Monthly Archives: July 2014

The House and the Hospital: Post-Op Update

Blogging from the skies again!

As usual, I’ll make one quick recap post about my time in New York to keep my medical journey up to date. On Saturday, my mom flew with me to New York once again for my second bleomycin treatment with Dr. Berenstein. This was a much more intense session than in May leaving me pretty swollen (no post-op selfies, oh darn.) But we are taking that as a sign that the medicine is working, attacking what it needs to attack :)

Stronglikemycoffee.com Medical Update blog post
My procedure was moved to Mt. Sinai Hospital on the Upper East Side which is a great deal further from the apartment we typically rent. So we had our first experience with the Ronald McDonald House in Manhattan.

My expectations of the RMH were, well, none. I pictured a dorm-like facility with hospital patients and their families, similar to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit inside the hospitals. My dad even suggested we book a hotel instead.

Ronald McDonald House Manhattan (Stronglikemycoffee.com) Blog Post

To say that we underestimated the quality of the Ronald McDonald House would be an understatement of epic proportions. So now I want to do a little rave about our stay here because I was blown away by the beauty of the house, surprised by the comfortable atmosphere, impressed by the service of the staff, and really touched by all of the extra amenities offered to myself and all of the other guests.

Ronald McDonald House Manhattan // Stronglikemycoffee.com new blog post
It has such a positive energy. I don’t mean to sound hippie-earthy. It’s just immediately obvious that the building is so positive and inviting. Not filled with sickness, but full of hope. The common areas and guest rooms were Bright. Happy. Fun. Look at the gorgeous garden (1 of 3!)

Ronald McDonald House Manhattan // Stronglikemycoffee.com New Blog Post

We are so impressed by all of the work that is put into maintaining this non-profit organization. The companies that sponsor and donate as well as the actual RMH staff that organize everything have really done an excellent job at maintaining an outstanding facility. This was truly more impressive than any hotel around. In addition to providing rooms for families, we also appreciate:

  • The donations that keep a constant supply for a coffee cart, cereal and pastry bar, fully-stocked pantry, catered dinners, and nightly events like ice cream socials and luaus.
  • Cute field trips on the Hope Mobile to museums and parks around the city
  • Adorably-decorated rooms (seriously, my mom wants to take the furniture home.)
  • Sweet care packages for patients – I love my Burt’s Bees lipsticks & Essie nail polishes.
  • AOL Media lounge with all the technology, a music room with every instrument, a gorgeous terrace with a garden and fountain 7 stories above the Upper East Side, and a Green Room on our 9th floor that is equally beautiful.
  • The cleanliness of the facility.

Medical Recap Blog Post - July procedure and the Ronald McDonald House

We all want to “give back” when we have the opportunity to do so and I’ve always felt that I needed a cause or organization that I was actually connected to. Because of my short stay at the Ronald McDonald House, I would love to some day be able to do something for this organization on a large scale – like catering monthly dinners (although maintaining the daily coffee cart would be much more my style, huh?)

The real reason we were there, though, was my procedure with Dr. Berenstein. This was my second treatment of bleomycin injections. After I am under anesthesia, the team of surgeons uses ultrasound technology to observe the blood vessels in my cheek and inject the medicine directly into the veins. This round was more intense than the one in May. The doctor targeted two areas, just underneath my eye and next to my mouth. I woke up feeling nauseous and uncomfortable with a sore throat from the breathing tube. I just wanted to get out of the hospital gown, out of the noisy PACU, and into my own cozy room at home. After I was able to digest some food (I opted for my own Blueberry Bliss Luna bar over their turkey sandwhich) we were able to leave the hospital after about 10 hours.

The Ultimate girlie day for recovery // Stronglikemycoffee.com

Yes, that is Chubby Hubby Ben N’ Jerry’s. (On a health blog?! SCANDELOUS!) Hey, my parents have instilled a reward mentality in me since infancy. If I don’t cry during my IV, I get ice cream. It worked at age 4 and it still works at 21. :) My mom and I had the ultimate girlie day recovering in our room with ice cream and grapes, “Saying Anything” and Gilmore Girls.

Oh I can’t forget about my recovery room “roommate” back in the PACU of Mt. Sinai hospital. I’m laying in my bed, counting down until I can be released, when I hear a neighbor rolled next to my curtain. He is disoriented and hysterical. The nurses gently remind him, “you’ve just had surgery. Leonard. LEONARD!” He removed the monitor on his finger, the sleeve on his arm, and even the monitors to the vitals machines. One of the nurses was less than enthusiastic about re-connecting this aggitated patient who didn’t seem to understand where he was.

Next thing I hear: “HE PULLED THEM OUT AGAIN! I JUST put his monitors back on and he’s pulled them all off!” Next they brought in the big guns ….. a male nurse stood by the bed making sure Leonard behaved. Leonard did not behave. Turns out Leonard is a little promiscuous and began undressing himself when the female nurse returned. Her reaction? “See what I do to these men? They just want to take their clothes off for me.” Guess this is a daily occurance in the good ole’ PACU.

The nurse continues to remind him that he just had surgery, he is in the hospital, and he needs keep his (damn) clothes on! Leonard is very confused. He keeps asking if he is dreaming. It takes a few nurses to calm him down and keep him from removing the monitoring devices yet again, asking him questions like “Who is the President? What year is it?” He answers. “Obama. 2014.” And then a panicked, “Am I right?!?!” Yes Leonard, you are in the right year now close your gown.

My hospital and recovery update // Stronglikemycoffee.com
He was unruly though very entertaining.

As per doctor’s orders, I am off cardio exercise for a few more days until the swelling dies down a bit. Guess the Gilmore Girls marathon can continue :)

P.S. A little late to the party, but this girl finally joined the Insta-world! You can find me on Instagram @stronglikemycoffee :)

College Girl’s Travel Day Guide:

Good morning from Atlanta :)

College Girls Travel Day Guide on Stronglikemycoffee.com

Surprise! I’ve decided to relocate from SoCal sunshine to Southern Comfort. The palm trees and Mexican food will not be missed.

…..if you fell for that, you have not been around here long. Kenzie’s hair + Humidity = Frizz outta control. Hello, Poodle.

No, my time in the Peach State will be brief (unless a Luke Bryan-esque cowboy comes to sweep me off my feet in the next 75 minutes…) I’m just on a layover for my flight to New York for the next round of bleomycin injections to my cheek.

While I sit in airports, I have lots of time on my hands. Naturally I made a list of things to get done, hence this Saturday morning blog post :)

Though I have never left the country, I’ve done my fair share of travelling. College tour road trips, recruiting visits, out-of state track meets meant full travel days. (Longest trip yet: 2 hour drive + 3.5 hour flight + 8 hour drive + 45 very grumpy teenage athletes. Real quality bonding time.)

First official recruiting trip almost 4 years ago!

First official recruiting trip almost 4 years ago!

From all-day drives, overnight train trips, even a 4 hour horse ride (ouch.) I’ve learned ways to make a day of moving from here to there a little more bearable.

1.)    Sanitation:

College Girls Guide to Travel Day // Sanitation (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

Lord knows how many germy, snotty tiny humans sat in that seat, sneezed on that tray, reached for that door handle. Airplanes are basically breeding grounds for germs and stress compromises your immune system. De-cootify your hands, don’t eat from the tray, drink water like it’s your favorite thing to do, and take immunity insurance like Airborne or Emergen-C. A little extra Vit C couldn’t hurt! (And the berry flavor chewable type taste like Sweet Tarts.)

College Girls Guide to Travel Days // Health (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

2.)  Comfort:

This is referring to your outfit. I know my pajama-wearing girls are gonna hate me for this. I don’t think a flight warrants the need to look like a hobo. A lot of people don’t see a point in putting together a decent outfit, but you are still in public. God bless the inventor of the maxi dress/maxi skirt. It’s like yoga pants without legs, perfectly comfortable and yet somehow stylish.

College Girl Guide to Travel Days  // Comfort (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

I prefer fitted athletic wear (not to be confused with baggy sweats and old t-shirt) because I can squeeze in some discrete exercise (see tip #4) But if I need to look presentable when I get where I’m going I like skinnies and flat-heeled boots.

3.) Be Productive! (This is my caffeine talking!)

College Girl's Guide to Travelling // Being Productive (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

What a perfect time to cross off those menial tasks we procrastinate for the elusive “later.” Uninterrupted hours are at your disposal.

*If you’re the slip-on-my-eye-cover-and-slip-into-a-short-coma passenger, feel free to skip this tip.

Travel days seem like wasted hours so I like to find a few things to work on (eh-hem this post right here…) A killer playlist can keep up energy and focus. None of that sleepy John Mayer crap. I have a specific “Airplanes & Trains” playlist meant to Get. Stuff. Done.

4.) MOVE when you can

Sitting for hours on end is like a punishment for your body. After a while, your metabolism slows, yours blood flow slows, your energy is wasted. Find opportunities to MOVE and use them. (Which relates back to tip #2 and the convenience of yoga pants.)

Get up and take a restroom break every hour. Be that girl. Your fellow flyers may think you have over-active bladder syndrome but you’ll protect yourself from collecting a blood clot!

Tangent —>  Blood clots freak me out for real. In elementary school, I heard a news story about a reporter doing a piece in the Middle East. After hours cramped in a military vehicle with no leg space, he developed a blood clot in his leg that travelled to his heart and killed him. This stuck in my head, and in 7th grade my biology textbook even referenced the incident. Maybe this will scare you into moving more. Fear tactic! Muahaha.

College Girls Guide to Travelling // Exercising (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

Got a long layover? Do some lunges/squats/calf raises/stretching. Hey I have no shame doing exercises in an airport if my fellow flyers have no shame wearing pajama bottoms, Crocs and hair curlers in public. Layovers were made for walking (and that’s just what I’ll do) ;)

5.)    Snack Smart

Dry roasted peanuts anyone? No no no. You’re smarter than that, girl! You already know that airports, gas stations, and snack carts have “convenient” junk. When you’re packing your bag, bring your own food for the day with actual nutrients and vitamins. Obviously we’ll have to compromise a little for convenience, portability and TSA regulations (THEY MADE ME THROW AWAY MY PEANUT BUTTER THIS MORNING. I will not forgive them.) but some safe options include protein bars, bananas, apples, almonds, pistachios, kale chips and rice crisps.

College Girl's Guide to Travelling // Travel Smart! (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

Couldn’t resist another high school throwback. A RARE sighting of the ‘au natural’ curls too!

 College girls travel smarter!

Speaking of travelling, last night I had a dream that I traded in my car for a little motorcycle. As I was getting ready to ride the 5+ hours back to school, it just then occured to me “how would I carry my stuff?” You know, furniture….clothing….important things. Not sure where that one came from ;)

What’s your travel must-have?

You may also like:

College Girl’s Grocery Guide

College Girl’s Grocery Guide 2.0 apartment edition

College Girl’s Meal Plan

How Can I Improve

A lot of my internal conversations revolve around goals. I’ve blogged about my fondness of lists and my aspirations for the future and my mind that just won’t shut off. Much of this comes from a deep desire to constantly better myself, continually look for opportunities that will help me with a successful career, and a genuine passion for living a happy life.

Most recently I used this passion to go after an internship that didn’t yet exist —> “You Get What You Work For”

So there are many times I ask myself “How can I improve?” As a student, a friend, an intern, a daughter. But today I’m specifically speaking about improving fitness. Because that is what this blog is all about, isn’t it? You don’t come here to read about another 20-something’s wanderlust and “dreams.”

How Can I Improve my Fitness / Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep, Mental Health and Motivational factors (Stronglikemycoffee.com)
In order to improve…
…you need some unit of measurement. A quantitative value you can use for comparison. A gauge to tell you if you are, in fact, becoming faster/stronger/leaner/better.

I’ll give my personal goal as an example for these areas of improvement that can be applied to anyone:

Area of improvement: I WANT TO BE A FASTER RUNNER. (I think that is the goal of every runner. To be faster.)

Unit of Measurement: 3 mile time trial (weekly.) AKA Tempo Tuesdays. I’ve been running the same 3-mile course at 5am for the past 3 Tuesdays and here’s how it’s going:

Week 1: 18:39 // Week 2: 18:45 // Week 3: 18:42

I’m nothing if not consistent! Overall, I’m not unhappy with these times…but they don’t represent the downward trend I am striving for. So, cooling down from my 6:14 average pace this week, I asked myself “HOW can I improve?”

We cannot expect to see improvement in our fitness level if the effort is not put in to justify it.

 If something doesn’t change in your your diet, exercise, sleep or mental health, you cannot expect to grow and become more fit.

Nutrition: I love talking about nutrition. You already know this. I do not pretend to know everything or have a perfect diet. But I do believe I make a good balance of clean whole foods, healthy nutritious meals, and splurges here and there. You can read about my typical daily diet here.

How to Improve your Fitness through nutrition, exercise, sleep, mental health and motivation (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

Things to consider:

  • Are you eating enough before a workout to fuel yourself? Are you eating enough afterwards to recover?
  • Are you eating too much, to sabotage your efforts?
  • Can you cut back on soda/fried food/processed snack consumption?
  • Do you eat breakfast?
  • Do you keep a food journal?
  • Are you getting a good balance of protein, carbs and healthy fats?
Exercise Routine:
  • Do you warm up before each workout? Do you include dynamic stretches before exercise and static stretches after?
  • Could your routine benefit from more variety? If you are a cardio junkie (guilty!!) then try scheduling a couple strength-based training sessions into your weekly agenda. If you are camped out in the weight room, try venturing over to the pilates class. Sometimes we hit a plateau in our training and it’s important to incorporate variety into a training program.
  • Are you resting enough? You might even have to CUT BACK on workouts. If you are in the gym and on the treadmill 7 days a week every week then your energy could be depleted faster than it can handle. Rest days are recharge days so schedule them wisely!

"How Can I Improve my Fitness?" On the Blog ---> Stronglikemycoffee.com

*For my goal to improve my 5k time, I am adding a weekly speed workout. 400 meter, 200 meter, and 100 meter sprints at “interval” pace. (All out.) I’m also going to be more diligent about post-workout static stretches!

Sleep:

  • This only requires one easy question: are you sleeping enough? If you constantly feel fatigued or tired, your body needs more hours of sleep before you can expect it to perform.

Mental Health:

  • How is your attitude? Positive?
  • Do you look at fitness as a challenge or a chore?
  • Are you happy with your body, your energy level and your diet?
  • Do you believe that your goal is attainable or does doubt cause you to get off track?

How to Improve your Fitness on Stronglikemycoffee.com

Mindset has a lot to do with results. It’s not just some cheesy cliche – the body achieves what the mind believes is as accurate as it is cutesy. Fitness and health should have a positive connotation, not viewed as a laborous chore to suffer through. In the end, it’s up to YOU and your own mind to motivate you to reach the goal.

*Achieving a mindset that is intrinsically motivated is a habit that I have formed over years of being the Straight-A Student, the Scholar Athlete, and the Over Achiever. I don’t work hard for a reward or for attention or any other tangible reason. It just makes me happy.

Assessing the different areas in your life and setting goals is part of lifelong happiness. And of course once you CONQUER a goal, the feelings of pride and accomplishment will only increase your motivation to do better. That is what lights my fire to run.

"How Can I Improve?" New Blog Post ---> Stronglikemycoffee.com

I’m thinking about creating a series of similar posts…next being How Can I Improve as a Blogger. Stay tuned!
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