Saturday, September 17, 2016

Post-op

If you asked me what I was looking at right now, I'd say that I'm currently looking through an airport Burger King and out the window at a sunny desert framed by large, sandy mountains.

I went from having surgery last week to being in Las Vegas.

It's been a weird week.



My surgery took place early Friday afternoon (and my doctor was fashionably late which did nothing to curb my anxiety) and within 4 or so hours I was back at my house, passed out in bed without a care in the world. I was so groggy from anesthesia that I slept for 15 hours straight, only waking up once to eat a few spoonfuls of chicken noodle soup and watch the first 10 minutes of Bring It On: All or Nothing (you know, the awesomely bad straight-to-DVD sequel).

Since both of my legs were wrapped in bulky bandages, I wasn't allowed to shower and pants were like, really hard. I had to wear my baggiest sweatpants and pretend like baby wipes were an adequate substitute for soap and water. I know I looked a hot mess.

Clayton left to get my prescriptions and thought he had left me tucked safely in bed. However, the second he left and I tried to close my eyes, my neighbor decided it was the PERFECT time to start working on his boat engine. I'm not sure what boat engines entail, but for whatever reason it required revving the motor at ridiculously loud decibels for MINUTES at a time. My bedroom window was rattling. I could literally feel the engine pulsating in my soul.

Now, I'm normally content to seethe in the privacy of my home or at the very least, write a super passive aggressive note to our HOA, but I was on some drugs and feeling the most tired I've ever been in my entire life. Not being able to sleep was NOT an option.

I staggered out of my house, half dressed and in all of my bandaged, post-op glory. My hair was half in a messy bun and half not, my hospital bracelet was still on my wrist, I had on no shoes, my sweatpants somehow got tucked into my bandages, and I was clutching the envelope of a get-well card that my brother and sister-in-law sent me (not the card, just the envelope).

I waddled down the sidewalk to this guy's house and stood at the foot of his driveway. He was too busy tinkering with his engine to look up (and he obviously could not hear me over the sound of his boat motor exorcising demons). So I walked all the way up his driveway and stood next to him while he fiddled with a screw driver.

"Um ... could you please NOT?" I shouted as loud as possible.

Oh my gosh, I startled him so bad! I partly felt bad for scaring him, but I mostly felt satisfied because this guy works on one of his many vehicles all day and all night to the point that Clayton and I joke that he must not like his family because he is never inside his house. I'm sorry, but I wasn't sorry.

"Hi. Ya. I just had surgery and I realllllllllllly need to sleep," I whined when he cut the boat engine.

He apologized profusely and immediately stopped working. I made some half-assed apology for interrupting his work, but then thanked him several times for giving me a few hours of quiet so I could sleep off my surgery.

Anesthesia really emboldens me.

I spent the weekend recouping at home and only left the house once so Clayton could let me hobble around the mall like a wounded soldier. My doctor stressed that I needed to be active and walk to promote healing and other doctorly stuff concerning my newly closed veins.

Going through something like surgery was definitely a reminder that I'm cared for, a LOT. Prior to my procedure, I got several texts of well wishes and talked to both of my parents before I went in. After surgery my sweet brother and sister-in-law delivered a pot of mums and the aforementioned card. My best friend made me cupcakes and brought bacon (I know, right!??). And one of my other best gal pals brought me a vase of beautiful roses and made Clayton and I dinner. I feel so lucky.



Recovery from venous ablation is pretty easy (or so I've heard). The procedure itself is minimally invasive and the down time is next to none. What threw my body for a loop was the removal of the varicose veins that left my legs pretty sore and bruised. I had veins removed on the backs of my knees and the surgical staples made it quite uncomfortable to bend and move (Clayton may or may not have had to lower me onto the toilet a few times).

The other day I found what I thought was a little string from my clothes near one of the incisions. I pulled on it, but quickly learned it was attached to the inside of my body and damn near fainted. I didn't know I had stitches and Clayton had to spend a solid ten minutes assuring me that it was actually a stitch and not one of my veins hanging out of my body. ("Court, they don't just leave veins hanging out of patients. This guy went to medical school for Pete's sake.")

I'm honestly a little surprised by how sore my legs are one week out. I'm hoping it's just from the bruises and their location along the bend of my legs and from those surprise stitches trying to dissolve. Sometimes trying to find a comfortable sleeping position is hard and sitting for a long period of time makes my legs REALLY uncomfortable when I try to stand back up.

The doctor asked me to walk as much as possible, but I cannot run for two weeks. It's been exactly 7 days of no running and it's killlllllllllllllling me. My legs already feel lighter and more energized and I'm practically chomping at the bit to get out there and see if this surgery helped my terrible running streak. I'm trying to be patient, but it's really hard. Simply walking and lifting light weights is not enough for this girl.

Surprised I was cleared to fly less than a week after surgery? Me too. But I told it was fine as long as I continued to wear these babies:


Yup, taking my flesh-colored thigh-high compression stockings across the country. Ugh.

Okay, my flight is getting ready to board and if I don't get a window seat, I will start a riot.

I'll update you on my Vegas trip in a future post.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Surgery


Hey, it's raining. Did you know that?

Apparently tonight's umpires didn't realize it was raining until we were almost through the first inning. Then they were like, "Hey, it's raining sideways. Maybe we should leave?" So the entire softball complex huddled under an awning until the director almost drowned in a puddle and decided to cancel the games.

Okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration.

I really wanted to play, but we were already losing, so I guess cancelling was for the best.

I love playing softball (25+ years and going strong!), but more than anything, I just REALLY needed the distraction tonight.

Why you didn't ask?

Because tomorrow I. Am. Having. SURGERY.

SURGERY.

And you know me: I have no chill (especially when it comes to being drugged and letting doctors touch me), so I'm having a hard time relaxing tonight.

One of the kind nurses at the surgery center called me this afternoon to go over everything (no food or drink after midnight, don't wear anything complicated like a corset or assless chapsyou know, the usual) and asked me a series of questions that made me start to really reconsider what I was doing.

Nurse: "Now I'm just going to ask you some questions that we have to ask everyone before they arrive. Firstly, do you have a will?"

Me: "Wow. You're just diving right in, huh? No, I don't have a will."

Nurse: "I figured. It would be really rare if someone your age had a will."

Me: "Wait, should I have a will? Why would I need to have a will for this? There's no time to get one now! But I plan on just leaving everything to my dog anyway and I'm pretty sure my husband already knows that so"

Nurse: "It's no big deal! I just have to ask as a formality. Now, do you take recreational drugs?"

Me: "No. People like me should not ingest in mind-altering substances."

I think I kept her on the phone about 10 minutes too long. I don't understand yes or no questions.

Right now I'm doing everything I can to distract myself so I can fall asleep tonight. Professional football officially started tonight, so Clayton is useless right now and I can't focus on my book. I've read the same page about 5 times now and have no idea what I just read.


I'm obviously nervous because hey, it's surgery and no one willingly wants to go through that, but I also know that part of me is worried that this won't be the true fix to my physical problems. Yes, I have venous reflux in both of my leg and yes, I absolutely need to have this done to prevent future problems (leg ulcers, anyone?), but what if this is in no way tied to my struggles with running? What if I come out of this and still feel the same? Then what?

Ugh.

I just ate some ice cream. That helped a little.

In addition to correcting my venous reflux, my doctor is also going to remove the varicose veins that are on the fronts and backs of both legs. I think that's the part I'm most excited about right now. I haven't worn shorts or dresses most of the summer because I've been wanting to hide my legs, so I'm really excited to get some confidence back.

I thought about posting a picture of my veins so you could see what I've been talking about all of these months, but then I remembered that the internet is forever and oh my gosh, what if Beyonce saw it?

If you're a praying person, I'd really appreciate the prayers for tomorrow. Prayers that I don't have a panic attack when I get there and prayers that I feel better. Prayers that the anesthesiologist is good at math.

Here goes nothing.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Summer flavors

We're more than halfway through August and my end-of-summer anxiety is in full swing. As much as I love the fall season, I hate the end of summer because it means that in just a few very short months, winter will be upon us and I loathe winter. Shorter days? Longer nights? No, thank you. Ugh, I'm getting Seasonal Affective Disorder just THINKING about it.

I checked the sunrise/sunset times for this week and the sun is setting almost 15 minutes earlier than it did last week and I like, CANNOT.

Where has the time gone? Where did summer go? I'm racking my brain and can't for the life of me remember any summery things I've done over the past three months. Did I squander it? Did I even have a s'more? Was I too busy with things I can't even remember doing?

Time moves way, way too fast. I know everyone says that, but everyone says it for a reason: THERE IS NO TIME. THERE'S NEVER ANY TIME.

I gotta wash my hair. There I don't have time to study. I'll never get into Stanford. I'll let everyone down!

Sorry, I'm in full Jessy Spano mode right now.

Does anyone else suffer from panic attacks at the end of summer? Just me? Okay. Cool.

I guess you can say I did one pretty summery thing this summer: I made my own ice cream. The only thing more summery than making your own ice cream is going to sleepaway camp, but I'm too old and creepy tired to do that. So I had to settle with making my own frozen treats.

I spent this past weekend toiling over a pinewood bucket and churned cream I made with fresh milk from the cows in my pasture. (Translation: I mixed whipping cream with condensed milk and shoved it in the freezer for several hours.)

Several people shared a recipe for something called Unicorn Ice Cream and after the third or fourth time I saw it posted on Facebook, I decided to try it. It only requires a few ingredients and minimal effort, so it's a lazy girl's dream come true!

And sprinkles. It calls for a buttload of sprinkles.

There are a different Unicorn Ice Cream recipes out there, but here's the one I used. I only modified it slightly by using heavy whipped cream (more milk fat = sturdier cream) and an eyeball's worth of vanilla extract (any "eyeball's worth" is a unit of measurement I made up because I eyeball most ingredients). Plus, I didn't have the required gel food coloring and just used, I guess you'd call it, "regular" food coloring.



I won't bore you with details. All you need to know is that this is magical and you must make it. It tastes like the creamiest, smoothest vanilla ice cream you've ever had in your life.

The rainbow swirls and star sprinkles are so precious, you'll give yourself a headache from being near it. It seriously looks like it was made from My Little Ponies and the sound of children's laughter.

Again it needs repeating: You must make this.

My head is already spinning with endless flavor combinations to try. Fresh fruit? Yeah! Chocolate and peanut butter? Um, yeah! Oreo cookies? YES. Coffee? Yes indeedy!

The added benefit of making rainbow pastel ice cream: It makes for some pretty pictures!





Unfortunately my darling husband is on the Paleo diet, and I had to take one for the team and consume all of this ice cream by myself so he wouldn't be tempted. I am such a good spouse.

Before I sign off and watch another episode of Shameless before bed (we're on season 4!), I had to give you all one other update.

Remember the rug that I cancelled three times, bought, and then exchanged for something different in the end anyway? Remember how I blogged about it twice? Well, new development:

We love the rug (5th time's a charm!) and I think it compliments our decor really well. But I made the mistake of saying I liked it out loud and jinxed the whole thing because the very next day, after not even having it a full week, Joey barfed on it.

I couldn't even be mad. I had it coming.


Gosh, Courtney. Get a pedicure.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Coffee date


If you and I were getting together for coffee, I'd probably be late. Because I'm always late. I'd probably text you and say "I'm just 5 minutes away!" when really, I'm more like 10 minutes away because I'm a jerk and have horrible time management skills.

We'd probably meet at Starbucks because as much I appreciate our local mom n' pop coffee houses, Starbucks is familiar and it's the closet thing to my house.

Since it's now August and unbearably hot (how about that humidity?), I'd forgo the coffee and order a grande Iced Black Tea Lemonade.

When you ask me what I've been up to I'd give you the blanket answer of "not much" because I never know how detailed to be with my life. I'm just like you: I work all week and when all of my obligations are said and done, I try to squeeze in some fun.

We went to the fair with some friends. Clayton and I attended a wine festival. My mom and I made a day of getting our hair done and eating sushi. I met a girlfriend for cocktails. I met another girlfriend of lunch. I went to the comedy club a few times. I binge-watched Shameless on Netflix. I had game nights with my in-laws. I met my dad and sister in Indy on a few occasions to race go-karts and golf. Summer softball ended a few weeks ago and the fall league starts this week.

Then I'll casually ask if you watch Shameless because I'm obsessed with it and want to talk about it with someone. HOW ABOUT THEM GALLAGHERS? Is your favorite character Shelia, too?


I'd also ask if you're watching the Olympics because I definitely am. The summer Olympics are my favorite and I DVR swimming, beach volleyball, and women's gymnastics. Surprisingly I got into men's diving this year because I find the idea of trying to perfectly mirror someone else's body movements while free-falling fascinating. One time Clayton and I sneezed at the same time. That's kind of the same thing, right?

You're a good friend and would ask me about how my legs/back/veins/general lower body are doing and I would tell you that all things considered, I'm doing okay. I'll be having outpatient surgery hopefully sometime in September because the results of my ultrasound showed that I have a condition called venous insufficiency which basically means that the valves in my veins don't close properly and instead of my blood being pushed back up towards my heart, some of it pools in my legs. This could cause the heaviness, ankle swelling, and the sudden and unwelcome appearance of varicose veins.

I'm both anxious and excited about the procedure. Anxious because I've only been put under one time in my life and I'm a major space cadet on anesthesia. (When my wisdom teeth were removed I asked the nurse to show me my extracted teeth and when she obliged, I yelled at her and said, "That's disgusting! Why would you show me that!?") Plus, the procedure does not sound pleasant (I prefer to NOT have wires shoved in my ankle and fished all the way up my groin.) On the other hand, I'm really excited to see if this will help with my running and the vain part of me is tired of seeing well, my veins.

I have to wear my stockings another few weeks and then we can contact my insurance company about getting pre-certified for the procedure.

Speaking of my compressing stockings, all of my "fun" socks (I use the term loosely) were in the laundry so I had to wear my flesh-colored stockings on a run last week. I looked like Mrs. Doubtfire. I had to fight the urge to exclaim "Hellooooooooooooooo!" as I made my way down the street.

I'm still on the fence about training for the Monumental Half Marathon or just sticking with the 5k. I think I'll have a better idea once the weather starts to cool down and after surgery.

I'd ask you how your summer vacations went or if you had anything fun planned for the fall. Since we went to New York City over spring break, we decided to save our pennies for an overseas trip next year and stick around town this summer. But we did score a great deal on airfare and will be heading to the Grand Canyon this fall with Dan and Emily. I can't even tell you how excited I am for hiking and experiencing something new and amazing with some of our favorite people. I will pack literally nothing except yoga capris and running shorts.

I'll also be heading to Las Vegas in September and Dallas in October (both for extended work trips). Plus, I'm flying back to Pittsburgh tomorrow. I used to fly like once every 10 years, but I've already flown 9 times in 2016. It's kind of crazy!

Can you believe I've been at this job for a year already? Yup, an entire year this month. I can honestly say that this past year has been one of the most challenging for me, but I can also say that it's been one of the best. I'm very grateful for where I am and for the things I've gotten to experience in my short time with the company. I look forward to going to work every day and feel very proud of the work I do and of the people I work with. I know that not everyone can say that and it's not something I take for granted. Whew! One year down. And I'm still just getting my feet wet!

Clayton and I have been busy with smallish home improvements. We seriously kicked around the idea of redoing our kitchen floor because all of the oak in that area makes it look like we're living in a log cabin and I can hear the floor squeak from the other side of the house. We brought home a ton of samples and even got an estimate, but after leaning how astronomically expensive it is to install new flooring, we decided that we're perfectly happy with creaky laminate.

And remember that rug I ordered and cancelled three different times a few weeks ago? It finally came in the mail and I already took it back and exchanged it for something else.

Why? Because I am ridiculous.

You and I certainly won't discuss politics ... unless it's to speculate when we think Darrel Hammond will guest start on SNL as potential first man Bill Clinton.

Once all of the superficial talk is over, we'll get real with each other and talk about what's on our hearts and minds. I want to know how you're really doing and offer support and a listening ear for anything you want to share. I care about you. I know we're both really busy, but I'm always here when you need to talk.

When it's time to part ways and say goodbye for the afternoon, I'll lean in for an awkward hug because every time I connect with another human being, I feel like I need to seal it with a hug. You've come to expect (and hopefully appreciate) that and not back away. Then I'll feel embarrassed because as much as I love real talk, it makes me feel deeply uncomfortable and I never know how to just be like, "Well, bye!"

Well, bye!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Diet

Let’s talk about food. *A collective cheer rises from my captivated reading audience.* 

Specifically, let’s talk about diets. *My once captivated reading audience quietly starts putting on their jackets and backing towards the exit.*

I’m not a huge fan of diets for a few reasons:
1.) I have a history of restrictive eating and my up and down relationship with food doesn’t lend itself to dieting.
2.) I’ve had personal success by just making sure I eat a generally healthy diet (i.e. choosing healthy foods more often than not).
3.) I eat cake at least once a week and I’ve yet to find a diet that says, “Day 5: Eat all the cake you want. Eat cake until you throw up.”

If other people want to try Atkins, Whole 30, etc.—more power to you! Do what makes you happy and healthy. It’s just not for me.

That being said, Clayton is doing the Paleo diet and I love it ... for him.

I love it because Clayton has put a lot of time and research into the diet (i.e. the science of why it works) and he really knows his stuff. He could easily tell you that while the diet encourages lots of fresh fruits and veggies, legumes are not on the Paleo list. Why? I don’t know, I forgot. But he can tell you!

Clayton decided to try the Paleo diet not only as a way to maybe shed a few pounds (that’s just been a happy side effect), but to see if clean eating could clear up some of the sinus issues he’s been quite literally suffering with for YEARS. My husband is a 7-day a week pill popper and if he forgets his Claritin D for just one day, he can’t breathe and has to sleep on the couch because he tosses and turns all night.

Paleo is simple (enough): Lots of meat, fruits, and veggies. Nothing processed. No refined sugars. No dairy. No bread. No alcohol (basically no to any of the things that could actually make America great again). Just eat like a caveman.

In short: You can’t eat any of the things your wife loves and she would be a total jerk for buying it and keeping it in the house when you’re trying to be good.

What would surely result in an immediate and tragic end for ME has proven to be quite successful for Clayton. He has so much willpower! I’m honestly insanely jealous of his resolve. He allows himself one cheat day a week (because … pizza), but every other day of the week he’s a Paleo rock star. Whereas I think not eating an entire bag of Twizzlers in one sitting is an accomplishment. 

Even though I’m not choosing the Paleo diet for myself, I’m trying champion his decision by getting on board for Paleo-friendly dinners. He and I are on our own for breakfast and lunch (the times of day when I get to eat all of the cheese and all the grains and all the peanut butter), but I’ve agreed to be a willing participant for supper.

Mostly.

This is a chicken, asparagus, and sweet potato skillet I made last week. Normally I would dissolve a bouillon cube or add some kind of sauce, but in an effort to stay compliant, I simmered everything in organic free range chicken broth. (When we were grocery shopping last week I had the sudden realization that we’re now “those” people.)


Right after this picture was taken, I doused my plate in soy sauce. Why? Because I’m like, 65% committed to this.

I also tried my hand at some kind of Paleo chicken, broccoli, and mushroom concoction, but it looked like cow cud and was mostly flavorless (aside from the heaping spoonful of nutmeg I added). We won’t be making that one again.

Honestly, the best Paleo meals have been simple plates of grilled meat and veggies. I used to eat steak once or twice a year, but now we’re having it every week. My iron levels are on the low side of normal, so I think my body will be pleased.



Our Paleo meals don’t take any extra prep time, but they do take some extra ingredients and we had a slight spike in our grocery bill. I now sauté everything in either olive or coconut oil, and we have this thing in our pantry called almond butter that tastes like crushed almonds and disappointment.


For the most part, Paleo meals aren’t too far off from how we normally cook. We never really cook with butter. Neither of us loves pasta. We always have steamed veggies. It’s just the absence of the ungodly amounts of cheese I use in most recipes.

And that’s the real reason why I can’t fully subscribe to this diet with Clayton: CHEESE.

And ice cream.

And cookies.

And toast.

And bagels.

And cereal.

And for the love of all things sacred and holy, FROSTING.

Watching Clayton do the Paleo diet is really shining a light on how bad of a sweet tooth I have. I consider myself to be a pretty healthy eater who never turns down a vegetable, but getting a fun-sized Snickers bar this week was an embarrassingly euphoric experience for me. I didn't realize how much I loved junk food until I stopped bringing it into the house. 

But hey, my hubby has a sweet tooth as well and he is royally committed to finding a treat option that fits the Paleo guidelines and doesn’t taste like cardboard. We invited Dan and Emily over a few weeks ago for burgers and sweet potato fries (bunless burgers for Clayton) and he whipped up a pan of Paleo brownies for dessert. The brownies were made from overly ripe bananas, that damn almond butter, and raw organic cocoa powder (rolls eyes). But they were fabulous! So fudgey!

I don’t know how long Clayton will do the Paleo diet and really, I don’t care. That’s up for him to decide and I support him either way. If anything, he’s giving himself some really fantastic tools to make better food choices for the rest of his life. I can’t say enough how proud I am of his dedication. He dragged me out of bed early on a Saturday to go to the Farmer’s Market because he wanted grass fed beef and free range eggs. The man who struggles to wake up before 10am on the weekends woke ME up. 

And his energy levels have been so good that HE RUNS now. I’ve been begging him to run with me for the past 6 years, but it was always too painful for him. Now he’s out there running laps like a champ. (It figures that he would start busting out the miles right as I'm riding the running struggle bus. I’m not bitter or anything. Not really, anyway. I love my husband. The turd.)


If you have a favorite Paleo recipe that actually tastes like more than random whole foods thrown together, please let me know!