I'm having surgery tomorrow.

Hello! Yes. Tomorrow, I'm having surgery. But first, some history.

I'm no stranger to surgery, sadly. I've been through several. About 10 years ago, I had 2 spinal surgeries over the course of 2 years. I was barely in my 20's at that point and I was diagnosed with a herniated disc in my spine. The first surgery attempted to repair it, and when that didn't work (and it got way worse), the second surgery was to remove the disc and fuse two of my vertebrae together with plates and screws.

Even though that surgery pretty much solved the immediate, serious problems I had with my spine, it brought on a slew of its own issues. Chronic pain is something I've lived with since. Turns out messing with your spine will do that. I was on and off of pain medications and physical therapy for a while, but ultimately Doctors didn't feel comfortable keeping me on narcotics or muscle relaxers, and physical therapy wasn't really doing it. The pain has just pretty much been there the last several years.

One of the things I've tried to do to help with this pain, and recovery, is lose weight. Everyone who has ever attempted to diet or lose weight knows it isn't easy. Dieting isn't fun, exercise isn't really fun either- but I'll tell you what- exercise really isn't fun when you've had spinal surgeries. Being in that boat has made any kind of physical activity very difficult, and yes, very painful. That hasn't stopped me from trying. Over the course of the last few years I've lost upwards of 60lbs, then gained it back, then lost 20lbs, then gained back 10lbs. It's challenging and something that is made harder (for me) by living in and with pain.

But tomorrow I'm taking a step to try and make this better forever. I'm having Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass surgery. My weight has always been a challenge, but this is a step I'm largely taking to help with my spine and the chronic pain I've been in. By having this surgery and losing lots of weight (and keeping it off), a lot of things will be better for me. I will be able to exercise and be physically active- I will be required to eat less, and healthier, I will be able to make progress in finally putting the stress and anger and pain that I've been suffering through for 10+ years behind me and finally start living my life in a way that I want.

I do want to take a moment to vent and say the obvious that our medical industry is sad. Despite being deemed medically necessary by my doctors, mainly because of my spine, and that I have high blood pressure, and I am pre-diabetic, my health insurance denied any type of coverage for this procedure without hearing any of the reasons why I'm getting it. They don't even look at the patient's history, or information, or reasons for surgery- they look at a claim code that is sent to them, and immediately deny it (they consider it a purely "cosmetic" surgery). This is truly sad, and the doctors are frustrated by it as much as patients. In my case, this is preventative in a lot of ways- I am taking a large step to make my life better and healthier, and that will hopefully require less treatment and claims in the future. But that's not something they're interested in, so I'm paying out of pocket. You may remember me asking about loans a few months back (I started this process in January), this is why. The surgery is $28,000 out of pocket.

I've looked into this surgery earlier in my life, but this was not something I have been able to afford in the past- and affording it now required me to take out a personal loan from the bank- but I'm tired of living in pain, and being unhappy. I am tired of letting my health, my back and my pain and insurance companies dictate my life. This time, I  did what I knew I had to do and tomorrow is the beginning of that journey.

So thanks reading. I've been pretty quiet about the process (clearly there's some history and context as described here), so hopefully you understand if you're just learning about it now. I hope you're as excited as I am for me to start down this path and feel better. If I start looking different to you over the next several months, this is why.

Wish me luck!
Matt/Rex

(Also, I've had people reach out to me about doing a "GoFundMe" page or something like that to help contribute to the cost of surgery. I don't feel comfortable asking for money or doing anything like that. But if you really feel like you can't sleep at night unless you help in some way, just reach out to me privately.)

Onwards and Upwards

In September of last year I landed a dream job; working at Disney Interactive on mobile games. My time there has been fantastic and I've had some amazing opportunities. I've learned a lot about what I'm capable of doing and was introduced to some exciting new ways of thinking about my craft. Not to mention, I was given the chance to work with and learn from some amazing, talented people.

While at Disney I helped ship Tiny Death Star and spent a few months creating and shipping new content and features for it. Working with Lucasfilm on a Star Wars title was a dream come true. Soon after that, I worked on designing two brand new games that unfortunately didn't make it past pre-production and prototyping.

About two months ago I was told that my team and its current projects didn't have a spot at the company anymore.

So now I'm here, ready for something new! I've taken some time off, worked on some fun freelance & personal projects, and played a lot of video games. These things have me feeling renewed and eager to find a new team to join.

I am looking for Lead and/or Senior positions in User Experience and User Interface design. I'd love to keep making games, but also have a strong passion for software and entertainment, so I'm excited to hear about all opportunities. I'm looking for jobs here in San Francisco, but more importantly, I'm extending my search to Seattle, Washington and its surrounding areas.

If you're looking for a fun, passionate designer who loves to create high quality products, look no further! Please check out my resume, portfolio and then shoot me a message.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Matt

p.s. Thank you to my dear friend Gavin for the amazingly appropriate portrait :)

Looking to the horizon!