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Post-Op Update #1

Goodmorning Friends.

I am recovering in our rented New York apartment now from my long day at the hospital yesterday. (You can read my pre-op post here) I’m still extremely tired, swollen, and weak. (I’ll have my mom proofread this to make sure I don’t make any ridiculous typos in my medicated state.)

Kenzie in hospital bed (

Just before surgery 12/10/12

Yesterday, my mom and I arrived at the hospital at 10am to meet with my surgeon, Dr. Waner of the Vascular Birthmark Institute, and go over the game plan. There was approximately 10% of the venous malformation left in the upper half of my cheek, that could not be extracted through an incision because it was dangerously close to my eye and nerves.

  • The most prominent part of the surgery was the “hitch” that was put in place to bring up the left side of my lip by a few millimeters. The mass of the venous malformation put pressure on the bones on the left side of my face for 19 years, so that side was not symmetrical with my right. The “hitch” involved an incision next to my left eye, a hole drilled into the bone to guide a synthetic material to the corner of my mouth. An incision at my mouth attached this to a muscle, to pull up the corner.
  • The doctor used a laser treatment to attack the remaining veins, as well as smooth out my scar line from my previous surgery. This caused some major swelling and will have to be repeated in the future.
  • The surgery in July removed a large portion of muscle that was replaced with a fat graft. After the swelling from that surgery subsided, it was clear that a little too much fat was left by my upper lip, and this time the doctor removed this bulkiness through the inside of my mouth.
  • Facial Nerve Monitoring ensured that I would not have the same nerve paralysis as last time; in July, the nerve branches were stretched so much that they were temporarily paralyzed and I had no left side facial movement for a few months. Thankfully, that is not the case this time, and my nerves can continue to gain their strength back as I regain my facial expressions.
  • Unfortunately, I was intending to have my nose corrected in this surgery because it had been pushed over to the right side of my face from the pressure over the years as well. However, Dr. Waner’s main concern was to remove the malformation and extra tissue, and said the Rhinoplasty would have to be performed at a later time with the help of another specialist.

Post op recovery (

Now I rest at home. Because my eye is swollen shut, I mainly want to rest and sleep but I do have plenty to keep me busy when I get bored. Gilmore Girls, books, my goodies from Fernanda’s care package in my previous post, and yes that is coffee in my water bottle. Even though I’m on a soft-food diet for 10 days, the doctor didn’t say anything about restricting coffee! I’m hoping to get outside tomorrow and maybe even walk over to Central Park the day after that. Fresh air does the body good, I just need to have enough energy to get there and back.

Thank you for your concern and messages; I look forward to reading them :)


Back in the Game!

On the 12th week of recovery from my facial surgery, I’ve been reunited with cardio workouts. Couldn’t be happier! Just last Monday I had my pity party, and it’s amazing what happens in just a week :D

Time to get these dirty!

Basically, after the extremely complicated surgery to remove the venous malformation in my cheek, I had a fat graft placed in the cheek to fill in the newly-empty gaps. The fat graft takes a while to be accepted by the body and soften. I’ve been waiting patiently (well…somewhat patiently) for 12 long weeks to get back to the workouts I love! Just last Friday, I received an email from my surgeon. It had one line: “It is okay for you to return to normal physical activities.”

You would have thought I won the lottery, those eleven words made me so happy. :) I grabbed my tennies and headed to the gym the first chance I got to hit the elliptical. I could finally get my heart rate above 100!

(It’s a temporary reunion, as my next surgery is in just 8 weeks. Still – I’ll take what I can get!)

*Seems like Monday’s have become my personal posts, away from recipes and workouts. You can find my more health-related posts here*

For anyone coming back from an injury or exercise hiatus, the most important thing to remember is eeeease back into it. I’m SO guilty of breaking this rule – the excitement of being back to running makes it easy for me to do too much too soon. Gotta keep it light for the first week, at least!

Beginning Elliptical Workout:

5 min on Level 1 – keep rpm’s above 60

10 min on Level 4 – keep rpm’s above 60

10 min on Level 4 – keep rpm’s above 65

5 min on Level 2 – cool down

Enough to sweat and log a couple miles on the elliptical, and feel good about a REAL workout :)

Missy is not as enthusiastic about exercise as her mommy ;)

Now that cardio is fair-game, I’m excited to share more elliptical, stair master, bike and rowing workouts.

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A Case of the Mondays

After four hours of classes, I am in a particularly lazy mood today. After a full weekend and a fun few days with my mom, I was in no shape to face this week un-caffeinated.

Last night I had a dream that I was in a race, running hard. It felt so real, and I woke up to discover that I had not, in fact, been racing at all. Tomorrow will mark 3 months since my last real run, the one through Central Park the day before I was admitted to the hospital. I miss running so much. I always hear from my teammates about the practices and races that I am missing. Not being able to run feels like I’m being punished, and the longer it goes on the more I crave it.

12 weeks out from surgery, there is noticeable improvement but not enough of the swelling has subsided to return to full cardio exercise. I swear, it is the slowest recovery process I have ever heard of. But when you’re dealing with blood vessels and veins and nerves, it all gets really complicated and I would rather be safe than sorry!

At least tonight I will be able to enjoy Chelsea’s Pilates class again :) It’s mild enough that I can do everything without getting my heart rate up too much. You just can’t keep me out of the gym!

Since I got out of class, I’ve been pretty lazy, so I think there is a treadmill at the gym calling for me to walk on… but I’ll enjoy a few more minutes lounging around before I head over. (It’s not like I have to worry about it getting crowded.)

Better yet, a walk outside might be better.


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