Running AMOK on March 1st

I am participating in AMOK

On Saturday March 1st I will be wandering round Tiverton handing over envelopes to the hardworking folks who give up their weekends to staff the town’s many charity shops. This is part of Random Acts’ Annual Melee of Kindness, a global event to bring a little bit more happiness to the world.

Why I’m doing this

While I recovered from my operation, I needed distraction and entertainment. On a friend’s recommendation I bought the first few box sets of Supernatural. By the time I got to the fourth series, and met the angel Castiel, I was hooked and had found my latest TV obsession. I found out that Misha Collins, the actor who plays Castiel, runs a charity that encourages random acts of kindness to make the world a nicer place to live in. I found out about AMOK and decided to take part as a way of saying “Thank You” to the cast and crew of Supernatural for giving me something entertaining to look at during my recovery.

Find Out More

Post-Op Ramblings – Part Two

Today my tiny pouch friend Thumbellyna and I celebrate a month together. We’ve had quite a ride. Most of the time I feel no different than I did before. Thumbellyna sits there quietly and doesn’t make a fuss unless I do something daft like eat too quickly, eat too much, or eat food that’s just far too lumpy for her to process. And when that happens, she just quietly whispers “do not want”, and I have half an hour cuddling a bucket.

In the last month, I have learned a few valuable lessons. The main one being to take it slowly. It took a few bucket-cuddling sessions for this to sink in. For the first week of so, I had the most dreadful ‘mouth hunger’ (meaning having a real fancying for something in spite of not actually being hungry), which brought on some pretty vicious moods and a large amount of moping.

Advice for anyone considering weight loss surgery – try to avoid having it just before Xmas. Living on slop while everyone else is munching mince pies, stuffing balls and little sausages wrapped in bacon is hell. I managed to have a dinner on Xmas Day, thanks to Michael – he took stuffing and sausage and blended it up with mash and gravy. As delicious as it was, it was still painful to see everyone else’s instagrams of platefuls of turkey, roast potatoes, etc.. I was even craving sprouts. So, yes, if you are going for surgery and you have a choice as to when you have it done, have it six weeks before Xmas or four weeks after. Save your sanity.

On the subject of slop (i.e. the “puree” stage of the recovery diet) – it took me a while to get around to doing this, but it really is worth getting some baby food in. After all, we’re learning to eat again, and the ready made meals for babies and toddlers are really quite decent. Ella’s Kitchen meals are particularly good, and just the right amount for Thumbellyna.

The important thing to remember with weight loss surgery is that we all react to food differently. What works for one person may not work for another, and the only way to be sure is to try it. There will be setbacks. There will be sudden rushes to the loo. There will be times when you ‘worship the porcelain god’. It’s part of the process.

Now I’m making the slow journey back to the wonderful world of solids, I have to pay careful attention to the rules. While I’m getting to used to this new routine, I have alarms set up to tell me to take my meds, timers set up to tell me when it’s OK to drink (drinking too close to meals can affect the quality of the nutrients getting in to your system), and I have a stopwatch going during meals so I can time the one-minute gap I have to take between each mouthful. It’s a faff right now, but it will get easier in time.

Here is a video of the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass. WARNING – it’s not for the squeamish. This is from a hospital in America. There is a possibility I may be able to get hold of a video of my own operation. If I can, and if I’m allowed to share it, I will upload a copy so everybody can see my insides. Lovely.

Post-Op Ramblings – Part One

Yes! It happened! Almost 4 weeks ago Michael and I made the journey to Taunton, and I finally made it on the table.

Arrived at the hospital 7.00am, went down to theatre 1.30pm, returned from the planet of the clangers at about 7.00pm. What. A. Day.

Arrived at the hospital 7.00am, went down to theatre 1.30pm, returned from the planet of the clangers at about 7.00pm. What. A. Day.

Now I’m learning to live with my new bypassed innards. The day after the op, the surgeon told me that my stomach is now the size of a thumb. So, I dubbed this new tiny pouch Thumbellyna, and I’m gradually working my way through the recovery diet. Some days I have rattled through a little quicker than I should have done, and have paid the price. I’m coming up on 4 weeks out, and this means I can soon move on to the final stage before solids, mashed food. For now I’m living on soup and toddler food. Any excuse to eat Farley’s Rusks again.

Since getting out of hospital I have lost just shy of 10kg/22lbs, so it’s definitely working. Aside from a little infection in a couple of my scars, I’m healing really well. I’m looking forward the coming year, and being able to get out and about. Could it be that I will finally enjoy walking? I do hope so.

More ramblings from me another time.

Pre-Op Ramblings – Part Fourteen

Previously on Pre-Op Ramblings:

“Well, I say now… now would be silly. In a while would be over-optimistic. This side of Christmas would be a fluffy great lie. The estimated date for my surgery is now February 2014.”

Since my last update merry hell has been raised, the Kraken was put on high alert and stern letters flew to and fro. I wasn’t the only impatient inpatient, it seems. Around 40 of us had been led a merry dance of a hundred dates and action was taken on our behalf. I was assured that every effort would be made to get me scheduled in for October or November. This morning, a letter arrived…

“I am pleased to be able to inform you that the following arrangements have been made for your forthcoming operation/procedure.”

Yes, I have an official date. No, it’s not in February. Yes, it’s this side of Christmas. Yes, it’s next month. Tuesday, October 8 2013. According to my countdown app, that’s a mere 31 days away. This means that the legendary liver shrinking diet begins in 17 days.

Shit just got real, people. This is actually happening. Once I start on the LSD (a joke that never gets old) I shall post regular pictures of my meals and let you all know how I’m getting on. A new version of the diet has been released which includes a small but delicious dose of bacon. Yes. Bacon. In other parts of the country (in fact just over the border in Cornwall), the pre-op diet is nothing but yogurt and milk. No wonder Musgrove Park’s waiting list is so huge, why do two weeks of dairy when you can have bacon?

ron_swanson_approves_-_Google_Search

Trying: Using Striiv iOS App to Encourage More Walking

2013 08 25 14 15 01I’ve written at some length about using Fitbit to track my activity, and encourage me to do a bit more. It was somewhat effective, and I liked the device a lot. It was only moderately effective at getting me to actually move about more, though.

After an unfortunate accident killed Sam’s Fitbit, I gave her mine to use, which left me with no tracking. I remembered seeing an iPhone app called Striiv for tracking, which had seemed like a bad idea at the time. Now I had no alternative, I thought it might be worth trying. When I say it seemed like a bad idea, I mean that I didn’t expect it to actually count steps with any accuracy at all, and I expected it to run the battery down far too quickly to be usable.

Well, after a couple of weeks or so at trying it out, I can say I was partially wrong on both counts:

  • It works far more reliably than I expected. I think the step counting is a bit less reliable than Fitbit, but it’s very close. I usually find it’s around 10% or so out, sometimes 20% or so. Considering that’s just using the accelerometer in the iPhone, though, I think it’s pretty good. I don’t need accuracy, I just need a good idea of how I’m doing relative to other days.
  • It does drain the battery, but not enough to be too much of a problem for me. I still get a full day of use most of the time, but it’s a bit more of a problem if we’re out and about for the day. Veho Pebble (Amazon UK, Amazon US) portable chargers look like a good way around the problem, so I may well get one, but it would still be a bit less convenient than the Fitbit was.

What it does do that the Fitbit didn’t really do very well for me is encouraging more activity. It pushes me gently during the day to do more. It keeps setting goals for me, with a little graph showing how close I am to walking the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, or how much more I need to do to burn off a can of soda. It also offers little challenges. If I walk, say, 50 steps in a minute, I get a reward of some extra energy points. If I do 10 more minutes of activity in the next 20 minutes, I can have 7,500 energy points, but it will cost me 750 points to take the challenge.

But why would I want energy points? Well, that’s all part of the ‘MyLand’ game. You have a little world, and you can add plants and buildings to your world, to try to attract creatures back to the land. The game isn’t great, and it’s fairly similar to many other ‘world-building’ games out there, but it still works on me. There are gold coins, which you use to buy a building. But that just gives you a pile of stone and parts. You then need to use energy points to actually put the building together. You can spend gold to upgrade your building, but again, you need to use energy points to make the upgrade actually happen. Walking around is the only way to get your energy points, and it’s much more efficient to get them by doing challenges too. Well, you can get more by inviting friends and weighing yourself, but you can’t buy your way around doing stuff.

2013 08 25 14 17 482013 08 25 14 15 26

The result is that I walk more than I otherwise would, in order to build a rather crappy little virtual hut, in a game that I probably wouldn’t be playing if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s helping to motivate me to do more. It turns out I’m surprisingly easily tricked into being a bit more active.

It’s a free app, so if it sounds interesting, give it a try. You can add me as a friend too – I’m on there as michael@pigpog.com – you’ll get some extra points for inviting me, and there are extra bonuses to be had for activities your friends do. You can even take part in a Walkathon, to donate a day of clean water to a child in South America.

2013 08 25 14 52 16