Thursday, March 31, 2016

Do the Math

My mind is on numbers this morning. Since I am a poor mathematician, this can only lead to ruin and despair, but that is what I am thinking about nonetheless. Whether calculating percentage of weight loss from my highest point (5.5%, last time I checked), how much money is in the bank account ($26, last time I checked), or how many wins the Diamondbacks are going to need to capture the West this year (I am thinking 94, the division has gotten a whole lot tougher), an endless parade of numbers, equations and statistics are marching across my brain this morning. So, since that is where we are at, let's use it, shall we?

The first post on Misdirected took place back on July 7, 2010. (I refer to the blog as being 3 years old because there were two massive breaks in there, each lasting over a year) In that time, we have had 16,300 page views. So far, so good, right? Well, dig this number: a full 1,449 of those page views have happened within the last 31 days - basically since we stopped talking about games and started talking about the upcoming Gastric Sleeve surgeries. Almost 10% of our total activity, over three-ish years of posts, has taken place in the last month. I am amazed and humbled that so many people are so interested in what Lor and I are doing here to get ourselves healthy, joining us on our "weight-loss journey" as they like to call it. Thank you for your interest and your support!

Some other numbers: Yesterday Lor dragged Vixen and I up into the foothills above Albuquerque for a hike. We managed a half hour hike, covering just under 1 mile, dodging cactus and coyote poop all the way. But, it was exactly what we needed - here in the American Southwest we are surrounded by gorgeous landscape just waiting to be explored, and instead I have been daily walking the dog around the blocks of our neighborhood. Very flat, very stable, very boring. As an additional "benefit", today I feel like I was doing a legs day at the gym yesterday - very sore every way I move my lower body. Hiking up and down elevation engages all those stabilizer muscles and unused muscle groups that the trainers at the gym love to talk about. We need to add this to our regular schedule at least once a week, at least until we can afford to get mountain bikes. Then things are really going to change!

One last number I've been thinking about is a weight-loss goal number. At my initial meeting with my surgeon, I was so stunned to hear that I should be under 200 pounds again after the post-surgical weight loss that I forgot to ask how far under I should expect. Are we talking 199? Or more like 180?I have every intention of beginning weight lifting again as soon as I am physically able and am very curious what kind of "build" I should expect. I mean, are we talking Dustin Pedroia from the Red Sox? Or more like Maurice Jones-Drew from the Jacksonville Jaguars/Oakland Raiders? 'Cause enquiring minds want to know, and all that.

I had better give this subject a rest before I start counting fingers and toes and Chihuahuas. Thanks again to the readers of Misdirected - nothing has made me happier than sharing these experiences with you all.

10 and 10 and 2, In Case You Were Wondering,

- Hawkwind

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Good Morning, Guinea Pig

Photo Credit: Albert Vuvu Konde via Compfight cc

One of the negatives of getting up as early as I do is the lack of distractions. Don't get me wrong, the lack of distraction makes a perfect environment in which to concentrate on writing, but it also means that negative thoughts can get stuck in the brain, whirling around and around like a ride at the State Fair - the one that makes you throw up and leaves you with a headache for a week. And this morning's whirling ride is this: I can't seem to find any evidence, anywhere online, of a person who has epilepsy and a Vagus Nerve Stimulator having any kind of weight loss surgery.

Finding folks just with epilepsy who have had the surgery is tough enough. I found a very poignant forum post on an Australian message board from 2008: "Surely I can't be the only morbidly obese person with seizures in the whole country!" Apparently he was - not a single person responded to his post. A very small number of folks report developing seizures out of the blue after having a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass, but those that chose to report back after evaluation almost always reported some kind of vitamin or mineral deficiency as being the cause of their seizures. I've only ever found two people who reported successful treatment of both their seizures and their obesity. I may not be the first to cross the Sahara, but there sure aren't any paths or footprints to follow here.

When you consider that I also have a Vagus Nerve Stimulator installed in my chest (very similar to a pacemaker in size and location of placement), the Internet goes totally dark. There is just no information at all out there about the effect of WSL on someone with this device implanted. Heck, during my surgical consult I had to show my surgeon the location of the implant on my body and briefly discuss what it does - he had never heard of it. He waved off the importance of it after determining that it would not interfere with the laparoscopic incisions required for the Sleeve, but now I am beginning to wonder - are there risk factors here that no one has considered because no one in my position has ever done this before?

Ten years ago when I enquired about Weight Loss Surgery, my doctor gave me a flat "No" - it was not appropriate for someone in my condition. I have since learned that the issue there was the concern for malabsorption due to the way the Gastric Bypass operates, but still - we've only got a few years of reliable history on the Sleeve at this point. Who is ultimately right, my current surgeon, who says the whole thing is no big deal, or my neurologist from a decade ago who insisted that the whole procedure should never be considered by someone like me? These are some frightening points to be considering at 5 AM, spinning around on the Hurricane of Doubt.

My father has made the suggestion that I should present the whole thing to my surgeon as an opportunity for him to publish a paper in the Journal of American Medicine or some similar publication. The more I think about it, the more I think he might be right - it may be a very good idea to give my surgeon some other motivation to do some extra research for my procedure. He can be the one who boldly goes where no surgeon has gone before. All I want is to come out of this process healthier than I went into it.

Spinning Rides Make Me Dizzy,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Not Statistically Significant

Sad to think I am hitting 285 pounds on the way DOWN.

Despite my dislike for "pounds lost" as the only factor of interest to many people who are going through the Gastric Sleeve, weekly logging is a required part of the whole process. And there was a whole lot of interest in what my numbers were for yesterday's weigh-in after my disaster of a week last week. But the numbers don't lie - yesterday I was at 285 again, representing a loss of 1.6 pounds from the previous week.

The odd thing is, I was at 285 and some change three weeks ago, too. Last week's weigh-in (without any major dietary disasters preceding it) I had gained a pound, and was up to 286! I was very disgusted with myself and happened to mention it to my father. Wise retired biologist that he is, he told me to dismiss the week's weight gain entirely: "Starting from over 300 pounds, son, 1 pound is about a third of a percent. It is not statistically significant."

I knew I should've paid more attention in biology class back in high school.

So, another not statistically significant weight loss for this week, then. Even my total weight loss since the start of this process is just on the edge of "real", with our diet changes having resulted in just over a 5% change in my weight since we started (285/302 = .943). Now, 17 pounds is nothing to sneeze at, admittedly - I have basically reduced the load on my body by the weight of a bowling ball or so. But my body still hurts, it is still really easy to re-injure my bad knee (they are both bad, but the one I had surgery on can go out at a moment's notice), and I look like crap. What once was a solid mass of fat all over my body has collapsed - I no longer look like I am carrying a beach ball under my shirt, I instead look like a candle that has been put in a hot oven for a few minutes. Not pretty.

It isn't all bad, of course. On Sunday, I was able to get into (and wear comfortably) a pair of 46-inch jeans that my mother-in-law bought me years ago, my first new jeans in years, and my first time in a 46-inch waistline since 2005 or so. I can now walk a whole mile without being ready to die. I even managed to get through 50 ounces of water yesterday, which may not sound like a mighty achievement to many of you, but my fellow bariatric patients are all nodding at the significance. Drinking that much fluid while only taking single sips at a time is amazingly difficult. Try it some day, if you are curious.  We should all be drinking 64 ounces a day anyway, right?

The struggle continues. This is the final week of relative calm, then the weeks of April 3 through the 23rd are filled with surgery-related appointments, 2 - 3 a week for 3 weeks straight. We are only 6 weeks out from Lor's final dietary consult at this point, where her surgery will be submitted to insurance, then scheduled. We do not have far to go here if we can just stay sane, keep encouraging each other, and keep moving forward. By Labor Day, this should all be over.

Well, except for the weight loss part.

Visualizing No Longer Shopping in Fatlandia,

- Hawkwind

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Slippery Slope

Several weeks ago, at the beginning of the diet-change process, a sudden craving struck our household. With elevated heart rates and embarrassed glances at each other, we headed to the local ice cream shop, and each got ourselves a sundae. After all, we rationalized, we had better do it now, right? It's not like we could splurge after our surgeries.

But, after the forbidden ice cream treat I felt...disappointed. Empty, almost. It had not really satisfied my craving at all, and I felt no desire for more. I told Lor, "Well, I guess that does it for ice cream.", and felt not only relief, but a curious sense of pride in myself - these dietary changes must already be working if my cravings were changing, right? I departed from our mutual diet failure with a sense of progress and accomplishment.

Fast forward to last week. Lor got sick - a head cold that left her drained and listless for days. Since she is the person who is in charge of our menu planning, and she had no real interest in eating, this created some confusion in the household. Especially when she demanded her favorite comfort food for getting through a cold - Green Chile Stew. Oddly, the best Green Chile Stew in our neighborhood is available from a chicken and barbecue restaurant, so I was dispatched on a quest to gather up the magical, sinus-clearing elixir. I asked Lor if it was OK if I got a meal as well. She waved her hand in dismissal, not being interested in what I did, as long as the Stew arrived quickly. On the way to the restaurant, I lectured myself on good choices, reduced carbs, and eating sensibly.

3 huge pieces of fried chicken, a side of mashed potatoes with gravy AND a side of Mac and Cheese later, I realized that maybe I wasn't as far along with these dietary changes as I previously thought.

In retrospect, the things I did wrong are pretty easy to spot. I should have agreed on a menu for myself before I left the house (2 pieces of baked chicken, maybe, perhaps some steamed broccoli to go with it.). I should have written it down, so I had something in writing to hold myself to, since my accountability partner would be lying on the couch several miles away, trying to breathe. But, mainly what I should have done is not take her illness as license to cheat on my diet. I should have gotten just the items that she asked for and then returned home, where we have tons of intelligent food choices already in place just waiting for me to prepare and eat them. It would've been cheaper, too.

I come out of the experience a little embarrassed and a little wiser. A single diet failure is not the end of the world by any means. But patting myself on the back for no longer wanting ice cream was a false achievement - there is no great accomplishment in giving up something I wasn't all that crazy about to start with, and I gave myself a false sense of security. I have now identified a true weakness (starchy carbs with rich sauces), and can start to work on making that change in my mental programming.

You don't give a thief a job guarding your bank, you do not leave the family cat unsupervised while there is food on the kitchen counter, and you don't send Hawkwind out to the fried chicken joint. It is not the course of wisdom.

Dreading The Weekly Weigh-In,

- Hawkwind

Friday, March 25, 2016

45 Grams to Deconstruction

One of the very first changes that was made in our household was institution of a new diet. Before either of us ever met a dietitian, we looked over the (intimidating) packets of information we were sent home with from our surgical consults, and decided there were changes we could make immediately. We amped up our fruit and vegetable intake via smoothie creation once a day, we got rid of all our sugared snacks (goodbye, Ghiradelli), and we immediately stopped drinking carbonated beverages. But things got a bit more complex after the first visit with a dietitian. We were sent home trying to: A) Increase our water intake to 64 ounces a day (but that is a WHOLE other article), and B) Reduce our three meals a day to 45 grams of Carbohydrates each.

Now, 45 grams is not much. 45 grams is equal to, say, 12 ounces of fruit juice. Or a Whole-Wheat Bagel. Or 3 whole Oreos. It was becoming clear that many favorite foods were going to be vanishing from our lives - not at the "2 weeks before surgery" point, but more like the "right now" point. We began our transition from bread, pasta, and cakes to Kale and cheese.

This is where the support of friends and family members can be HUGE. For example, in preparation for our Easter get-together this year, my Mother called me to ask what could we actually eat? This is going to be great training for our lives post-surgeries when options will be even more restricted. We decided to stick with our usual cookout menu of burgers and brats, just without the use of hamburger and hot dog buns. Add a mixed green salad, and a small amount of fresh fruit for dessert, and voila - Lor and I can participate without feeling like we are screwing up everyone else's meal.

That type of compromise and cooperation is going to be important in the months to come, I think. Both of our families are food-centric, with family get-togethers all planned around who is going to be bringing what food item. As we begin to change our diets dramatically, it is hardly fair to expect every one else in the family to follow along - they didn't require Gastric Sleeve surgery, after all. But this idea of component-based meals, where Lor and I are free to select items or portions that work within our diets while everyone else can eat as they choose, seems to be an excellent solution. We don't want to lose out on the social interaction that comes along with preparing meals and sitting down with the family.

We just want to make sure that we are around for the next few decades, so we can continue to spend time with each other.

Already Plotting For Thanksgiving,

- Hawkwind

PS - Since there has been a little confusion, Misdirected is published Monday through Friday. Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for all the stuff I should've been doing while I was writing and reading other blogs!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Paralysis of Choice

I have sat here for an hour this morning, head in my hands like the Stormtrooper in the "Regret" poster, attempting to get my brain to fire up. It is slow going today, I must admit. No witty observations, no heartfelt revelations. Just sitting here staring at the wall, noting where I need to do some touch-up painting.

It is kinda strange, really. I am currently busier than ever. Blogging fills (most of) my mornings, doing some work out on MTurk is generating some Amazon credit for us, I've even discovered a "piece writing" site (Text Broker) that will actually pay real, live money for small articles. I have plenty to do. Today I just can't seem to get myself moving in order to do those things.

It is easy enough to blame my second day of caffeine withdrawal. But I am beginning to think that the real problem is choices: all of the sudden I have some options, and I am having trouble choosing between them. I am not really used to the concept. For years, my days consisted of getting up, gaming while hoping I didn't have seizures that day, going back to bed. Now, suddenly, there are options: Do I write a post? Do I go exercise? Do I get online and work for a little while? All this while feeling that my brain is turned off still.

In many ways, it feels very similar to the years when I was suffering from serious depression - then, I would see the things that I could be doing, but didn't care enough to do them. What would be the point? Now, it is almost a paralysis, like a child in a candy store, overwhelmed by too many options. My heart knows that I would be better off choosing something, but my mind can't seem to make that connection.

Six months ago, if you have told me I would be overwhelmed with options today, I would have laughed at you. My obesity and my epilepsy between them create a very firm anchor, fixing me in a very small space - a room with windows, but no doors. Today, I am still obese. I am still epileptic. But today, unlike 6 months ago, I have hope - hope that by this time next year weight-loss surgery may actually allow me to be taking my first, tentative steps again through life, instead of merely doing laps inside the walls of my twin disabilities. And no one ever warned me that hope is a paralyzing agent.

My hands are warmed up now, the blood seems to be flowing to the brain again. Out there is Real Life, streaming by outside my window like a busy freeway. Within these walls there are things I can be doing to prepare myself for the possibility that I might someday rejoin that flow.  I guess I better get to it.

Daring to Hope,

- Hawkwind

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Hospital Nightmare

A lot sooner than expected (maybe the lack of caffeine contributed), I have begun having to deal with an issue of Gastric Sleeve weight loss surgery that I thought I would be free of for at least another couple months. But, last night's nightmare has announced to me that it is already time to start dealing with an issue that I have kept quiet until now: I am terrified of hospitals.

I am not so afraid of surgery, really. I've had 3 pretty minor procedures in my life (My Vagus Nerve Stimulator surgeries and a meniscus repair), and they all turned out OK. But, that is a whole other thing. I have spent so much time in hospitals in the last twelve years, and none of it was pleasant. I have been under observation for a week, sleep deprived (on purpose) so neurologists could study my seizures. I have been poked and prodded, scanned and x-rayed, had gallons of blood removed from me a vial at a time as various medical professionals have tried to get a handle on my epilepsy. (None of it has ever worked, by the way.) And let's not even talk about how many times I have woken up in an Emergency Room, post-seizure, not knowing where I was, or who I was, or who these strange people all around me were. You know, people like my wife, and my parents.

Yeah, hospitals just aren't my thing. And I have been very carefully not thinking about the fact that I am going to have to spend at least a couple days in one come my surgery date, and that's if everything goes right. Apparently my subconscious has gone right on worrying about it without me, if last night's dream (about being prepped for the wrong surgery without being able to tell my doctor he was making a mistake) is any indication.

I can't even be really sure that everything is going to go correctly - I have searched and searched, and have been unable to find a single example of someone who has intractable seizures going through Gastric Sleeve surgery. I am sure people like me are out there, but they are sure not talking about it online. My case just seems custom designed for "complications" - the kind that stretch out my hospital stay. Ugh.

Most days I have been pretty excited about this whole process, but today has just been kind of a downer. And I still have 5 months (or so) to go! Maybe I will find some encouraging info between now and then, but for right now I am not feeling real great about this whole "hospital stay" thing.

And The Hospital Gowns Suck Too,

- Hakwind

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


I have been watching the level as it drops. Every day, I have kept an anxious eye on the contents of my coffee jar, knowing that the inevitable would come. And, yesterday, it arrived. The pot of coffee I brewed used the last of our caffeinated coffee grounds, meaning that I was going to have to replace the contents with...decaf. I had to restrain myself from licking the interior of the now dusty and empty coffee jar.

It has been difficult enough keeping up with the new, carbohydrate-light diet that was introduced into our household after Lor's first visit with her dietitian. No more soft drinks, no problem - there is still half a case of Mountain Dew ("Code Monkey Fuel") sitting in our pantry collecting dust waiting for a friend or family member to show up and take it off our hands. No more carbonation was a little trickier - Lor loves those Zero-Calorie carbonated waters and I, of course, was forced to give up my precious, precious beer. Somehow, we powered through.

But coffee! That's a whole other ball game. I have been a caffeine addict since high school, and have always relied on coffee for my morning jump start. Days when fate or poor planning forced a start without coffee have always led to headaches, stomach upset, and general low-level nastiness on my part. And, in recent years, I have dragged Lor down the Coffee Road behind me, resulting in two caffeine addictions under the same roof. No, mornings are not going to be pleasant in the Hawkwind Habitat for the foreseeable future.

Following some advice from a fellow bariatric patient who was kind enough to visit us here on the blog, I did at least make sure that we got good decaf:

(Seriously, is there anything you can't get on Amazon?)

It smells good enough going into the jar, but I know from previous experience that, like the main character in Dream Park, I just like the taste of caffeine. (And, sorry to sound like a shill for Amazon here, but if you are a Science Fiction fan who somehow missed out on reading Larry Niven's Dream Park, stop what you are doing right now and go buy it. You can thank me later.)

I am assured by those that have gone before me that I will kick my addiction in a short period of time, and then all will be sunshine and roses again. But, I am not so sure. Even now, I can feel the tendrils of my desire for caffeine, wrapping like tentacles around my brain, preparing to squeeze all the life out of my ever-weakening form.

Maybe a little less Darkest Dungeon and H.P. Lovecraft while I am kicking coffee, eh?

Staring Into the Caffeine-Free Abyss,

- Hawkwind

Monday, March 21, 2016

Skinny is a Side Effect

When speaking with friends and family members about my upcoming Gastric Sleeve Surgery, there have been a wide range of reactions. Some are encouraging. Some tell me they are worried about the surgery. A few want to know what effect (if any) the surgery could have on my epilepsy. But, by far the most common response has been some version of the following:

"How exciting! Just think how skinny you are going to get!"

I smile, and nod politely, not trusting myself to speak. But, every time, it makes me grind my teeth a bit. Because if you were going to make a list of all the reasons I was having this surgery, "skinny" would not be at the bottom. "Skinny" would not even be on the list.

Western society is overly invested into the cult of skinny. It is something that my wife has been standing up against her whole adult life - so many women, and not a few men, get themselves emotionally crippled trying to match the societal ideal of what a person should look like. Eating disorders, yo-yo dieting, and emotional scarring abound, all because so many people can't get themselves to a "perfect" weight, or dress size, or whatever. And that societal disease leads SO many people to believe that my motivation to get a life-altering surgery performed on myself is to get skinny? The minds reels.

As exciting as it is to read about the dramatic weight loss numbers associated with the Gastric Sleeve and other weight loss surgeries, I really wish people would talk about other things more consistently. "Non-Scale Victories", or NSVs some call them - changes that have taken place that do not have to do with the number of pounds (or kilos, because this phenomenon is worldwide) that a person has lost.  I do see photos of people standing inside one leg of the "fat pants" they used to wear, holding the waist line out with one hand to demonstrate their weight loss, which sort of qualifies, I suppose - but is really still focusing on how a person looks after surgery. I am not really interested in how someone looks, I want to know how they feel. What changes has the surgery brought to their daily lives? What new doors have been opened that used to be firmly closed? These are the things that I want to know about, because these are the things I want to prepare myself for.

The damnable thing is, there are changes I can expect based entirely on how I will look after surgery. No longer will I be exiled to "Fatlandia" (the plus size men's section in any store) when shopping for clothing - I will actually be able to wear what I want, and might become more fashion conscious. Maybe I will be willing to go to the swimming pool right across the road from our home that I have only visited once in 4 years, because I hate the way I look in swimming trunks. Maybe I will become more aware of shaping my physique because I can suddenly have sex again. (Morbidly obese people tend to not have robust sex lives. I would talk in more detail, but there might be kids in the room.) It is entirely possible that I am full of crap here, and that my personal appearance will suddenly be a major factor in my life once I have gone through the surgery.

But, for now, I just wish people would stop focusing only on the number of pounds lost, and would also tell me other things. Have you been able to stop using a CPAP? Has your blood pressure dropped? Are you no longer in constant pain? Can you ride a bike now? How long until I can expect to go hiking in the Sandia Mountains, instead of sitting here on my ass? 

You know, things like that.

Not Waiting To Turn Into Brad Pitt,

- Hawkwind

PS - My copy editor tells me I forgot something important: I am very proud of myself for choosing to have this surgery, and proud of all of you that are also brave enough to take this frightening step along with me. But, be proud of who you are now. Love yourself for who you are now. Don't wait until you have reached a "target weight". You are already valuable and worthy of love, no matter what your scale says.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Some feedback and questions

Since I have converted Misdirected over to talking about our upcoming weight-loss surgeries, the response has been tremendous. I've received comments, advice, feedback, emails, text messages, etc. all supportive of and enthusiastic about the changes here - and our visitor numbers show the difference. Apparently I have struck a nerve here, talking about obesity and "big-gun" surgical methods in dealing with it. A few questions have come up that I thought could be addressed to the rest of our readership, rather than just the initial questioner:

1. "So, is Misdirected no longer a gaming site?"

The short answer is no, we are not. I have added more followers and fielded more feedback in the last 2 weeks dealing with issues pertaining to weight loss than I did in the previous 3 years talking about gaming. Now, I am still a gamer, and it remains a major part of my life. Accordingly, I will (finally) commit to streaming 5 days a week, about 3-4 hours a day at my Twitch channel. I intend right now for this to take place from 2pm-ish to 6pm-ish (MST). Since Real Life Happens, I am not committing to which 5 days every week - could be Mon - Fri, could be something else.. Inaugural stream will be later today. I need an outlet for my gaming habit, and maintaining two different blogs just did not seem like an effective way to go. Thanks to everyone who was concerned about this.

2. "What the heck blender is that you are using?"

It is part of the Ninja Kitchen System 1100 package, the latest and greatest version of which can be found here:

The pricing on Amazon isn't quite as good as the older one we found on clearance, but still the best price around. The system itself is very nice - it includes both blender and food processor pitchers that can be used on a 1500-watt base. It creates very nice smoothies out of raw vegetables and fruits, with blend times under the magical 60 second mark. (Blending over 60 seconds begins to seriously impact the nutritional value of your raw materials, due to oxidation apparently. I am no scientist, and don't even play one on TV.)

3. "What are you doing for nutritional supplementation?"

Many well-meaning people have been concerned about the pre-surgery diet creating some major holes in our day-to-day nutrition. I may not have mentioned this in enough detail before, but the major reason that it is going to take us almost 4 months to get through the process is that first we have to go through 3 months worth of work with a real  nutritionist, with letters after her name and everything. The first month of the diet involves adding a daily multivitamin and reducing our previous meals to meals with less than 45 grams of Carbs and with 20 (or more) grams of protein with every serving. The carb reduction has not been much of a problem, but we've had a rocky road trying to get up to the required protein amounts, especially in our once-a-day smoothies. Our financial status has pretty much prevented us from spending tons of money on Whey Protein supplements or anything like that, so we have been making do with high-protein vegetables, greek yogurt, and adding PB2 (aka Powdered Peanut Butter) to our smoothies. A family member found out about this, and decided to give us a hand, and last night a box full of "Love and Peas" Protein-Rich Meal replacement showed up at our door, courtesy of June Baker at The Health ConneXion. We're very excited to try this stuff out - it has a whopping 20 grams of protein per serving, Dairy-free, lactose-free, gluten-free, Vegan-certified - I don't know what all that means, but Lor informs me that this is top-of the line stuff. Thanks, June!

Lastly, you will be seeing some changes to the site here as I tailor more towards our new arrivals - people who are wanting to hear about one person's journey from obesity to weight-loss surgery. I appreciate all the interest we have had here at Misdirected, and look forward to sharing my good, bad, and ugly experiences with you all!

In Transition,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Man Up And Eat Your Veggies

24 ounces of Spinachy Carroty Strawberryish Goodness

When Lor and I decided to start looking into more drastic weight loss solutions initially, she had me watch Joe Cross' excellent documentary "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead", chronicling his weight loss journey performing a 60-day "juice fast" and losing over 100 pounds in the process. While "juicing" didn't really sound like my thing, I had to agree with the tons of nutritional advice in the documentary focusing on one major dietary problem in our lives: instead of a diet made up of 33% (or so) Fruits and Vegetables, our diet was nearly entirely made up of meats and processed foods. We made the decision that, when we could afford it, we would get a juicer or a blender and start making the necessary changes in our diets. Oddly enough, we found a normally $200 blender/food processor combination in the Clearance section of our local mega-mart for 75% off within 48 hours of making this decision. Almost instantly, fruit and vegetable smoothies entered our daily diet, taking the place of our normal lunch routine.

Yesterday, given all the pet-centric chaos and commotion around here, we skipped our daily smoothies. Lor had some canned fruit, I had some leftovers from dinner the night before. I felt completely drained of energy by 8 last night, and woke up this morning with all the symptoms of a good, old-fashioned hangover. The lack of plant-based nutrients yesterday had me paying a serious price today. I told Lor this morning: "I should've just manned up and made our smoothies yesterday."

We both chuckled at the idea that "manning up" equated to eating plants. And I have been thinking about that laughter ever since. Why is it, I wonder, that we look at eating veggies as un-masculine? It can't really have anything to do with the work involved in raising plant-based foods: any farmer will tell you that farming is anything but a weakling's profession. It is work made up of days filled with long, arduous labor. We'll have to look elsewhere for where meat = man.

There is an inherently combative element to the idea of eating meat, I suppose - "Nature, red in tooth and claw", and all that. But talk to any professional athlete about the idea of eating an all-meat diet and you will be laughed out of the clubhouse. Whole, plant-based foods contain nearly all the nutrients a human needs to survive and thrive. (Some vitamins can be an exception.) What the heck is so manly about being nutrient-deficient?

But, the myth persists. We know a family where the wife attempted to start she and her husband on a daily regimen of plant-based smoothies, only to have the husband reject the idea. Why? Because it wasn't "real food". I, myself, have frequently mocked the people I know who prefer salads over steaks, calling them "tree-huggers", and saying they are eating "bunny food." Now, at 150 pounds overweight, I wish I had eaten more salads and otherwise kept my mouth shut.

There is nothing manly about gasping for air after a walk around the block. Embrace your inner bunny, and start making decisions based on what your body needs, instead of the foods that you think of as masculine. Your six-pack will never be visible if it is hidden beneath a beer keg, like mine.

Drinking My Lunch (And I Don't Mean Budweiser).

- Hawkwind

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Going to the Dogs

My 5-pound high blood pressure generator.
Early this morning, I got up and sat myself in front of my computer. I had every intention of putting together a fabulous blog article, maybe a little something about "me vs. the scale" or something. But I could not concentrate. My thoughts went every which direction, all eventually returning to the furry, sleeping lump in the corner a few feet away from me - and her trip to the veterinarian later today. Knowing I could not write coherently in this mental condition, I gave up and wandered into the living room to watch TV, accompanied by my little friend, wagging her tail,  blissfully unaware she might be spending her last few hours on Earth.

What is it about our pets that allows them this emotional power over our lives? People go absolutely crazy for these furry little bundles of neurotic activity, spending an astonishing amount every year on them - more than 60 Billion in the USA alone last year. They are our surrogate children, our best friends, our confidantes - sometimes the one source of reliable emotional support in our lives. "Love Me Like Me Dog Does" was the desire voiced by C/W artist Billy Currington a few years back, and I totally get where he was coming from. My relationships with people tend to have ups and downs. My relationship with Vixen is pretty much a constant positive reinforcement of my self-image: she seems to think that I am one of the twin pillars that hold up the Universe. (Lor is the other one, of course. That's OK. I suppose I can share.)

And, for weeks now, my fuzzy ego-reinforcer has been in pain every time she goes to the potty. We have tried different diets, we have tried supplements, we have tried prescriptions, and nothing works. Every day, come "potty time" she screams as if we are shoving red-hot pokers into her, until she is finally done. She then ambles away, unconcerned, leaving us traumatized and wondering how we can take care of this - how can we keep her from suffering?

It finally got to be too much, and we scheduled her with our local low-income veterinarian. (And, may I say here, thank God for places like Albuquerque Humane Society.) We knew full well that this might be a blockage in her intestines. A tumor in her abdomen. A tear somewhere along her digestive tract that might not be fixable with our limited resources. Even the amount we were going to use to pay for her office visit today was already budgeted for something else - a major surgery today would be completely out of our reach, and could leave us with the decision to have to euthanize our 6-pound supermodel. The thought of her leaving us forever, of coming home from the vet's office without her, was almost too much to bear.

We had a very tense and terrifying visit to the vet. We explained the problems, winced when the exam made her cry, felt vaguely guilty that we had not done something else that would have prevented us from coming to this point. And now, after all is said and done, we have medications to give her, even more instructions on dietary changes, and we have a major surgical procedure that we have to schedule and figure out how to pay for.  And yet, when we left the office and put her back in the car, we looked at one another and both breathed a sigh of relief . It felt like a disaster, narrowly averted.

She is asleep in the corner now, worn out from her stressful day. I could very easily curl up beside her and share that stress recovery. We now face a daily regimen of pills, a major financial headache, and an uncertain outcome - we still don't know if any of this is going to work.

But, still, none of this seems like too much to do, in the name of keeping our dog healthy and pain-free. The relationships with our pets are too valuable to be tossed away casually. Dean Koontz said it best: "No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Relieved and Thankful,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Big Green Monster

Every time I hobble through the kitchen in my home, I have to turn my head away from the window so that I will not catch a glimpse of my nemesis. It is big, it is green, it is frightening, and it is NOT going to go away. But maybe, just maybe, if I don't catch a glimpse, I won't be overwhelmed by my feeling that I should be doing something about it.

My arch-enemy is not a big green snake. It is not Oscar the Grouch, or Kermit the Frog. It is the huge, weed-infested yards that surround the home we currently live in. You see, our home was built in the 1950s, and is therefore not restricted by the Xeriscape requirements that most homes here in Albuquerque are. (Xeriscape is landscaping designed around low water use. Think cactus and rocks.) However, by the time we moved into the house 3 years ago, no one had bothered to do anything else with landscaping the home for years. So, when the weather starts warming up again, we wind up in a home surrounded by huge patches of weeds. Where there are not weeds, there is simply good old-fashioned dirt.

In my head, I am the kind of guy who is out every weekend working on his perfectly manicured yard -  a couple of small lawns, some fruit trees, even a garden for fresh veggies. In reality, I am disabled, mobility-impaired, and know nothing about yard care in the first place. So, I should just farm the work out, right? Last week, I attempted to do just that - I spoke with a handyman here in our neighborhood about what it would cost us to rein in my front yard. He took one look at my yard, filled with two-foot high weeds punctuated my 3 dead 10-foot tall trees that would have to be chain-sawed and removed, and quoted me a reasonable price - $60.

But, no matter how I tried, I could not squeeze another $60 our of our household budget. Social Security Disability keeps our household held firmly below the poverty line, and leaves no money for things like contractor yard care. Discouraged, I decided to tackle the problem myself. I spent two hours with a weed trimmer engaged in combat with the front yard. The end result? I was laid out for 3 days from injuring my back and knees. And my front yard is just as ugly as it ever was - now filled with dirt and dead weeds, over which still tower my deceased trees.

So, here I sit, crippled by my two disabilities - the one that keeps me from working (epilepsy), and the one that keeps me from moving (obesity). Between the two, I feel effectively trapped - and that gigantic patch of weeds in the back yard just keeps growing. Unless the Xeriscape Fairy arrives, I can expect that the situation is never going to change - even if I had the energy to take down all those weeds (which I don't), I still wouldn't have the money to replace them with something else. The circle of life continues.

Now, the odds are good that weight loss will give me back some mobility. There is even a chance (not a guarantee, but a chance) that weight loss will increase the efficacy of my anti-seizure meds - maybe even to the point where I could look into beginning to work again. But until that day arrives, I will just have to keep on waiting for the willpower to charge out into the back yard and injure myself again reining it in. Knowing all the while that the front yard is once again getting over-grown...

Sighing and Trying Not To Look Out The Windows,

- Hawkwind

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Emotional Pain of Costco

Warehouse store, or den of torture?

Through the last few weeks of evaluation and preparation for bariatric surgery, I have been pretty happy with my mental attitude. I have been looking at the upcoming surgery as an opportunity to get healthier, not something that I am unhappy about or dreading. And I have, for the most part, been looking forward to the life changes that will come along with weight loss. Some sacrifices have to be made, sure, but they are all worth it, right?

Then, I met my emotional Waterloo last Friday, on a grocery visit to our local Costco.

At first, it wasn't too bad.  I decided, as we entered, that I would check some of my favorite foods against the pre-surgical diet of 135 grams per day (or less) of Carbohydrates. We walked through the door and were immediately confronted with a rack filled with Costco muffins. Now THERE was something I would never have again, right? I checked the nutritional info, and boy howdy, was I right - Each muffin was 690 calories (1/3 of my daily caloric intake), with 79 grams of carbohydrates - almost 2 full meals worth. I shuddered a bit to think of the number of times I had eaten a muffin (or two...) along with a regular breakfast, and then moved deeper into the store.

Things did not get easier once inside. Many of my favorite processed foods called out to me from the frozen section. Frozen hash browns stood out harshly - they are a required ingredient in one of our "staple foods" around here, breakfast burritos. 18 grams of carbs a serving...and a serving was only 3 ounces of potatoes. The last time I put only 3 ounces of potatoes in a burrito would be, let's see, NEVER. More like three times that amount.  So, 54 grams of hash browns in a burrito...and I normally eat at least 2  burritos for breakfast...that would be 108 grams of carbs, taken out of my pre-surgery 135 gram per day diet, before factoring in any other ingredient! More than two thirds of my daily carbohydrate diet, gone in 2 servings of hash browns. Once I realized breakfast burritos were going to have to come off the menu, depression began to set in.

We had to pass through the section filled with all the beautiful imported beers I will never have again. Through the aisle containing the Ghiradhelli Brownie mixes I would not be making again any time soon. I had a brief hope when we hit the fruit juices, hoping for some relief here (fruit is healthy, right?), but, nope: a mere 8 ounces of Welch's Grape Juice was a whopping 36 carbs. No more fruit juice as a Coke replacement for me, then, I trudged onward.

And then, the breaking point. My nose recognized that strong, earthy scent, and I realized I had arrived at the coffee aisle. We are only a few days now from D-Day (Decaf, that is) here at home, and I simply could no longer bear the thought of what was coming down the road. I have been a habitual coffee drinker since 16 years of age and now it, too, will be making an exit from my life. I suddenly felt like a 6-year-old being hauled through Toys-R-Us, and being told firmly to not touch anything. I looked back at the aisles filled with forbidden items, then looked into our cart filled with Kale, Celery and multivitamins, and had never felt so betrayed in my life.

My depressed mental state lasted all the way home. Once we arrived, I was left to unload the groceries from the car. And, after carrying 3 loads of groceries from car to fridge - a total of maybe 90 steps - I had to collapse on the couch, panting as if I had run a marathon.

Oh, right. That is why I am doing this.

Still Winded,

- Hawkwind

Friday, March 11, 2016

Tech Crisis and Experimentation

While updating today's earlier blog, I noticed that Facebook, in its infinite wisdom, is no longer producing links to blog titles. After an hour of arguing with the stubborn software, I turned to another piece of tech geekery: "If This, Then That." Supposedly, this software will put out a Facebook message AND a Twitter message every time I publish. This would remove my having to do this manually every day, so I have attempted to set it up. However, Updating a current blog post doesn't seem to trigger it - only a new post will do. Hence, this long-winded experimental post to see if the new software solution actually works.

Thanks for your patience while I work this out, and I (hopefully) now return you to your regularly scheduled Misdirected.

Drowning in the Sea of Technology,

- Hawkwind

Not Living, Just Surviving

We've had quite a few conversations with friends and family members in recent days, talking about the nuts and bolts details of the upcoming surgeries. While the great majority of these conversations have been strongly supportive, a few have been...less so. One recent conversation with a family member springs to mind.

The family member in question had lots of questions about what I was going to be giving up as a bariatric surgery patient. "So, no more beer, ever?" he asked at one point.
"No," I explained, "no carbonation at all. It makes the stomach pouch expand, and you wind up right back where you started."
"So, like, no Cokes either?"
"No, none. I need to avoid coffee too - caffeine is a diuretic, and staying hydrated is super important after the surgery."
"No coffee!" he exclaimed. "I need coffee in the morning to wash down my breakfast!"
"Yeah," I explained, hanging on to my patience with both hands. "Can't really wash things down while eating anyway. You can't drink while you are eating at all. You need all the space in your stomach at meals for food."
He leaned back and crossed his arms, clearly disgusted. "No beer, no coffee, can't even drink when you want. That's not living, That's just surviving."

Now, I personally have a strong opinion on survival - I think it beats the alternative. And, I understand that the relative in question isn't suggesting I should bite the dust in the name of drinking beer. It is a question of quality of life that is being raised here, not life vs. death. And, as it happens, I have a certain amount of experience in evaluating quality of life. Over a decade of dealing with Epilepsy has had me questioning many times: Is this really worth it? And, despite all the things that Epilepsy has forced me to give up, I have always come back with the answer that life itself is worth continuing, even without the various components that I used to previously enjoy.

And, here's the thing: Bariatric Surgery may not only extend my life, but it also has the potential to give back many of the things I have lost previously. Reduced weight could increase my activity level enough so that I could start weight lifting again. It could remove my dependence on a machine to help me breathe at night while I sleep. It could mean a reduction in my arthritis symptoms, meaning I am no longer in constant pain. Heck, it even has the potential to reduce the dosage of my anti-seizure meds - meaning that the "brain fog" I am constantly in might be lifted somewhat. Sounds an awful lot like a new lease on life, where I am currently just surviving.

Is that worth giving up Starbucks and Samuel Adams? Yeah, I think so.

Considering Switching to Bushmill's,

- Hawkwind

PS - If you have a family member who is considering bariatric surgery, be supportive - a good support structure is a necessity to be successful.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Look Behind The Curtain

Anyone who has spent even a small amount of time following Misdirected knows that I kinda keep things on the DL (Down Low - keeping things hidden, for those who missed the class on Speaking Like The Cool Kids.) I use a pen name, major characters in my life are referred to by nicknames or pronouns, etc. It isn't that I have any particular desire to remain a secret. Far from it, in fact - those who don't know me can work out my real name just from looking at my email address over there to the right somewhere. But I have no wish to expose any one else's life accidentally - as my Mother likes to say, "Those are not my stories to tell." Where my stories intersect with other lives is where I get real nervous about what is safe to talk about.

Imagine my surprise when the love of my life, Loralia, starts speaking to me last night about bringing up a subject that I have specifically left completely unmentioned thus far. Lor is intimately involved with Misdirected - she acts as my copy editor, thesaurus, and memory bank all rolled in to one person. So, she is well aware of anything that I have said or allowed to remain unspoken in these posts. And last night she mentioned to me that I should talk about something pretty relevant to my recent posts. I countered that the information was not really anyone else's business. She was firm: "I don't want anyone to think there is any shame in what we are doing here." I conceded.

So, the news is this: I am actually not going through Bariatric Surgery alone. Lor is also taking part in the process, with her schedule running about 6 weeks ahead of mine. While my surgery will be taking place in August, hers will most likely take place in June.

Our surgery coordinator and our surgeons are delighted - couples that go through the surgery together have a vastly higher long-term success rate than individuals that have to go it alone. With built-in diet monitors and accountability partners right at home, the temptations to fall off the wagon are greatly diminished. And the support system that is required for encouragement and validation? No further than across the dinner table.

Now, this has created some worries in our household. Lor has been a long-time opponent of body-shaming, and has worked diligently for decades with friends, family members and clients to help them to love themselves as they are, rather than cave in to societal expectations of what a "perfect" body should look like. Lor is beautiful and she knows it, and she has helped so many other women understand the beauty they already possess without diets, without input from Vogue and Cosmo, and

But, the hard truth of the matter is that Lor's family has a long history of Diabetes. Lor's family has lost several members to the disease already. And Lor's case of Diabetes has gotten so bad that she recently had to retire from Massage Therapy - her joints and musculature have atrophied so badly that she is in constant pain, unable to do the work she loves any longer. This is hard news for a young woman with many years of life left in front of her. And, one of the best treatments for this disease is - Bariatric Surgery. The decision, for Lor, was not at all about the cosmetic effects of surgery. Same as with me, Lor wants to be able to have some "quality" restored into her Quality of Life.

The two of us found it very odd that, while I was waiting for my initial appointment to be evaluated for surgery, Lor's family practitioner suggested out of the blue that Lor be evaluated as well. Lor's doc was a LOT more aggressive than mine, and moved Lor over into the fast lane, getting her evaluated, approved, and started on the process while I was still waiting for my initial eval. Lor is basically 6 weeks ahead of me on this journey, and I have (selfishly, yes) enjoyed the benefits of being able to see what is coming down the road for me through her eyes.

Thanks again to everyone for your support and interest in this whole process. We both appreciate the encouragement through what has been a pretty mind-blowing process so far.

Envisioning Life Without Diabetes and Arthritis,

- Hawkwind and Loralia

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Internet Has Spoken

A little history: As of August 10 of last year, after 3+ years of existence, Misdirected hit 10,000 total page views.

Last night, only 7 months later, we kicked over 15,000 page views.

We went over the tipping point, in part, due to a tidal wave of views that came in yesterday - a single post that brought in more page views and more feedback than any other thing I have written. This was not a gaming post, not a post about epilepsy, no insightful social commentary on my part. It was literally a few paragraphs on the subject of starting the journey towards bariatric surgery that drove more interest here than any other 3 previous posts combined.

So, what does this mean for me, and for the future development of Misdirected?

I had honestly not intended to shift the focus of this blog. My original plan was to provide occasional, brief updates on my progress pre- and post-surgery, sprinkled in amongst the "real" content of the blog. But there is more interest in this subject than in anything else I have written. So, the question now becomes: Am I writing this blog as a diary, or really trying to communicate with the world? (I find it ironically amusing that even the blog title could be taken in the context of weight-loss surgery)

I remain a gamer. I remain disabled due to epilepsy. But, I also remain a person struggling with obesity and with my decision to address this issue via surgical means. Accordingly, I will probably be spending more time talking about obesity and the surgical process than I had originally intended. I have been a long time advocate for those disabled with epilepsy - I think my advocacy has room to expand a bit.

One thing I do need from my readers - I have had a couple people express their disappointment that I will not be doing a weight-loss related video blog. Is this something that the rest of you are really interested in? Drop me a line or leave me a comment on Facebook to let me know.

And, don't worry. I will still keep wiping out parties in XCom 2 and Darkest Dungeon and coming here to complain about it.


- Hawkwind

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Retreat to the Blogosphere

The last time we talked, I was getting ready to find out if my doctors were going to approve me to move forward with bariatric surgery. Since then I have been through medical appointments, flat tires, financial crises brought on by my insurance carrier raising my co-payments without telling me, and a twelve hour road trip. So, like, a fairly normal weekend in the Hawkwind Habitat. (Still not sure about that name. Kinda sounds like a children's show about eco-issues. )

So - weight loss surgery. I have been approved by both my neurologist and my surgeon to move forward with a "sleeve" procedure. This requires several more doctor visits, a psychiatric eval, and 3 months of dietary counseling before the actual surgery takes place, probably in early August. I am simultaneously relieved that I was approved and terrified of what is going to happen to me now. Being informed that one of the stipulations was No More Beer, like, forever was kinda depressing, so I am enjoying a higher number than usual now, and will probably have my Final Beer Ever event on my birthday in June.

The good news is that my surgeon thinks that I should lose upwards of 100 pounds as a result of the surgery. That is still a mind blowing number to me. The last time I weighed 200 pounds I could not drink legally, the Berlin Wall was still standing, and Bill Clinton was still the president of the USA. Let that sink in for a minute. It has been a looong time. I have only the vaguest idea of what life will be like without all the attendant crap that comes along with obesity. I just wanted to cut back on my medications, and for my knees to stop hurting so much. Not sure what I will do with myself if I am at a "normal" BMI again.

In gaming news, I have actually gotten in a couple of rounds of XCom 2 and Darkest Dungeon since last we spoke. I have managed to get my DD team to the threshold of meeting the Necromancer Apprentice, and I managed to get my XCom squad totally wiped out. Again. It is becoming a theme. However, my research across the Internet for info about these two games has led me to a couple of very interesting streamers. ChristopherOdd is currently running an awesome "Let's Play" of XCom 2 that I highly recommend to anyone interested in the game. And my new favorite Brit, Adam, over at CallofCthulu is running daily alternating streams of XCom 2, Darkest Dungeon, and Sunless Sea, 3 of my favorite games. I highly recommend his channel, but be aware that the theme is very dark, and the language is very adult. You have been warned. If you drop in, tell him Hawkwind said hello.

I will get up both an XCom and a DD video on YouTube this week. I would like to be putting things up more than just once a week, but that is about all I can manage with all the chaos going on in my life right now. I will also keep everyone posted on the progress of the bariatric surgery journey - I had considered doing a little video blog, but can't think of anything I could do there that I couldn't do here on Misdirected. Thanks to everyone for all the support so far!

Wishing Myself Resistance To Beer + 10,

- Hawkwind

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Times, They Are A Changin'

Here it is, already Wednesday, and I am only now putting up my first post for the week. There has been some household stuff to deal with, but mainly I have been running around town dealing with various medical appointments. Let me fill you in.

A little over 10 years ago I was happy with my physical condition. I practiced 2 to 3 hours a day (you better believe that being a musician is aerobic exercise), lifted weights 3 or 4 times a week, and was constantly on the go. Sure, I was overweight thanks to a rich diet and ingesting a couple of cases of beer a week. But I could still load out all our gear, play a 4 hour gig, load everything back in, and make it to work a few hours later. My 240 pound frame was solid - I looked very much like a fire hydrant. I used to tell people that I was the strongest fat man they knew.

Then, Epilepsy happened. Depression, lack of physical activity, and weight enhancing medications like Depakote ballooned me up to 280 pounds within 6 months of my diagnosis. Over the years I have fought my weight with med changes, failed diets, and attempts at various physical activities that always wound up with me injuring myself, having seizures, or both. Now, at only 45, I have high blood pressure, arthritis in both knees and one hand, and serious respiratory problems.

My "Come to Jesus" moment occurred about a month ago, when I stepped on a scale and weighed in at 302 pounds. I had never been over 300 before. 296, sure, but somehow 300 seemed so much more significant and real. I had to do something. I went in to talk to my regular doc, and she suggested that my BMI of 48.8 ("normal" is 18 - 24) indicated that I look into bariatric surgery. There was one catch, though. As someone with intractable seizures, I was going to also have to get my neurologist to sign off on the idea of bariatric surgery as well, before I even consulted with the surgeon.

The appointment with my Neuro is today, a few hours from now. I am incredibly nervous about the whole thing. What if he says yes, and I have to have a big section of my stomach removed? What if he says no, and I am stuck here in Jumbo-size Land? The thoughts chase each other through my head like a demented carousel. I haven't slept more than 5 hours a night in quite a while.

But, the truth is, I can no longer be passive about this. After Lor had me watch "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" a couple weeks ago I at least have a backup plan if surgery is a no-go. I have to have something that will get enough weight off my frame so that I can actually start exercising again without injuring myself. If it takes surgery to do that, fine. If it takes a short term 100% juice diet, fine. I am just going to have to grit my teeth and push myself through the eruption of seizure activity that occurs whenever I start losing weight. It is a very different mindset for me, as I have spent twelve years trying to avoid seizures. But I do not want the moment to arrive when I step on a scale and see "350", and am going to have to make avoidance of that my focus.

So, fair warning to everyone, there will be some health and weight loss posts scattered amongst the gaming articles from here on out. If I do end up going through with surgery, I will also start video blogging about that as well, since several video blogs have been so helpful to me in educating myself about this whole process. I am a big believer in "paying it forward" these days. I can't afford not to be.

Feeling Really Large And Frightened,

- Hawkwind