Friday, September 30, 2016

Here, Piggie, Piggie

Photo Credit: Madr@t Flickr via Compfight cc

The conversation last night was unusual, to say the least:

"Oh my God, I ate like a pig today."
"Me, too. I can't believe we ate so much."
"Man, we are going to have to do nothing but protein shakes tomorrow or something."
"Yeah, I totally feel you. We need to keep better track."

So, what happened to cause this conversation? What horrible dietary sins did we commit? Did we visit Coldstone Creamery? Hit the all-you-can-eat buffet at one of our local casinos? Give in to temptation and each have one of the gigantic breakfast burritos from a local vendor?

In point of fact, no. We did none of those things. Actually, we cooked three meals at home, and each (barely) topped 1,000 calories for the day. Due to the high amount of fresh vegetables we ingested we also both went a little over 60 grams of carbs for the day.

It is a brave, new world that we are living in, post-surgery.

If you had told me a year ago that eating a thousand calories would make me feel bloated, overstuffed and concerned about over-eating, I would have laughed at you. No one can live on 1,000 calories, right? That is, like, anorexia territory, isn't it?

Yeah, apparently not. Once you've got somewhere between 1.5 (for bypass patients) and 4 (for sleeve patients) ounces of stomach to work with, the caloric intake suddenly becomes a LOT less important to you. Now, you are suddenly focusing on protein, protein, protein! (We did fine on our protein numbers yesterday, by the way - Lor had over 60, I topped out at 70.) Limit those carbs, raise that protein level, and the weight will just melt away!

Well, provided that you exercise every day. And take multivitamins every day. And make sure you stay hydrated, since you won't be getting much hydration from food sources anymore. And...

The total mind shift that comes along with surgery is really unexpected. They tell you that you are going to have to think about food differently, but it doesn't really hit you till that day after surgery when you are looking at a plate of 3 tablespoons worth of food and wondering how you are supposed to live on this. Until you keep having to smile and turn down a drink from a friendly waitress so you don't drink while you eat. Until you start carrying a phone app to track every single morsel of everything you ingest in a day.

And, suddenly, a few months later, you are wondering how you were such a pig as to ingest 1,000 calories worth of food. 

Mind. Blown.

Still Think I Need Those Protein Shakes,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Variety: The Lack of Spice

Photo Credit: emilybostic1 Flickr via Compfight cc

(Health Update: The results are in from by visit to the audiologist. I am suffering from mild to moderate hearing loss across all bands, with the problem getting worse at the frequencies get higher. Translation: I am going deaf, but am not yet deaf enough for hearing aids. Lor will just have to speak louder.)

We made our bi-weekly visit to the grocery store yesterday, and while reviewing the receipt afterward (ouch!) a thought struck me: this looked an awful lot like the pile of groceries we bought two weeks ago.

In the name of scientific inquiry, I went through the bags as we were unloading at home. Eggs: Affirmative. Many pounds of chicken: present. Several varieties of cheese: check. 10,000 containers of greek yogurt: yup. We didn't get any protein shakes, but only because they weren't on sale at the grocery store we visited yesterday. Same old, same old, really.

So. this is what I am going to be eating for the rest of my life. The only variety is showing up in the various fruits and vegetables Lor is picking - usually whatever is on sale. And even then I can always count on standards like tomatoes and cucumbers.

It isn't necessarily that this is a bad thing. But it is sort of like that day when you are sitting at your desk and realize that this job is what you've been doing for the last twenty years: so this is who I am. From here on out, my identity is wrapped up in tiny amounts of protein-saturated foods.

As identities go, it isn't a bad one to have. Quite honestly, food has really been shifted to the back burner (ha!) in terms of things we spend a lot of time thinking about. Though we do still have cravings from time to time (I drooled over a pecan pie for about 5 minutes yesterday), they aren't real cravings, if you know what I mean. My mind is craving the memory of something it used to really enjoy. My stomach could care less.

But, really, we are only a few months out from our surgeries. Getting the exact same thing every two weeks will surely lead to burning out eventually, won't it? I think we need to put a little more thought into our weekly meal planning, and make sure that we are injecting a little variety into these trips to grocery store. Substitute low-fat beef cuts for chicken once in a while. make sure we are cycling through different kinds of nuts. We are already doing a pretty good job of trying different cheeses every time. I have no idea what in the heck we will use to substitute for low-fat yogurt, though.

Just one more demonstration of shifting food away from the center of our lives, I suppose. We can start looking for variety in other places: changing up our daily routine, trying different exercise programs, doing new and unusual things for entertainment. We have quite a few more options with our reduced sizes and increased health, right? We need to seek the spice of variety in experience, and not in things like lasagna, beer and desserts.

Now if I can just convince my brain of that.

Wondering If They Make A Pecan Pie Flavored Yogurt,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Auditory Setbacks

Hawkwind, ca. 1998, when he still had his hearing (and his hair.)

It hasn't been the best of weeks so far, in a "health and wellness" sense.

My weight has stopped dropping (still stuck at 224), my knee has flared back up after a few weeks of glorious pain-free exercise, and, tomorrow, I get to go have my hearing checked.

Wait, what does that last one have to do with weight loss?

Nothing, really. But it is the physical symptom that is bothering me the most right now.

Decades of playing rock and roll on very small stages in front of very loud amplifiers (and drummers) have left me with not-so-great hearing. While hanging around the house, this is no big deal - I just turn up the volume or make sure I am watching Lor's lips move while she speaks to me, and waiting for information to arrive via context.

However, out in the world, this has begun to be a problem. While out walking the dog, for example, Lor is invariably a few feet in front of me. While huffing and puffing and trying to keep up with her and Vixen, I will hear something that seems to indicate that she is speaking, but the words come through as something like the background noise at a really loud party. As I can't see her lips, I have no idea what is being said. I tend to say "Mmm-hmm" in a positive inflection a lot. I have no idea what I am agreeing to. Could be that I agree the dog is unusually cute today, could be I just signed off on tearing out all our flooring and replacing it with marble. Who knows?

So, at my latest doctor visit, I mentioned this problem to my physician. My doctor recommended that I go so see an audiologist. My appointment is tomorrow, and I am not looking forward to the results.

The idea of wearing hearing aids is just not appealing to me, I must admit. I have loved ones who rely on them, and it certainly has improved their quality of life. But, they just seem like something for people...older than me.

You know, like slowing metabolic rates are a function of age. And advanced arthritis in the joints is a function of age. Everywhere I turn, my body is gleefully pointing out to me that I am not in my twenties anymore. Not to mention the fact that I am reaping the rewards of a lifetime of abuse that I have heaped on my body. I wish I had enjoyed my thirties more, because I am paying for them now. Sort of like student loans or high-interest credit cards - the consequences last far after the initial purchase.

And, no matter how well I finally do in weight loss, exercise and nutrition from here on out, the fact remains - I am going to keep getting older. My body will keep slowing down. I will have to work harder tomorrow to achieve the results I got yesterday. Things are just going to keep ceasing to function properly. Because no one escapes the ravages of time. 

And, soon, I may have the hearing aids to show for it.

Damn it.

Wishing I Had Played Mozart Instead Of Skynyrd,

- Hawkwind

Monday, September 26, 2016

Social Butterflies

Photo Credit: Hugo von Schreck via Compfight cc

When you are an obese person, frequently the company you like best is your own. Though advertising would have us believe that beautiful and trendy people are out partying it up, the fact remains that, when you are uncomfortable due to your size, you would just as soon stay home and eat a pizza while binge-watching "Orange Is The New Black."

Eating the whole pizza, that is.

"Fat" is just not real conducive to social gatherings, ya know? You are sure everyone is watching (and judging) you all the time, so you sit in the corner. You sweat like crazy, thanks to a combination of your obesity and your nervousness, which you are positive makes you smell horrible. You gaze at everyone else's figures and assume that, since they are not obese, their lives must be better than your own. So, you just stay home instead.

It has been tough breaking out of that mindset. Lor has always been more social than I am, and has been instrumental in getting me out of the house recently. A couple of weekends ago we attended a birthday party. This last weekend we had dinner with some friends that we haven't seen in months, and also went to a weekly gathering we have been invited to for years and have just never gone to because, you know, fat.

The weird part is that I still suffer from those same social fears, just with a slightly different emphasis. I still think everyone is looking at me, but now I am convinced that they are wondering why I haven't lost more weight. While dining in public I now worry that our friends are silently judging us for how little we are eating. I am finding other reasons to assume that people's lives are better than my own, no longer based on weight.

Sigh. At least I am no longer sweating so much. So there is that.

Despite my battle with my private neuroses, it has been wonderful getting to hang around people I haven't seen in years, in some cases over a decade. I find myself surrounded by people that are genuinely interested in Lor and I, wondering where we've  been and how we have been doing. In many cases, the weight loss and surgery don't even come up as a topic of conversation - our friends are interested in the people we are no matter how much or how little we might weigh. That has been amazingly gratifying.

Also interesting is the number of people who have gone through, or know someone who has gone through, bariatric surgery. It is becoming less and less a taboo subject, a demonstration of failure or laziness, but is instead being viewed as a standard treatment for a real illness. This is amazing, and I hope it continues. Once obesity is no longer viewed as a simple failure of willpower, we as a country will get a whole lot healthier.

I am very grateful for the friends that have been patiently waiting for us to rejoin their lives, and I find that I have really missed social interaction more than I thought I did. Thanks to Lor, I am sure that we will be expanding our social circles even wider as time goes on. She is determined to re-enter the world that I have been hiding us from for years now.

Not that there is anything wrong with staying home and binge-watching "Sons of Anarchy" for entertainment every once in a while.

Stretching My Fragile Socialite Wings,

- Hawkwind

Friday, September 23, 2016

If Tomorrow's Weight Loss Never Comes

(With apologies to Garth Brooks)

Along with all the other excitement of the last two weeks, I have also noticed a marked slow-down in my weight loss. Where I had been losing 3, 4, even 5 pounds a week since surgery, last week I made it to 225 pounds, and this week to 224. Somewhere in my brain, some pressure has been applied to the weight-loss brakes.

Now, stalls happen. I am not overly concerned about the fact that my weight loss has temporarily slowed down. The facts are pretty simple - If I keep eating around 800 calories a day, and my daily exercise routine burns off another 300 of them, there is just no way that my weight loss is "done". At some point, my fat cells will be forced out of their resistance, and the weight loss will pick back up.

However, just for the sake of argument, what if I was done losing weight? What would it mean for me to begin living the rest of my life at my current weight and size?

Well, let's see:

  • I would have to accept a 40-inch waistline. That would be a little disappointing, but not very, since my original "pie-in-the-sky" goal was actually 38 inches. Remember, I started with a 48-inch waist.
  • I would have to accept better seizure control and no longer being on blood pressure medications. Yeah, I think I could do that.
  • My exercise routine would need to work around being at 224 pounds. Now, that is a little more difficult, since every pound you lose makes exercise that much easier on the rest of your body. But, in February, I could barely manage to walk to the end of the block and back - about 2 tenths of a mile. Today, we are regularly walking 2 miles, a ten-fold increase in daily activity.
  • My CPAP would remain a constant companion at night, since I have still not overcome my obstructive sleep apnea. I do sometimes wish that I could get rid of the Darth Vader mask and hoses. But, Lor hints ominously that, if I were to start snoring again after being taken off of it, the mask would be going right back on anyway. The CPAP has meant uninterrupted sleep for both of us for several years now, and I suppose I can accept that.
  • I would have to settle for the restoration of a regular sex life again, after not having one for years. Ahem. Yes, please.
I find very little to be unhappy about at this point - even if the process were done today, I would have to call the bariatric surgery a total success. Though I still have occasional hiccups (see what I did there?), what I have gained through surgery far outweighs the loss of beer and all-you-can-eat buffets. The fact is, I have a life outside my house again, and that in and of itself is one of the most valuable gifts I have ever received.

And, the good news is, I am not done yet! Though I am still skeptical of getting all the way down to 185 (my surgical goal weight), I firmly believe that I can make it to 199: I would like my maintenance phase next year to begin at under 200 pounds. And I will do everything in my power to get there. Two days from now will be my 2-month "surgiversary", so I should have at least 4 more months of honeymoon weight loss to go. Even at my current slower weight loss of a pound a week that would put me at 208 by January!

208 pounds. Imagine 95 pounds of total weight loss in just under a year. Who would have thought?

And Now I Have That Darn Song Stuck In My Head,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Yesterday, I Learned

Image courtesy of

It began innocuously enough. Lor decided to experiment with "riced cauliflower", a rice substitute made from cauliflower chopped into really little rice-sized bits. We bought a bag of it from CostCo, and Lor decided to make an Orange Chicken stir-fry with it, utilizing Orange Chicken from Trader Joe's. Two pre-made bags = one easy meal, right?

My first warning should have been the serving size on the Trader Joe's bag: "1 Serving: 1 cup."

Betcha a few of you already spotted the problem right there, didn't you?

Yeah, 1 cup equals 8 ounces. Or, roughly, twice the capacity of a sleeve-reduced stomach.

But, we were not deterred. We would simply eat half a serving each, saving the rest for later. Economical eating is the wave of the future post-bariatric surgery, let me tell you.

Now, I was good. I swear I was. I took small bites. I put my fork down after each one. I chewed thoroughly. I watched the clock to make sure I was taking a full 60 seconds between bites.

What I didn't do was keep real close track of how much was left in my bowl. Hey, what can I say? It was really good, and we were watching an really compelling episode of The Blacklist.

At the point where I started to feel unusually full, I looked down into my bowl and saw that I had about 4 bites left. Maybe 2 ounces, total volume. That meant that, while distracted by the exploits of Red and Agent Keen, I had accidentally ingested about 6 ounces of food.

I immediately put the bowl down, but it was far, far too late.

It started as hiccups. The hiccups kept increasing in intensity, eventually getting to the point where my diaphragm was seizing every second or two, making it exceptionally difficult to speak or breathe normally. Finally, after about 5 minutes of gasping for air while experiencing a painful burning sensation in the center of my chest, relief (of a sort) arrived - I revisited dinner, this time heading the wrong direction. The vomiting was long and painful. The only upside was, immediately afterwards, the demonic hiccups ceased and I could actually breathe again, and no longer had to consider calling 911 to treat me for acute overeating.

Even this morning, my chest and my esophagus are still sore from the episode. Mainly what I am, though, is embarrassed. Repeated throughout our nutritional training is the instruction to not watch television while you eat. I always thought of this as an unusually restrictive instruction, since we never eat at a table, barring special occasions. We either eat while working in front of a computer or, like last night, while watching our one show of the night. (We generally only watch a single episode of television together each day. If it isn't sports, that is about all the TV I am interested in.)

What I should have done (and will do in the future) is not tempt fate by putting a "full" serving where I can get to it. If I am going to be distracted (and I frequently am), I need to make sure that 4 ounces of anything if the maximum that gets put in front of me at meal times. That way, there is no opportunity for me to injure myself the way I did yesterday.

Needless to say, I did not hit my protein goal for yesterday, and am not sure about it today, as eating is of very little interest to me at this moment. Maybe two or three protein shakes to make sure I don't have two days of less than 60 grams of protein in a row? Anything to avoid chewing and swallowing right now. I have exactly ZERO interest in a repeat performance of last night.

Chastened And Educated,

- Hawkwind

PS - This should in no way be taken as a condemnation of Riced Cauliflower. It was exceptionally tasty, and it was so nice to actually have something resembling rice! We will be using it again, just not in the quantities ingested yesterday.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Neither Hide Nor Hair

Photo Credit: kiplingflu via Compfight cc
Though the benefits of our surgeries have been awesome, there is no denying that bariatric surgery comes with a few, shall we call them, negative effects.  And, since we are all humans being, we tend to spend a LOT of time discussing those effects. Remaining positive does not seem to be built into the human consciousness for some reason.

Now, the #1 topic for freaking out about post-surgery, by a large margin, would have to be the infamous "OMG I'VE STOPPED LOSING WEIGHT WHAT DO I DO????" But, beyond that particular issue, there is a host of others we tend to bitch about. Dumping syndrome. Dehydration. Exercise. Lack of family support. Malnutrition. loss.

Really? Hair loss?

Though temporarily losing your hair may not seem significant to most, it is actually a serious topic, tying into things like nutritional health, self-esteem, and post-surgery relationships. The combination of surgical trauma, greatly reduced protein intake, and (in some cases) vitamin deficiency can lead to serious and heavy hair loss. Though your surgeons and nutritionists will try to reassure you that all will be set right within a year (or so) of surgery, the focus remains throughout the community on what can be done to reduce hair loss, how best to disguise what is happening, what headgear is currently in season...

Oh, excuse me. You thought I was talking about my hair loss, didn't you? Yeah, no - not so much. I have been losing my hair since 2004 or so, with the hairline receding and a thinning spot expanding on the crown of my head. Whenever the two areas meet, I will simply shave it all off. No big deal.

No, the real issue here is Lor's hair loss.

For a couple of weeks now, she has been mentioning it. She has always had long and beautiful hair, and now it is starting to leave her. She is diligently removing clumps of hair from the drain after every shower. Biotin got quietly added to our daily vitamin regimen. And now, even I am starting to find long, auburn strands of hair in random places around the house. We are quickly approaching a crisis. Despite my encouragement and visual evidence to the contrary, she is positive that she looks half-bald. And, of course, she is convinced that she will be the one bariatric patient whose hair never returns after the body gets used to its new protein intake.

So, Lor has come up with a plan: she is going to cut her hair. Like, waaayy short. In the 30-odd years I have known her, Lor has never had hair shorter than shoulder length - frequently even longer. To offset her current hair loss, she has selected an extremely short "pixie" cut. Knowing that she has always loved her hair length, I must admit to some misgivings about this operation, but the appointment is on the books for Friday, and we are going to proceed. I can only cross my fingers and hope for the best.

She keeps asking me if I will like her "better" with short hair, but the fact of the matter is that I would find her exceptionally attractive even if she shaved her head entirely and went with the "Britney Spears circa 2007" look. So, no, I won't like her better, per se. I will like her just as much as I always have. And I get the impression that this is NOT the answer she is hoping for from me. 

The pixie cut approaches - only time will tell if it will be a rousing success, or if she will ask why I didn't talk her out of it.

A post-bariatric patient's lot is not always a happy one.

A Pair Of Scissors This Way Comes,

- Hawkwind

Monday, September 19, 2016

The slow road to 5K

I spoke last week about a bucket list that I put together several years ago, while in the middle of the "my life is over" crisis that resulted from adult onset epilepsy. I actually still have the physical list around here...somewhere. My memory being what it is, I should probably try to find it and see if I have missed anything important.

One of the items on that list involved attending an annual sporting event here in Albuquerque, one that supports an organization that is near and dear to my heart: the Run For The Zoo, a 5-kilometer race that supports the Albuquerque Biopark. I have wanted to participate in it for as long as I can remember. The problem? I have probably not run 5 kilometers in total over my entire life.

See, I am just not a runner. It is not an activity I enjoy. The endorphin high that so many runners like to talk about never materializes for me: though it did show up occasionally when I was a weightlifter. These days it never shows up at all - all I get is sweat and discomfort from our daily exercise routine.

Still, I have never stopped thinking about it. Earlier this year, along with my commitment to buy a Halloween costume this year if I lost more than 50 pounds due to surgery, I also mentioned to Lor that I wanted to participate in the 2017 Run For The Zoo if everything turned out successfully. I have lots of ideas, and I think she just agreed with me, hoping that the idea would quietly go away after a certain amount of time.

Imagine her surprise when I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to start training for next year's Run after the majority of my weight loss had occurred - maybe December or January. My proposal fell on deaf ears. She didn't like to run, she reminded me. I don't like to run, for that matter. I still have two badly damaged knees. For that matter, I am still over 70 pounds overweight. (I started at 152 pounds overweight, remember.) As the injector of realism into my life, Lor was forced to pop my hopeful, wish-list balloon.

As a compromise, she did remind me that the event had a walking component as well. Now, last time I checked, the walking component was a 1-mile stroll around the zoo grounds, which isn't what I had in mind at all. However, after further investigation, I discovered that there is indeed a 5-K Fitness Walk "race". I use the term race loosely because it is non-competitive. No time is kept, no medals are handed out. Parents with small children and strollers are encouraged to participate. Not exactly what I had in mind at all.

However, I accepted my half a loaf, and began looking into training tools for race walking. You know, kind of a Couch To 5K kind of thing for those of us disinclined to actually learn how to run. As it turns out, no such thing exists. You are either learning to be a runner, or you are just going to have to figure it out for yourself. There are no other options.

Currently, we walk anywhere from 1.5 to 2 miles a day. 5 Kilometers works out to 3.11 miles. So, I am going to have to figure out a route in our neighborhood that equates to 3 miles, and then we can start hitting it at least once a week, I suppose. I hope the dog can keep up, though she has been doing fine so far with 2 miles. By January, I will try to start doing the 5K route more than once a week, so that I can begin working on my speed. Lor naturally walks an 18-minute mile without me to slow her down, but together we currently manage a little less than 3 miles an hour. At that rate, all the other race participants will have packed up and gone home by the time I get to the finish line. Even the ones with small children and strollers.

I am simultaneously excited and disappointed. While I am now looking forward to next May, I am also left with the feeling that I am not really going to be doing what I had in mind. But, hey. It isn't like I have ever participated in any kind of race in my adult life, right?

Besides, it is all for a good cause.

Fearing Finishing Behind A Stroller Full Of Infants,

- Hawkwind

Friday, September 16, 2016

Worded Out

Photo Credit: via Compfight cc
It has been a busy week here at Misdirected. We (Lor and I, not the "royal" we) have been to doctor's visits, visited friends in the hospital, and begun investigating some additional potential income streams. At the same time, I have re-programmed Misdirected's web analytics (since it was reporting ZERO visitors for the last two weeks), and took the time to read and review Gina Horkey's new book "Making Money as a Freelance Writer". I have just finished another 10,000-word episode for my upcoming serialized novel (over at Fiction Vortex - why haven't you visited yet? Serialized Fiction is the coming thing, you know.), and begun work on the next episode.

And, somewhere in between completing episode four and starting up episode five this morning, I sorta ran out of words for the week.

Oh, I tried. I started and stopped no less that 3 different blog posts earlier today. I even "finished" one of them. But it was just not up to snuff. I checked out my conclusion with the Editor-In-Chief of Misdirected (Loralia), and she agreed - it was just not ready for prime time. So, I tucked it and the other two ideas away, where I will revisit them, probably next week.

So, why the little apologetic update?

Because the feedback I get from a particularly evocative article is NOTHING compared to the feedback I get when I fail to publish one on any given Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday. Questions rain in: "Is everything ok? Did you move your website? Are you having seizures?"

For today, the answers are: Yes, everything is fine, no the website has not moved, and my health is currently ok, but thanks for caring enough to check!

I just simply have no new, good insights on anything today to share with everyone.

So, release yourself to recess! You are hereby given permission to check out other blogs. Go buy an episode or two on Fiction Vortex. Heck, if you are a writer, go buy and read Gina's book! But I expect to see you all back here on Monday. I will give myself the weekend off from writing anything, to make sure I am no longer tapped out when next week rolls around. We will catch you all then!

Wondering If I Can Stand The Strain Of Not Writing For 48 Hours,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Mistaken Identity

2009 vs. 2016. Nope, can't see a difference here...

It isn't every day that we get to enjoy being forgotten. Mostly, we work hard to make ourselves known in the world - to be kind, rich, successful, wise - anything that leaves a mark on those around us. Finding out that we left so little impression that we are not remembered can be really damaging to the ego.

But, not always.

Yesterday I went in to see my family physician for my "yearly wellness" exam. This is the same doctor who, back in February, referred me over to ABQ Health Partners Bariatrics to get started on the bariatric surgery process. When last we met I weighed over 300 pounds, had sky-high blood pressure, and couldn't walk very well due to my damaged knee.

Yesterday, she walked into the exam room, took one look at me, then a look at Lor (who accompanies me on all my medical visits), then another look at me, and asked: "I have seen you as a patient before, haven't I?"

Being forgotten: Best Feeling Ever.

My own physician did not recognize Lor and I, only 7 months after our last visit. After going over her notes, she did get quickly up to speed, and was as congratulatory as anyone has been about our weight loss. But mistaking me for an entirely different person just about made my day.

And, oh yeah, I get to cease taking my high blood pressure medications too. So, there is that as well.

Every day, I look in the mirror, and ask myself: "Do I really look all that different?" I don't think so. As my changes are happening slowly, incrementally, I don't notice them. Same face, same eyebrows, same goatee, etc. Though I certainly feel differently, I don't really perceive what the rest of the world is seeing. I can, of course, force the issue by dragging out old photos like the ones above, but even that somehow doesn't feel "real" to me. 

Now, having someone I see every 6 months fail to recognize me? That feels like progress, and a significant Non-Scale Victory.

Guess I Should Go To The Doctor More Often,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Once upon a time, about a decade ago, I sat in my room above my parent's garage and made up my mind that, despite my disability, my life wasn't done yet. Accordingly, I made a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish. There among bucket-list type items like "Travel To Gettysburg" and health-related goals like "Full Seizure Control" was this entry: "Weigh 225 pounds."

At the time, I only (ha!) weighed 275 pounds. The one-two punch of Depakote and lack of activity due to seizures had pushed my weight from a heavily muscled 240 pounds up to a flabby 280, and it had taken me over a year to sort of settle in at 275. I knew I wasn't ever going to be a gym rat again (ever tried a bench press while having a seizure?), but I figured if I could just lose 50 pounds I would be in decent shape again.

For the next 10 years, that day never came. It took my weight climbing over 300 pounds this year to get me to finally take the "heroic measures" (a medical term, not stating that I am in any way heroic) of surgery to deal with my obesity. Now, 50 days after my surgery, I have arrived at the goal that I set so long ago: 225 pounds. So, how do I feel about it?

In a word: Pfft.

You see, back when I picked the 225 goal weight, I had a specific physique in mind. Something like an NFL running back. You know, like this:

According to BMI, he was obese for his entire career.
Maurice Jones-Drew - 5'7", played between 205 and 215 pounds. Not that I was aiming too high or anything. Let's just say that, looking in the mirror today, the photo above is not what I am seeing.

My crashing weight loss is the main reason, of course. My body has had no chance to slowly adapt as it shrinks. Instead, my skin is left as an empty sack around large areas that once held much bigger fat deposits. My arms sag, my chest sags, my formerly beer-keg-sized belly now looks like a deflated beach ball, half-filled with jelly. All in all, 225 looks almost nothing like the picture I had in my head.

Now, my weight loss is presumably not done yet. But, if I am 75 pounds down, out of an expected 100-ish pounds of weight loss, most of the fat shedding has already occurred. Losing another 25 pounds at this point is not suddenly going to turn me into MJD.

As I have stated frequently, I didn't go into surgery for the purpose of improving my looks. I wanted increased energy, reduced blood pressure, and relief for my disintegrating joints - all of which I have already begun to see the benefits of. If my energy level is not as high as Lor's or my blood pressure is still not low enough to stop taking medications, I am still in a better place than where I was in February. But that 225 number has been in the back of my mind ever since I started this process. "Man, if I can just hit that weight - wouldn't that be something?"

It is certainly "something". But not exactly the something I envisioned. I think I would have been better off setting my goal as being able to bench-press the 225 pounds, rather than weigh it. Despite having lost a quarter of my starting body weight at this point, I can't help but be a little exasperated at how much work I still have to do.

Time To Head Back To The Resistance Bands,

- Hawkwind

Monday, September 12, 2016

Overwhelmed By Pizza

The upside to bariatric surgery is huge: improved health, increased mobility, enhanced self-esteem. Not to mention the whole "much more likely to live past 60" thing. At no time since I had surgery have I seriously wished I had not undergone the procedure.

But...(you knew there was a but, didn't you?), some days are a little more difficult than others.

Yesterday was the first full day of the 2016-2017 NFL season. Now, once upon a time, I used to be a football fanatic. But, for many years now, football has been something that I sort of enjoyed passively - whenever I could. I tried not to think about it too much. Other than our yearly SuperBowl blowout, I was no longer very involved with football.

Why? Because, since the onset of epilepsy, I have no longer been able to afford cable. No cable means no real football choices. In New Mexico, regular football programming means watching either the Denver Broncos or the Dallas Cowboys. Out of respect to my friends and family members who are die-hard fans of those franchises, let me put it this way: those two teams are not my optimal choices.

This year, however, things are different - my brother managed to wrangle Lor and I a DirecTV subscription as part of our cell phone service. This year's subscription just happens to include NFL Direct Ticket - meaning that I can watch any game playing on any given Sunday. Even my hapless Miami Dolphins. Yes, I am masochistic like that.

I have been so excited for football season this year. I joined a fantasy football league. I cleared my schedule on every Sunday from now through Christmas. I loaded up every single electronic device I own with various apps that would enable me to keep track of updates, scores, and injuries.  I even parked my laptop next to me so that I could write during breaks in the action.

Cause, you know, football is serious business.

Pre-game shows started yesterday at 10 AM, and I was there and ready. I got through the first segment, giddy as a schoolgirl. And then, the commercials began...

I have never noticed before the make-up of commercials during football games. I sure noticed it yesterday. Commercials were (approximately) 25% car commercials, 25% home improvement store commercials, and 1,372% pizza and beer commercials.

You know, pizza and beer. My two favorite foods, now barred to me forever by my altered anatomy post-surgery.

Cheese and pepperoni glowed seductively. Beer flowed endlessly into pint glasses. Happy, smiling people (all in much better shape than I am, I should add) enjoyed the forbidden fruits of my lost dietary loves. 

Halfway through the first game, I was ready to roll the dog in cheese, cover her in tomato sauce, and throw her in the oven. I resisted because I was not comfortable with looking up the nutritional information for "Baked Chihuahua". Seems like all that fur might have a high carb count anyway.

I made it all the way through the Dolphins losing to the Seahawks  in the last 30 seconds of the second game of the day, and then gave up. I was overwrought - completely destroyed by visions of Domino's and Negra Modelo. Which I used to be able to have. You know, like, at the same time. I sat at my desk, staring forlornly at my boiled egg (also known as "lunch"), and wondered how I had come to this: surrounded by advertisements for the foods I loved, unable to have any for fear of losing all the progress I have made so far.

I think, for next week, I will start recording my chosen channels about 2 hours early. That way, I can kinda fast-forward through all the commercials for forbidden foods. I will still see them, but only for a few seconds at a time, not constant series of 30-second spots. 

Or maybe I can have Lor fast-forward for me, while I keep my eyes closed.

Yes, I Had Food Porn Dreams Last Night,

- Hawkwind

Friday, September 9, 2016

The FitBit Blues

The glory of a goal achieved, the contentment of a job well done. This is how it feels to receive your "Marathon" achievement on your Fitbit, signifying you have put in 26 miles since you began wearing the device.

At least, I assume that is how it feels. I didn't earn the achievement - Lor did.

When the previously owned Fitbit entered our household, there was a little discussion as to who was going to wear it. However, I stood firm: my lovely wife should have it. She is more active than I am, she is also much more competitive than I am, and she is further along in the weight loss journey than I. Every argument I could think of was tossed into the fray. Once we got a look at the device and noticed that it had lots of exciting designer arm-band colors, another argument was applied: it could even be color-coordinated with outfits! Eventually, Lor gave in and accepted it, wondering at my insistent generosity, suspecting ulterior motives.

I might have had an ulterior motive or two for passing on the health monitor. The truth is actually simple if a bit embarrassing - I am afraid of 'em. After Lor fell immediately in love with the Fitbit she wanted to run out and buy me one as well. I told her  that there was "nothing her Fitbit can do that my cell phone can't!" Something to that effect. With raised voice and indignant tone. You kids and yer newfangled toys. I'll stay here in the corner with my Victrola and my black-and-white TV...

The cell phone argument is true, if fundamentally flawed. The fact is that, better than half the time, I forget to use all the nifty exercise-related apps I have built into my phone. I remembered a couple days ago to turn on Map My Walk as we entered Wal-Mart, for example. As we exited, I found out that I had walked over a mile around the store. I would pat myself on the back if it weren't for the fact that we are at Wal-Mart every week, and this was the first time I had ever thought to turn the app on. I have been shorting myself of logged exercise for months.

I think that the real problem is that the idea of being constantly monitored quite simply freaks me out. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but do I really want a monitor on me 24 hours a day? I know it is reporting to my Fitbit app, but who else is it reporting to? Is marketing data about my movements being saved and sold?  Yes, I know that is already happening with my cell phone, but I can turn the cell phone off if I am feeling unusually exposed. Not only is there no way to turn a wrist monitor off, it sort of defeats the whole purpose of wearing one.

Also, the sad truth is that there has developed a whole Fitbit team in Lor's family, all now competing with each other to see who can walk the furthest in any day or week. I know, if I get one, I will be invited to join the group. And will be hanging my head in shame every single day as everyone else crests 10,000 steps a day and I barely make 200 or something. Shame is not a powerful motivator for me. Instead, it makes me want to go hide in the corner and play video games.

Sigh. I know, I know. Time to join this century and ride the wave of Fitness Awareness or whatever they call it. I know Lor well enough to know that, before the end of the year, I too will be wearing a shiny new fitness monitor on my wrist. I know the minute I post this, Facebook will be filled with commentary about how behind the times I am.

But, whenever my time comes, and I am then getting my "Steps-Per-Day" ass kicked by my 8-year-old niece, just remember - I will silently hold you all responsible.

Fearing The Plastic Shackle,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Gone Forever?

"How Long Til I Can Eat This Again?"

The various "support group" message boards for those of us who have undergone bariatric surgery are interesting places. After a few weeks spent following the topics and concerns that get posted there, you begin to notice certain repetitive themes. "How long do I have to wait after surgery before I can start eating all my favorite foods again?" is a popular one. Another one that shows up regularly is some version of this: "Help! I am (X) weeks out from surgery, and I have only lost (Y) pounds! What am I doing wrong?"

But, the topic that tends to really catch my eye is the many versions of this: "I checked the scale this morning, and was down to (X) pounds!! That is (Y) pounds of fat GONE FOREVER!!"

Now, understand me here. Getting on the scale and discovering that you have passed a milestone weight is really exciting. Heck, my weigh-in this Monday put me under 230 pounds and had me smiling all day. But the second half of that celebratory sentence makes me a little nervous - "gone forever" doesn't really mean what many surgery patients seem to think it means.

The subject of recurrence of weight gain after bariatric surgery tends to be acknowledged but not really focused on by your surgical team. But the truth is out there: a high percentage of patients who go through surgery do suffer some amount of regain after the post-surgery honeymoon period ends. 

I really am not trying to be a Debbie Downer - if you lose one hundred pounds after surgery and gain 25 back, you are still 75 pounds ahead of where you were before you started and much healthier than you were to begin with. But the real problem is this: the "GONE FOREVER" mentality that is created during the initial 12 to 18 months of "easy" weight loss runs into the reality of the digestive system resetting after the surgical recovery period is over. Suddenly, that easy weight loss you have been enjoying ceases, and the numbers on the scale start to creep back up. Forever wasn't quite as long as you have thought it was going to be.

So, what causes regain? In a word: comfort. You get used to the easy weight loss of the honeymoon period and start to insert a few of your previously favorite foods here and there. You take a day off from your workout routine and it somehow turns into weeks away from the track or the gym. You stop diligently logging your food intake, and suddenly no longer have any real idea of what your intake is on any given day. There are many paths to regain, many traps along the road ahead.

What many of us fail to realise is that the obese person's body has actually changed over the years of carrying excess weight. Fat is no longer prioritized as a primary food source by the body, usually due to the high amount of carbohydrates entering the system. Fat cells have actually changed size - getting larger and becoming resistant to weight loss. Even our metabolism is in on the act, forcing periods of exhaustion in order to keep the activity level down. All of these things will work together to pounce and slap 10 pounds of extra weight back on our bodies the first time we stop paying attention. This weight gain usually leads to disappointment and depression. And we all know where we turn for comfort when we are depressed: comfort foods. It is a vicious cycle that can lead very quickly to undoing many months of hard, post-surgical work.

The solution? Don't ever look in the mirror and think "gone forever". Instead, be sure that you keep firmly in mind that your previous state of obesity is just waiting, biding its time, and hoping for the chance to re-introduce itself into your life. Keep moving, keep logging, and keep avoiding "empty" calories. You have not signed up for a "One Year and Done" solution. You have committed to a life long change in your behavior. The only forever will be the one you create on a daily basis.

The Correct Answer To The First Question Is "Never",

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The 6-Month Update

What 6 months looks like.

When I converted Misdirected from a focus on gaming to a focus on getting through bariatric surgery, I had one big concern: was there going to be enough to write about? When talking about gaming there is always something new and interesting to chat about. Bariatric surgery? I wasn't so sure. I had visions of blog articles that ran like: "Day 152. Still fat."

I made the conversion on March 2 of this year. We have managed 6 months of blog articles on the subject, and I don't feel like we have ever had to come up with an article that looked like the one I feared. It turns out that there are so many changes tied up in preparation for and life after bariatric surgery that talking about them may represent an ever-flowing well of topics. One of my favorite bloggers had her surgery back in 2006 and is still blogging about life after surgery today, so the potential is obviously there.

In six months, we have covered pre- and post- surgical care, diet changes (and failures), elation after success and depression after failure. We've praised doctors and criticized "support" sites.  We have chatted about changes in the sex life, in family relationships, in daily living. And, hopefully, this has all been of some benefit to those of you out there: either because you are interested in us, or because you are interested in the bariatric surgery process in general.

So, what is coming down the road for Misdirected? Do we have another 6 months worth of life left in us?

The answer is an emphatic "Yes!". We have got some pretty major milestones coming:

  • This month will be Lor's 3-month follow-up exam, where she gets her A1C numbers confirming that she is "officially" in remission from Diabetes. Since this was her #1 motivation for surgery, this is kind of a big deal.
  • October is Halloween. I made an informal commitment last Halloween that I would wear a costume if I "ever" lost 50 pounds. (At the time, we had not even considered bariatric surgery.) I hit that particular milestone back on July 24, at my pre-surgery weigh-in. Given that Halloween is Lor's favorite holiday, you better believe that she is holding me to that commitment. Costume shopping starts Real Soon Now.
  • November and December represent both validation and challenges for us: the holidays mean our big family gatherings. On the one hand, we will get to bask in the glow of our family members not recognizing us. On the other hand, get-togethers mean food, and lots of it - including many of our previously favorite foods that we are now restricted from. How will we deal with the temptation of constantly available temptation?
  • Lor is within 20 pounds of her goal weight. I still have more than 40 pounds to go. What happens once we "arrive"?

So, yeah, we still have some topics to cover.

Also, the questions keep coming about writing a book about the bariatric surgery process. The short answer is: Yes. Yes, I will be starting work on converting our experiences to book form. However, I am currently in the middle of writing my fiction project for Fiction Vortex, which remains my #1 priority. And, also, I owe myself another book I have been thinking about for years, about living with adult-onset Epilepsy. I have been experiencing Epilepsy for over a decade now, bariatric surgery for less than a year. I think I owe myself the book with "seniority" first. I will keep everyone posted as these projects start taking shape .

Half a year in and 74 pounds down! Just imagine where we will be at our one-year anniversary!

Looking Ahead,

- Hawkwind

Monday, September 5, 2016

Summer's End

Happy Labor Day to the Misdirected family. I hope you are all out at the lake, or driving your RV, or drinking beer (but not all 3 at the same time) for this final blowout of Summer 2016.

While walking the dog over the weekend, Lor and I had a little chat about this summer. We didn't get to go camping at all. We had no resort weekends. (Hospital stays do NOT count as resorts.) We spent the majority of our time close to home: drinking protein shakes, recovering from surgeries, going to endless rounds of doctor's office visits.

And it was probably one of the best summers we've had in a long time.

Really, we got a lot done. We bought a house, for goodness' sake. We helped a friend move to Tucson. I began writing professionally. Lor restarted her crafting projects. And, oh yeah, there was that surgery/weight loss thing...

Seriously: Memorial Day 2016, Lor and I, as a household, weighed 486 pounds.

Labor Day 2016? 411 pounds.

When is the last time your household dropped 75 pounds over the summer?

Mainly what this summer has represented to us is an investment in summers to come. We gave up camping this year so that we could really enjoy camping and hiking in the future. We stayed close to home now so that, the next time we travel, we will be full of energy and joy. I have given up overeating as my main recreation of choice - meaning that in the future I will be able to enjoy things like swimming, riding bikes, and hiking longer distances. I went through surgery so that I will no longer be an anchor that ties those who love me down as they slow their pace down to let me keep up. Lor spent some time recovering from surgery so that she no longer has to deal with a daily chore involving needles and insulin injections. 

I think it was a good investment. It has certainly done wonders for our relationship: nothing draws you closer together than being accountable to one another for your new behaviors. We have become one another's coaches and cheerleaders. (And, in Lor's case, my fashion consultant.) Neither of us is wistfully watching the other succeed and feeling left out. We are succeeding together - which has made us stronger, and less apt to fall down on our faces.

Though, bad days like The Great Ice Cream Incident do still occur from time to time.

Thanks for dropping by and sharing your summer with us over the past few months. We've got even more exciting things coming up right around the corner, and are looking forward to what the remainder of 2016 has in store.

Heck, I am looking forward to having my picture taken at Christmas this year for the first time since EVER.

Next Stop: Halloween Costumes!

- Hawkwind

Friday, September 2, 2016

The LATE Edition

Hah! Tricked you all. I bet you thought I had forgotten to post today, didn't you?

In point of fact, I did not. We've had a couple of things going on today that I thought would be interesting to talk about, so I decided to wait around a bit for the final post of the week.

First Interesting Topic: Clothing. I know, I am about as interested in clothing as the next man - not so much. The subject came up as I was attempting to dress myself - something I have been doing, more or less regularly, for 40+ years now. I wandered into sight of Lor, and the following conversation took place:

Lor: Untuck your shirt.
Me: Untucked shirts look sloppy. I only wore them untucked to try to hide the fact that I was fat.
Lor: No, t-shirts should never be tucked in. It's a fashion rule.
Me: A fashion rule? Prove it!

Yeah, can you say "Challenge accepted"? She proceeded to beat me about the head and shoulders with fashion advice from web site after web site. Executive Style said t-shirts are worn untucked. Men's Flair said the same thing. The Art Of Manliness went a step further and said that ANY shirt with a square hemline (which includes t-shirts) should be worn untucked.

Pretty much the only place that said I could wear my t-shirt tucked in was Esquire - and then only under the following conditions: A) I must be wearing the t-shirt under a $1000 blazer and B) My name must be David Beckham.

Chastened, I untucked my shirt. But this brought up another point: untucked, a great number of my t-shirts appeared, as my Mother once observed, like I was wearing a tent. This led us into the great closet purge that I have been avoiding for weeks:

More room for new clothes for Lor, I suppose.
That huge empty space above was once filled with t-shirts, polos and dress shirts. Over 20 shirts got removed from my wardrobe, and at least 10 more are currently in the "sketchy" category - they might not fit as soon as next week.

Undeterred, Lor then led me into dress and casual pants purging. Let me give you a single example:

(WARNING: Please avert your gaze if the sight of loose skin makes you naseous!)

Yeah, that was the best fitting pair I owned. Every single set of slacks I owned is now headed to a donation box somewhere.

Wounded at the thought that I may soon be wandering naked through daily life, I turned my back on my empty wardrobe and headed to the neurologist's office.

Second Interesting Topic: Epilepsy treatment. I was due for some good news at this point, and boy, did I get some. My Neuro congratulated me on my weight loss, and told me something very interesting: Since I have lost over a quarter of my body weight, it is time to re-evaluate  my seizure medications! I submitted to the usual battery of blood tests and am now waiting to hear back as to whether or not I can start reducing dosages on my brain-clouding meds. I have gone through years of increasing dosages to help contain my seizures, and every time the dosage goes up, my brain function, especially my memory, goes down. 

So, I am now crossing my fingers that a reduced dosage will allow me to start remembering things that are currently totally lost to me  - things like Junior High, all my technical training, and most importantly my FIRST wedding to Lor. These items and lots more are completely empty rooms within my the vaults of my memory right now, thanks to the combination of seizure drugs and brain damage from seizures. But, if I could regain even a fraction of my missing memories... words can not adequately express what that would mean to me.

I will keep everyone posted on how the tests go - I am excited, but also afraid to get my hopes up too high.

Also, if you hear reports of a large hairy creature wandering naked through the streets of Albuquerque, don't worry too much - more than likely I just finally ran out of clothing that fits.

I Am Gonna Be Living At Thrift Stores For Months,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Portion Control

Image courtesy of

The idea of what constitutes a "serving" has been an ever-shifting idea to Americans for quite a while now. All across the Internet, usually on health-related sites, you can find lovely pictures like the one above showing what portion sizes were in years past compared to today. The difference? Today's are uniformly huge compared to what was normal for generations past.

Now, that might not be a bad thing if we as a country had any concept of "later". You know, eat half now, eat half at some point in the future. But along with our expanding menu items is this cultural concept that food waste is bad (which it is), so we should address food waste by clearing our plates any time we eat (which we shouldn't).

This one-two combo of Rules At  The Dinner Table may have single-handedly created our current obesity epidemic. We are given more food than any reasonable person needs in a single meal, then forced by parental or societal pressure to eat all of it. To do otherwise would be "wasteful". And, before too long, this practice becomes "waistful" instead.

I am not unfamiliar with the problem, heaven knows. I used to act as our living garbage disposal. Lor would regularly eat until she was full, then I would finish her plate. At family gatherings, I was the one who was urged to have "just another serving" so food would not go to waste. I finally developed the ability to eat so much that I was perpetually hungry - my digestive system grew habituated to the idea of processing food essentially 100% of the time. Eventually, this led to 300+ pounds, knee surgery, exhaustion, etc. The only way out was bariatric surgery, to correct my out-of-control digestive mechanisms.

On the way to visit the family yesterday, we decided to stop for lunch. Finding places to eat has become challenging, thanks to the "no bread" restriction, but we happened to be driving by a Chipotle, home of gigantic and customizable burritos and bowls. We quickly designed a "steak bowl", which is basically burrito innards in a bowl. Here's what came in our bowl:
  • 4 ounces of steak
  • 4 ounces of pinto beans
  • 4 ounces of shredded cheese
  • 2 ounces of guacamole
  • 1 ounce each of salsa, sour cream, and lettuce.
Yeah, just the innards, with no tortilla or rice, was over a pound of burrito materials.

Pre-surgery, I used to be able to finish an entire burrito, then eat whatever remained of Lor's. Yesterday, we each grabbed a fork and started at opposite ends of the bowl. Within 15 minutes, we were done.

We had each managed just about a quarter of the bowl, leaving more than half to be put in a box and taken home. I had another fraction of it last night, and will probably add an egg to it this morning and finish it off for breakfast. This is literally all I can manage anymore without making myself ill.

So, my surgery works - no big surprise there, right? But the real question is, why didn't I do this before obesity set in? Why did Lor and I not just order single entrees and split them? Why did I refuse to box up leftovers and take them home, committing to cleaning off both our plates at restaurants instead? Why did I never learn to say "No, thanks" when told to eat more at family gatherings?

Somewhere in the back of my mind is still a version of me that cringes at throwing away food. That feels compelled to eat just one more bite, that is experiencing a compulsion to clean off his plate. Every day, I am having to argue with myself, to remind myself that a diet of 800 calories a day gives me very little room to screw around with - I need to get in what I need, and no more, lest dire consequences result.

While Lor and I get a handle on serving ourselves things like 5 cucumber slices, or 24 almonds, I would urge you that are not currently post-surgical to experiment with smaller portions. Cut recipe ingredient lists in half. Order a la carte, instead of full entrees. Split meals with a loved one. Experiment with separating half of your meal into a to-go box at the beginning of your meal, then "finish" the remaining half, taking the rest home for later consumption. Do what you can to limit that intake now, so that you don't need to have 80% of your stomach (or more!) removed to get a handle on your weight.

Most of all, eat what you love, just less of it. Focus on taste, texture and sensation. Don't eat mindlessly. Life is too short to waste on indifferent dining.

Wishing I Had Known All This 15 Years Ago,

- Hawkwind