Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

The "How To Host A Murder" Party. A wretched collection of scum and villainy.

The day has arrived! The house is decorated, the creepy music soundtrack all queued up, and Stranger Things is ready to roll on the TV in the living room. Halloween is here!

Honestly, though this is by far and away Lor's favorite holiday, it has not been one of my favorites for a very long time. Normally, I prefer to just stay at home, spend some time on Facebook, check out everyone else's costumes as they attend their Halloween functions, and tell myself that I don't really like these kinds of events anyway.

But, the real problem is that I have always hated how I look in costume. Lor loves playing dress-up and can carry any costume with style and panache. I always felt like an over-inflated balloon that someone had stuffed a costume on. Lor was forever getting after me to participate more fully with her, and last year I told her, if I lost a few pounds by next Halloween, I would participate.

A little bariatric surgery and 88 pounds later, it was time to pay up.

To my surprise, I had a really good time. While Lor put up our giant spider web on the side of the house, I designed our spider-infested front door. (Which has made many visitors very uncomfortable.) We carved pumpkins. We worked together to pick treats for our trick-or-treaters. (Toys and eyeball bubblegum, no candy this year.) Instead of letting Lor do all the work while I grumbled like the Halloween version of the Grinch, I threw myself into the holiday and found out I had been missing an awful lot of fun over the years.

As for our costumes - we were invited to a "How To Host A Murder" party last weekend, set in the 1940s. We got to dress up in period costume, which was awesome. And we looked really great, if I do say so myself:

You handsome devil, you. And Lor looks good too!

Who knew that Halloween was so much fun? Normally I would just sit on the couch with my hand in the candy basket - one for the kiddos, one for me. Not anymore! Now I am out there wearing suspenders and doing...stuff. Yeah, That's me! I am officially converted to holiday participation.

Come Christmastime, No More Threats Of Santa Costumes For Me!

- Hawkwind

Friday, October 28, 2016

The 90-day Post-Surgery Review

Technically, it is more like a 93-day review, since I managed to miss my 90-day follow-up appointment back on Tuesday. I blame Google Calendar. At least ABQ Health Partners were quite gracious about getting me rescheduled for today.

So, what kind of results can I expect from my 90-day follow-up?

Well, my blood pressure is still normal. I am 20 pounds down from my last visit back in August and 32 pounds down total since surgery, checking in at 216 this morning. (I always check at home before visits to the doctor, since their scale will inevitably weigh me in at 5 - 10 pounds heavier than my home one.) My diet is still greater than 60 grams of protein and less than 60 grams of carbs a day.

In all, I think it is going to be a short visit.

Quite honestly, it is tough to believe that it has only been 3 months since my surgery. It feels so long ago and far away, almost like it happened to someone else. I have more vivid recollections of last Christmas than I do of the whole surgical process and hospital stay.

But, every day when I look at the amount of food I am taking in for any given meal, I am reminded - yup, that really did happen. 80% of my stomach got lopped off. No matter what happens from here, I am never going to be the same person that I was.

Sorry for the short post today, nothing is really on my mind except the upcoming visit. I may edit this evening to let everyone know if anything weird comes up during my visit to the doctor's office. Enjoy your Halloween weekend!

Must Remember To Wear Lightweight Clothing Today,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Expertise of Experience

I finally made time to get my hair cut yesterday, something I do every 2 - 3 months and really should do every 4 weeks. At my local hair salon, my normal hairdresser was off for the day, so I got placed in the care of someone new - a friendly, chatty mother of four who wanted to know what the inkpot-and-quill tattoo on my forearm represented.

"Oh, I am a writer," I said as modestly as possible.

"Really? What do you write about?" was her interested query.

"Health issues, mainly."

And, with that, we were off to the races. She wanted to know about high-protein diets. (Yes, with appropriate nutritional supplementation.) About avoiding kidney and liver damage. (Drink more water, and try to cut out soft drinks.) About which was the truth: fish is good for you because of fish oil, or fish is bad for you because of mercury. (Both, really, but if you really want just the oil and not the taste of fish, just take a fish oil supplement.) I talked more during that half an hour than I probably had in the 8 hours preceding it. (Sorry, Lor!)

It was very interesting to discover how much confusing information is out there in the general public pertaining to dietary health. This intelligent woman, trying to look out for the health of her family, had so much conflicting data that her dietary planning was at a standstill. All of the hard-won experience Lor and I have earned in the past few months, involving radical surgery, major lifestyle changes, and thousands of dollars in medical bills should be available to normal people without having to suffer through the costs of morbid obesity, right? So, how do we go about getting this info into the hands of our friends and neighbors?

Talking about it seems to be a good starting point. Most people, when they hear about my surgery, want to focus on the procedure. But most people I talk to don't need bariatric surgery. They could get positive results from making a few of the changes that Lor and I have made, without having to go through all of the "other" stuff that went along with our treatments for morbid obesity and diabetes. It is entirely possible that I need to begin shifting my focus when interacting with people on the subject. Like, "Yes, I had to have surgery, but you can have positive results by exercising, avoiding processed foods, and focusing on hydration." It is an interesting focus shift that I hadn't really considered previously.

As my haircut wrapped up, my hairdresser commented that, instead of being a writer, I really ought to be a nutritionist or dietitian. I laughed and thanked her, then mentioned that I had a dietitian, and that it was a very technical position requiring many years of education and training.

My hair artist looked me over, and said: "You? What do you need a dietitian for?"

If I Wasn't Married, I Would've Kissed Her,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Fear of Tofu Casserole

Image of Tofu Broccoli Casserole courtesy of

As we get ever closer to the holiday season, the phone calls are starting to come in. Well-meaning family members, working on their holiday meal planning, dial us up, wanting to know what exactly we can eat.

Them: "Do you need anything special?"
Us: "Any high-protein items are usually fine, so are fresh veggies."
Them: What kind of protein? Anything special?"
Us: "Oh, you know - turkey, ham, beef are all fine."
Them: "And what kind of veggies?"
Us: "Anything not white is probably safe."

This is followed by a short pause as they digest (Ha!) this information. I can actually hear the disappointment in their voices when they say "Oh - so the same things we make every year?"

I just know my family was hoping to prepare quinoa cakes and tofu surprise in order to show their support.

Now, I am just teasing here - Lor and I are extremely lucky that both sides of the family are so supportive of our surgeries that they care enough to ask - many bariatric patients do not enjoy this kind of help from their families. But, the fact of the matter is, bariatric surgery does not prevent you from eating most things (carbonated beverages aside.) It just forces you to eat really small amounts.

At the end of the day, it will be Lor and I who have to monitor and control our intake over the food-filled holiday season. The rest of the time as well, of course, but the holidays will be tricky, just like any event where there is a whole lot of calorie-rich and nutrient-poor food waiting to be sampled. We've been getting in some practice with all the social gatherings we've been attending recently, so I am thinking the holidays shouldn't be too bad.

I am already planning on falling off the wagon in a few spots, admittedly. I will not go through the holidays without at least one tamale, for example - I do not care that they are 90% corn meal. If a pecan pie puts in an appearance, I will likely have to have a (very) small piece. Same for the infamous Chile Relleno Wontons at the Superbowl party - I will have one, and that will have to do. The watchwords will be Sensible Eating.

As much as I love holiday food, I love the idea of being down 100 pounds by January 1, 2017, even more.

So, let's skip the Tofu Casserole, and let me at those Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas instead! moderation, of course.

Because A Life Without Tamales Is Not Worth Living,

- Hawkwind

Monday, October 24, 2016

Failure to Resist

This morning, after 2 breathtaking hours of writer's block, I gave in and went to find Lor, to ask her for some input.

"Talk about your struggles between activity and inactivity" was her immediate response.

Funny, I didn't realize I was even experiencing that struggle.

But, it is true that for every day I walk a couple of miles, there is a day when I only walk around the block. My resistance training is still happening three days a week, but I am getting zero results out of it - my forearms are now developing the same "droop" that my upper arms and legs have been suffering from for months. 

And, yes, the truth is I would rather watch football, play WoW, or work on my novel than go out for a multiple-mile hike.

So, yeah, I suppose you could call that a struggle between motion and inertia, if you wanted to get technical.

The thing is, most everyone I know who has begun a workout program eventually experiences that moment when they began to enjoy it so much that they crave it. Heck, I once experienced it, about two decades ago - I wanted to get back to the gym. Nowadays, I look at my workout days with an overwhelming sense of "Meh." It is something I am doing because I have to, not because I want to. I am not even getting any kind of positive body-shaping reinforcement out of it, so there is very little to get excited about.

Thank goodness for Vixen and her daily walks. Here, I have no choice - if the dog is not walked, she holds her bodily functions, despite having a doggie door and a backyard of her own. If she hangs on too long, she gets very, very ill - which makes us feel very, very bad. So, every day, I am forced out of the house to haul her around to sniff bushes, attack larger dogs, and, finally, take care of business.

We have experimented with taking her on a preliminary walk around the block, then doing a "real" 2.5-mile walk. While it certainly sped up our walking pace, Lor hated walking around without Vixen, so we abandoned the concept. We may just revert to throwing the dog in a backpack as soon as she has taken care of her bodily functions, to combine the two ideas. That or just resign ourselves to moving at the snail-like pace of 2 miles an hour that walking with a sniff-machine results in.

So, to add it up: disinterest, boredom with routine, failure to see positive results...yeah, I guess my activity:inactivity index is tilting heavily to the right. I am going to have to bear down a little harder, or find some other outlets to try - we know that the surest way to fail at long-term weight loss is to quit exercising. And failure is not an option.

I Refuse To Have Given Up Beer Only To Remain Obese,

- Hawkwind

Friday, October 21, 2016

Size Matters

Vixen watching football after her meal.

Among my (many) concerns lately, I've actually been pretty concerned about size. No, not THAT size - we've already covered that in another blog post. I have actually been concerned about the size of my stomach post-surgery.

As the weeks have passed since surgery, Lor and I have diverged in the amounts we can eat at one sitting. Lor had made it all the way up to 4 ounces at a shot, but has regressed a little, and can now only handle about 3 ounces at once without becoming uncomfortable. I, on the other hand, can now eat somewhere between 4 to 6 ounces at one sitting, depending on the consistency of the food we are eating. I've read horror stories about people stretching their reduced stomach pouches back out to pre-surgery sizes, and I have been this happening to me? Do I need to do a "pouch reset" involving nothing but liquid foods for a week? Or is this normal?

In the midst of this concern about growing portion sizes and slowing weight loss, I was reminded that I really have undergone some significant changes to my digestive tract. The encouragement came from a very unusual source. 

Enter our dog, Vixen.

Recently, we decided to splurge and go to Subway. We would split a footlong Spicy Italian sandwich, throw away the flatbread it came with when we got it home, and eat nothing but the deli meats and veggies. It seemed like a good plan.

Halfway through my breadless "sandwich", I realized there was no way I was going to finish my 6-inch half. Regretfully, I prepared to throw the remainder away. But, a flash of inspiration hit me - I would slice up the remainder, mix it with hard dog food, and give it to Vixen in lieu of her usual soft food when I fed her for the night! I performed my prep work, put the bowl down, and returned to watching television.

5 minutes later, Vixen came in to see if there was anything else for her to eat. Flabbergasted, I went into the kitchen with her to point out that I had just served her a delectable meal of "people food". Lo and behold, her dog dish was empty.

My 6-pound Chihuahua had just out-eaten me. She managed half my "sandwich", all her hard dog food, and was now looking for more.

If I needed confirmation that my stomach really was smaller than it had been, here it was.

The moral of the story? I need to stop over-thinking these things. From hair loss, to personal appearance, to stomach size, my mind has been ablaze with things to worry about concerning the results of my surgery. As Vixen's demonstration pointed out, everything is coming along pretty much the way it is supposed to. I just need to stay on the train, sit back, and see where the journey takes me.

Thanks, Vixen.

Wondering If Vixen Needs A Stomach Reset Now,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Searching For Identity

Image Copyright Sebastien Millon 2016.

Reviewing my posts for the last 9 months, it can be tough to tell if I am writing about bariatric surgery or existentialism. So many of my posts seem to be tied up in searching for an identity. I have fretted over cutting my ties with my "tribe" of fellow overweight people. I have struggled to develop new habits. I have even had trouble no longer seeing an obese person when I look in the mirror.

Hey, at least I didn't say "fat person." So I am learning.

But the truth is, I am still struggling with the great "who am I?" question. An excellent example is my changing physical appearance. Lor, as she continues to lose, is looking more and more like her mother did in her twenties. She revels in this - not only has she always found her mother beautiful, but the connection with a 20-something version of her mom is appealing to Lor's self-image by making her feel younger again. Feeling younger, she acts younger - we have never been as active as we are right now in 28+ years together. She has gained youth, beauty and a tighter emotional bond with her mother - 3 wins for the price of one.

I am having a different experience. My entire adult life I have resembled my mother's side of the family. Specifically, I have always looked like my grandfather, who in his 80s is still an active, handsome gent. I have always maintained that if I could develop into looking like him as I grew older, I would be content with my aging process.

However, the changes to my face (and hair...sigh) have wrought in me a problem - I no longer really resemble him. I no longer resemble anyone on my Mom's side. And I really don't look like anyone on my father's side. Once again, my weight loss has pulled me out of my comfort zone - I no longer see my family when I look at myself. I have no idea where I really "belong" anymore.

I suppose I should look at it as another opportunity to "reinvent" myself. But, darn it, I was not looking to create a new me by removing my mental association with my family. I used to be able to sit around at family gatherings and see myself reflected in the faces around me. Now, I am afraid, I am going to feel like I went out and had surgery to set myself apart from those that I wish to be like the most.

Warning - your life changes may have unintended consequences.

Thinking I Think Too Much,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The 3-Letter Word

The word we will be addressing today is a versatile one. It is used on playgrounds and in comedy clubs to get an immediate emotional reaction, whether laughter or tears. Dieticians and nutritionists argue its value or worthlessness. It is further broken down into "good" and "bad" versions.  Its presence is lauded in certain cuts of meat and denigrated in the human form.

The word I am referring to, of course, is "fat".

So, what the heck IS fat, anyway? I mean, like, scientifically?

Despite what many trainers and late-night infomercials would like you to believe, fat is NOT actually a poison, out to wreck your health and your life. It is actually one of the three "macronutrients" that your body needs to survive (the other two being carbohydrates and protein.) Did you follow that? Needs to survive. Your body is specifically designed to run on a fuel mixture that includes fat.

So, why no love for fat as a concept, then? Mainly because of what fat is designed to do - act as an alternative energy source for our bodies during periods where we can't get enough carbs or protein. When we were wandering from place to place looking for our next meal of carrion and berries or whatever, this was a good thing - the body's fat reserves kept us going until we found our next source of balanced nutrition.

Nowadays, the nearest source of nutrition is the refrigerator. But no one has told the regulator in our brains that we probably don't need to be storing quite as much fat to make it between meals. Add that to our tendency to overeat and under-exercise, and you have our sudden upswing in obesity, heart problems, high blood pressure, and the like.

Not to mention "fat kid" jokes.

The use of the term "fat" as an insult has reached epic proportions these days. Even I tend to use it on these pages in a negative manner, usually referring to myself. But, the fact of the matter is, the body is doing what is was designed to do: store fuel for use later, as an alternative power source. The fact that our society has turned "rail-thin" into the only desirable body standard means that our biological processes are working against our self-image. It is an ugly, ugly situation.

So, what can we do? Start calling things by their proper names, to start with. "Fat" is not a description - it is a nutrient. Obesity, the storage of unhealthy amounts of fat on the human body, is a medical condition, not a source of material for your stand-up routine. Try making fun of people with breast cancer or stroke victims and see how well that does with your target audience. Obesity is the same thing - an illness, a malfunctioning of the body's natural processes.

For my part, I will endeavor to do the same thing - stop using the term "fat" to refer to myself or my condition. Change begins with ourselves, right? For everyone else, do what you can to set the record straight. Encourage those you know who are suffering from obesity to get help. Refuse to engage in banter abut the personal appearance of others. Teach your children that "fat" is not something that others should be shamed for. We should all do what we can, to convert the 3-letter word back to its appropriate usage, and away from the misleading and abusive form that is has taken. Only when we can take control of the concept again can we begin to re-define the issue.

Self-Correcting Behavior Is Hard,

- Hawkwind

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Expanding Divot

A couple of weeks ago we talked about hair loss related to bariatric surgery - specifically how it was relating to Lor. She went out, got herself a stylish new short haircut, and all has been right with the world since. She has been overwhelmed with compliments - she looks at least a decade younger, and the "vibe" of the new haircut just seems to fit her newly energized personality.

Now, every morning, I find myself looking in the mirror and wondering when the time will come for me to change my own vibe.

My own hair loss is taking a very different pattern than Lor's did. Rather than thinning across my entire head, I am losing hair aggressively in one place - the front of my hairline to the crown of my head. Every day you can see more and more of the scalp beneath, with fewer and fewer wisps of hair left to populate the expanding balding area. My receding hairline is beginning to look like the remains of a forest after a major fire.

I have maintained that this would not bother me - that losing some hair would be an acceptable price to pay for all of the benefits that have come along with my weight loss. In a philosophical sense, this is true - today I am below 220 pounds for the first time, like, ever, and I feel great about that.

But the hair loss is bothering me more than I thought it would. I have zero interest in being the guy with the huge divot taken out of the hair on the front of his head. My hair was already thinning naturally at the crown and back of my head - I am going to be left with a racing stripe of scalp running through the center of my head with two bushes of remaining hair growing only over my ears. I find it very frustrating that I am developing a slimmer physique and a new facial appearance, only to have it topped off with the hair of a man much older than I currently am. I have visions of letting one side grow extremely long then attempting a comb-over to disguise the hair loss.

The really scary part? Hair loss after bariatric surgery is normally temporary - except for men who were already suffering from age-related hair loss. In cases like mine, sometimes the follicles just never start working again to replace the missing hair. The nutritional deficit can effectively kill already slowing follicles.

I have threatened several times to just shave my head entirely and be done with it. I have also been threatened with death and dismemberment by my wife and my mother should I do so. My unhappiness with the situation has not grown enough that I can ignore their objections yet - but the day is getting closer, I think. Even the new haircut solution that Lor employed is not an option for me - a really short haircut at this point will only make me look like I have had plugs implanted in an otherwise bald area. So, for the time being, I just carry on, trying to ignore the ever-expanding scalp taking over what used to be my hairline.

Maybe I will just stop looking in the mirror completely.

Glad I Own So Many Hats And Beanies,

- Hawkwind

Friday, October 14, 2016

Looks Are(n't) Everything

Ferrari 458. Not that I will ever own one.

I think I've made it pretty clear through the history of Misdirected that personal appearance was not anywhere on the radar of my motivations for surgery. Blown knees, less drug use, sleep apnea, high blood pressure - sure. But not looking in the mirror and saying "Damn, I look fabulous."

And, it turns out that I am pretty much alone in the world in terms of not caring about my looks.

Look, I live in a country (the USA, for our international readers) where a presidential candidate is able to say that he did not sexually assault a woman because she was not attractive enough. This is the importance of personal appearance in America - to about 40% of our electorate, this is apparently a completely understandable explanation. Welcome to America, kids, where your looks are more important than your rights.

I live in a country where a woman I know was told by her husband post-surgery that she should not have had surgery because she now looks like "a bag of bones."

Another surgical patient of my acquaintance was informed by a co-worker that she was a lazy pig who should've just gone to the gym instead of having surgery, just like the speaker did.

Everywhere I turn, the "perfect size" myth is in place. Too fat, and you are mocked for being a glutton. Too skinny? You must have an eating disorder. Who gets to set these "perfect" ideals? Heck if I know, but I wouldn't mind a few minutes with them in a closet while holding a baseball bat. The people or organizations that have idealized human looks have probably done more damage to us than any war or disease.

Look, I sort of get it - I have hung around with naturally beautiful people like my wife and my brother - models and bodybuilders. Idealized specimens of the human form, if you will. The "Ferraris" of human appearance. But 99% of us don't own a Ferrari. We have to get by in Civics and mini-vans and beat up old trucks. But we still manage to get around, right?

The beauty culture in our country basically says if your personal appearance is not "Ferrari", just don't drive. Stay home. Out of sight. Where no one has to see you. 

So we spend millions, maybe billions, of dollars on things to improve our looks. The latest styles of clothing. New kinds of make-up and jewelry. More intense workout routines, designed to make us sexier rather than healthier. Maybe even surgery, whether bariatric or cosmetic.

But, understand this - for the great majority of us, we will never be a Ferrari. And that is ok. It is perfectly fine for each of us to have an ideal to shoot for.

It is never ok to tell someone else that they are of less value because they have not reached that ideal. 

When will we learn to love and respect each other for the journeys we are making and our intended destinations, rather than the vehicles each of us is given to get there?

I Think I Am Done With My "Car" Metaphor Now,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Embracing Mortality

Later today, Lor and I will be attending a funeral. It is not for a person who we knew particularly well, but instead the family member of a friend of ours. The death was quite sudden, completely unexpected, and the family is still in shock. So, we will be attending, just to provide what little support and comfort we can.

Normally, I avoid funerals. And hospitals. And nursing homes. Pretty much anything that is tinged with the awareness of the end of life, I avoid if at all possible. I am all too aware that life is fleeting, and I usually want no part of being around for the end of it.

I haven't always been this way. I used to be quite a bit more philosophical about aging, death, and end of life issues. But, in 2004, epilepsy arrived, and my whole worldview changed.

Why is that? Mainly because the type of epilepsy I suffer from, temporal lobe epilepsy, has a really high mortality rate. About 1 out of every 1,000 people die from epilepsy each year. But, for a person suffering from intractable seizures of the temporal lobe, as I do, that rate goes up to 1 out of every 150.

But, wait, there's more! My treatment for epilepsy led to morbid obesity, thanks to side effects from the drug cocktail I was on. The mortality rate for those who are morbidly obese is about 1 in 5. Also, add on to that the mortality rate for hypertension (another condition I suffer from) - about 15 out of 1,000. My health got so bad that one of my very first neurologists informed me that, barring a miracle of some kind, I would be dead before I was 50.

It got to the point where, every morning, I was kind of surprised to wake up.

Today, things are different. My seizures are coming under control. My hypertension is resolved. Earlier this week I graduated from "morbidly obese" to "obese" on the BMI chart. (And if you think that is no major cause for celebration, you have never been morbidly obese.) My miracle arrived, in the form of bariatric surgery.

So, later today, I will strap on my courage and go to a funeral. Sure, death waits for me eventually, like it does for all of us. But for right now, I can go out and bring comfort to a friend who has lost a loved one without being paralyzed by my fear of my own oncoming demise. My grandfathers made it into their 80s (one is still alive and healthier than I am!) There is no reason to not expect that I could have another 30 or 40 years ahead of me at this point. Hiding under the metaphorical bed does no good for anyone, least of all me.

Instead, I can now "work while the sun shines", no longer expecting to be felled by my failing body at any moment. And that may be the ultimate freedom that bariatric surgery has gained for me.

Grateful For Today (Even Though It Includes A Funeral),

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Next Steps

Photo Credit: uneitzel Flickr via Compfight cc

We're emerging into "normal life" around the house, and boy does it feel strange. Yesterday we cooked three meals (and stayed under 1,000 calories and 60 grams of carbs), walked the dog, and did laundry. A thoughtful early Christmas present of a new 17-foot ladder took all the near-catastrophic adventure out of draining and disconnecting our swamp cooler for the season. (Thanks, Dad!) Everywhere you look in our home, things are starting to resemble a "normal" household. what?

Don't get me wrong - the fact that we can have something very similar to a normal life is exciting and gratifying. But we are getting very close to our goal weights. We have been intensely goal-driven through this whole process, and as our final major goal approaches, I look beyond and see...what?

Well, we have the 5K next May to look forward to. We've asked anyone in the family who normally gives us Christmas presents for clothing or gift cards for clothing, so January could be a good time for refilling our ever-thinning wardrobes. I've still got my "lifetime goal" of a 38-inch waistline to hit, though I actually managed to get some on in a dressing room recently. However, I looked like a fat man trying to cram himself into skinny jeans, so I quickly abandoned the effort. Everywhere I turn, our current weight loss goals are nearly met. I think it is time to set some new targets.

(We will now pause while I try to come up with some fresh ideas.)

Camping! Camping has been a big one for us, since we previously would get out in the mountains, set up our campsite, and I would then be unwilling to move around much due to exhaustion. We need to commit to a specific number of trips next year.

Increasing our socialization is already happening, but needs to continue. We have a growing circle of friends who welcome us out into the world and we need to commit to investing more time into those relationships.

Maybe most importantly, advocacy. We are living proof that drastic measures bring dramatic results in the fight against obesity. I have spent years working in Epilepsy advocacy, and now need to transfer that experience into doing the same for those suffering from obesity - especially morbid obesity. After all, there are a LOT more people suffering from obesity than seizure disorders.

A few ideas, sure, but they need to be filled out and turned into specific points of achievement. The worst thing I can think of happening would be to arrive at our weight loss goals and then quit, having nothing left to motivate us towards further achievement. We've been given a gift, in bariatric surgery and recovery, and the last thing I want to do is waste it.

(Or waist it!)

See What I Did There?

- Hawkwind

Monday, October 10, 2016

Stranger In My House

Left: March 2016, Right: this morning. Both photos taken early in the morning with a cheap webcam. Don't judge.

I've heard (and read) of the weird "stranger effect" that can sometimes take place after bariatric surgery - at some point one looks in the mirror, and doesn't recognize who they are seeing. Interestingly, this has already happened to Lor. As she continues to lose weight she is metamorphosizing into a woman who looks tremendously like her mother did in her twenties. At one point a few weeks ago, she looked up into the bathroom mirror, caught her own reflection, and thought that her mother had arrived and was standing behind her. It took her several minutes to realize that she was seeing herself, and her Mom had not dropped in for a visit unannounced.

This was not something I was experiencing. No matter how much I looked into the mirror, it was still indisputably me - so much so that I was still having trouble perceiving my weight loss visually. I was even a little jealous of this experience - why couldn't I lose track of what I used to look like and replace my mental image with one that reflects the new, slimmer me?

Turns out I was just a few weeks behind Lor, as I have been from the beginning of this process.

Getting out of the shower yesterday and going through my normal daily process, I wandered into my bathroom. Lo and behold, there was someone I didn't recognize looking out of the mirror. This stranger had cheekbones. An angular, diamond-shaped head. Discernable crows-feet and epicanthic folds. Who the hell was this person? I felt like pinching myself to make sure I was awake.

But, a quick focus on the distinguishing break in my nose revealed the truth - this was me, without my "Stay-Puft Marshmellow Man" facial appearance. There had been facial features underneath that puffy, inflated face all this time. I just hadn't seen them for the better part of two decades.

Now, I find myself looking in the mirror all the time, which sounds amazingly (and depressingly) vain. But I am not admiring myself. I am just trying to come to grips with the fact that I don't seem to be the same person anymore. I keep waiting to wake up, to revert back to the same face I have washed and shaved since my twenties. There is a tremendous feeling of disassociation - like I am no longer sure who I am. "Creeped out" is a better description than "vain." Time to go read Metamorphosis again or something.

There has already been a major adjustment in re-gaining control of my diet and my body. The idea that I should have to deal with a shift in self-perception should not be a foreign concept. But, all this time, I have been trying to say that I am still the same person, despite my surgery. And, with no longer recognizing my facial appearance, I don't know that I can say that with confidence any longer. 

And, if I am no longer the same person, who the heck am I?

Pondering Existentialism,

- Hawkwind

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Simple Call To Action

As we approach 25,000 total visits to Misdirected (we will hit that number later today), it occurs to me that we have built an entire community around the experience of bariatric surgery. A small community, to be sure, but a loyal and interested one. So, as the primary "voice" within this community, I would like to take a minute to ask everyone to do something in the name of bariatric surgery patients across the country and around the world.

Talk to somebody about it. It is as simple as that. You, gentle readers, know more about this process than 99% of the population. The world is still filled with people who do not understand obesity, who think that being overweight is purely a form of laziness, who refer to bariatric surgery as "the easy way out." And all of you, thanks to the time you have spent here, know the truth.

I am not asking you to tackle every overweight person you see and make them beg for mercy until they agree to come visit us here at Misdirected. Surgery is most certainly not the answer for everyone. But, is there an obese person in your life who is struggling with self-esteem issues? Talk to them. Tell them you appreciate and support them, and understand that what they are going through is happening to them, and is not necessarily self-inflicted. Do you know that one person who loves to make fun of "fatties"? Talk to them. Inform them they are making fun of people with a disease, not individuals who have somehow earned scorn and disapproval. Do you spend time with a person who is speculating about weight loss or weight loss surgery? Talk to them. You know more than the average person on the street about the reality of the process, just from spending time with us here.

Again, this is not a call for more subscribers or visitors, though that would certainly not be unwelcome. Mainly, I want the word to get out there to those who are obese - they are not alone. Almost half of the United States struggles with obesity, yet our media continues to popularize the notion that health and self-respect are only one fad diet or light beer away. Overweight people are still mocked, looked down upon, and regularly discriminated against. You, from visiting us here, know the truth: it is not a matter of "putting down the cupcake." Obesity springs not only from excessive eating, but also from genetics, emotional issues, hormonal balance problems, and the low physical activity forced on us by the chaos of our daily lives. It is not a simple problem with a simple solution, despite what the pundits would have us believe.

But you, just from reading these posts, already knew that. Do us all a favor, and go communicate your knowledge to someone else. All your knowledge is not a tool until you put it into use. Express your concern, show your empathy, correct misconceptions. And, if the conversation happens to direct someone here for more information, so be it. I am never afraid to answer questions of any kind.

Thanks to everyone for being a part of the Misdirected community. We are now 8 months into our "journey", with the rest of our lives to go. We are glad to have you along for the ride.

Looking Ahead To 50,000,

- Hawkwind

Thursday, October 6, 2016

We Interrupt This Broadcast...

On any given day, we spend some time here chatting about bariatrics. We talk about surgery, about obesity, about trials and tribulations, diet and exercise. Folks keep coming back to read more, so apparently there is some interest in the subject matter.

However, there are actually other things happening in my life that are not directly tied up in my "weight loss journey" (as the cool kids on the bariatrics websites like to call it.) Most of the time, they sort of happen off camera, unless they are directly tied up with my weight, i.e.: nearly falling off my roof because I was too heavy for my old ladder to hold me.

Today's subject has no relation to weight whatsoever, but is kind of a big deal to me anyway, so I am going to talk about it. Most of you know that I have been writing to supplement my disability income for several months now. I write reviews, blog posts, Twitter feeds - whatever is available from contractors on any given day. It pays almost nothing, but it keeps me off the street :-)

However, for several months now, I have been working with the folks over at Fiction Vortex to produce a serialized novel. They are the leading online source for serialized fiction, and when I proposed my dark fiction world to them back in June, to my astonishment, they agreed. We've now got 4 authors (3 of them great, one of them me) working in my bleak fictional city of Ash Falls. The Ash Falls "Serial Box", as Fiction Vortex calls them, is scheduled for weekly release in February of 2017.

To back up - what is serialized fiction? If you are of a certain age or geek-like disposition, think comic books. Otherwise, think of things like soap operas/Novelas instead. We have an overarching storyline that switches between groups of characters, all operating in the same environment. Comics, think the Marvel Universe. Soap Operas, think Port Charles of General Hospital. Lots of different storylines whose characters are maybe marginally aware of each other, but all operating in the same place/time.

With me so far? Each of our authors is producing a novel-length story - about 100,000 words, which works out in the neighborhood of 300 pages or so. However, these novels are being written in episodic format, like your favorite TV show. Each novel, then, works out to the equivalent of a "season", with a new episode being released every month. These episodes are then released on a staggered, weekly basis for each author. Since we have an assortment of authors and storylines happening, this means you get a new story/episode in this shared world every week.

Short version - you will never run out of things to read again. New content is being delivered every single week.

Now, after the conclusion of a certain storyline, you can purchase the book in its entirety, like a novel or trade paperback, if you prefer. I have done this for several wrapped up storylines myself. The authors are excellent, the stories are compelling, and the writing is at least as good as anything you will find available in the science fiction/fantasy section of Amazon or your local bookstore, and I am flattered and humbled that I have been invited to participate in their project.

On Monday, Fiction Vortex opened up a writer's contest to entice new talent into the fold. Prospective writers can submit a 3,500-word story that would fit into any of the currently existing "serial boxes", and winners will be given the opportunity to write a novel of their own within that shared world.

Ash Falls, the setting I created, is one of those potential serial boxes. And, as an introduction to the setting, the editors at Fiction Vortex have released Episode #1 of "Inheritance", my serialized novel, to the world.

As of the opening of this contest, I am not only a contract writer, but a published author as well.

If you have any interest in dark fantasy (vampires/werewolves/things that go bump in the night), feel free to read through Episode #1. If you have the slightest interest at all in science fiction or fantasy, I would encourage you to take a look at the other existing storylines and serial boxes already out on Fiction Vortex and try a few. We have over 30 authors producing premium content, and I can hardly wait till my stories start selling next year, so I can buy out the entire library at Fiction Vortex as my first "I am being paid to be an author" purchase. The stories and settings are that good.

Thanks for sharing my excitement with me! I'll be back to health-related news tomorrow.

You Have Now Been Returned To The Normal Internet,

- Hawkwind

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


As the days grow shorter and we can begin to feel the bite of colder air, our thoughts turn to the upcoming holiday season. No, not Christmas - what, are you nuts? I still have plenty of time to think about that. No, actually, I refer instead to the most popular holiday in our household:


We are just about ready. The skeletons, pumpkins, and headstones have been pulled out of long-term storage. Lor has made some last-minute additions to our design elements. (See the gigantic arachnids above.) We have even begun looking at costumes, a rare event for the two of us. 

However, a shadow hovers over the household. A frightening subject that we shy away from in terror. A taboo that we desperately wish to break, one step waiting to be taken into the gaping maw of madness.

I am referring, of course, to buying candy for our trick-or-treaters.

In previous years, we would stock up. We get hundreds of trick or treaters at our home, so we would buy huge bags of candy from the local grocery store to be prepared. And we would get the good stuff, too: Twix, Reeses' Cups, Snickers, and Heath bar minis all made regular appearances in our bowl of goodies. No cheaping out on the kiddos for us, no siree.

And, invariably, we would overbuy. So, for a week or two afterwards, we would indulge in the remnants of our Halloween Candy Explosion, until it was finally all gone.

This year - yeah, not so much. The LAST thing I need is a whole lot of candy sitting around the house just waiting for me to eat it. Sign me up for one ticket to Bariatric Surgery Failure Island. Just not going to do that to myself.

So, instead, we have been buying other trick-or-treat items. Toys, stickers, erasers with spooky designs on them. We tried this last year as well. Lor was enthusiastic, I was skeptical. I was positive the kids would hate these little dollar-store items.

Which serves to demonstrate how little I know about kids. The toys were a huge hit - more popular than the candy by far. There are apparently Halloween scouting apps for smartphones that tell parents which homes are giving out the best stuff - and our house got listed as the best one in the neighborhood. Never underestimate the appeal of plastic fangs and spider rings.

However, I can't stand the idea of not giving out more traditional Halloween fare as well, so a day or two before the event we will head to a Family Dollar or something, and buy a big bag of off-brand candy. We will make sure that it contains nothing that we like whatsoever. We will allow each trick-or-treater to pick one piece of our off-brand candy and one toy, and fervently hope that we don't run out. Nothing worse than having to head to the store on Halloween night for an emergency supply purchase.

And, if any candy is left over the next day, we will immediately give it away to someone, so we don't learn to like whatever the remnants are. Prudence, you know.

Repeating "I Will NOT Buy Snickers" To Myself,

- Hawkwind

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Slack Diet

I got up this morning just knowing that I had failed this week.

Our calorie numbers crept upwards all week long, with several days ending above 1,000 Calories. I didn't get out and really exercise every day like I should. We slipped up on carb levels several days. I had a really bad experience with some chicken nuggets leading to 2 hours spent within 5 feet of my bathroom.

So, all things being equal, I just knew that today's weigh-in would reflect my failures for the week. Instead of holding steady at 224 like I have for the past 3 weeks, I was going to have gained weight. I would be the first recorded example of a weight loss "honeymoon period" that lasted less than 3 months after surgery.

So, of course, when I weighed myself this morning, I came in at 221 pounds.

Isn't it the damnedest thing? For weeks, you work your ass off, watch everything you eat, exercise religiously, and the scale won't move.

Then you have a week where you blow the whole thing off, and you lose 3 pounds.

Makes you wonder about the "weight regulator" in your brain, really. Like, are you encouraging me to be a slacker? 'Cause that is sure the impression I am getting here.

Yes, yes - I know. Changes in metabolic processing, serotonin levels, body adjusting to new intake levels being forced out of "Starvation Mode" - I get it. "Correlation does not imply causation" as the folks with pocket protectors and lots of letters after their names like to say: The fact that my weight loss re-started at the same time as I was peelin' it does not mean that the two things are in any way related.

But, man, it sure feels that way. Maybe I should try the "lethargy diet" - sit at my desk playing World of Warcraft and eating ice cream for the next week, and see what the numbers look like. You know, for science.

Oh, right - honeymoon period. There is every reason to expect, now that the weight loss has fired up again, that I will lose weight lying on my back and eating Twinkies.

Damn. And it sounded like such a good plan, too.

But, in reality, there is nothing to do but buckle back down this week, hit the weights and the cardio religiously again, be more careful about our meal planning and execution. Get back on that horse and work on the plan we committed ourselves to.

But if I get to next Monday and hit another stall as a result of my "good behavior" I may just tear my hair out.

And I don't have all that much hair left at this point.

Happy To Finally Be 80 Pounds Down,

- Hawkwind