Gutless rock star


I’ve been finding it difficult to express in meaningful terms how long
it now takes me to eat a meal. Telling someone that I spent half my
morning devouring an English muffin with a couple of slices of bacon
and a bit of cheese, for example, lets people know the duration of the
meal in vague terms, but doesn’t really convey the length of time I
need to wait between bites.
However, I think I might have just stumbled across a good way of
explaining how long it takes me to process bits of food.
I was playing Rock Band 2 tonight with my wife and daughter (attached
picture shows Scarlett, three years old, singing–and scoring an
impressive three stars on–Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”). I munched on
smallish chunks of my supper between songs, and it took about 15 or 20
tracks–just over an hour–for me to eat two medium-sized spring rolls (about
150 grams, or 250 calories).
Put another way, imagine listening to one of your favourite albums
with a small plate of food in front of you. Take a small bite at the
beginning of each song, chew until the first refrain, swallow, and
wait until the song ends before taking your next bite.
Congratulations! Now you know what eating without a stomach is like.
Assuming I live to be 75, I only have about 70,000 of these epic meals
ahead of me. That’s frickin’ awesome.
On the bright side, it might an opportunity to branch out. I’ve always
wanted to be a music reviewer.


It’s official: I could not survive the apocalypse


I’m a geek. Not your stereotypical uber-intelligent nerd capable of hacking computers and building robots, but rather the lower-tier variety commonly identified by their passion for science-fiction, love of video games, and misconception that they are cool because they enjoy bands like Kraftwerk and Art of Noise. Here are but a few bits of evidence proving my geekiness:

A) I spent much of the nineties worried that I might die before George Lucas finished the next Star Wars trilogy. (On a similar note, I spent several years in the early part of the 21st century worried that I might perish before seeing the concluding chapters of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies). B) I’m not the least bit concerned that I might one day look back on the thousands of hours I’ve spent playing video games and think that I’ve wasted my life (it occurred to me once a few days prior to my surgery as I blew the helmets off of my glowing-eyed enemies in Resistance 2, but my game-addled mind quickly dismissed this thought as so much Bantha poodoo). C) My primary criterion for assessing the quality of any new music I hear is whether or not the band makes use of either a vocoder or a Korg MS-10 synthesizer.

What’s more, I often find myself thinking about how I might survive should I ever find myself the last man on Earth after some sort of global catastrophe—a decidedly geeky intellectual pursuit. I’m no survivalist, but I’ve always believed that I’d manage to eke out an existence as a scavenger of some sort, living off the ample remains of our civilization of excess.

That’s no longer the case. As my sister—who is also a geek—and I discussed prior to my surgery, we are both now forever reliant upon the pharmaceutical industrial machine. Now that our bodies are unable to absorb iron and folic acid in anything but pill form (and vitamin B12 through any means but injection), we are always and evermore dependent on the timely manufacture of these dietary supplements.

Ergo, should we somehow manage to miraculously survive the apocalypse, we would exhibit symptoms of anaemia, among other maladies caused by our condition, within just a few months if we were not able to find the pills and injection materials we needed. And once all existing supplies expired, we’d be screwed.

Just one more reason to dread the end of the world, I suppose. What a bummer.



Life in the slow lane

Scarlett and I met up with some good friends today for a visit to Riverdale Farm and a playdate. This is the first time seeing each other since Chad’s surgery, and one of them remarked to me how relaxed I looked. I took that as a compliment.

For the past several years (maybe excluding my one year off for maternity leave) I’ve been many things, but relaxed hasn’t been one of them. I know that I thrive on being busy, and have thankfully found myself a career that definitely keeps me going. However, for the past four weeks (aside from a pretty stressful first week when Chad was in the hospital), I’ve been slowly, but surely relaxing. Not only am I feeling stress-free, I’m not filling my days up with appointments and planned activities as I would normally do. It’s freaking Chad out. Every few days he looks at me as I’m having a nap on the couch or flipping through a magazine and asks if I’m going stir crazy yet. The truth is, I’m not. And the best news is that I’ve got three more luxurious weeks to do more wonderful nothingness.

Life in the slow lane is a whole new place for me to be, but as long as Chad and Scarlett are along for the ride, I’m perfectly content to sit back and enjoy the scenery.



Would you rather have no stomach or…

I’ve always been partial to the childhood game that has kids asking each other, “if you absolutely had to choose between dreadful thing A and appalling thing B, which would you select?”

My wife picked up a party game many years ago called Zobmondo that has about a thousand of these wonderfully immature and often disgusting questions. My favourite of the game’s dilemmas is this: Drink a cup of pus or eat a scab sandwich? I used to think scab sandwich, but now that I have to chew everything I eat until it becomes a paste-like mush before swallowing I think I’m going to switch to the cup of pus.

Of course, these days I’ve found myself thinking up a whole new set of unpalatable this-or-that questions that go something like this: Would you rather have no stomach or (insert ailment or missing body part here)? Example: Would you rather have no stomach or no leg?

After plenty of pondering, I’ve decided that I would rather have no stomach than any of the following issues:

  • Severed hand (or hands)
  • No eyes (or loss of eyesight)
  • Cancer of any sort
  • Heart disease 
  • Extensive burns or extreme physical deformities
  • A mental handicap

On the other hand, I’d waste no time in trading my no-stomach status for any of these maladies:

  • No sense of smell
  • No sense of taste
  • Severed foot (but not feet or legs)
  • A severed finger (or two or three—but not a thumb)
  • Loss of kidney (only one, clearly)

And here are a few things on which I’ve been teetering back and forth:

  • Deafness (movies have subtitles, but I’d miss my daughter’s angelic little voice)
  • Muteness (I’ve always preferred writing to speaking, but the inability to talk would be a major hassle when out in public)
  • Castration (which do I like more, food or sex?)

I think my wife wonders how healthy it is for me to be dreaming up such questions, but I’ve always thought that if you can’t laugh at your problems then you’re in real trouble. I’m just happy that I don’t have a missing stomach and any of the issues listed above. That would be the sort of bummer that might put a permanent kibosh on my glass-is-half-full attitude.

Then again, I could always start posing question about whether it would be worse to have no stomach, a missing hand, and heart disease or no stomach, a missing hand, and first-degree burns covering half my body. Now that would be a truly Zobmondo-worthy conundrum. 


Working on a non-existent stomach


I'm going to start working again in early April. That seems soon, but I plan to take it slowly at first. I’ll focus first on my blog for the Globe and Mail and game reviews for various other publications, then, within a few weeks or a month, I’ll work my way up to doing feature stories for the rest of my clients.

I’m not really worried about whether I’ll feel up to it. I have lots of energy these days, and discomfort is limited to the tightness in my belly and some persisting areas of numbness around my body. What’s more, since I work from home I won’t have to worry about taking breaks as needed.

Rather, my primary concern is how my new eating habits will affect my productivity. I feel like I’m spending about four hours every day just sitting at the table eating (and that doesn’t include my frequent snacks throughout the day). I’m not eating much, but, as I’ve written before, I typically have to wait several minutes between bites. As an example, I spent 70 minutes last night eating a small box of sushi that contained just eight pieces (totalling a mere 240 calories).

I’ve been killing time between bites with books, and I suppose I could swap the novels for a laptop and do some writing while I eat, but that’s not really a prospect I relish. Eating for me (and, I think, most people) has always served as a break from work, a chance to clear my mind. Now it would seem as though work and food are going to become permanently intertwined activities, one melding into the other like cream in coffee.

And of course this says nothing of the time I spend looking after my daughter at home. I didn’t feel as though I was able to spend enough time with her during the day before the surgery, and I fear that the extra hours I need to spend with my meals now combined with my typically hectic work schedule will cut even further into the amount of time I get to spend with her. Indeed, the countless hours we’ve spent playing Lego over the last couple of weeks—see new photo below; she did all of the windows, doors, plants, railings, and columns—will be cut back significantly, which will suck.

Shortly after my surgery I said to Kristy that this was the first time in my life that money wouldn’t solve all of my problems. Now that I’m feeling better again, I’m going to take that back. Sure, money can’t buy me a new stomach, but I’m starting to feel like I can get by just fine without one, and limitless cash would let me spend my days as I am now, eating as needed, hanging out with my family, and living without stress and deadlines.

Guess I’ll need to remind Kristy to pick up a couple of lottery tickets this week.


Oh, baby

Two of our closest friends became first time parents today. Congratulations, Scott and Joanne and baby Jamie! We can’t wait to meet him.

A long time ago (before we knew Chad had the CDH1 genetic mutation) we decided to keep our family to three: us and Scarlett. Part of that reason is because Scarlett has been an awesome baby and little girl–no colic, no fussiness, just pure loveliness. Now, knowing what we know about the odds of passing this mutation on, it’s a relief that we’re not making second child decisions now. From what we understand testing could be done in utero through an amniocentesis, but if the gene were present a decision would need to be made. The alternative would be IVF, where testing could occur at six cells (crazy!), but that’s an expensive and complex option for a couple like us who have had no fertility issues.

While news of a sweet new baby in the world–especially one we’re so eager to meet–makes me momentarily ask “what if?”, I’m happy to stick with our original decision. Not knowing about Scarlett’s genetic status for 15 odd years is hard enough. Deciding the fate of a future baby would be torture.




Chow Update

It’s been about a week since the last time I posted anything on my daily diet. This is what I ate today (and plan to eat tonight):

  • Hard-boiled egg with mayonnaise
  • Hash brown patty (lightly fried)
  • 120 grams of cantaloupe
  • Twelve Ritz crackers
  • One bottle of Boost (a meal replacement drink of the diabetic variety—sans sugar)
  • One cup of sugar-free raspberry yogurt
  • 15 Wheat Thins crackers
  • Small serving of Mexican hors d’oeuvres (two mini-tacos, one taquito)
  • Can of V8 juice
  • Half a cup of sunflower seeds (with shells—forces me to eat them slowly)
  • Twelve grapes
  • One serving of sugar-free chocolate pudding
  • 20 barbeque Crispers
  • 1.25 litres of water

Total calories: 1500; total fluid: 1.75 litres; total protein: 60 grams.  

Put plainly, it was a good day—one of my best yet. But I’ve been achieving something close to these figures every day for the last week or so.

My two biggest worries right now are A) the amount of time I spend eating (those tiny Mexican hors d’oeuvres I had for supper took an hour to devour), and B) the brief bouts of nausea I’m experiencing.

The good news is that the nausea seems to be getting a bit better each day—they only last about ten minutes each and don’t even require a bathroom visit. The bad news is that I’m not able to eat any more quickly now than I was a few days after surgery. I’m losing several hours a day to the kitchen table, which I fear will make me a much less productive worker (thank goodness I work from home). I think I’ll need to have a snack by my side throughout the day from now on, which is why I’m eating so many crackers. 

But the point of this post is simply to let everyone know I’m feeling pretty good today. We were out and about for a good six hours, and while I’m tired from walking through multiple outlet malls, my constant snacking has given me enough energy to look forward to a full evening composed of Trivial Pursuit, a movie (Zack and Miri Make a Porno), and a bit of reading.

Not bad for being just three-weeks post-op.