Thursday, November 16, 2017

now to the other side

So, I have the second half of my pelvic pouch surgery tomorrow, where all my fears and hopes of the past year will be realized, the real work of recovery to begin. Today I consume only fluids in preparation, to slow my digestion and keep my insides clear. How much more misery must I endure, must I weather, before I learn how near I return to normalcy? I cannot help but contemplate the sequence of events that led here, and what, if anything, could have been done differently. I say this because I continue to believe that the outcome I fell into could have been avoided.

Which is not to say I blame any one individual, or even any single event. Sure, my troublesome journey seemed to have begun with my taking of naproxen for my knee, prescribed by the sports fitness surgeon. And perhaps, as my Colitis ramped up, I should’ve made my worries more pronounced, demanded greater intervention, from my gastroenterologist, who in turn could’ve ordered more accurate tests sooner. How much responsibility can I place on those emergency ward doctors, who wanted to help when I came to them crying in agony, who eased my pain but little else, for fear of working against my specialist? So you see the blame, the responsibility, is much diluted. I feel no ill towards anyone but do hope to perform better in seeking timely solutions.

Well, we shall see. How mad, how close to wits end will I approach, how near utmost despair shall I go? At least I have that brief sleep to look forward to, that moment’s respite in limbo, between not knowing and knowing. Were that I could inhabit it forever.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Winnipeg for a week

MJ ended up taking a post-doc position in Winnipeg, so it's back to a bachelor's life for me. I helped her move last month, a couple of cold and rainy days there. I remember nearly nothing of my previous visit to Winnipeg, many years ago, on a drive to Vancouver. I didn't get to see much of the city last month either as moving and shopping took up nearly all of our time, the stress of moving stretching everyone's patience.

I went back again last week and helped out with Thanksgiving dinner, which we had with her family. This includes her sister's cat, from whom I got some nasty scratches, he being young and easily excitable. MJ and I ate really well during the days following, trying out some of the trendier eateries, racking up the calories. I also got to see a presentation given by Kent Monkman at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which was fascinating and sobering as he meticulously unwrapped the layers behind his work. MJ was able to get me a bicycle, so we saw a fair bit of the downtown that way, the Windy City earning its alias.

The people were plenty friendly, and the traffic tame by Toronto standards -- hardly any use of car horns, though grid-lock seemed ever present. Most of the park-land was around the rivers and the Forks, a location made into a tourist area, though I saw little draw of going there -- it seemed like any other river. Sure, it's a sight to behold when immersed in autumn colours but not exceptionally so.

I have been throwing myself into work and video games, there being only the cats to keep me company in the evenings. My next surgery is quickly coming up, an event for which I wonder how ready I am. Perhaps I am just filling in the time until then, when my fears and hopes are answered in full. Though indeed whenever I think about what I've gone through I'm sent through a maddening cycle of anger and despair.

Monday, July 24, 2017

return of the hack

Alive I remain, a little slower, a lot thinner. My recovery from the pouch reversal surgery took much longer than I'd anticipated, and it has had a lasting negative effect on my daily comfort. Sometimes it's an unexpected urgency to need to use a bathroom (though in actuality there is nothing "there", so to speak), and other times it's an aching in my groin, like a raw bruising. Sitting can help with the former, but I turn to acetaminophen for the latter. During my recovery I tired surprisingly easily, and stayed home for much of May and June.

I am now back at work, and slowly does my mind seem to focus again, to clear away the fog of being away for so long. I try to pick up my daily good habits, though it is difficult, very difficult.

I do play a lot of games, mostly Hearthstone, Clash Royale, and Brawl Stars. I have gotten back into playing id's Rage, which picks up once you get past all the racing you have to do. I still marvel at the detail that went into making the characters look right, somewhere above the uncanny valley. I also reinstalled Diablo 3, but after a couple hours I think Grim Dawn was just a lot more fun, albeit more gruesome.

Shows! I've watched a few:

  • RuPaul's Drag Race Season 8. I had my doubts but this is a highly entertaining, very creative show.
  • Better Call Saul Season 2. Excellent writing, possibly better than Breaking Bad.
  • Jessica Jones. I like that it's about strategy. mind-games and wit and not (generally) about physical force.
  • Chewing Gum. Fun while it lasts.
  • The Last Kingdom. Another surprise hit. Starts off with you rolling your eyes at Uhtred's antics but he does grow with the show, which itself gets quickly better and better. Addictive.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Super fun, full of quality laughs that you'd expect from the people that made 30 Rock. Titus is superb.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter weekend

Was it Easter already? Goodness how times does fly. My reversal surgery is only ten days away! Man I have so much to prepare. Is life nothing but swimming through bureaucracy and addressing e-mails? That's the real tax on life, these micro tasks that whittle down my days.

Kites on the boardwarlk
Yeah, the surgery... I'll be in the hospital for 5-7 days as my pouch heals and they monitor my condition. I'll be pretty tired and will stay at home for a few days afterwards, I think. There is a small chance that the surgeon will decide to perform the second surgery (which is normally done some months later), in which case my recovery will be much more involved, and I'll stay at home training my new bowels for several weeks.

In any case, these are the last days of freedom. Thursday night I hung out with a couple friends at Betty's, drinking and talking about films. How the beer did flow, that familiar warmth enveloping me. The hockey game was on (Game 1 of Leafs versus Capitals) so the bar was a near constant din, my voice hoarse by the time I left.

Friday was a hunt for brunch, a difficult beast to catch on Good Friday. We settled on Dundas and Carlaw, a simple cafe/bar for some paninis. I spent the rest of the day at home, playing on the computer and keeping the cats company.

Saturday MJ and I did some chores and shopping, grabbing a bite at Square Boy and taking some of the afternoon to enjoy the mild temperatures on the boardwalk. That night we watched Stranger Than Fiction; I was so ready to like it but it fell short of being a really good movie. I feel having so many familiar faces detracted from the otherwise interesting central idea, an idea that was hardly given a chance to bloom.

Today was mostly chores: a morning run, vacuuming the rugs, changing and cleaning the bedding, replacing the kitty litter. We are attempting to train the cats to wear harnesses and leashes but it's a long, scratch-filled struggle. I also managed to squeeze in a bunch of Hearthstone games, with an unsuccessful run at Rank 10 using Dragon Priest.

How about that Trump? What a time to be alive!

Thursday, March 16, 2017


So yeah, I got married. Months of careful, stressful planning paid off with a small ceremony at the McMichael Art Collection, out in Kleinburg. The weather graced us with snow for the day, so the outdoor pictures came out rather fine. Indeed all of our activities ran smoothly, an A+ crew making a plan come together: Having everyone polished and arriving on time, a Western ceremony, a change of garments and a Korean ceremony, another change for dinner, and finally drinks and dancing, with breaks in-between for photos.

But I don't feel all that different. Sure, it's nice to have that someone, that special someone there, and to be done with all the coordinating, all the fuss, all the business that comes with a wedding. My life has otherwise leveled out to a normal state, with work and leisure passing the hours. I've not gone back to karate or archery, and indeed my body, while mostly recuperated, is still a mild version of what it once was. Certainly my knee is still weak, and gives discomfort when pushed.

My next surgery, the J-pouch operation, is booked for April 26th. Another door to pass through, and how I shall emerge is, well, daunting to contemplate. I fairly dread the worst scenario. A long, uncomfortable recovery, that is certain, and I'll have to curb my diet.

Until then, I have enjoyed eating pretty much whatever I feel like, though I lean now towards less meat. To be sure, I went through various stages for numerous foods, mostly of the junk, high fat, high sugar variety. Having an ostomy does force one to re-experience everything one consumes in a rather graphic manner, my body a constant experiment of digestion and waste.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Still here

I wrote that I didn't have any problems since the surgery but since that post I've had to go to the hospital twice: First for a blockage somewhere in my gastrointestinal system on September 11th, and then on October 21st for a couple gastric ulcers. The blockage was fairly painful, and the solution was uncomfortable as well -- an NG (nasogastric) tube forced down my nostril to suck air and liquid out of my stomach. At least they sent me home with some more painkillers.

The ulcers bled so much that I got really dizzy and lightheaded with a real danger of falling and passing out (going down a flight of stairs was iffy business), but it was not particularly painful. For this I finally got admitted into Mount Sinai Hospital, the services of which I find increasingly amenable on each visit. I had a couple liters of blood pumped into me, and have been on iron supplements and acid reducers (pantoprazole) since.

So physically, I am slightly weak but mostly recovered. I should be good for going back to work, which I officially do this coming Monday. Arrr, what a day that will be. I have, in all honesty, visited the office a couple times since, to say hello and set up my desk at our temporary office (while our old one is renovated), and it did cheer me up to see my coworkers again, most I've known for some 10 years. But to actually get back into doing work, to produce something through effort... well, that's a name I've not heard in a long time. A long time.

I got a new computer, onto which I've installed a bunch of games. A new one because my old one, on top of being a bit old, had Windows 7 32-bit on it and upgrading it was an incredible hassle, a task I was not able to successfully finish after several attempts. It didn't help that I'd messed with the hard drives a few times, confusing the OS. Anyway, the new machine is a dream though mostly I've only played Hearthstone and Overwatch on it. Some of the other games:

  • BioShock Infinite: The graphics are delicious but the level design and story are literally on rails, which is a turn off. Sure, I'll get around to finishing it, and I'm guessing I'm in for some juicy plot twist, if I can just get past the repetitive fights.
  • Dark Souls 3: Holy cow this game is difficult! I just haven't had the time and energy to invest into this to get somewhere. The controls are also super annoying and not intuitive at all; I may have to acquire a controller to play this one.
  • Dex: Fun RPG platformer with a good enough story. I do find the jumping puzzles (which are hugely punishing) frustrating.
  • Oxenfree: Love this one, and am playing it slowly so that I can really savour it. Good for late night exploring.
  • Submerged: I really, really wanted to like this game but it's so repetitive and lacks variety. Can only stomach so much at a time.
  • RAGE: I've had this in my Steam library for years and have finally gotten around to trying it. I was having quite a bit of fun until I was forced to do some vehicle races -- what business do these have in an action shooter?? Ugh.

Friday, September 09, 2016

recovery update; shows I've been watching

I miss sleep. There were maybe one or two nights of uninterrupted sleep in August, but since leaving the hospital I haven't slept more than six hours at a time, and frequently only three or four before I get up in discomfort around my abdomen. I'm not sure if it's the lying down that aggravates things, or the staying still, but sleep, true restorative sleep, escapes me for now.

You may think that I had a lot of free time in the hospital but it simply was not so -- I was constantly switching between pain and/or nausea, or had my mind clouded by Morphine or had eyes droopy with Gravol. In such states I could do very little but lay down until that fog would pass. Still, when the colitis symptoms were under control I did manage to watch a few of shows:

  • Sword Art Online: Why do I keep going back to anime? Nostalgia for the halcyon days in university? To avoid having to engage my face-reading skills of real actors? In any case, overall I enjoyed the first season of SAO, with each episode having enough conceits to keep me going. My biggest complaint would be the side story with the sister, which seemed contrived, unrealistic, and unnecessary.
  • Koko Wa Greenwood: Certainly nostalgia played a big part here (I look rather fondly on my time in residence), and I was entertained by how much (or little) I remembered of the series since viewing it some twenty years ago. I think it still holds up, quirks and all. And man I forgot how much I really dig the closing music.
  • BoJack Horseman: I maintain the opinion that BoJack is one of the best shows out there -- a flawed protagonist, relatable characters who undergo nuanced development, with themes of friendship, the pursuit of happiness, fulfillment, loneliness. It has everything a burnt out adult could want.
  • Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro: A hankering to see this again was invoked by one of the Koko Wa Greenwood episodes, and it was a true joy to see Lupin again in a high adventure full of daring escapes, last minute rescues, and witty one-liners. I wasn't aware this was Miyazaki's directorial film debut, nor that he toned down the lechery of Lupin, but I am well and glad Miyazaki made these changes.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: I feel like it was my old friend Pops who recommended this to me, so many, many years ago now. As it was on Netflix it seemed an easy choice and I've got to say, it's actually really good, blending childish slapstick with intense hairs-breadth swordsmanship, much like its titular character.
  • HarmonQuest: I finished this short series shortly before going to the hospital but since I'm talking about shows anyway I'm adding it here. If you enjoy comedians playing Dungeons and Dragons, this is the show for you. Lots of laughs. On a sidenote, Dan Harmon's Harmontown podcast is also pretty swell.

As to how I am currently doing? I still have discomfort around my surgery wound, though laughing and coughing aren't nearly as agonizing as they initially were. I can walk about fifteen minutes before breaking a sweat or having to rest. I haven't weighed myself since leaving the hospital, so I don't know how much of the 30-40 lbs I lost have been regained. My appetite at least is very healthy, and I haven't had any issues with vomiting since the surgery. I find myself craving all kinds of food, generally of the unhealthy Doritos or fast food kind.

I have not gone back to work, staying at home and doing chores and hanging with the cats and flipping through Twitter and Facebook. The thought of being around people is a bit daunting; certainly the prospect of having to use a public bathroom I do not look forward to. Walking around with a stoma and colostomy bag is no joy either.