My Microbial Colony

Photo Credit: findingtheobvious via Compfight cc

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

There really isn’t a lot to say about a cold that translates well into “weight-loss blog”, but it does raise some interesting questions for what happens after the surgery. Many of my go-to remedies and comfort foods are going to be denied to me after the surgery. For example:

  • Orange Juice. Nope, totally off the list. A completely protein-less high carbohydrate liquid. 3 “No”s for the price of one there.
  • Chicken Noodle Soup. Again, not enough protein and the part of the soup that makes the ravaged throat feel better (the broth) is the part that has the lowest nutritional value.
  • Ice Cream. My favorite comfort food for head colds is pure sugar and empty calories. Sigh.
  • Water. Kinda the opposite problem here, but who wants to drink water while they have a cold? I want something warm, and aromatic. Guess I could drink caffeine-free teas, but 64 ounces of fluid a day fills a LOT of teacups.

Just things to think about to the accompaniment of the tympanic drums that have taken up residence in my head. Considering that I have a barium test on the books for Monday, I am going to need to get over this thing fast. This means all the usual stuff – keep the infected fluids moving out of the body so they can’t slide into the lungs, mega-doses of Vitamin C (but not in Orange Juice), don’t get dehydrated, etc. Where all I want to do is lie down, burrow under the covers, and wait for my head to fall off. This prepping for gastric sleeve surgery thing is not for the faint of heart.

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

Hosting A Microbe Dance Party,

– Hawkwind

3:40 AM And Counting

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

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

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

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

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

This just got real, my friends.

Really Awake Now,

– Hawkwind

Fighting The Odds

Photo Credit: stevenkbruno via Compfight cc

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Revving Up My Engines,

– Hawkwind

To Climb The Impossible Climb

I had mentioned I married a sadist, yes?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Didn’t know they had whales in the desert.

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Please note – we completely missed the trail. We’ll do better next time.

 

 

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

 

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

 

Still Recovering,

– Hawkwind

Food Porn

 

Happy April Fools Day! And no, sadly, nothing in this article is an April Fools joke.

I had another one of “those” dreams last night. I looked around to see if anyone I knew was watching, then opened the door and hurried inside. I paid the girl at the front, trying not to look her in the eye, afraid of the pity or disgust I might see there. Taking a deep breath, I went around the corner…

…and grabbed a plate and joined the line at the Golden Corral buffet.

And then woke up, gasping, in a cold sweat.

Seriously, is anyone else having this problem? Because for sure no one else is talking about it. But I am seriously starting to fantasize about food. There’s the usual kind of stuff – drive by McDonald’s with Lor and talk about how much we miss french fries and all that. But I seem to be having some more serious issues. For instance;

  • In the grocery store, I find myself lingering in the bakery section, looking over donuts, cakes, and pies. Even the ones I would not have been interested in before I started this process!
  • On those occasions when we are allowing ourselves “forbidden foods” (one meal a week currently), if I have been sent to get them without Lor, I strongly consider if I should get an extra item and eat it before I get home.
  • I now watch cooking shows – something I rarely did before we started the pre-surgical process. I am not watching to learn how to cook. I am watching so that I can see the forbidden foods that are being prepared.
  • I am having the most bizarre cravings. On the way home from a workout earlier this week, I was craving toast. Toast!

Seriously, folks – this is addict behavior. I thought I ate too much because I was bored – my disability and impaired mobility left me with nothing to do, so I would eat. Right? Apparently wrong. All this time I have been blaming boredom and the fattening effects of my anti-seizure medications for my obesity, but apparently there was another factor: I seem to be a food junkie. Who knew?

Well, yes, ok – probably every significant person in my life knew this about me, but the important thing is that I didn’t know. I literally had no idea that addictive behavior was a part of the problem. And now, I begin to have some serious doubts about the Gastric Sleeve – is this going to be enough to overcome these impulses and urges? I know that the Sleeve procedure removes the majority of the stomach, the parts that produce Ghrelin – the hunger-causing hormone in our body. But is a lack of hunger from the stomach going to do anything to deal with this hunger that I know is coming from my mind?

It makes me wonder, what kind of person fantasizes about food? Am I the only one on the planet with this condition? Because it certainly isn’t anything I have heard of or read about before. Binge eating? Sure, that one is talked about on a daily basis. Fantasizing about binge eating? That’s a new one to me.

Staring Into The Fridge, Waiting For Chocolate To Appear,

– Hawkwind