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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 ( 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 (

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 ( 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 (

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 (

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!

Road Trippin’

The official ROAD TRIPPING leg of our summer vacation began yesterday. We cheated somewhat by flying to our first destination, but Wednesday my dad drove us across statelines from Boise to Bozeman. Montana includes lots of nature & hiking! Sitting in a car for 8 hours isn’t exactly ideal vacationing but the views alone made it worth while, with the addition of music, a couple episodes of Gilmore Girls and of course healthy snacks of fruit & Luna bars.

I know this doesn’t have much to do with health and fitness but I am just so in awe of this beautiful country-side, I have to share :) And from a runner’s perspective, places like this are so inspiring to be outdoors in nature exploring!

Boise River Greenbelt run (

Before driving 500 miles, we got up a little after six so I could knock out my last run along the Boise River Greenbelt of this summer (definitely not my last run here ever, I’ll be back!) Our hotel was in an ideal position, midway along the 9-mile greenbelt. One day I could run 5 miles upstream and back, the next day 4 miles downstream and back. I didn’t have a favorite direction; each had miles of gorgeous scenery, pretty parks and golf courses and plenty of fellow runners (friendly ones who wave “hi” and everything!)

Boise River sunset collage (stronglikemycoffee

Sunset in Boise…..almost 10pm!

Driving Boise to Bozeman was one of the most beautifully scenic trips I’ve taken and I couldn’t wait to get out of the car and start trekking in some of those mountains. But the weather had other plans. Five minutes after checking into our hotel, a thunder and lightning cloud took over the skies, it became so dark outside. We took shelter in Montana Ale Works until the sun re-emerged and we could explore downtown.

Montana rainbow ( know I was on the lookout for a one-of-a-kind coffee shop on our downtown tour. My family has a rule on vacations: NO chain restaurants. When we travel, we will never eat at an Olive Garden/Panera/Subway because part of the fun of being in a new place is trying their local cuisine! We usually find locally-owned breweries or eclectic cafes. Same goes for coffee shops, so no Starbucks this week ;)

Wild Joes Coffee Spot ( Wild Joe’s Coffee Spot, local singers were taking turns at the mike. I ordered a couple sugar-free almond americano’s and stayed for two of the artists’ performances. The first girl had a mellow vibe, great voice. I mean, she wasn’t any Phoebe Buffay but not everyone can live up to Smelly Cat‘s standards ;)

Wild Joe's Coffee Spot mike night (

I can’t even explain today’s run through the Gallatin Recreation Area, which initially starts out as a one-mile gravel loop around a pond and picnic area from which a whole network of sub-trails heads off in every direction, eventually leading back to the same pond. It made for a spontaneous “make-it-up-as-you-go-along” route…..Turn! Straight! Left! Uphill! Over the bridge!  I had to keep taking mental pictures to put in my memory bank and appreciate when I’m back to reality on 5am treadmill session.

Gallatin Recreation Area Run (

Gallatin Recreation Area views (

Gallatin Recreation Area pond (

Gallatin Rec Area horses ( whoa whoa, back up. Horses? Running next to pastures with grazing horses on one side, bulls and cows on the other wasn’t exactly the most delightful smelling but sure isn’t something that happens at home very often.

Gallatin rec area horse run (

Good morning, Guys! :)

I’ll stop gushing about my morning at the park now, though I think the Dixie Chicks song Wide Open Spaces is an appropriate summary of my fondness for open fields, open skies and endless trails.

Tomorrow morning is filled with more Montana sights and I have one thing on my mind: Wild Huckleberries. I hope there are fields of them for picking like I’m picturing in my head…. ;)

Conference Championships!

As promised, here is my race recap from the Big Sky Track & Field Conference Championships. Portland State hosted the 2-day meet, but due to their lack of facilities we competed at Pacific University in the adorable farm town of Forest Grove, Oregon.

conference stadium

My 10k took place Friday night, in some pretty humid weather! It was semi-overcast and there was no breeze to cool us off from the warm temperatures. At the start line, we were told that there would be 2 “water stations” on the track for us to take cups of water. I thought, “Psh, I’ve never needed water during a race before, I don’t need any today!” Wrong. I took a cup on the second lap, and every other lap after that. The heat or humidity gave me chills during my run, and I used the cold water to splash myself every few minutes. By the end of the race, I (and all the other runners) was drenched! (I like to think the extra water weight added a few seconds to my overall race time, though I don’t know how realistic that is… ;) )

Thursday’s pre-meet run, Friday’s warm-up and cool-down, and Saturday’s recovery run all took place in the same area around the university. It was one of the most scenic and beautiful places but pictures do more justice than words do:

Conference Run aconference run bconference run cconference run d

My 10k was not my fastest, and I didn’t place as high as I had hoped. But I’m happy with my season and relieved that it is over at the same time. Today marks the first day of my two-week break from training and I plan on thoroughly enjoying my extra time :)

Our Women’s Team placed 3rd in the conference, a position we are all very proud of.  Needless to say, everyone was in great spirits last night as we went out and celebrated!

Conference Team 2013

Conference Team 2013

Some of my best memories of college will be weeks like these spent traveling to new places with a team of 50 amazing athletes, with great competitions and fun celebrations!

After the meet and awards ceremony concluded, we had a special dinner at Monteaux’s Public House in Beaverton, Oregon where we were presented with a special menu just for us.

Conference Dinner Menu (

Eating dinner at 9pm is definitely out of the norm for me, and I was starving by the time my sandwich came! Afterwards we walked through Hillsboro to a frozen yogurt place where they had a super unique toppings selection including “cheesecake balls” (like malt balls), blue cookie crumbles, “zagnuts” and apple pie filling!

Conference Team Dinner (

I now have a full 24 hours of traveling until I am Home Sweet Home. Which will most likely culminate in a post on healthy eating while traveling… ;)


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