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On Food


So we have been on the road the past few days and negotiating eating in restaurants and on the fly for the first time since surgery. Here are some things I found interesting:

1) We heard in the Facebook support group for our bariatric surgery group that one thing you have to get used to is wasting food. You can’t eat anything close to a regular sized restaurant meal anymore, even the “lighter fare” smaller meals they offer. Even children’s menu meals are too big. This is super true. This morning The Lovely Rhonda and I split a lighter meal of a two egg scramble with ham and cheese, hash browns and English muffin. We each ate about half of the half order of scramble on our plates, a couple of bites of the half order of hash browns, and a couple bites of the half English muffin. So between us, half the meal was left behind.

Of course, at home we save leftovers and don’t actually waste the food, but you get the idea. We really do eat very little.

2) It appears the sugar monkey on my back is at least muzzled. I had a tiny piece of cake with a little dab of ice cream last week on my daughter’s birthday and it made me super weird. Well, weirder. I felt kind of sick to my stomach and then super tired for a while. I’m not saying I’m off all sugar for good, but I won’t be eating more than a bite here and there.

3) I don’t really miss soda. Once I gave it up the spell was broken. Some people can still have carbonated drinks after this surgery but a lot of people cannot tolerate them due to the tiny stomach/no room for gas issue. I am a world champion belch queen from way back and could probably have them, but why?

I have started to order the occasional Arnold Palmer because I like lemonade but it’s too sweet, I like iced tea only sort of, and the combination of the two isn’t bad.

Also, and this is TMI so stop reading now if you don’t care to know, carbonation and caffeine are irritants to the bladder. Guess who no longer has to pee constantly and urgently? I’m super cool with this. I have also found that sugar free drink mixes like Crystal Light contain something that my bladder doesn’t like, maybe the malic acid, so I don’t have those very often either. They are now a sometimes thing when I just want something other than water, and I like them diluted anyway. Harm reduction, people!

Spelunking on a Sunday


So we’re wrapping up this little mini-break with an adventure the likes of which we have not experienced before, and which three months ago we could not have done.

It’s not as though we’re breaking new ground here, we didn’t make an expedition up Everest or anything. But we did take a tour through the Lewis & Clark Caverns National Monument, which did involve a death march hike up to the entrance, a distance of approximately forever three quarters of a mile and an elevation gain of about ten thousand three hundred feet.

At the trail head one is greeted by this sign.

And so we found ourselves trudging wearily up the path. I typically use a cane for longer walks because of my rickety leg situation; it makes it easier to push off since my left pusher-offer hamstring muscle is completely MIA. But, we were afeared that they wouldn’t allow me to go on this trek if I had a stick with me so I left it behind in the car.

We survived the hike up, predictably coming in dead last behind the family with the four year old and the mom carrying a toddler in a front pack. It’s ok though; coming in last is pretty much my specialty. Plus that mom looked really fit.

Once at the cave entrance you get a few minutes to listen to the park ranger guide talk about the history of the caves and how much damage people have done to it over the years and why you definitely need to not touch anything or carry any cool cave features away which we wouldn’t do anyway because we are not assholes.

And then in we went, down through room after room of spectacular cave formations, down six hundred million bajillion steps, down in the cool beautiful cave until we emerged victorious into the bright sun and sweatily but triumphantly trudged the quarter mile back to the visitor center.

A pool
500 foot tunnel blasted through by Conservation Corps to provide a lower exit so we wouldn’t have to climb back up all those damn stairs

There were places in the cavern where you had to stoop to squeeze through low ceiling areas, sidle sidelong around odd corners, even sit on your bottom and slide down a little curving stone slide (or duck walk through). I’m not great at regular walking so I was feeling not so confident about any other kind. This meant I had to negotiate sitting on the ground and then getting back up at the end, a process that was made all the more enjoyable by the fact that there were a couple of people behind me to act as witnesses. Nevertheless I prevailed and I’m not even dead here at the end.

Anything beyond walking on level ground is precarious for me as I have on one leg a reasonable knee with no muscle attached to it and on the other leg a shitty arthritic knee, complete with torn meniscus and MCL, with the usual amount of muscle attached. Lucky me! Still, I managed the cave tour with all its interesting terrain and it was super fun and cool, and as previously noted, bonus points for not being dead.

The Lovely Rhonda also prevailed although it was touch and go on the stairs up toward the end. She is my hero.

“I’m not dead yet “

Our Progress Through Life


So today we’re in Bozeman, Montana, taking the eldest child to her first college tour. We decided to make a little mini-break out of it because The Lovely Rhonda cannot do anything halfway. Oh, we just moved into new offices? Must be time to not be home to set up the computers.

Anyway, tomorrow we’ll head over to the Museum of the Rockies for a bit and then mosey over to the north end of Yellowstone, and Sunday we’ll explore the Lewis & Clark Caverns; then Monday we’ll head home.

Bozeman is pretty nice, very much a college town full of Dynamic Young People ™ but also charmingly rustic at its heart. As an example the cafe we’re about to eat breakfast in is housed in a 150 year old building with a pressed tin ceiling. Bozeman is also relentlessly Caucasian, and we’ve seen a few ratty Trump flags still waving limply in the breezes, but this is not unusual for the American boonies.

In other news, recently we went through our closet and culled out the pants that don’t fit. This turned out to be pretty much all of them. All the pants that didn’t fit pre-surgery because they were too tight, now don’t fit because they’re literally falling off of us. We gathered them into a heap which I then felt compelled to fold neatly because of reasons. We’re donating them to a friend’s charity where we are assured that the chunkier lady recipients are in need of our FIFTY pairs of pants.

Yes. Fifty. Because we had a lot of pants. Stop asking questions.

Ok, it is a lot of pants.

I had a sad because the shorts I kept because they were my favorites are now too big and not even worth donating because they’re antiquated and too worn out to be useful. Such is life.

I’m now wearing pants that are two sizes smaller. So I’m not THAT sad.

Another new development: I can cross my legs.

It’s been years.

This is significant because a) I used to be too fat, and b) after I ripped off my semimembranosis muscle, it took me about a year and a half to cross my legs at the ankles. Now, a mere three and a half years later, I can cross my actual legs. I did it today, twice, while we were listening to college tour stuff.

Today we took a walking tour around the main points of the campus while a chipper college student delivered a great deal of information to us at high velocity. Past me would have stayed back at the student union building, but current me went along with this demented scheme. I admit to trudging by the end, but it didn’t kill me.

Which is good, because Sunday we’re going on a two mile hike through a cavern that will involve not just walking but “the route requires visitors to navigate over 600 stairs (over 500 down and over 100 up), to bend, duck waddle, and even slide.”

Three months ago this would not have been even a possibility. To say I’m excited is an understatement.

At least it’s not the ‘rona


We went motorcycling last weekend. We each have these pretty great motorcycles and they’ve hardly been ridden in ages because of my dumb leg and then our work schedules and summer heat and life and kids and stuff.

Then too (speaking only for myself here) I wasn’t that comfortable riding because my gear wasn’t fitting well and I just felt awful.

A friend of ours posted about wanting to go for a jaunt on Saturday so we decided to go, despite The Lovely Rhonda having constant misgivings about our right to do anything fun during These Trying Times while we are expanding the practice etc. So, we plugged in the battery tenders and mentally prepared ourselves for the work of riding. It really is work if you’re out of practice and deconditioned.

It turned out to be cool and cloudy, so over-pants were necessary. I hadn’t worn mine for a couple of years and they barely fit then.

Sixty pounds (almost) later, they fit GREAT. I could easily bend my knees, they were roomy, all that jazz. It was a big deal.

Sadly, I chose to wear a mesh jacket with a thick flannel shirt under it, plus my t-shirt, thinking it’d warm up. This was unwise as I got a chill and had difficulty warming up, despite my delightful heated handgrips.

We peeled off the ride when it got close to our neck of the woods and went directly to the hot tub, but even an extended soak did me little good. I thought it was just being cold and tired, but (cue ominous music) it turned out to be something else entirely.

Well, maybe not entirely. Probably being cold and tired did contribute.

I spent the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday with a crappy headache, chills, and fever, feeling horrifically terrible. Monday wasn’t much better, and with the added fun of Digestive Problems. Like, “stay close to a flush toilet” kind of problems.

Today I went and had a Covid test because all of these symptoms can be associated with a minor Covid infection, but it turns out I’m just garden variety sick. Things are starting to settle down — as an example, I can now trust a cautious fart — but I still have a headache and feel lousy.

Who even am I anymore


So tonight the children are “independently” (using our money of course) taking their babysitter out to an escape room and sushi.

Well technically they are footing some of the bill themselves. So there’s that.

The Lovely Rhonda and I decided to go out for something to eat, because the food at home didn’t appeal to us. You know how that goes. We ended up at McGraths, which is where you take your grandma on her birthday, but it’s close and we like seafood.

Past us: ALL THE THINGS with a diet soda (me) and a beer or two (TLR). Fried shramps! Baked potato! Bread! Clam strips! Stuffed mushrooms! Rawr!

Present us: Uh, we’ll each have a lemonade and split an appetizer sampler.

Waiter: Great! I’ll be right back with your bread!

Us, in unison: NO BREAD!!

Rhonda: eats one fourth of a crab cake, three tablespoons of chowder, and a single tiny piece of mini garlic toast with crab and artichoke dip.

Me: PEELS THE BREADING OFF the two coconut shrimp and eats only the meat, also one fourth of a crab cake, and a darling piece of mini garlic toast with dip.

Both of us: OH GOD I’M STUFFED

The good news is that we brought the rest home and finished nearly all of it over the next couple of days.

But really? I peeled off the breading?

Who even AM I anymore?

In other news we took photos at about our seven week surgiversary. Here’s a couple of mine:

Fifty five pounds gone.
Also I got a haircut.



So we have these two really goofy dumb dogs and they are young and also dumb.

We both work full time and the children have entered that stage where they are slugs with electronic gadgetry. If we are lucky, we can get them to exit their rooms once daily to grunt sullenly at us before racing back up the stairs to clasp their precious Nintendo Switches to their bosoms once again. So the dogs don’t get the exercise they should be getting, except that we do send them to doggy daycare twice weekly and I take them to the off leash park sometimes.

The dog park has a half-mile gravel track going around it and the dogs can roam as they please while the humans walk the track. There are a variety of types of people who come to the park: the snooty fast walkers who don’t make eye contact and are wearing earbuds, the older folk who have old dogs that shamble along slowly, the talkative sort, the awkward middle aged guys who don’t know how to make small talk, the super into-it Dog People festooned in all the gear with the Chuck-It and the belt pouch of treats, etc.

I just try to show up with a) the dogs and b) my shoes on the right feet.

I myself have a love/hate relationship with the track. After the Accidental Splits Debacle at Winco about three and a half years ago, in which my left semimembranosis muscle slipped its surly bonds and became one with the rest of my leg muscles (detached and retracted, scarring into the back of my leg) I have been somewhat more hobbled than I was already, and I was already hobbled pretty comprehensively. The muscle I lost is the one that draws your foot backward, as in the movement you make when wiping your feet on a doormat. This movement is also used when walking; you just don’t really notice it because you’re focused on moving the one leg forward and not so much on what the other leg is doing — but walking is really a pushme-pullyou action. Often when walking my hip muscles spasm painfully after the equivalent of a couple of blocks because of the alteration in my gait.

Between the loss of this muscle, the extreme flatness of my feet, and the arthritis in pretty much every joint from the knees down, I’m not much for walking. My portliness didn’t help, as evidenced by the fact that now that I’ve lost fifty pounds I can walk the track much more easily.

In the past I could barely make it once around the track. If I had someone with me to talk to, was talking on the phone or (rarely) listening to a podcast or audiobook, I could sometimes make two laps around, but it was uncommon. (Distraction is a proven pain management tool)

Today I took the dogs to the park and walked two laps around without any drama. Some spasming, but not too bad. I didn’t have anyone with me and I wasn’t listening to anything. I just walked.

Life is pretty good and gets better by the day.

Car stuff


So I spent some time today cleaning the back seat of my car. Well, it wasn’t so much cleaning as it was recoiling in horror as I ran the carpet cleaner hand attachment over the upholstery. I am going to operate under the assumption that something was spilled in the back seat, like a dark brown coffee drink of some kind. This will enable me to sleep at night.

There. Now you can have nightmares too.

As I have previously mentioned, this car was mine for about 14 years, from new, and then I sold it to a friend’s son, who is super awesome but young and works in construction. This means the entire interior was coated in a sometimes heavy layer of grime. I have spent a fair amount of time scrubbing this grime from every surface imaginable.

Still to do: scrub part of roof rack area with toothbrush to remove crusty stuff in crevices. Polish the passenger doors and clean the inside door jamb area. De-hair the rear cargo area floor mat thing and the cargo area cover thing. Install floor mats. Clean interior windows.

Also: take car by mechanic to have them listen to the weird noise it makes at idle.

Baggy shorts


So I have a favorite pair of knee length jeans shorts that I’ve worn for years. Then I couldn’t wear them anymore because they were too small. I didn’t get rid of them because of reasons having to do with how much I loved them and how much I wanted to wear them again someday.

I’m wearing them today and they’re baggy. Not crazy big baggy but there’s room in them.

We went though our t-shirts and divided them into four piles: now, try again in a month, make into a quilt, Goodwill. Then I tackled all the very many pants (mostly capris) that I had to try on every time we went somewhere warm on vacation because most of them didn’t fit.

They all fit and most of them are pretty loose.

Also I’ve started getting wedgies. I haven’t had this problem for years. You don’t get wedgies if your underpants are snug. Apparently my underpants are no longer snug. I think this is called a non scale victory, but I’m not sure how victorious I’m feeling?

I’m less than one pound shy of fifty pounds lost. I have plenty more to go, but I’m happy with my progress so far.

Busy day


So almost four weeks ago we had surgery and I’ve lost 45 pounds so far.

I can now put shoes on and lace them up and tie them while still sitting, rather than having to get up and do it from a standing position. I couldn’t do that before. If I drop something at my feet while sitting I can bend down and pick it up without getting up. I couldn’t do that either.

I have these shitty flat feet, which led to arthritis in my ankles and knees, and I detached (permanently) a significant portion of my left hamstring a few years ago, so I’m hobbled on a good day. Typically I avoid walking when possible because I have only a limited amount of time on my feet.

Today I took the dogs to the dog park and walked twice around, then trudged slowly around the tulip festival, then spent some time cleaning the Mazda. I’ve done more today than I used to do in a week.

My feet are seriously killing me and I will spend tomorrow doing things that don’t require much walking. But still.

In the ongoing saga of the Mazda, I have now cleaned both front seats using the carpet cleaner. They are marginally cleaner, judging from the filthy brown water that came out. I have wiped down the entire dash and applied Armor-All to it. I spent some time cleaning the parts of the inside of the hatch that you only see when it’s open, all around the edges, where filth accumulates and if you live in a damp climate, moss will also grow. It’s less dirty. Every time I clean it another layer of filth comes off.

The truth of the matter is that the car will always be worn out and old, but at least it will be cleaner and smell better? I am so looking forward to washing the windows on the inside.

Oh and the little aluminum cap on the gear shift came off. I intend to decorate it and glue it back on. It used to have the shift pattern on it but has been worn completely smooth with twenty years and nearly 250k miles of driving!