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Does this count as “over 40” problems?

July 18, 2021, 11:27 PM

FYI, this Journal entry discusses gross body functions in personal places.  If you’re squeamish about such things, you might want to skip this one.  Otherwise, here we go…

This past Friday, I went in for some minor surgery to fix a small problem.  Back in April, I had developed what turned out to be an abscess on my backside.  I didn’t quite know what it was for a while, and was doing what they say that you shouldn’t do, and looked up my symptoms on Google.  It seems like every time you google your symptoms, it always comes back as a heart attack, and therefore, you need to get your tail to the emergency room right now.  But I knew better.  Even controlling for definitely-not-a-heart-attack, though, I still got inconclusive results, i.e. Dr. Google had no clue what it was.  All the while, this thing was uncomfortable.  At its peak, it was so painful that it was difficult to sit.  And considering that my job is performed from a seated position, that point really made for a long day.  At one point, I tried squeezing it, and pus came out of it.  That made me feel a little better for a little while, but it quickly filled back up and continued to hurt.  Eventually it started to drain on its own without any prompting from me.  That felt a little better because there was no more pressure, but it was still painful, and now it was draining all the time and making a mess in my underwear, even soaking through my pants on occasion, which is not a good thing by any means.  I don’t like having to choose my outfits based on thickness and color of material in order to prevent embarrassing abscess leaks from showing up.

I eventually went to an urgent care facility, and there, the doctor diagnosed it as a cutaneous abscess, and prescribed a course of antibiotics (Bactrim) for it.  According to the urgent care doctor, the abscess should take care of itself without any further intervention.  As it would turn out, the antibiotic took care of the infection in very short order, but the drain opening remained, and things kept on draining, albeit with less volume than before, which kept the leakage contained to my underwear and not going through my pants anymore.  I figured that some drainage was normal, considering that I had just had a big abscess that was being treated.  But then it kept on going, even after the infection had subsided, and after I finished up all of the antibiotics.  I kept holding out some hope for a while that it would resolve on its own, but it never did.

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Categories: Matthew, Personal health

My first time eating at a real restaurant in a very long time…

July 9, 2021, 3:50 PM

Recently, on a trip to Staunton, I had my first meal in a full-service restaurant since my weight loss surgery in December 2019.  We were visiting family, as my sister and her husband were in from Chicago.  So our party consisted of Elyse and me, my sister and her husband Chris, our parents, and Chris’s parents.  Nice group all around.  We ate at Zynodoa, which is a higher tier restaurant than I typically go to, but it was a good experience overall.

I would say that the timing of things tended to work against restaurants in general.  I had my surgery on December 6, 2019, and so things were still healing for most of December.  I was figuring out through trial and error about what foods would be tolerated by my body, and also determining portion sizes.  When Elyse and I would go out, we typically would stop in at a grocery store with a food bar if we needed to eat, like Harris Teeter, Wegmans, or Whole Foods.  I was typically able to get out of there for about five bucks (I would jokingly refer to myself as a cheap date).  Doing that allowed me to try out a variety of different foods, and only get the amounts that I needed (remember, my tummy is tiny now).

Then the pandemic restrictions came along, which took eating in restaurants out of the picture entirely.  I’ve never been one to do take-out from restaurants.  If I’m eating food from a sit-down restaurant, I’m more than likely going to be eating it at the restaurant.  If I’m getting it to go, I’m going somewhere else, like a grocery store or something else cheaper than a full restaurant.  Thus if I couldn’t eat on the premises because of various rules in place, a full restaurant was of no use to me.  And if I’m getting food to take home, I might as well just eat the food that I already have at home.  All of that said, the pandemic rules came about while I was still forming new habits after having my surgery, and that meant that full-service restaurants were more or less out of the picture, i.e. they didn’t exist as far as I was concerned.

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A weight loss update…

October 14, 2020, 11:18 PM

A friend of mine recently mentioned that I had not given any significant update on my weight loss progress since January, a month after I had my gastric sleeve surgery.  So I suppose that it’s high time that I gave an update.  After all, it’s been ten months since the surgery, and things have progressed since then.  Compare the April splash photo (which was taken on February 3) against the October splash photo, and you’ll see a difference:

Splash photo from April 2020 (taken on February 3)

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I have been sleeved…

December 7, 2019, 7:50 PM

So it’s a done deal.  I received a sleeve gastrectomy on December 6 at Montgomery General Hospital.  Here I am the following morning:

Selfie at the hospital

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Excited, nervous, and so many other feelings…

November 17, 2019, 9:56 AM

This coming December 6, I will be going in for surgery at Montgomery General Hospital in Olney, where I will be having a sleeve gastrectomy procedure, commonly known as a gastric sleeve.  This is a surgery that will help with weight management.  This is done laparoscopically, and it removes a portion of the stomach, leaving a much smaller stomach behind that’s roughly the size of a banana.  This one only reduces the size of the stomach, and preserves the original path of the digestive tract.  Compare to the older Roux-en-Y procedure, which separates the stomach into two sections, and reroutes the digestive tract.

I am doing this because I have been heavy for most of my life (I haven’t seen the underside of 200 since eighth grade), and diet and exercise alone haven’t gotten me nearly as far as I needed to be.  Sure, I looked far better at 275 than I did at 384, but it was still too much weight to carry, and I still had weight-related health issues at the lower weight.  Over the course of the past year, I have attended classes with a dietitian, had various evaluations and tests done (the endoscopy that I wrote about last April was part of that), and after all of that, the insurance gave the surgery their blessing.

I have to say that I have a bunch of different feelings running through me about this.  On one hand, I know that this is a necessary step.  My primary care doctor first suggested it to me about a year ago, and then I unexpectedly got a second opinion within a month or so from a specialist that I was seeing when they suggested it as well.  As far as I was concerned, that was a pretty strong indicator about what I needed to do, when two out of two doctors, in their professional opinion, suggested it, completely unsolicited.  I also feel like I’m ready for it.  I know what I’m supposed to do to prepare for the surgery, I know what I’m supposed to do immediately after surgery, and I know what I’m doing during the healing process and thereafter on the maintenance diet.  At the end of every dietitian class, they told us “Chew, chew, chew, sip, sip, sip, and walk, walk, walk.”  I’ve also stocked up on my multivitamins and my calcium citrate, as gastric sleeve patients will take multivitamins and calcium supplements for life.  This also has the potential to get me off of some of the medications that I’m on as well as the CPAP (for sleep apnea).  That latter point is exciting, because while I’m used to the CPAP, it’s still a bother, and I would be more than happy to be rid of the device that I’ve described as “the most expensive fan that I’ve ever owned”.  I’ve also spoken with colleagues who have had the same surgery, and they have generally had good experiences, which leaves me feeling optimistic.  After all, if they can succeed with this while doing very sedentary work, then so can I.

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Seeing what my innards look like from the inside…

April 15, 2019, 11:18 PM

So on Wednesday, March 26, I had an endoscopy as part of a weight loss program that I’m in.  That involved going to the hospital, getting an IV, getting wheeled into the room on a stretcher, and then getting knocked out while they did their thing.  The good news is that everything looks healthy inside of me, which is what I was expecting to see.

What I found interesting was the difference in the experience in this procedure vs. the last time that I got sedated, back in 2005 when I got a pilonidal cyst removed.  This time was just a diagnostic procedure, though, while it was actual surgery back in 2005.  The endoscopy was done at Montgomery General Hospital in Olney, while my 2005 surgery was done at Augusta Medical Center (now Augusta Health) in Fishersville, Virginia.

Much of the process was pretty similar to 2005.  Come in, check in, change into the hospital gown, put on the hospital bracelet, get all of my information, do vitals, and so on.  The first big difference was the IV.  I’ve had IVs in the hand before, but for some reason, this one hurt like hell going in.  I don’t know why – I’ve never had an IV hurt like that.  Then I met with the doctor, who was scoping me and then a second patient.  I was told that it was good to be the first one to get done.  Then I met with the nurse anesthetist, whose job was to knock me out when the time came.  After she told me what was going to happen, I joked about hitting me on the head with a big cartoon mallet.  I wonder how many times they hear that joke.  I imagine that they hear that a lot.

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Categories: Personal health

So now what do I do?

June 27, 2018, 8:30 AM

This exercise thing sucks.  I recently came to the realization that I’m never going back to Planet Fitness, and therefore I’m cancelling my membership.  No sense in spending $20 per month on something that I’m not going to use.

I can’t say that I didn’t try, though.  I signed up, and I went as I planned, i.e. after work, during the overnight hours.  I tried all of the equipment, and while the elliptical and the recumbent stair climber seemed like possible winners, the whole Planet Fitness environment intimidated me too much.  How ironic for a company that markets itself with a slogan of “No Gymtimidation”.  I got the specific feeling that they were more interested in their “No Gymtimidation” and “Judgement [sic] Free Zone” image than they were about fitness (and a few people seem to agree with me).  The presence of that stupid “lunk alarm” gimmick also sent off the wrong vibe, and I never even touched the free weights, nor did I have any intention to ever use them.  It’s allegedly the judgment free zone, but they’re constantly watching and judging everything that you do, and that made me feel less at ease with it than I preferred.  I just want to go in, do my thing, and leave.  Too much emphasis on individual conduct makes me uncomfortable because it makes me feel somewhat on edge, and that creates a sense of hostility, like I’m being micromanaged.  Perception is reality here, and that perception negatively affected my enjoyment of the club.

Additionally, I couldn’t find a location that I liked.  I found out that some locations were de facto closed on Sunday nights because they dismantled the entire facility to clean it on those nights.  However, because one of Planet Fitness’s big selling points was being open 24 hours, they couldn’t actually close the facility to clean it.  They had to remain open, even though none of the equipment was available.  So on more than one occasion, Elyse and I got dressed and went out, only to be turned away because all of the equipment was offline for cleaning.  That just speaks of poor planning on the facility’s part, since they could easily split the work and clean in sections over the course of a week in order to maintain full access at all times.  Other locations were better, but too far from my house.  I halfway liked the downtown Silver Spring location, but it was just too far away to be practical.

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I feel like I’m irrationally angry about this…

February 10, 2017, 4:00 PM

I am currently am experiencing a bout of tendonitis in my left wrist and hand.  For someone that blogs as much as I do, it happens, and so you deal with it.  It started on Tuesday, and by Wednesday, it was bad enough that I decided to go to an urgent care facility to get it looked at.  I went to Patient First in Rockville.  There, after they took all of my vitals, the doctor came in and looked at my hand.  Turned out that it was tendonitis, and the doctor recommended that I take Advil for it, and gave me this wrist brace:

The brace.

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Categories: Personal health

Now, about that boot…

December 23, 2015, 5:12 PM

You may recall that this past September’s splash photo showed me posing with a broken merry-go-round at Pentagon City Mall, i.e. this:

At Pentagon City Mall, sporting a boot cast.

Note the choice of footwear.  I’m wearing a Crocs shoe on one foot… and a massive boot cast on the other.  It was posted without any explanation other than a mention of its presence, but clearly, something was up, because I don’t normally wear a boot around like that.

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Categories: Elyse, Personal health, Work

I never thought that could happen…

April 5, 2015, 3:20 AM

Among things that I never thought could happen, I never thought that throwing up could cause blood vessels in your eyes to break.  But take a look at this.

This is what my eyes looked like on Friday night:

Right eye, Friday night  Left eye, Friday night

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Two days, two eye exams…

October 11, 2012, 11:58 PM

So this week, I had two eye exams on consecutive days.  And that means getting my eyes dilated twice.  Yay me.  The reason I have two eye exams is because I also see a specialist for a retinal hole, which is stable, but the specialist wants to observe it to make sure it stays that way.  Thus two eye exams – once for the retina doctor, and once for the regular eye doctor.  It wouldn’t be that bad if not for the dilation.  That means that after the eye exam, I’m going home and hiding in the house with the shades closed for a few hours until the drops wear off.  And it would of course be my luck that it would be sunny on the days that I had my eye exams – and this isn’t even Philadelphia (where I’m told that it’s always sunny).  But it was cloudy on Tuesday, but then yesterday and today, it was a beautiful day, which is exactly what I don’t want when my eyes are dilated.

One complaint about the eye exams is that there’s not enough diversity in eye charts.  I’ve done this enough times, especially since I get two eye exams a year, that I’ve got the eye exam chart just about memorized.  The eye chart is done with a projector, and then they use mirrors to get the full 20 feet in the exam room.  This is the projector, seen here at my regular eye doctor’s office:

The eye chart projector

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Categories: Personal health

It pains me to say this…

August 20, 2012, 8:12 PM

Yes, it pains me to say this.  Literally.  It only took 25 years of using a computer to do it, but I have managed to give myself a repetitive stress injury from typing.  I know – I’m as surprised as you are.  And it’s not what you think, either.  I figured that eventually, I would do something to my wrists from all of the stuff that I do on the computer despite the precautions that I take, like using a wrist pad.  Turns out that my use of the wrist pad, which is a habit that I picked up from my job at the phone company more than a decade ago, has done me a lot of good, because I didn’t injure my wrists.

No – I injured my left thumb.  And you know what I did to injure it?  This:

My left hand, with the thumb doing exactly what caused the injury - adding spaces.

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Categories: Personal health

Walking down Georgia Avenue and talking to the camera…

April 26, 2012, 7:46 PM

So this evening while I was walking home from the Metro, I decided to turn the camera on myself and do a Video Journal:

So there you go, I suppose. I am walking home along the northbound side of Georgia Avenue from Glenmont Metro to approximately Rippling Brook Drive.

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Feet and x-rays and…

January 31, 2012, 1:18 PM

First of all, this is my first WordPress Journal entry – kind of. It’s also my second mobile Journal entry (the first was done in 2005). I’m sitting in a waiting room ahead of getting an x-ray, and I’m tapping this out on my Droid Charge using WordPress for Android onto a development site of mine. Then I’m exporting it out of WordPress to put onto the production site when I get home.

So I saw the podiatrist about my foot today. The result surprised me. I also discovered that the body is a very interconnected thing. The hip bone connected to the leg bone connected to the foot bone, etc. (I realize that I am grossly oversimplifying – just smile and nod). Turns out that my high top shoes are causing me problems because they don’t allow full ankle movement, and that movement has to go somewhere. Thus because the ankle is constrained, other things are happening and causing great pain. That also explains why the pain goes away when I start wearing my Crocs (which are obviously low top). Who would have thought?

He also sent me for x-rays on my left foot, to make entirely sure that nothing is broken, and so here I am, in this waiting room that’s a few degrees too warm but not stuffy. Then I see the podiatrist on Thursday morning for a follow up on the x-rays (of which I’m getting a copy on a CD!).

So as a result of this surprising diagnosis, I am now in the market for a new pair of low top shoes. The fashionistas out there may weigh in if they would like, but I am looking for low top sneakers with good arch support. Be warned, though: I have a wide foot, and so many styles just don’t fit for that reason alone.

Categories: Personal health

My foot claims its first victim…

January 28, 2012, 7:59 AM

It’s not even 8:00 yet, and already today’s a wash. I was going to go to the Maryland polar bear plunge at Sandy Point State Park today, but health issues have conspired against me to prevent this from coming to fruition.

See, it’s once again my stupid foot that’s acting up. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I’m making an additional appointment to see the podiatrist this week, because this is the second time in two weeks that my left foot has become painful to walk on, and we need to get to the bottom of this. Two weeks ago it was minor and I could ignore it, but this time around, I can barely walk. So this makes four foot issues that I’ve had over the span of six months. Once on the right foot that resolved itself and hasn’t come back, and now three times on the left. There is something seriously wrong with one or both of my feet. I’m pretty confident that it is related to my getting in better shape, since this didn’t happen until the pounds started melting away like magic, and the amount of physical activity that I was involved in got to be a lot more.

A couple of my friends on Facebook suggested that it might be gout, but I’m pretty confident that it’s not that. Based on the Wikipedia article, gout comes with swelling, redness, and warm spots when it occurs, and I’m not getting that. Outwardly, it looks the same, but it’s hard to put on a shoe when it happens due to pain (thus why I switch to my Crocs whenever this comes up). I really wonder if this isn’t a stress fracture or something, because I looked it up, and it seems like a pretty decent match on paper, but I want to know for sure. In any case, this is no way to live, and I’m not about to go on living this way. Plus I’ve been doing the stretches that I’m supposed to do and this still came up.

So hopefully they can squeeze me in as soon as possible, because last time I saw my podiatrist it wasn’t hurting anymore, and I want it to be hurting when I go see it (though at the same time, I’m not taking a hammer to my foot to guarantee some pain).

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