Friday, April 29, 2016

The Expertise of the Internet

Photo Credit: MikeFx... via Compfight cc

I spend a lot of time on bariatric surgery message boards and chat rooms, not really interacting a whole lot, but instead gathering experiences and emotions from people who are involved in the bariatric surgery process. And, just like the rest of the Internet, I encounter what seems to be a higher than average ratio of flakeazoids to normal people.

Yesterday presented a good example. A conversation was taking place talking about "dangerous" foods post-surgery. You know, ice cream, mashed potatoes, tiramisu - things that are easy to eat a lot of, even considering a stomach reduced in volume. Then some well-meaning person mentioned the danger of drinking soft drinks or other carbonated beverages - that the stomach pouch/sleeve may expand in size.

And, suddenly, the place went berserk, filled with pissed-off people trying to shout down this poster with comments effectively stating that "the stomach can't expand" and "that's just a myth" and so on. Their source of information? Some posts on YouTube.

I did not get involved at all in this conversation (see: Wrestling With Pigs), though I did feel bad for the helpful poster. But I also didn't bother checking out the YouTube videos. Why not? A couple of reasons. Firstly, the stomach by design expands and contracts. My personal experience tells me that any substance that stretches will eventually get stretched to a size larger than what it began at. (Laundry, anyone?)

More importantly, though, is the fact that the stomach re-sizing is a phenomenon accepted by the medical community at large. Evidence has been presented to demonstrate it, papers have been written about it, surgical procedures exist to correct it. Not to mention the fact that both my surgeon AND Lor's surgeon mentioned the carbonation phenomenon to us during each of our initial consultations. If we are going to ignore our surgeons in favor of the advice of "some dude on the Internet", what the hell are we doing in a doctor's office anyway?

The voices of the 'Net have replaced the phenomenon that used to be known as "some guy I met in a bar". The general premise is the same - if you look long enough, you are going to find a person that believes in something. UFOs, the hoaxed Moon landing, the great government cover-up of Stomachs Not Really get the picture. The problem with the Net is that it is so easy to find someone with a contrarian opinion. And if all you really want after your surgery is a Coke or a beer, you are going to find someone on the Internet to tell you that it is really ok, the whole "stomach stretching" thing is just an urban myth anyway. Problem solved. At least until you discover you've started regaining weight and can't figure out why that might be...

If you are going through ANY type of medical condition, listen to your doctor(s). Yes, perform research as well, get second opinions, perform medical due diligence. But trust your sources. Check out medical credentials, look for published papers, do your research only on websites that are fact checked, etc. Do not trust your health and well being to some guy with a Webcam and some time on his hands. He may be the same guy that goes to bed wearing a tinfoil hat to prevent the NSA from stealing his thoughts. Just sayin'.

Have an awesome weekend, I will catch you all on the other side.

Now, About That Whole Loch Ness Monster Thing...

- Hawkwind

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Summer That Wasn't

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It is the last week of April - usually time to think about things like Mother's Day, the Diamondbacks' position in the NL West (3rd place, at 11-12), and our plans for the summer. This year, our normal plans for summer activities have been thrown totally into chaos and madness by the relentless approach of my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgical date, and all the minutiae that accompany it.

Our semi-annual trip to watch the Rockies play the D-Backs in Denver? Probably not going to happen. Camping trips? Find me a week on my calendar that isn't filled with support group meetings, appointments with the nutritionist or other pre-surgical items, and then we'll talk about heading into the Great Outdoors. Double down on all these dates to represent Lor's surgical timeline, and watch the days and weeks of the calendar fill up. The weeks leading up to surgery are filled with pre-surgical items galore, and the weeks following it will be filled with recovery, liquid diets and restrictions on how much a person can lift. Overall, not a prescription for a fun-filled summer.  

It certainly isn't all bad. To celebrate all the usual parties and get-togethers we would normally have with my family over the summer (Mother's Day, Father's Day, 4th of July, my birthday), we are instead having one "catch-all" holiday over Memorial Day weekend. We will fill it with small portions of foods we will no longer be able to eat, alcohol we will be restricted from for the rest of the year (and my last beers EVER), and everyone's last interaction with Lor and I before our surgeries. Call it my family "Before Picture". By the last day of summer, Lor and I will both be out of surgical recovery, probably back on normal foods, and heading into our new lives together. And the holiday season this year should be pretty cool as well.

And next summer? Next summer will be awesome. All the activities I have held us back from for so long because of my size will now be open to us. We can participate in the Albuquerque 5K Run For The Zoo. We will head to South Dakota to visit our friends there, since I should no longer be miserable during long car rides. When we go camping, we will actually be able to get out into the woods and hike instead of sitting around the campfire. Heck, we might even get on a plane and fly somewhere, since I should no longer be dealing with the problem of taking up 1.5 seats on an airplane. We might even go to Phoenix, to watch some games there - something I currently avoid like the plague because there is nothing more miserable than an obese person in Phoenix during baseball season. Trust me on this one.

All this long term future gained, for the sacrifice of a few months this year. I may not happy about the sacrifice of summer right now, but I would bet dollars to donuts that I will have a very different opinion about things come Summer 2017.

Still Undecided About My Last Beer Ever,

- Hawkwind

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Power of Motivation

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Mornings like this happen to me every once in a while. Normally, I get out of bed and head straight to the blog, full of fire and creative energy.

Today, I sat and stared at the screen, read through a couple other blogs, played some Hearthstone (new release happened yesterday), and just generally dicked around.

What, you may ask, does this have to do with gastric surgery/obesity/health/etc?

On the face of it, not much. But what happens if the thing I am supposed to be doing is not writing, but exercising? Or prepping a meal for the household? Or facing yet another day post-surgery, when it seems like every single person around me gets to do what they want, and eat what they want, while I am so restricted?

How, in short, do I stay motivated?

For a lot of people, photos work. When they are down about what they are having to do to stay healthy, they take a look at a pre-surgical photo and decide they never want to look (and feel) like that again. An example:

Please forgive my low-rent side-by-side. A Graphics Artist I am not.

Later in life I can use BOTH of these as motivators, I suppose. Even at 24 pounds down, I still look like I have a loooong way to go. Maybe I can post this on the fridge wherever I live to remind me to make better food choices. And on my phone, to remind me to buy better stuff at the store. And on my computer, so I won't get lazy.

Emotional motivators work too - many of my fellow bariatric patients tend to use their families as motivators: "I have to stay healthy so I can provide for my I can see my kids grow I can play with my grandkids."  You get the picture. While many of us tend to be a little lazy when it comes to self-care, very few of us can deal with the idea of letting our loved ones down.

Not enough? How about some goal-based motivation? A bunch of people on the message boards and blogs I follow set themselves an athletic event in the future as a life goal demonstrating their success at weight loss - usually a 5K run. Others choose a specific outfit that they want to be able to fit into at the end of their weight loss - a dress, a swimsuit, maybe a tailored suit. (Mine is a pair of 38-inch waistline button-down 501s.) A tangible, measurable thing that can be focused on as the goal. Reach that goal? Awesome - create a new one. You can keep that going indefinitely.

Writers are frequently given the same piece of advice on how to deal with "writer's block": Sit down and write something. When you are lacking motivation, do the same thing - take that first step into whatever it is you are struggling with. The second step will be easier. Same for the third. Eventually, you will have gotten through the very thing that initially seemed like an impassable obstacle. Remind yourself that you are doing this for your own good, focus on your motivation, then move forward. It is as simple (and as difficult) as that.

Now Trying To Find Motivation To Wash The Dishes,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Seeking: One Fat Hero

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In the time when I am not gaming, creating blog articles, or reading, I write fiction. Like, quite a bit. Since being fitted with a C-PAP a couple years back I tend to have incredibly vivid dreams, and the last ones before I get up in the morning always seem to involve the same set of characters. So, I have created a mythology of sorts around these characters, and write little vignettes involving them. But, after I woke up and wrote down my notes this morning, it struck me - there are no overweight characters in these stories.

For that matter, I am hard pressed to think of overweight central characters in any story I have read, and I read a lot. I can think of fat and jovial innkeepers, large menacing bikers, and a bunch of lazy and obese programmers - but not a single overweight hero. It is as if the burden of carrying the story forward is so great that it acts like a constant cardio workout for these people, ensuring that they stay slim (or, in some cases, muscular.)

Even the oversized secondary characters in most stories aren't treated well. They are frequently used as a kind of comic relief - a mental visual gag if you will: Let's all laugh at the fatso as he tries to run away from danger. (Example: Any "slasher" horror film ever made.) Other times heavy individuals are used as more sinister characters: the overweight person is too lazy to achieve his goals as normal folks do, so uses treachery instead - the mercenary programmer from Jurassic Park is an excellent example. Very rarely, obesity is treated as a threatening quality - the previously mentioned "huge biker" would qualify. The original "Kingpin" character from Marvel comics comes to mind in this category. (Though a fine actor, Vincent D'Onofrio can hardly be described as obese, so his depiction of the Kingpin does not qualify here.)

In a sense, I get it. When we experience stories, especially when we read, we want to idealize the characters. We want to take their positive characteristics and find them reflecting off the fractal planes and edges of our own lives, hoping to recognize something "heroic" in ourselves. We do not necessarily want to see that which we don't like about ourselves highlighted in our entertainment. But seriously - in the "real world" of the United States more than half of us are overweight. Why don't the demographics of our entertainment reflect that?

More to the point, why don't my demographics hold up? Why are my stories filled with active, muscular men and size 6 women? In real life I like large women - I do not prefer the body style that "looks like a teenage boy with plums in his shirt pockets." (Spider Robinson) So, why am I not creating these characters? What flaw lies in me, and apparently in other authors, that does not allow for the creation of more realistic body types?

I am still troubled by this, and still don't have an answer yet. But, the next time I sit down to write, I know I will be aware of my previous failures here, and hopefully can begin to correct them. Maybe spotting this weakness now, before any of my fiction is ever published, is the best outcome I could have hoped for.

Still Angry At My Subconscious,

- Hawkwind

PS - Just thought of an obese central character: Don Corleone, from The Godfather. But he isn't exactly heroic, is he?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Resistance Training

So, over the weekend, I ended up adding a little extra weight to my exercise regimen. No, I didn't have an all-you-can-eat pizza party last week or anything like that. No, what I did instead was this:

Some background: Vixen, the dog pictured above, has had a very sore butt for over a year now. It is so sore that she will not use the bathroom unless "helped" by taking her for a walk. So, for over a year now, I have been having to walk her every single day. She seems to equate being walked on a leash with taking care of her digestive business, so she spends a few moments in discomfort, then continues on her way, happily exploring the neighborhood. Weird.

Now, before the howls of outrage start, we have already taken her to the vet. Several times in the last year. The vets are just as mystified as we are as to what the problem is. In fact, we are going back to the vet's office today to pick up yet another medication to try on her to see if we can bring her some permanent relief.

Back to the picture above: our walks had typically been just under half a mile - just around the block where we live works out to .44 miles. This has been pretty much the only type of exercise I have been able to do, and even something this minor has tended to take me about 20 minutes, putting me on pace for a leisurely 1.2 miles/hour walking speed. Carrying 300 pounds around any distance is hard.

However, since Lor joined our walks and I started the pre-surgical diet the walks have been getting a little longer (and a little faster) every day. Yesterday morning, we made the decision that we were going to try a new, slightly longer route. Everything was going swimmingly until, at about 1.2 miles in, Vixen sat down, and refused to go any further. She had enough walking for one day, thank you very much.

Undaunted, we stuffed her in the backpack and walked the rest of the way home. I was surprised at how calm she was - just sorta hanging out, watching the sights, no resistance or struggle at all. I was also surprised at how much I felt a 5 pound Chihuahua on my shoulders and back. You wouldn't think 5 pounds would amount to much, but boy, did I know she was there. Guess it is time to start adding some push-ups to the old fitness routine.

If you have a family dog and are finding it difficult to get motivated to start a daily workout, walking your dog is a perfect entry point. Every single day I have had no choice but to get up off my ass and take her for a cruise around the neighborhood. I am allowed no excuses, no "I don't feel like going to the gym today", no other lame arguments as to why I shouldn't get active on any particular day - the dog has to be walked, and that is that. Though I feel bad for her butt-related problems, I am also kind of grateful that this has forced mobility on me all this time - I might be at 350+ if I had not been doing any physical activity at all. Now there is a sobering thought.

Wondering What Will Happen When We Get To 5 Miles A Day,

- Hawkwind

Friday, April 22, 2016

Tools for Success

First off, RIP Prince. He was only 57. Between Prince, Glenn Frey, and David Bowie, my workout playlist is starting to look like the soundtrack at a mortuary. And though I may not have any Merle Haggard on my phone's playlist, you better believe I have some on the PC I am writing this from. Depressing.

So, on to workout tools. We actually have a shiny new elliptical trainer sitting in the front room, just waiting for me to make use of it. Lor gets to use it, but I do not. Why, you ask? Because the stupid thing has a weight-bearing limit of 250 pounds, that's why. You would think that the designers of exercise equipment might anticipate the possibility that fat people might want to use their tools, yes? But apparently not. As it is, I have to lose 30 pounds before I can even get on the thing. The Elliptical Diet Plan: Motivate yourself to lose 10% of your body weight so that you qualify to exercise on our gear. Grrr.

So, instead, I walk. And if you have a smartphone and want to workout by walking, there are two apps you should really be aware of:

This is the primary tool I use for tracking what the heck I am doing in the world of "Fat Man Walking". I tell it to "Start Workout" when I leave the front door, then forget about it till I get back, panting and covered in sweat. Then I tell it to "Save Workout" and I am done. It then uploads a lovely report like the one above to a website for me, so I can track how far/how long/how many/what for/etc.  Using the website tie-in you can also design new routes for yourself, keep track of gear (like shoes, for instance), even log meals if you want to. (But the ads for Light Beer in the food section are highly annoying.) There is also an "MVP" version of the software - purchasing opens up a bunch of new functionality, and presumably removes the Light Beer ads. If you are going to be walking to get started on your weight loss journey, you need this app. No need to buy a Fitbit or anything. (Fitbits don't work with us bariatric surgery patients anyway - our caloric count post-surgery is too low for Apple to make sense of.)

Now, if your exercise is a little more free-form, and you like storytelling, this is the app for you. You plug your headphones into your phone, and suddenly you are in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies. The storyline continues as you walk, with pauses in the story being filled by music from the playlist on your device. Occasionally you will encounter threats as you amble through your workout, and you will be forced to speed up your walk/run until you are clear of them. That's right, folks, interval training, cleverly disguised as an app on your phone.  For those that are so inclined, there is even a setup for training a person for their first 5K. With my 2 blown knees, it will be a while (if ever) before I run a 5K, but I can certainly walk as fast as those knees will take me to get away from the hordes of man-flesh-eating creatures on my tail. Not a tool to be used when walking in a group, but the perfect one for solo exercise.

Besides, any app endorsed by Wil Wheaton can't be too far off the mark, right?

Catch you all again on Monday!

Considering Walking The Dog (So I Can Throw Her To The Zombies),

- Hawkwind

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Power of The Menu

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Lots of people - some obese, some in the weight range BMI refers to as "normal" - have asked me variations on the same question: "How are you two doing this?" This is usually followed by anecdotes on how much that person hates counting calories/logging meals/following a diet/etc. In each case, I smile and tell them we have a secret weapon - one that doesn't require any of those components.

The secret? Meal planning.

When we first started this process, Lor immediately recognized a glaring weakness in our household diet. Any time the two of us were too tired or stressed out, we would not cook - we would instead head for a fast food joint rather than have to think about what to prepare for a meal. This did a huge amount of damage to our weights, not to mention our bank account. One day when we were not suffering from low energy, we took action. We inventoried every single food item we had in the house - pantries, fridge, freezer - and then Lor wrote down a series of meals we could make using the items at hand. We had a lot more than we thought we did - almost 10 days worth of meal materials. She downloaded a blank "Weekly Menu" from the 'Net, and assigned a meal to every day for the next 7 days. Done.

And, amazingly, it worked like a charm. We had to make one stop at a local Farmer's Market to pick up about $20 worth of veggies to flesh out these meals, but other than that we did not spend a dime on food that week. No frustration with trying to decide what to cook when we were both tired and cranky - the thinking had already been done. No realization that we had forgotten to thaw something out - every morning when I got up, I checked the daily menu and pulled out whatever we needed for the day. Best of all, at the end of the week we had emptied our fridge and most of our freezer - without having to throw any food away because we had failed to use it! (Something that always pisses me off since we are on such a low fixed income.)

At the end of the week, we called the experiment a success, and Lor designed a new menu for the following week. We went to the store and bought the materials we would need. This cut our usual grocery bill almost in half, by the way, because we were no longer making "off the cuff" purchases. We already knew how we would use every single thing we were buying.

Once Lor hit her first dietary meeting and the Carbohydrate restrictions began, we started using another tool. We added a little Android app called "Lose It" to our arsenal, and began to use it during once-a-week meal planning. It enabled us to figure out what the carb load was on meals that we weren't sure about. We also started substituting in fresh vegetables for things like pasta and rice, which tended to drop the carbohydrate count WAY down.

We really got to see the power of meal planning last week, after our car accident last Monday. The chaos surrounding the accident and the resulting insurance claim, the running around from body shop to doctor's office to dealerships, the exhaustion of concussions and whiplash all meant that we never got around to creating a meal plan. And we paid for it. We must have hit fast food places 5 times in the last week, all at a time when we had no money to do so. Neither one of us lost an ounce over the week. (Neither of us gained, somehow!) But we just couldn't bear the thought of going home after these activity-filled days and designing then cooking a meal. We probably need to have an "emergency" meal plan - a couple days worth of meals that we have on hand to deal with situations like these. Something worth adding to the arsenal.

Total time to prep our meal plan for the week every week? About 15 minutes. It saves you time, money, and the hassle of logging and calorie counting - you already know what your diet will be, and already know what the nutritional info is on the food you will be using. It can be a powerful tool to add to the arsenal for those of us who are fighting obesity. And it can be a time and money saver for everyone else. Give it a try for a week, and tell me what you think!

Considering My Food "Requests" For Next Week,

- Hawkwind

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Recipe Downshift

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Yesterday was my first "dietary" appointment - the one where a Dietitian takes you under her wing and explains all the things you are currently doing wrong when eating. It is one thing to know that your diet for the next few months is going to be limited to 105 grams of carbs each day. It is something else again to see exactly how much that is. (Hint: Not Much)

I, of course, got to cheat - I've been going down this road with Lor since her initial dietary appointment 6 weeks ago. So information that might have shocked or dismayed anyone else in the classroom just rolled off of me like water off a duck - I got over my shock a month and a half ago. I felt like the kid back in Elementary who already knew all the answers. I just didn't keep my hand raised all the time, trying to attract the teacher's attention like that annoying little brat did. (Full disclosure: I was that annoying little brat in Elementary school. No wonder I never had any friends.)

However, with both of us now "officially" on the same meal plan, there is even less room to wiggle now - it falls on each of us to keep the other on the straight and narrow from here on out. And now I, too, am going to have to get fully on board with the "no water at meals" thing that I have not been maintaining as diligently as Lor has. All the slack that I have allowed myself during the last few weeks has been officially removed from my diet plan.

The most sobering part of the whole thing? The information that weight gain from here on out will result in cancellation of the surgery. This was not something Lor mentioned to me at the end of her first meeting - she probably wanted me to get the full force of it during the class or something. (Treacherous wife!) We even got a lovely example of a patient who had a few too many "food funerals" and gained 15 pounds during the last month before surgery. The end result was a canceled surgery.

My weight at check in was 295. I didn't think I was wearing 15 pounds of clothes, but there you have it. 295 at the office/280 at home is my "fat ceiling" - the number I can not cross again. A really sobering reminder that I am in this for the long haul - a lifetime of change is ahead of me. I hope I am up to it! The idea of having to explain to everyone how I got my surgery canceled because of my addiction to Girl Scout Thin Mints is too much to bear.

Not Thinking About Cookies,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Top 10 Things I Won't Miss About Being Obese

"Normal-sized" people, you might just want to skip ahead a couple of paragraphs. You are totally not going to get this. And, also, easily offended or delicate people might just want to wait for tomorrow's post. 'Cause I am about to get uncomfortably real in here.

My fellow members of the Fat Person's Association, have you ever pulled that trick where you put both hands under your belly fat, lift it up, and then rest it on a convenient table/bar/desk? Don't you just revel in how good it feels on your back and shoulders not having that weight there for just a minute? Yeah, me too. Pretty sure Lor has never done it, and I certainly wouldn't do it in front of her since I would then have to spend the next hour disinfecting whatever surface I had performed this on. But, man, for just a moment it feels less painful to be obese.

This morning, after I (hypothetically) performed this maneuver so I could breathe for a minute, I was struck by how weird it was. And how much I am not going to miss doing this, and so many other weird things I only do because I am fat. Which leads me to...

Hawkwind's Top 10 Things I Won't Miss Post-Surgery

10. Tying Shoes: If you are of a normal size, this is something you probably don't give a moment's thought to. The shoe is untied, you bend over, tie it up, and you are on your way. Doesn't work that way for me. I am so overweight that I can not see, much less reach my toes. I also have two arthritic knees. So, tying shoes for me involves sitting down, lifting a leg as high as I can, stretching my arm down to grab it by the ankle, then lifting it up to rest over one knee. THEN I can tie a shoe. Repeat for the other side.

Mostly, I wear slip-ons these days.

9. Creaking Furniture: Getting into a piece of furniture designed for a normal human frame is a challenge. I lower myself ever so gingerly onto whatever I am sitting down on, listening to the creaks and groans of structure not designed to hold this much weight, hoping it doesn't buckle and leave me on the floor in a pile of wood fragments.Getting into bed is even worse, as my bedframe screeches and groans like an F-150 being used to transport a killer whale.

Those computer desk chairs that are supposed to last 10 years? I've been through 3 of them since 2010.

8. Gasping For Air: The story is the same, no matter where I am. Walking the dog. Getting groceries from the store to the car. Walking from one end of the house to the other (and we have a SMALL house). I am invariably gasping and wheezing as if I had a 20-year long 2-pack-a-day smoking habit. Any exertion at all and I am gasping like a fish, huffing and puffing like an old steam locomotive. Yes, I know I live at 5,500 feet, but once upon a time I didn't have this problem.

7. Living In The Slow Lane: Speaking of walking the dog, I used to think there was nothing worse than walking the chihuahua and not being able to keep up with her. I was wrong. Now that Lor is walking as well, I have two expectant faces looking back at me from half a block away, waiting for me to catch up. No matter where I go or with whom, you can guarantee I will be the caboose, trying valiantly to catch up and failing. 

6. Not Looking In Mirrors:  As I detailed yesterday - when you are in my condition, mirrors are not your friend. You look away, you focus on another part of the room, you do whatever you can to avoid seeing yourself by accident. Whatever it takes, I do not look directly at the melting snowman covered in flesh that I have become.

5. "I Can't Believe I Ate The Whole Thing": Fellow members of the FPA, you've all been there with me. The entire bag of Doritos. The whole Chocolate Cream Pie. The 5th trip through the line at your favorite all-you-can-eat place. Followed immediately by the soul-crushing guilt. How did I eat all that? What is wrong with me? The astonished looks on the faces of your dining companions don't help, so we tend to do this kind of thing at home. In front of the TV. In the dark. With the blinds closed. At least we can go to bed afterward and tell ourselves that "Tomorrow I'll do better."

But we never do, do we?

4. Eye Contact: Once upon a time, before I became a code monkey, I was a hell of a salesman. Firm grip, sincere tones, and most importantly - solid eye contact. When the potential customer had to look away from my gaze, I knew I had won.

Yeah, I let Lor handle our face-to-face negotiations now. Because I can not maintain eye contact with anyone for any length of time. I see the disgust, or the loathing, or worse yet the pity reflected in their eyes. "Poor guy - if only he would learn to put down the ice cream and pick up a barbell." Yeah, I know you are thinking it, buddy. I want to grab them by the shoulders and yell "It's not that simple!"

But I don't. 'Cause, you know, eye contact.

3. Dressing: Oh my God, where to even begin here. My wife is a clothes hound. Color, form, and fit - these things are so important to her. But, unlike me, she still has a figure. I look like a potato with legs. So, I wear the loosest pants I can find (so I can breathe). I no longer tuck in shirts, accepting looking like a slob in the hopes that this will help disguise my fat. (Hint: It doesn't work.) I don't worry about colors, or fabrics, or matching - I care only that I can fit things around my corpulent frame. Lor constantly tries to convince me that I would feel better about myself if I worked more on my personal appearance.

I constantly tell Lor that you can't shine shit.

2. Going to the Bathroom: This might be a good point to get young children and easily offended people safely moved to other activities. Because going to the bathroom in my condition sucks. As a man, you're supposed to be able to urinate standing up. As a morbidly obese man, this becomes an issue. Why? Because your fat obscures your genitalia, that's why.  If you urinate standing up without making some pretty serious weight-bearing adjustments, you will be peeing on the back side of your fat pouch. Not fun.

So, no matter what operation I am performing, I have to do it sitting down. Now, have you ever been in the position of estimating the opening on a toilet? Because I certainly have. With so much mass it is very easy to "miss" your placement and make a mess at the front end or back end. I do everything I can to just take care of my business at home.

Plus, not all toilets are terribly stable. See issue # 9.

1. Fat Person Sex: Oh, man. The sexual life of an obese person is not a happy one. When you lay 300+ pounds on top of another person, it is not commonly thought of as pleasurable. Mostly it is thought of as "death by asphyxiation". Flip things around, and your partner gets to listen to you wheezing like a dying animal while watching waves of fat rippling across your body like sand dunes being blown across the Sahara. Sounds really sexy, right? Yeah, not to mention the fact that male obesity also carries along with it depressed testosterone levels - not only are you less interested, but you are less able to do anything about it when you are interested.

Yeah, not going to miss that one bit.

Many people I have chatted with pre-surgery are still on the fence about the whole process. They worry about reduced diet, about social stigma, about being killed or damaged on the operating table. And, while their concerns are valid, I am ready to get going on this surgery thing, even considering my fear of hospitals.

Becuase I am mainly worried about leaving fat residue on the kitchen table from "resting" there for a minute.

Breaking Out The 409 ('Cause Lor Is Gonna Read This),

- Hawkwind

Monday, April 18, 2016

Bloated Zombie

Photo Credit: Dextar FX via Compfight cc

Have you ever had one of those "lucid moments"? Where you look through all the chaos and distortion of perception for one second, and see things how they really are? I had one yesterday, and it was really unsettling.

We were up North, visiting my in-laws, and I was placed on a tech-support task that had been waiting for me to come visit. (We need to visit more often.) While on hold with a tech rep talking about their balky modem, I kept walking back and forth in front of a pair of mirrors - on one wall was a mirror on top of a dresser, on the wall to its right was a full-length mirror. Now, for a very long time, I have avoided looking at full-length mirrors - I tend to subconsciously avert my gaze whenever I am around them. But something (maybe boredom, I was on hold) made me look. It was pretty startling.

Directly in front of me was the scarred face and broad shoulders that I glance at every morning when brushing my hair. To my right, in the full-length mirror, was that profile glued on top of a sagging chest, a hugely expanded waistline, and an ass that looked like a beanbag chair. I was suddenly startled - Is this really what people see when they look at me?

I have seen pictures of myself (though I try to avoid those as well), but seeing this in the moment was somehow different. I felt like someone had taken my face and put it on a bloated, decomposing zombie body from a video game. I can look at the photo of myself from our hike a few weeks ago and think "I don't want to look like that." Somehow, yesterday, seeing it in shifting perspective made it real to me: I do look like that. Like, all the time.

I admit that I am now dreading my weekly check-in with the scale later today. We had a LOUSY week last week, what with car accidents, and insurance adjusters, and not having enough to buy a car (then finding enough) and whatnot, and our eating reflected it. We'll get back on that horse this week, of course, but I know the numbers aren't going to be good for today. I am just now suddenly understanding why all the friends and loved ones who I thought were going to be surprised when I told them about gastric surgery instead nodded their heads and said: "Of course you're going to do that." Like they had all been waiting for me to arrive at this conclusion for quite a while. A bit sobering, being the last one to the "self-realization" party.

Avoiding Mirrors For REAL Now,

- Hawkwind

Friday, April 15, 2016

Funeral for a Food

Yes, it actually looks like this in real life.

Take a traditional Italian "Apple Cake". Drown it in caramel topping, then surround it with piles of whipped cream decorated with chocolate shavings. Top the entire thing off with a scoop of Cinnamon-Mocha ice cream, and what do you have? Scarpa's Torta di Melle, one of our favorite shared desserts here in the Duke City. And, as of last night, a dearly departed loved one.

The idea of "food funerals" for those of us prepping for gastric surgery is not a new one. It was even suggested in an online support group as a way to bid farewell to those food items that would be departing our lives after we entered the liquid diet portion of our pre-surgical routine. So, Lor and I made lists of the restaurants and dishes we would miss the most, and decided to do a kind of "bucket list" of indulging in each, one last time.

It is, of course, possible to take this way overboard - one young woman shared with us that she did several food funerals back-to-back the week before her liquid diet phase and wound up gaining 8 pounds. Not a good result. So, we also decided that we would limit ourselves to a total of 2 meals and one dessert during the weeks leading up to the liquid diet phase. Though our decisions in restaurants were wildly different, we both arrived at the exact same conclusion for a dessert we wanted one last time. After last night, we are fondly bidding Torta di Melle 'arrivederci', never to touch our lips again.

Though we saw the restaurants coming, it has been the other food funerals that have been a little more upsetting. The departure of caffeinated coffee from our diets has been well documented here. I am currently looking towards Memorial Day weekend, when I will have my final beers ever, with a mixture of longing and dread. The departure of cereal from our breakfasts was a bit surprising and upsetting - after emptying the last box into a cereal bowl, we suddenly realized that was it: no more cereal. It was so upsetting that a friend suggested that we have a funeral, using the cereal box as a headstone. Things like this keep sneaking up on us and grabbing us when we least expect it. Who knew that food had such a deep and abiding importance to us?

At least I can look back on last night fondly. We had a very nice dessert, in a quiet restaurant, with over an hour of conversation about what the future might hold for us after we had completed our surgeries and began our new lives together. We left hand in hand, probably energized from all the sugar in our systems, looking forward to the many more years together we will have once we have left things like the Torta di Melle behind us.

Still Not Hungry 12 Hours Later,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, April 14, 2016

One Step Up, Two Steps Back

Photo Credit: nicarus30 via Compfight cc
Well, version 2.0 didn't last long, did it?

I still want a more professional look to the blog. But I had fallen into the classic trap of "form over function". Users could no longer see things like "About Me" or "Blog List" easily. The follow by email tool had vanished. And, most importantly, the blog archive and the link back to the first Gastric Sleeve post were no longer visible - with no easy way to make them visible, without quite a bit of HTML programming. Sure, the "Magazine" view was cool - but what happens in a year or so, when users want to go back to the beginning and have to scroll through 200 other articles to get there? Accordingly, I have declared defeat and retreated back to the original Misdirected design. In the future, I will try to remember the first rule of publishing: "Focus on the content".

It has just been that kind of a week. First, we had the hiatal hernia diagnosis. Within an hour of that, we were in a car accident. We were not at fault (we were rear-ended at a traffic light), but what we thought was minor damage at the time turned into this: 

The rear bumper was completely crushed, the floor of the trunk and rail below it were bent upwards, and the rear doors would no longer close. Our faithful Sentra was declared a total loss and is now on its way to a salvage yard somewhere, leaving us car-less.

May I take this moment to recommend gap insurance on any car you are still making payments on? We didn't have it, and will be making payments for a while on a car that no longer exists. 

To top the week off, I couldn't take the stress anymore and hauled us off to McDonald's, because, you know, french fries. What the heck is going to happen the first time I am in a car accident after my surgery, I have to ask myself.

So, yeah. Not a great week.

Now, positives: No one was seriously injured in the accident. My parents stepped up with the "indefinite" loan of their F-150, so we aren't on foot. The brain-rattling impact of the accident did not cause me to have any seizures, which is really good news. My hernia is repairable. And we did limit ourselves to Quarter Pounders and small Fries - no soft drinks, and Lor even thought to do her burger "Protein style" - that is, with no bun. Overall, the damage could've been much, much worse. (Think injuries, riding the bus, and Large Fries and Chocolate Shakes.)

I do apologize for the inconvenience of  the Version 2.0 switch. If I ever switch to my own website, I will rethink design again then, but until then, I pledge to leave things alone and let you all get back to reading, instead of trying to figure out how to navigate unknown waters.

Hoping This Week Is Over,

- Hawkwind

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Missing Men

Photo Credit: dadadreams (Michelle Lanter) via Compfight cc

In my never ending quest for new blogs to follow (and perhaps share) I stumbled upon a site labeling itself the "Top 10 Bariatric Bloggers". Feel free to take a look, it won't take long. Now, the site itself is a bariatric surgery clinic in Lithuania, and they are certainly free to determine whoever they think are the most relevant of those of us who blog about this. But, looking over their list, I can't help but notice something...

Every single one of these bloggers is a woman.

Now, good on you gals, for being willing to share your experiences with the world. But, once again I must ask - where the hell are the men?

Now, science is not on my side here - according to UC San Diego, only 20% of the patients undergoing bariatric surgery are male. But, shouldn't that mean that at least 1 or 2 of the top bloggers are men? What the heck, dudes - are you too ashamed to talk about it? Obesity is an epidemic that is killing both women and men in our country - why are only the women doing something about it?

I wonder if it has something to do with "power culture". Men in our society are conditioned to not acknowledge pain and suffering, and obesity certainly comes with plenty of that. Also, men are still allowed to project power even if they are overweight - James Gandolfini in the Sopranos and Vincent D'Onofrio in Daredevil spring immediately to mind in terms of recent media portrayal of big, powerful men. So, if size projects power for men, maybe men don't want to talk about becoming smaller?

Hell, I don't know. I am way in over my head with this psycho-analysis stuff. All I know is I am unhealthy, and talking about it on the Internet. Every day I see lots of other men who are also obese - some larger than me, hard as that is to believe. But I am not seeing my half of the species representing out here in the blogosphere. I don't know why that is, and, frankly, it makes me a little uncomfortable. When you have been as fat as I am for as long as I have, you have some pretty serious questions about your masculinity due to the side effects of your weight. Maybe I am only blogging because I am lacking in some other masculine virtue that would otherwise tell me to keep my mouth shut?

If that is the case, so be it. I will happily join the ladies who are brave enough to take charge of their health and talk about it to the rest of the world. This disease is killing just as many men as it is women, and only a fraction of the guys are investigating and implementing bariatric surgery as a solution. So, seriously, hermanos - if you have any questions about this whole Gastric Sleeve thing, slip me an email here at tjeremyschofield at Take charge of your health. I promise it'll be our little secret.

Waiting For The Overflowing Mailbox,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Drastic Measures

Photo Credit: Roving I via Compfight cc

My second post for the day, I know. Maybe this makes up for only producing 4 posts last week? Who knows, but I thought I had better let everyone know what was happening.

I, like all bloggers, make a hobby of watching my blog statistics. I check to see how many total page views I have had (17,000 + as of today!), how many users dropped in today, where they came from, how long they stuck around, and what they looked at while they were here. And a distressing series of events has become the norm here on Misdirected:

1. A new visitor drops in, usually referred from Facebook, but more and more from or other sites.
2. The new visitor reads today's post. (This usually takes 2 - 3 minutes.)
3. The new visitor tries to go all the way back to where the blog began - back in 2010.
4. Our new visitor reads a post talking about Hunters and Paladins in World of Warcraft, gets thoroughly confused, and leaves. (The visit to the 2010 post lasts, on average, under 10 seconds.)

This has become a trend.

A greater number of people are showing up every day, looking for what I have to say about prepping for Gastric Sleeve surgery. They aren't looking for old World of Warcraft info, for observations about Hearthstone, for strategies on League of Legends.

However, I am very reluctant to just throw out 5 years worth of gaming articles in the name of expediency. 

So, I have reached a compromise with myself. As of today, my older, gaming articles have been moved to a VERY old blog title of mine: "Hawkwind's Big Adventure". The articles are still there, still in chronological order, the only thing that has changed is the intial address to reach them. I will also put in a link on Misdirected letting everyone know where they have gone.

Remaining here on Misdirected will be the 20 or so articles I have put together pertaining to Gastic Sleeve surgery, and this is where my future writings on the subject will continue to appear. I do wish there were a more elegant solution, but making sure that anyone just arriving has the best experience possible has become my #1 priority here. Thanks for your understanding, and hopefully this will be the last major paradigm shift here on Misdirected.

At Least Until Version 3.0,

- Hawkwind

Hello, Hiatal

Yesterday's barium test was nothing like I expected. No removal of clothing or metal objects, no lying on a cold table, no hanging around for hours before and after. Instead, I got to stand in a brightly lit room for about 5 minutes in front of a circle of metal about the width of an auto wheel while a Nurse Practitioner worked her magic. Directly in front of me was a video screen so I could watch the result of the x-ray in real time. I immediately had a lovely view of my chest cavity - spine, ribs, and shoulders. Very much like the sick bay in Star Trek, I must say.

I was handed a tiny cup with a straw in it and told to sip the barium slowly until it was gone. As I did so I got to watch a cascade of black looking fluid flow down in front of my spine, hang a right at about my diaphragm, and then drop down into my stomach. But apparently there was a problem...

"Mr. Schofield, you have a hiatal hernia." my Nurse Practioner reported.
"A what?" I eloquently replied.
"A hiatal hernia. The barium should flow down the esophagus, then make its way down into the stomach. Do you see this barium here?" she asked, pointing at a little flow of the dark liquid that had headed up, away from the rest of the flow, looking like a small tributary leading into a mighty river.
"Yes, I can see that."
"That is a hiatal hernia -  a hole in your diaphragm where your stomach is poking through. There's also a little air pocket above it." she continued, pointing at a small white circle above the lost barium. "That shouldn't be there."

A hole in my diaphragm? An air pocket in my chest cavity? Just as well a pulse and blood pressure monitor wasn't hooked up to me at that point. The numbers would NOT have been good. However, it turns out my worry was for naught. Though my NP was puzzled that I have not been suffering any of the usual symptoms (acid reflux, pain in the chest), I was informed that the repair of my hernia would be done during my Gastric Sleeve procedure, adding about 5 minutes to the procedure. I would not even be required to make any changes to my daily diet or other activities.  We left the office, and went about the rest of our day (which is a whole OTHER blog post.)

I have to say for the record here that I have loved ABQ Health Partners Bariatric Surgery department. They have taken a very confusing and emotional process and turned it into "just another health problem we are going to solve". I have yet to meet a staff member, from a receptionist to my surgeon, Dr. Tyner, that has not been a total pro. RNP Costales yesterday was no exception - everything was explained to me in language I could understand, and I felt no pressure to move things along while I was getting all my questions answered. Given some of my hideous experiences with other doctors and health care providers while working through my other chronic condition, I know that Lor and I have been very lucky to be getting our procedures done here. Highly recommended, if you are anywhere near Albuquerque.

Up next on the Road to Surgery: My first nutritionist appointment, coming up next week.

Still Trying To Feel The Hole In My Chest,

- Hawkwind

Monday, April 11, 2016

Version 2.0

Happy Monday, and welcome to version 2.0 of Misdirected! I had a lot of time to look over the site this weekend (all better now, thanks for asking), and decided a few changes should happen, to make us look a little less like we were stuck in the 1990s. Let me know what you think!

I am aware that I still need to come up with a more graceful transition back to our first Gastric Sleeve post, back on March 2nd for the sake of our (many) new visitors. I just spent the weekend going all the way through The World According to Eggface, from back in 2006 to present day, and was so impressed by the flow of the blog - everything had something to do with weight loss, surgery, new recipes, etc. My poor readers will try to go back to the beginning and will be dumped into stories about World of Warcraft characters and League of Legends strategies. I have not come up with an elegant solution yet. Suggestions, anyone?

By the way - if you are at all interested in bariatric surgery, weight loss, dietary changes, etc - you need to go check out TWATE for yourself - Shelly's prose is awesome, and her recipes are going to be absolute lifesavers for us after we go under the...scope. (Was going to say knife, but that is not really how Gastric Sleeve is done.) I can only hope 10 years after my surgery I am still providing readers with excellent, relevant content like she is.

Next up on the pre-surgical agenda is today's Barium Test. It doesn't sound all that bad to me, and others that have done it tell me it is no big deal. Basically, I swallow some barium, then have a series of X-Rays taken. No idea how long it will take, what they are looking for, etc. I should've paid more attention during the initial consult, but I was just being buried under info at the time, and this procedure seemed relatively minor in the grand scheme of things. Hope it turns out that way. I will keep everyone posted.

Thanks to everyone that is stopping in and sharing the blog with those that might be interested - we started growing by leaps and bounds after March 2 and haven't slowed down yet. I've  had the chance to answer LOTS of questions about the surgery and the reasoning behind it, and love getting the info out there that this is not a shortcut - this is merely adding an additional tool to the diet and lifestyle changes that need to happen to combat obesity. 

We'll talk to you all again post-barium!

Preparing To Drink Radioactive Chalk,

- Hawkwind

Friday, April 8, 2016

My Microbial Colony

Photo Credit: findingtheobvious via Compfight cc

One of the things rarely mentioned about hospitals is that they are a great place to get sick. I walked into the hospital yesterday morning feeling pretty normal and emerged a few hours later having been colonized by an enterprising group of microbes. 24 hours later, this has turned into a full-blown head cold. I am now doing all the usual stuff - filling wastebaskets with used Kleenex, staying as far away from Lor as possible, and mouth-breathing like a landed fish. Joyous.

There really isn't a lot to say about a cold that translates well into "weight-loss blog", but it does raise some interesting questions for what happens after the surgery. Many of my go-to remedies and comfort foods are going to be denied to me after the surgery. For example:
  • Orange Juice. Nope, totally off the list. A completely protein-less high carbohydrate liquid. 3 "No"s for the price of one there.
  • Chicken Noodle Soup. Again, not enough protein and the part of the soup that makes the ravaged throat feel better (the broth) is the part  that has the lowest nutritional value.
  • Ice Cream. My favorite comfort food for head colds is pure sugar and empty calories. Sigh.
  • Water. Kinda the opposite problem here, but who wants to drink water while they have a cold? I want something warm, and aromatic. Guess I could drink caffeine-free teas, but 64 ounces of fluid a day fills a LOT of teacups.
Just things to think about to the accompaniment of the tympanic drums that have taken up residence in my head. Considering that I have a barium test on the books for Monday, I am going to need to get over this thing fast. This means all the usual stuff - keep the infected fluids moving out of the body so they can't slide into the lungs, mega-doses of Vitamin C (but not in Orange Juice), don't get dehydrated, etc. Where all I want to do is lie down, burrow under the covers, and wait for my head to fall off. This prepping for gastric sleeve surgery thing is not for the faint of heart.

I'll talk to you all on Monday - here's wishing you all a better weekend than the one I am going to have.

Hosting A Microbe Dance Party,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, April 7, 2016

3:40 AM And Counting

3:40 A.M. A time seen in normal circumstances only by staff at the emergency room, OTR Truck Drivers, and waitstaff at the local Denny's. Yet, here I sit, listening to the sleeping house, banging out a few hundred words so I don't go two days in a row in silence.

The second round of medical visits preparing the way to the promised land of Gastric Sleeve has just begun. For the next two weeks, we will be poked, prodded, analyzed, folded, spindled and hopefully not mutilated. Nutritionist visits, Barium tests, and trips to a day surgery center nearly an hour away fill our days. And, somewhere in here, this whole thing passed from "might happen" to "this is happening".

It isn't that this wasn't "real" before, mind you. But the 45 grams of Carbohydrate meals and trying to down 64 ounces of water a day now feel like prologue. Drinking barium and getting a tube containing a camera shoved down the throat suddenly brings the whole thing into focus: this is really happening, isn't it? 

The changes are everywhere. We've started watching the clock before and after meals, timing our fluid intake (no fluids 30 minutes before or 1 hour after meals). We're trying to eat meals in order: protein, then produce, then starches. We've undergone a second round of getting rid of food in our pantry after some gentle correction from our nutritionist. We're even exercising every day, if not always for the recommended 30 minutes. Our lives are changing in every way, in preparation for living this way for the rest of our lives.

But, somehow, being up this early to get prepped for a 6:30 AM procedure at a hospital in a whole other county just brought it all crashing in - this is really happening to us. To ME. Before this week, despite all the changes, I still felt a curious sense of detachment, of disassociation. Not anymore. Somewhere in the appointments this week, a threshold was crossed.

This just got real, my friends.

Really Awake Now,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Fighting The Odds

Photo Credit: stevenkbruno via Compfight cc 

After putting together yesterday's post, I realized a pretty significant question had been left unanswered. I mentioned that I had spent years passively due to my fear of seizures, then all of the sudden I am throwing myself down the sides of mountains and like that. So the question is: what changed?

As far as "my condition" is concerned, nothing has really changed. I still have Epilepsy. I still have to take a cocktail of medications every day. I still have an implant in my chest firing off electrical impulses to my brain every 5 minutes to reset my brain activity. I still have no driver's license, still would probably not last a week at a "real" job. There is still no cure for those of us with intractable seizures, nor is there one in sight that does not involve surgery removing significant portions of the brain. But the truth is this: I finally got to the point where I am more afraid of my obesity than I am of my seizure activity.

Now, don't get me wrong. Epilepsy is still serious business. People with Epilepsy are still 11 times more likely to die prematurely than those without. But Morbid Obesity (my variety) contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes - which all have their own risks of early death. And, here's the thing: a combination of gastric surgery, combined with diet and exercise changes, can remove the obesity-mortality factors completely.

When I talked with my doctor initially about the possibility of Gastric Sleeve surgery, I blurted out "I want Epilepsy to kill me, not a stroke.", and was immediately horrified at how fatalistic my view was. But my doc just nodded her head as if this made perfect sense to her. And, thinking about it since then, I can actually stand by that statement. If I already have a chronic condition I have been fighting against for over a decade, why not continue that fight, instead of having to engage on an entirely new battleground? Why fight a two-front war?

And, let's not forget the other health improvements. 2 years ago, while having surgery to repair a torn meniscus, my surgeon off-handedly told me that if I didn't lose my excess weight, I would be back in 5 years for a knee replacement. I don't want to have a knee replacement while still in my 40s. Whatever time is left to me, whether 5 years or 50, I want to make the most of. And I can't make the most of it in my current, obese, condition.

10 years ago I was positive I was not going to make it to 50. If I can last 4 more years, I am going to make it that far. I want these years to be active, to push as fast and as far as I can while doing the best I can to manage my Epilepsy. I no longer want to just sit around the house, watching the world pass by outside the window, kept in place by the twin anchors of my seizures and my weight. I want to drag that single anchor just as far as it will go.

Revving Up My Engines,

- Hawkwind

Monday, April 4, 2016

To Climb The Impossible Climb

Over the weekend, Lor had a dream. Inspired by our recent hike out in "the real world", she decided that we should head out to one of the better trail heads here - the ones maintained by the city - and climb up into the foothills. Accordingly,  I gathered up a walking stick, some water, and a Chihuahua, and we drove up to the base of the Embudo Trail, about 4 miles from our house. Once there, Lor spotted our goal for the day:

I had mentioned I married a sadist, yes?
All she wanted to do was climb to the top of that thing. Up the Embudo Trail, a mere 1.5 miles each way, to the Embudo Springs and back. Only 2,000 feet of elevation change over sandy terrain, certain to be filled with coyotes and rattlesnakes. What could go wrong?

I shouldn't have worried about the coyotes and the snakes - they sat along the sides of the trail and laughed as I passed by, huffing and puffing all the way. Ten minutes in I felt like I had been walking for days - thighs quivering, calves burning, ready to lay down and quit, and maybe die while I was at it. I have religiously walked our dog every day around our neighborhood for months, refusing to reduce my mobility anymore, so I thought I could deal with a little hike up into the mountains. Let me tell you - it is a whole different thing walking uphill through sand than it is walking on pavement through a mostly level neighborhood. 

Lor and Vixen were patient, but maybe a third of the way up the trail, I was done. I collapsed on the side of the trail, where Lor unmercifully took this motivational shot of me:

Didn't know they had whales in the desert.

From now on, all I have to do when I don't want to exercise is look at this picture. I may make it the background on my phone. I look truly, truly hideous. My earlier article, filled with platitudes about how feeling good is more important than looking good? Still valid, but looking this bad makes me feel bad. I want to ask "What happened to me?", but I know damn well what happened to me. Take 10 years of Shiner Bock, add 1 year of Depakote, then layer on 12 years of fear that exercise will cause seizures. Stir briskly, drink it down, and you, too, can look like this!

On the way back down my legs were quivering piles of jelly, no longer really working correctly. I got to the car safely nonetheless, and pulled out my phone to see exactly what I had done for the day:

Please note - we completely missed the trail. We'll do better next time.

1 mile, straight up and straight down, in 52 minutes. I can't remember the last time I walked a mile. I can't remember the last time I exercised for 52 minutes.  Maybe there is something to this outdoor hiking thing after all. I just have to tell myself I will do better next time.

Oh, yes - there will be a next time. The background photo on my phone tells me so.

Still Recovering,

- Hawkwind