Today, I had my follow-up appointment following the mini-gastric bypass surgery.  In short – and I’ll keep this all short – things are in good shape, and we are released to start the ride home.

Typically, it’s a one week appointment, but of course mine got delayed and the holidays and such.  The doc goes over the short term diet, medications, and the expectations.

Right now, I’m on the first stage diet which exists just to get all that chopped up guts to heal.  Yogurt, broth, crackers, and as much Gatorade I can get down.  In a couple weeks, I can start adding softer foods, careful to add things one at a time.  From now on, I’m going to react differently to food, and that second phase is as much as about taking it easy as it is figuring out what I can stomach, literally.  During this time too, I am taking some over the counter things – anti-reflux, anti-indegestion, fiber substitutes, etc.  The purpose again is about healing.

Tomorrow we start the long drive back to Wisconsin where we will salvage what we can of the Thanksgiving holiday.  We should have about enough time to trim a tree and watch the Packers beat the Bears.

I’m feeling pretty good right now.  Gassy, bloated, but that’s been true since the moment I woke up from surgery; but no where near as bad.  I loose energy later in the day, so I am good to get a few naps in regularly.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering what I would go through this surgery for … it’s been four days and I’ve already lost 12 pounds.

Well, That’s Done Now


Dr. Hargroder:  The surgery went just fine, no surprises.

Me:  No extra appendages in there or attached twins?

Dr. Hargroder:  No aliens either.

Me:  I think I just lost a bet.

Good morning from a snowy Carthage, Missouri – just 18 hours after I finished up the Mini Gastric Bypass surgery.  I am currently bloated, burping like a boiler, and peeing so much that a race horse would be saying ‘dang’!  Breakfast just showed up, beef broth, yogurt, and crackers … if I am lucky I will get down the broth (for what it’s worth … it tastes awesome).  I’ve gotten up and about a few times now, and found the experience to be good, like I can’t remember the last time I walked pain free (well, except for the million liters of air inside of me).

As part of the surgery, the doctor inflates the system to look for leaks (for you work friends – yes, they pressure tested me).  Problem is, all that gas has to come out the natural way.  Until it does, that’s the uncomfortable world I am feeling.

It was a strange experience, I have to say.  Arriving at the hospital, the big concern I had was whether I would get cleared for the procedure.  The false start on Wednesday and the numbers that didn’t look promising Friday morning meant I was nothing short of concern.  Lots of meditation, lots of nice thoughts, and they announced they were going ahead.  For the record — I’m not a fan of anesthesiologists .. so judgey they are.   The Pre-op time was about two hours, usually with a lot of nothing followed by someone coming in for some quick introductions and instructions before disappearing again.

Then it became time.  Lying in the bed that I had been for the last couple hours, a few nurses wheeled me down the hall.  Watching the ceiling go by started making things feel surreal.  How many TV shows and movies have we seen someone wheeled to an OR. and this is what I was doing.  Rounding a few corners, and there I was in theater.  The next three or four minutes was frenzy.  Tables shifting, tubes lifting, blankets, sheets, wheeled carts.  I had to scurry over to the bed, and we found my ill fitting gown the whole way.  Then came the words from the anesthesiologist … “Ready Freddie?”  I said yes.  And that was it.

The next thing I remember was the same level of scurrying.  There was a rush to get a mask over my face, later finding out my breathing was slightly irregular coming out of the deep sleep.  The pain from my chest to my stomach was excruciating – like from a range of 1-10, a 7.  Slowly the madness cooled, the pain dipped, and I began the process of drifting in and out of sleep.

Honestly, if I was more lucid, I would bet those two minutes before I went under and those five minutes after would have have been the scariest of my life. So many people going mad over my body, and without knowing half what was happening, in hindsight, was pretty nervewracking.

After an hour (or so) in post-up, they wheeled me off to my room.  Three or four hours passing in and out of morphine induced consciousness, a breathing apparatus strapped to my mouth, all I wanted to do was get up and burp.  The next couple of hours was about burping, walking, and watching Lord of the Rings I slept for a while, but it wasn’t impressive.  So come 4AM, I was ready to get up for good.

Things look good to be discharged today.  We will need to stay in Joplin until Wednesday which make a family Thanksgiving in question now.  I fly back to Boston on Friday out of Madison.

And with that, the rest of my life begins.




Swing and a Miss


The big surgery I announced that would happen today … didn’t.

So, let’s start from this perspective.  This is a surgery I want to happen, but isn’t life or death – so nothing is going to happen that makes it life or death.  To that point, when my blood pressure was measured to be somewhere between ‘sky rocketing’ and ‘through the roof’ the decision was made to not proceed.

High blood pressure was a concern.  Something my Boston doctor and I have been working together to get down.  I thought could be an issue, but put simply, where the blood pressure was this morning was way higher than I expected to be.  I’d have to say that the last few days have been stressful, and that played into the BP being where it’s as much as anything.  Even after an hour of relaxing and trying to ‘meditate’ it down, it was still unacceptable by the doctors.

The surgery is now scheduled for Friday (Nov 20th).  In the meantime, the doc loaded me up with a few meds – including both blood pressure meds and anxiety meds.  Already, my BP is pretty far down into an acceptable range.  So I feel like this is going to happen Friday one way or another.

In the meantime, I plan to just hang out at the hotel, get plenty of sleep, watch some movies, and not let this whole thing get to me.

Feeling it Now


Friday, I had one of those satisfying work days we don’t get that often.  I had two important projects I had scheduled to complete prior to going on time-off (wasn’t procrastinating, just scheduled the last of the data to come in the day before).  While officially, I work from home, I knew that the distractions there would be too great to knock those projects out – so drove into a plant and worked at a desk (that was actually mine, I just am never there). Six hours of specs, checklists, reports, revisions, and publishing documents – and the job was done.  That kind of done that is black and white, that makes you feel accomplished.

As I was shutting down the computer, packing up my bag, that’s when a concept was sinking in.  I am leaving my job today to go have surgery.  Yup, I was about to have a real medical procedure that is going to rearrange things against how my body was made to being with.

In that moment, I had that first flush of cold feet.

Guess what … It wasn’t the last.

Even as I busied myself at 4:30am preparing for my flight out of town, I was asking myself if I was doing the right thing.  If this procedure the right way to go.  Did I really understand the risks?  Did I really think this was going to make my life better?

Up to this point, I’ve been pretty indifferent.  Either I’ve been focused on the steps to prepare for the procedure, focused on work, or focused on something completely different.  It was something I was going to be doing.  When I told this to some of you, some thought it maybe my more analytical mind, or the systemic approach I take to things.  It’s a little more clear now, it was more denial.  Not like the here and now I am facing.

How do I get by the cold feet?  Turns out it’s a difficult, yet easy process.  I get up, I move around.

My knees have seen better days, but they have seen much worse than right now.  Yet I get on them for a little while and I feel the pinch of pain that comes with apply too much weight to a rough joint.  My hip is worse these days, sitting in chairs and leaning forward actually forces my girth to apply pressure on that joint in the wrong direction – and now standing, sitting, laying down are all a hint away from a sharp pain going to down the length of my leg.  With the surgery coming, I am off standard pain pills (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc) due to the effects it has on the stomach, which means I have to just bear it out these days.

But each pain I feel, each ache, I am remember why I need this change.

So yeah … that apprehension I should have been feeling … I’m feeling ti now.  But I am feeling the old pain too.

This Takes Guts …


MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT TIME:It’s been a while since I have had one of these, but this is a big one, so …

This maybe something that you might have noticed or might not have … it is kinda hard to pick up, but only if you look really hard.  You see … well … I kinda have a teensy weensy bit of a weight problem.  Okay, maybe a little more than that.

Seriously, for those of you who have known me for any more than five year, you are sure aware of a major effort I made in 2009 & 2010 to lose considerable weight. At that time I dropped over 200lbs, and bottomed out around 195lbs.  I couldn’t keep that weight off, and even put on extra above the top.  While I have made other valiant efforts to lose the weight again, ultimately,

At this point, I have a hard time moving around, everything hurts, and I have more problems than I can shake a stick at.  Or to start a trend #somethingsgottochange

I was challenged in my mind with the concern that any further effort just wouldn’t be permanent.  I needed to work on a solution that would be just that.  That’s what I found.

A week from today, on November 18th, I will be receiving a procedure called a Mini Gastric Bypass.  It is a weightloss surgery.

I haven’t told many people I am doing this, but those I have had some common questions.  To be honest, you can generally classify those questions between those that are interested in how this is going to make me better, and those that are interested to know if I have made the right decision (classify them as ‘worriers’ and ‘haters’).

If you are a worrier, here are some of your answers:

First – A bit about what is going on.  This is a laproscopic surgery that will reduce my stomach size, and adjust the entry of the stomach contents further along my intestinal track.  Unlike standard Gastric Bypass surgeries, this procedure will leave a larger stomach sack (standard leaves a sack the size of a coin purse, this is more the size of a large magic marker).  Additionally, the procedure will not remove anything from my body (so, No, Auggie doesn’t get a new chew toy), nor put any restrictive items (e.g. lap bands) into it.  It’s not as significant of a change, thus making it both reversible and repairable.  In short – it is on par with a Gastric Bypass, but is not as significant of a procedure (thus calling it a ‘Mini’ Gastric Bypass).

Second — The recovery time is quick.  45 minute surgery.  On my feet the same day.  Overnight in the hospital.  Cleared to drive & be back at work in a week.

In fact, I should start feeling the weight loss within a few weeks. Part of the process requires your digestive system to heal, so liquids and soft / easy to digest foods – and very little at that.  I’ll be running off of about a 1000 calories pending what I actually have.  Soon enough I can start an exercise routine, and then things just accelerate from there.

Third — I chose this procedure because I liked the long term look of it.  I know people who have had it done, and they stand out to me in two ways:  1) They have kept most of the weight off.  2) They are like normal people.  And by normal, I mean – they go out to dinner.  They eat tasty food.  They drink wine.  They can’t have everything (dairy and high acid foods can cause problems); but everything they have is alot – they just don’t eat alot of it.

Fourth – No, it’s not happening in Boston.

The surgery will take place in Joplin, Missouri.  This procedure is specialized and currently only a couple doctors can perform it – the main one and the inventer is Dr. David Hargroder there in Joplin.

Finally — My parents will actually be with me during the surgery – coming down and staying with me through the mandatory one week we need to be nearby in case there is complications.  So in a way, they are getting a bit of a vacation (we aren’t locked to Joplin, we can spread out a little bit).  While I could have had anyone come down to be my support team for this surgery, I am pretty happy they agreed to come – even though they are my parents and sorta kinda have to, you know (they really didn’t, but … I am still glad they are).

As for those hater questions …

Yes – I have thought about this.  Been thinking about a surgery for nearly 10 years.  But when I heard about this earlier this year, I began to believe it was the right one for me.

Yes, I understand that surgery isn’t a fix-all.  It’s going to take work, lots of work, and if I don’t stick to it things are going to happen different than what I want.  Truth of the matter is, this is the spark I need to be inspired for a more permanent solution.

Yes, I have tried normal diet and exercise.  You name it, I tried it (except for that weird paleo thing … if we were meant to eat like cavemen, we wouldn’t have left the cave).

Yes REALLY, I have tried diet and exercise.  Telling me I should have skipped that cookie yesterday wouldn’t change my decision.

I suspect some of you out there are wondering why I would have haters at all.  Some of you maybe wondering why I would care what they think.  And I know some of you are wondering why I would go public with this surgery anyway (why not just get it and let people notice the weightloss).

Haters are out there, haters gonna hate – though they really aren’t haters.  They are good intention people who just don’t know any better.  Probably never had to fight to get up a flight of stairs.  Never had to special order clothing because stores don’t carry your size.  Chances are they weren’t the ones that sat there on a plane from Hawaii happy in the bliss of a great vacation when some young guy stops and says ‘if you work out once a day, you’d be healier, just saying’ – and you are immediately reminded that a stranger can see you are overweight.  They never had that trainer who thinks that all you need to do is learn to like quinoa and all your problems will be solved, when they don’t even know that ice cream solves more problems than quinoa ever will.  I care about what haters think because I care about what haters think.

…. so now that stuffs gotten so real, let’s get back to the happier stuff …

Why I am telling you this – why I am going public with my surgery is for clear reasons ..

By telling myself that there are people who read this and follow what I am doing means that I am now accountable to you to be successful.  It was what worked for me in the past, and will work for me this time.

But just as much comes back to something a great friend told me once:
“We are not in this alone”
When I was losing all that weight back then, Brad Barnes, a long time drum corps brother, told me that telling everyone about my success was an inspiration to people like him fighting the same problem.  It won’t be enough to be successful alone, I need to belong to those who fight through it as well.  Brad and I are going through this together.

Or to try to close the look on a very weird blog post I wrote this summer (To Belong to YA); we throw our arms around each other in hopes we wouldn’t change – but we have to change, you know to belong to ya.

So that’s the big news.

I expect to blog going into getting my guts cut up.  I expect to blog coming out.  I expect to blog for the months to come.

1.21 Gigawatts


Let’s set the record straight.  A big hubbub was made not too long about about the “Back to the Future” day; but that was hogwash.  On October 21st, 2015 movie nerds celebrated the day when Marty McFly from Back to the Future 2 arrived in a future we now live in.  October 21st was supposed to be when theoretically we were supposed to have Hover Boards and ugly hats with the brim half cut off.  Well, guess what folks, the prospect of the Cubs winning the World Series was about as likely as hover boards.

If you want to call “Back to the Future Day” October 21, 2015 – then accept the fact that you can never have one of those days again.

I, in fact, don’t want to live in that world; because Back to the Future Day should but come every year.  IN FACT, we shouldn’t just celebrate a point in time that was not at all true, we should celebrate the history that is Back to the Future.

The true Back to the Future Day should be, November 5th, in direct reference to November 5th, 1955 – the day of the invention of the Flux Capacitor, that which makes time travel possible.

So then let’s let the be true

Back to the Future day will be November 5th.

Take that Guy Fawkes!!!

Seeing LA Through a Mobile Parking Lot


So when driving in Los Angeles … there’s this thing called Traffic.

No seriously, this really is a thing.  Not just on the movie TV shows.

You see, you are going along in your car, and then … Everyone Slows Down!  For Truth!  Like they all plan it that way.  And like all at the same time.

Traffic in the LA area is something special, I will give it that, and after a long morning in it I felt it raised itself to be BLOGWORTHY.

I spent the weekend hanging out in the Temecula wine country with good friends.  I had work to do today in Rancho Dominguez.  That meant I had a 75 mile drive to the plant on mostly interstates – which if you were in any other part of the world would mean about 1-1/2 to reach the plant.

Yeah …Try closer to three hours.

Traffic happens because of generally three situtations:

  1. There was an accident.  Just like that accident before the CA-55 interchange on CA-91
  2. There is construction.  Just like at the I-15, CA-91 interchange.
  3. There are more cars then the designed capacity of the road.  Which is everywhere else on the freeway this morning.

To be honest, LA Traffic isn’t all that bad in the grand scheme of traffic.  Boston sucks because where there is traffic, it doesn’t move.  I can get stuck 6 miles from home, and it will take me 30 minutes to get there.  At least the LA Traffic always moves.  Chicago traffic sucks, because the drivers are more aggressive – willing to cut you off or run down a parking lane just to get that small edge over you in the run to the next toll booth; and if you want to change lanes, don’t put your blinker on because 10 cars will want to pass you before letting you in.  In LA, it seems like everyone is content with where they are and that it is going to take a while to get there – so there is a shared acceptance and congeniality to it all.

What makes LA’s traffic so rough is that LA is so big!  Like I said, it was 75 miles this morning.  While my route is a bit extraordinary for me – it’s not out of the question for the common LA commuter.   Where people work and where they live in this metro area is a pretty grand divide.  It’s not out of the question that a 2 hour commute is what people WANT, not just need.  Decent middle class housing in Corona or Riverside is a good 40 to 50 miles away from business centers in Western LA County.  People choose to spend half their day in their car.

Tonight, I head to a hotel that is only a half hour away from the plant I am working from.  So I guess I shouldn’t complain.

But when have you known me not to complain?