Some feedback and questions

Since I have converted Misdirected over to talking about our upcoming weight-loss surgeries, the response has been tremendous. I’ve received comments, advice, feedback, emails, text messages, etc. all supportive of and enthusiastic about the changes here – and our visitor numbers show the difference. Apparently I have struck a nerve here, talking about obesity and “big-gun” surgical methods in dealing with it. A few questions have come up that I thought could be addressed to the rest of our readership, rather than just the initial questioner:
1. “So, is Misdirected no longer a gaming site?”
The short answer is no, we are not. I have added more followers and fielded more feedback in the last 2 weeks dealing with issues pertaining to weight loss than I did in the previous 3 years talking about gaming. Now, I am still a gamer, and it remains a major part of my life. Accordingly, I will (finally) commit to streaming 5 days a week, about 3-4 hours a day at my Twitch channel. I intend right now for this to take place from 2pm-ish to 6pm-ish (MST). Since Real Life Happens, I am not committing to which 5 days every week – could be Mon – Fri, could be something else.. Inaugural stream will be later today. I need an outlet for my gaming habit, and maintaining two different blogs just did not seem like an effective way to go. Thanks to everyone who was concerned about this.
2. “What the heck blender is that you are using?”
It is part of the Ninja Kitchen System 1100 package, the latest and greatest version of which can be found here:
The pricing on Amazon isn’t quite as good as the older one we found on clearance, but still the best price around. The system itself is very nice – it includes both blender and food processor pitchers that can be used on a 1500-watt base. It creates very nice smoothies out of raw vegetables and fruits, with blend times under the magical 60 second mark. (Blending over 60 seconds begins to seriously impact the nutritional value of your raw materials, due to oxidation apparently. I am no scientist, and don’t even play one on TV.)
3. “What are you doing for nutritional supplementation?”
Many well-meaning people have been concerned about the pre-surgery diet creating some major holes in our day-to-day nutrition. I may not have mentioned this in enough detail before, but the major reason that it is going to take us almost 4 months to get through the process is that first we have to go through 3 months worth of work with a real  nutritionist, with letters after her name and everything. The first month of the diet involves adding a daily multivitamin and reducing our previous meals to meals with less than 45 grams of Carbs and with 20 (or more) grams of protein with every serving. The carb reduction has not been much of a problem, but we’ve had a rocky road trying to get up to the required protein amounts, especially in our once-a-day smoothies. Our financial status has pretty much prevented us from spending tons of money on Whey Protein supplements or anything like that, so we have been making do with high-protein vegetables, greek yogurt, and adding PB2 (aka Powdered Peanut Butter) to our smoothies. A family member found out about this, and decided to give us a hand, and last night a box full of “Love and Peas” Protein-Rich Meal replacement showed up at our door, courtesy of June Baker at The Health ConneXion. We’re very excited to try this stuff out – it has a whopping 20 grams of protein per serving, Dairy-free, lactose-free, gluten-free, Vegan-certified – I don’t know what all that means, but Lor informs me that this is top-of the line stuff. Thanks, June!
Lastly, you will be seeing some changes to the site here as I tailor more towards our new arrivals – people who are wanting to hear about one person’s journey from obesity to weight-loss surgery. I appreciate all the interest we have had here at Misdirected, and look forward to sharing my good, bad, and ugly experiences with you all!
In Transition,
– Hawkwind

Man Up And Eat Your Veggies

24 ounces of Spinachy Carroty Strawberryish Goodness

When Lor and I decided to start looking into more drastic weight loss solutions initially, she had me watch Joe Cross‘ excellent documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, chronicling his weight loss journey performing a 60-day “juice fast” and losing over 100 pounds in the process. While “juicing” didn’t really sound like my thing, I had to agree with the tons of nutritional advice in the documentary focusing on one major dietary problem in our lives: instead of a diet made up of 33% (or so) Fruits and Vegetables, our diet was nearly entirely made up of meats and processed foods. We made the decision that, when we could afford it, we would get a juicer or a blender and start making the necessary changes in our diets. Oddly enough, we found a normally $200 blender/food processor combination in the Clearance section of our local mega-mart for 75% off within 48 hours of making this decision. Almost instantly, fruit and vegetable smoothies entered our daily diet, taking the place of our normal lunch routine.
Yesterday, given all the pet-centric chaos and commotion around here, we skipped our daily smoothies. Lor had some canned fruit, I had some leftovers from dinner the night before. I felt completely drained of energy by 8 last night, and woke up this morning with all the symptoms of a good, old-fashioned hangover. The lack of plant-based nutrients yesterday had me paying a serious price today. I told Lor this morning: “I should’ve just manned up and made our smoothies yesterday.”
We both chuckled at the idea that “manning up” equated to eating plants. And I have been thinking about that laughter ever since. Why is it, I wonder, that we look at eating veggies as un-masculine? It can’t really have anything to do with the work involved in raising plant-based foods: any farmer will tell you that farming is anything but a weakling’s profession. It is work made up of days filled with long, arduous labor. We’ll have to look elsewhere for where meat = man.
There is an inherently combative element to the idea of eating meat, I suppose – “Nature, red in tooth and claw”, and all that. But talk to any professional athlete about the idea of eating an all-meat diet and you will be laughed out of the clubhouse. Whole, plant-based foods contain nearly all the nutrients a human needs to survive and thrive. (Some vitamins can be an exception.) What the heck is so manly about being nutrient-deficient?
But, the myth persists. We know a family where the wife attempted to start she and her husband on a daily regimen of plant-based smoothies, only to have the husband reject the idea. Why? Because it wasn’t “real food”. I, myself, have frequently mocked the people I know who prefer salads over steaks, calling them “tree-huggers”, and saying they are eating “bunny food.” Now, at 150 pounds overweight, I wish I had eaten more salads and otherwise kept my mouth shut.
There is nothing manly about gasping for air after a walk around the block. Embrace your inner bunny, and start making decisions based on what your body needs, instead of the foods that you think of as masculine. Your six-pack will never be visible if it is hidden beneath a beer keg, like mine.
Drinking My Lunch (And I Don’t Mean Budweiser).
– Hawkwind

Going to the Dogs

My 5-pound high blood pressure generator.
Early this morning, I got up and sat myself in front of my computer. I had every intention of putting together a fabulous blog article, maybe a little something about “me vs. the scale” or something. But I could not concentrate. My thoughts went every which direction, all eventually returning to the furry, sleeping lump in the corner a few feet away from me – and her trip to the veterinarian later today. Knowing I could not write coherently in this mental condition, I gave up and wandered into the living room to watch TV, accompanied by my little friend, wagging her tail,  blissfully unaware she might be spending her last few hours on Earth.
What is it about our pets that allows them this emotional power over our lives? People go absolutely crazy for these furry little bundles of neurotic activity, spending an astonishing amount every year on them – more than 60 Billion in the USA alone last year. They are our surrogate children, our best friends, our confidantes – sometimes the one source of reliable emotional support in our lives. “Love Me Like Me Dog Does” was the desire voiced by C/W artist Billy Currington a few years back, and I totally get where he was coming from. My relationships with people tend to have ups and downs. My relationship with Vixen is pretty much a constant positive reinforcement of my self-image: she seems to think that I am one of the twin pillars that hold up the Universe. (Lor is the other one, of course. That’s OK. I suppose I can share.)
And, for weeks now, my fuzzy ego-reinforcer has been in pain every time she goes to the potty. We have tried different diets, we have tried supplements, we have tried prescriptions, and nothing works. Every day, come “potty time” she screams as if we are shoving red-hot pokers into her, until she is finally done. She then ambles away, unconcerned, leaving us traumatized and wondering how we can take care of this – how can we keep her from suffering?
It finally got to be too much, and we scheduled her with our local low-income veterinarian. (And, may I say here, thank God for places like Albuquerque Humane Society.) We knew full well that this might be a blockage in her intestines. A tumor in her abdomen. A tear somewhere along her digestive tract that might not be fixable with our limited resources. Even the amount we were going to use to pay for her office visit today was already budgeted for something else – a major surgery today would be completely out of our reach, and could leave us with the decision to have to euthanize our 6-pound supermodel. The thought of her leaving us forever, of coming home from the vet’s office without her, was almost too much to bear.
We had a very tense and terrifying visit to the vet. We explained the problems, winced when the exam made her cry, felt vaguely guilty that we had not done something else that would have prevented us from coming to this point. And now, after all is said and done, we have medications to give her, even more instructions on dietary changes, and we have a major surgical procedure that we have to schedule and figure out how to pay for.  And yet, when we left the office and put her back in the car, we looked at one another and both breathed a sigh of relief . It felt like a disaster, narrowly averted.
She is asleep in the corner now, worn out from her stressful day. I could very easily curl up beside her and share that stress recovery. We now face a daily regimen of pills, a major financial headache, and an uncertain outcome – we still don’t know if any of this is going to work.
But, still, none of this seems like too much to do, in the name of keeping our dog healthy and pain-free. The relationships with our pets are too valuable to be tossed away casually. Dean Koontz said it best: “No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Relieved and Thankful,
– Hawkwind

The Big Green Monster

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sighing and Trying Not To Look Out The Windows,

– Hawkwind

The Emotional Pain of Costco

Warehouse store, or den of torture?

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

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

Exploring The Forbidden

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

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

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

The Cruelest Blow

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

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

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

Still Winded,

– Hawkwind