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Continuing my Medical Journey

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.

My pants match the wall!

A pre-op photo with surgeons Dr. Teresa O and Dr. Milton Waner – My pants match the wall!

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!

Hospital Recovery (stronglikemycoffee.com)Needles make me squeem. When my anesthesiologist began prepping my HAND for the IV, I just shouted “WHAT are you doing?!”

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 :)

The parents (stronglikemycoffee.com)

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:

Bryant Park Picnic in spring (stronglikemycoffee.com)Obviously the water is mine ;)

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.

Breakfast parfait on vacation (stronglikemycoffee.com)

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.

9-11 Memorial Museum Manhattan (stronglikemycoffee.com)

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!

Post-Op Update Part 2: New York Shenanigins

We are in the City that Never Sleeps. Though ironically, that is precisely what I am prescribed to do for recovery after my surgery on Monday. But it’s Christmas time in the Big Apple and we are feeling especially stir crazy. At first I was a little excited about lounging around in comfy jammies, watching TV, and eating soup – the antithesis of last week at school when I was struggling to finish finals and semester projects.

Columbus Circle Clocks (stronglikemycoffee.com)

But after a day of rerun episodes on E! and ABC Family channels, I realized how nonsensical it was to sit on the couch watching people traipse around Manhattan when it was directly out the window. I watched Carrie in Sex & the City with her friends in a Midtown café (dressed to perfection, of course.) And then there’s Andy Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada flagging down a cab. Officer Benton in Law & Order heading to the New York City precinct. Blair from Gossip Girl eating macaroons on the Upper East Side. Even the novel I’m reading Queen of Babble describes Liz’s dream of moving into the city to pursue a career in the fashion district.

The view from our window. Sadly, no snow in sight.

The view from our window. Sadly, no snow in sight.

Message delivered; we headed out. I had to buy an extra-large pair of sunglasses to shield the multi-colored bruise around my eye and as much of the swelling as I could. Cheap sunglasses and a winter hat = incognito ;)Columbus Circle Shops (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Any outing with my mom and I starts with a large cup of coffee. In the past three days, we have gone to Starbucks, Morton Williams, and Balducci’s for a little morning coffee variety. Columbus Circle is not too far away, and on the corner of Central Park is a seasonal outdoor “market” of vendors decorated for Christmas.

Columbus Circle Christmas Shops (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Dozens of shops filled rows of these little Christmas huts with scarves, jewelry, ornaments, candles, coffee and cookies.

Central Park - not so colorful in the winter time

Central Park – not so colorful in the winter time

Central Park Ice Rink

Central Park Ice Rink

We walked through the park, by the ice rink, up to 5th Avenue for a latte from the cafe in FAO Schwartz Toy Store (where we saw the most expensive stuffed animals I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I giant Panda for $1,400. What’s wrong with a good ole’ beanie baby?). Anyone seen the 80’s Tom Hanks movie Big? The piano scene? Filmed at FAO and the piano is still there for shoppers to dance on.

The Big Piano (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Across the street is the Plaza hotel, massive and beautifully decorated. We walked through the entrance to pretend for a moment we were among the hotel guests, like Donald Trump or Eloise.

the Plaza Hotel (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Back to reality and over to Lincoln Center. One of my surgeons met with my mom and I Thursday afternoon; when she heard we’d be in the city for almost another week, she said she had tickets to the Broadway play “War Horse” that she couldn’t use. She gave the tickets to my mom and I for the Friday night showing at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in the Lincoln Center.

War Horse at Lincoln Center (stronglikemycoffee.com)

The accents were my favorite part! The 3-hour show took place in during World War 1, with characters sporting English (Cockney), Irish, French and German accents that I tried to imitate on the way home ;) At first I was a little skeptical of how realistic the giant puppets used for horses could look. But the production did a great job of creating life-like movements with the  large horses, and we were impressed.

Rockefeller Center at nighttime was also spectacular, so crowded with everyone trying to get pictures with the famous Rockefeller Tree. The lights, the music, the tree and the crowds made it such a festive time here! The ice rink just below the tree is quaint and small compared to the one in Central Park, and my mom and I might head back to skate in the next couple of days.

Rockefeller ice Rink (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Today it is rainy and dreary, though we took an umbrella-covered stroll to Riverside Park, along the Hudson River. It was totally desolate outside, unlike the hustling and bustling we are used to closer to Times Square. The city folk must have been in church or in bed. We are going to pick out a Christmas movie this afternoon. I do love old black and white Christmas movies. It’s a Wonderful Life is a classic, but I think my favorite is Christmas in Connecticut.

What’s Your Favorite Christmas Movie?

New York News

The main purpose of our trip to Manhattan is my surgery this afternoon, but we had a day and a half to have some fun first! My mom and I were joined by our neighbors and friends Susan and Willy for a week in the city. After arriving yesterday evening we walked around Times Square (coffee in hand) in the rain. It’s still every bit as crowded and beautiful in the wet and cold night!

Sunday was gray and rainy in New York City but we were determined to go to The View restaurant for brunch, 47 floors up the Marriot hotel with a view of the city buildings and Hudson River. It was a gorgeous atmosphere with such great foods, we had to sample everything!

The View Brunch Collage (stronglikemycoffee.com)After brunch we walked around the enormous Macy’s tried on some way-over-budget dresses and enjoyed the decorated store windows. Once again it started raining on us and we walked 25 blocks back to our apartment soaking wet. All still fun though :)

Today I will undergo my second surgery this year on my venous malformation (extra veins that formed in all of the tissues and muscles on the side of my face). In July, my surgeon removed a huge portion of the malformation, and replaced some of the area with a fat graft. Today, he will continue to correct this side with some “smoothing out” of the fat graft, and adjustments to my nose and lip. After a stressful week of finals and travel and now surgery, it was a little obvious that I was nervous. Luckily, I have the best roommate :) Before I left school, she sent me off with a “Hospital Care Package” that I was able to open last night. She gets extra points for creativity with this one:

Hospital Care Package (stronglikemycoffee.com)

There were items under the specific taglines “So you are comfortable during your stay.” “So you don’t get bored.” “So you don’t get tired of hospital food.” “So you eat healthy stuff too!” Filled with all the hospital necessities!

Hospital Care Package gifts (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Pajamas and slippers, coloring book and crayons, cookies and trail mix, hot chocolate and a water bottle along with a very sweet letter to calm my nerves. Thank you Fernanda! These will be great, especially since I am still allowed to recover in the “Pediatrics” Intensive Care Unit. I’ll be sure to share my crayons ;)

I’m sure I will be pretty groggy tonight, but I might post an update tomorrow. Wish me luck!

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