to beat this, in all honesty. I have a very real fear at this point that I will get all the way down to my goal weight, look in the mirror, and think that it was a wasted effort. I simply can't shake my mental identity of obesity yet.

And meanwhile, thanks to the ongoing clothing drama, there is a very real threat that I will show up to Thanksgiving dinner next week naked. 

Now THAT ought to put a damper on everyone's appetite.

Combating Obesity Through Nudity,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I Drank The Kool-Aid

Yes, that is my new(-ish) Fitbit Flex on my wrist.

If you have spent any time at all here on Misdirected, you know that I have been pretty resistant to the idea of spending money on an item that performs functions that my cell phone handles adequately. In short: I am cheap. However, the arrival of Lor's new Fitbit Surge, courtesy of her sister, left us with an unallocated Fitbit Flex that we had received from my Mom a few weeks back. So, on Saturday, I linked it to my phone and strapped it on.

For those that don't know, Fitbit not only tracks your physical activity and sleep, but it also plugs you into the community of other Fitbit users around you. (In my case, Lor and my parents.) And it starts making comparisons between everyone's physical activity, to act as a motivational tool. For me, it was concrete evidence that I am not moving nearly as much as Lor is. Or my Mother. Or my Father. I am losing the physical activity war not only to my lovely wife, but to my retired parents as well. Not good.

How well am I doing? With two days worth of data, I can determine that I am apparently managing about 7,000 steps a day: roughly 3 miles a day. I was admittedly surprised to see how much of my physical activity is tied up in things like cleaning house and washing dishes - more than I would have expected. But, still, about 3,000 steps a day short of the 10,000+ steps that Fitbit wants me to be achieving on a daily basis. 

My initial reaction is resignation - I am a disabled gamer, for goodness sake. Who the heck expects me to manage 5 miles a day? But, I then compare my numbers to my father, who is also sedentary, also suffers from physical issues, and has got 20 years on me to boot. He is managing this level of activity, why the hell can't I? Humbling is a good word. Never mind comparing with my Mom who is apparently never ceasing to move. I can't manage 10,000 steps in a day, while my Mom can regularly manage over 20,000? Unacceptable.

Today is gym day, so I am very curious to see how the Fitbit Flex converts weight lifting into "steps". (Lor's shiny new one includes things like a heart rate monitor and multiple exercise modes, so she should be all set.) I am hoping that the combination of walking to the gym, then a workout, then walking home gets me in the ballpark of the golden 10,000 step goal that this demanding device is asking of me. But, if not, I think I have a plan. The Fitbit tracks "steps" actually by monitoring arm movement, not leg movement.

And I have a perfectly good guitar sitting in the corner, just waiting to help me game the system.

Maybe I Will Learn Some Thrash Metal,

- Hawkwind

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Barbershop...

On Saturday, I took one look in the mirror and decided I could take it no more. The thinning crown, the receding hairline - it had to stop. So, I walked into the office and made my announcement.

Me: "Today is the day."
Lor: "What day is that?"
Me: "The day I shave my head."
Lor: "If you think that's what you want..."

Lor has been dead set against me shaving my head for quite a while now. However, her own recent haircut and the positive effect it has had on her appearance and her personal outlook had softened her opinion on me making my own drastic change. However, one detail remained...

Lor: "Where are you going to get it done?"
Me: "We are BROKE. I am doing it myself!"
Lor: "I don't think that is such a great idea..."

Undeterred by spousal concerns, I headed into the bathroom to begin work, armed with a normal facial razor and this:

For those of you reading on a smaller screen: Yes, that is a battery powered beard trimmer.

What was it that led me to believe this would be a great tool for prepping a head full of (admittedly thinning) hair? I would like to say "hope" but, in truth, it was "impatience". I could not stand the idea of looking at the growing divots in my hairline any longer.  I began my work about 11 AM. At Noon, I emerged, looking for a new set of batteries for the beard trimmer.

Lor: "Why are you wearing a beanie?"
Me: "I don't want to scare you."

By 12:30 my head was maybe 25% trimmed. The problem? It was trimmed unevenly, with random growths sticking out in all directions thanks to the unruly cowlicks that populate my head. And this was just the front of my head. The top and back were thinned, but still largely covered in hair. In desperation, I hopped into the shower with my razor and a set of scissors.

30 minutes later, the drain was clogging due to randomly removed hair and I had dulled both my scissors and my razor. 

I emerged, water dripping from the ceiling over the shower due to the length of my hair-removal adventure. Looking in the mirror, I noted that I now looked like I had been exposed to radiation or chemical warfare, with random patches of hair growing from various locations on my scalp. I dressed, put my beanie back on, and went to the bank to withdraw $20 from our Emergency Fund to get the mess repaired professionally.

The area around my stylist's chair was full of laughter and levity as I described my hours-long ordeal. 2 stylists and three people waiting for haircuts all had to crowd around to see the grand unveiling when I pulled the beanie off.

There was a moment of silence, broken by my stylist: "Thank you for keeping the beanie on until now."

10 minutes later, I was shorn professionally, and left with a long list of scalp-care instructions and promises that the story of my "do-it-yourself" attempt would be a featured entertainment at Thanksgiving gatherings all over the city. I smiled and bore the teasing as best I could, knowing that I still had to face the "I told you so." moment at home. It wasn't bad, as these things go, but I may never be allowed unsupervised in a bathroom again.

Ah, well. If we truly learn from failure, then I have earned the equivalent of a college degree in how to make a mess of yourself.

Oh, the final result? Here you go:

Boy, Does That Scalp Need Some Color,

- Hawkwind