The third installment in this year’s medical updates….
My 3rd bleomycin treatment with Dr. Berenstein was a nice excuse to experience Manhattan in October. (You can read about the treatments in my first recap here: “Continuing my Medical Journey“)
Though the timing was not ideal (I left the day after my GRE and missed 3 midterms plus a group presentation…oops!), I was fortunate enough to have understanding professors who accommodated my medical schedule. 24 hours after finishing the graduate school admissions exam, I was en route to New York City and reunited with my mom after 2 months apart.
Flying over North Carolina was glorious. There were little neighborhoods nestled in the masses of thick green trees, unlike the brown grids we see flying into SoCal, Phoenix, and New York. And the Charlotte airport – it had white rocking chairs. I wanted to stay forever.
We made the best of Sunday with a Broadway show (Wicked!) and dinner at Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain. Living on my own, I rarely ever cook meat. Maybe once a month. So I went away from my norm and got a pork chop with yummy sweet potatoes mixed with plantains and greens. I think I impressed the waiter when he came to take away an almost perfectly-clean plate ;)
Monday morning meant time to check into the hospital….the actual purpose of our East Coast holiday. The typical routine proceeded. I’m under anesthesia the entire process as Dr. Berenstein monitors the facial nerves while tracking the bloodflow in the network of blood vessels. He injects small doses of bleomycin into the veins, which will kill them and their branches over the next 6 weeks. 48 hours after leaving the hospital I was headed back to school, ready to take 2 more of my midterms. No rest for the weary. :)
The night before we left New York again, my mom and I had dinner at a restaurant on the corner of our street on the Upper East Side. Couples, families and friends filled the tables around us, and the overwhelming majority were in their own little bubble, glued to their smart phone. It was a sad sight to see couples sitting across from each other, silent, faces lit up with the blue glow of their screen, thumbs numb from scrolling up and up, completely oblivious to the people right in front of them. I love the convenience of having my phone, especially for taking pictures. I check my SportsCenter alerts and my Instagram feed daily. But honestly, seeing how detached we look when our heads are pointed down towards that brick in our palm makes me more conscious about the amount of time I spend mindlessly pushing buttons.
It’s HOMECOMING WEEKEND and this sports marketing intern has some work to do. :)
One quick follow-up on my procedure and then I will return to this blog’s intended purpose: health & fitness!
At some point, the fun had to end. I checked into the hospital for a new procedure to continue improving the venous malformation on the left side of my face. We met with my surgeons once more to discuss the plan of attack. Dr. Milton Waner and Dr. Berenstein founded the Vascular Birthmark Institute and pioneered treatments and equipment that is now used all over the world. They are the best in the field, hence our travel across the country to see them.
I do like to include medical information about my procedures on the blog. Before my surgeries, I would Google and search for other people with similar circumstances. I would have loved to connect with others who have undergone similar treatments, but never had any luck. Maybe this will help someone doing the same! So just a quick break-down of the game-plan because it’s a pretty complex process (that will be *hopefully* completed by this time next year!)
- 2-3 more rounds of sclerotherapy with Dr. Berenstein, using Bleomycin injections into the remaining malformation.
- Laser treatments with Dr. Waner to attack surface veins and reduce the visible purple coloring.
- “Smoothing” the left side to decrease bulkiness and fill in depressions.
- Creating a more symmetrical smile! Medical technology is amazing. Dr. Waner and Dr. O use a procedure to re-animate the nerve and muscle function around the left side of my mouth to increase it’s movement. They will use a sensory nerve, artery and muscle from the area around my Achilles tendon, and implant it like an “extension cord” to create symmetry.
I have to do some of my own research to see how using the tissue from my leg will affect my running. Another option is using a cadaver. Yes, creepy. Don’t think about it too hard, that’s what I tell myself ;)
Last week I had the first Bleomycin treatment. Cross one procedure off of the list!
I *politely* requested he use the underneath of my elbow (<— does that body part have a name? I’ve never had to refer to the “underside of my elbow” before..)
I woke up feeling alright. No major pain or nausea, and I was able to go home later that night after recovering in the pediatric unit. A Sex & the City marathon was playing (how appropriate!) and my parents brought me a peanut butter smoothie to fill my empty belly.
I just have to say a public THANK YOU to my amazing supportive parents. Two of the most caring and generous people, I am blessed to call Mom & Dad. I love you so much :)
During our week in the city, we balanced Healthy Choices and Happy Choices. The latter would be splurges on ice cream, cocktails, and special dinners because…..well, because WE CAN.
My parents and I are all glad to be home and return to normal, healthy home-cooking. One saving grace was staying at an apartment with a kitchen. We didn’t have to rely on restaurants for ALL meals and snacks (although stocking a kitchen in Manhattan is still pretty damn pricey).
We packed a fruit and hummus picnic to take to the always-gorgeous Bryant Park:
We made pretty parfaits to fuel our walk through Central Park with yogurt, banana slices, apple chunks, and a crumbled Toasted Nuts & Cranberry Luna bar.
We made a Whole Foods stop for movie snacks, where I picked out some delicious “Cacao Blueberry Raison Coconut Almond” clusters. Should be pretty easy to recreate…every ingredient is in the title. :)
Can’t finish this New York recap without mentioning the 9/11 Memorial Museum. By Friday, I was feeling good enough to trek down to the newly-opened museum. It is located underground, directly below the sights of the twin towers. Several layers include actual architecture from the buildings, thrashed fire engines, video and audio clips, and thousands of pictures from the day that our nation will never forget.
And that concludes this New York trip. Tomorrow morning we reunite with LA Fitness. Can’t wait to get sweaty again :) I shall bring you many recipes and workouts soon!