Friday, May 24, 2013

The Month of the Pneumothorax

I mentioned that I was going to do a recap of my collapsed lung experience. Well, yesterday was my LAST pneumothorax-related appointment, so I feel like I'm finally in the position to actually recap the whole thing. If you missed my previous posts, you can read my first post after it happened and an explaination of exactly what it was that happened.

This post is intended to be more informational for anyone else that has this happen to them! As I mentioned previously, this is kind of a rare occurance and I felt like there wasn't a ton of information out there to help me know what I could expect.

Day 1: I'm walking home from work when I feel pain behind my left shoulder blade- it feels like a cramp so I try to stretch it out and take deep breaths, but everything I do makes it worse and I start to feel light headed. Brian meets me at a nearby Urgent Care. They check my vitals and run an EKG, but everything is fine so they send me home. The walk home (only a few blocks) is super slow because taking anything more than a tiny breath is incredibly painful.

Day 2: Brian and I head to my primary care physician and when I describe the pain he's concerned that I might have a blood clot and sends me to the ER for a chest x-ray and some other tests. At the ER they set me up with an IV, do another EKG, and some blood work. The doctor at the ER mentions that she hears some decreased breath in my left side.

Within minutes after my chest x-ray, they tell me that my left lung is 40% collapsed and that they'll need to insert a chest tube. The doctors decided to send me to Interventional Radiology to have the chest tube inserted. They inserted a small needle just below my left collarbone, with guidance from an ultrasound image. The doctor gave me a shot first to numb the pain and I really couldn't feel anything until they started to suction out the air that had leaked from my lung and into the chest cavity- that part is painful. They  set me up with a portable pneumostat so that I could go home. It has a valve that allows air to continue to exit my chest so that it doesn't build up inside me again.

I head back up to the ER and they give me some morphine and a muscle relaxer. At this point, the pain was the worst of the whole experience, so I was pretty grateful for those meds. They were ready to admit me for the night, but said if I felt up to it, we could go home. After an hour or so, the pain meds did their thing and we called a cab.

I spent the night on the couch so that my body had a lot of support to stay upright, but it was pretty uncomfortable and I didn't sleep great.

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portable pneumostat device
Day 3: More pain today and I stayed on the couch as much as possible, taking Vicodin every 5 hours. Sleeping wasn't so great again- I had to sleep on my back and keep my chest elevated, plus I was still just so uncomfortable.

Day 6: We headed back to the hospital to see if the chest tube was ready to come out. They put a few drops of saline on the valve that let air escape, and then had me cough. The saline totally flew off of the valve, which meant that air was coming out of my lung. I had not been expecting that at all. They did an x-ray and saw the pneumothroax was still at about 20%, which was an improvement, but obviously still a problem. The good news was that Monday morning was the last time I took any pain medication and I really was feeling better.

Day 7: Saw the pulmonologist and she ran the droplet test again, and again I failed miserably. She sent me for another x-ray, and then showed me how to tell from the image where the oxygen was not getting into my lung.

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Day 10: For the first time, some fluid started to collect in my pneumostat. It was kind of gross- the color of urine- and there was about 10 mL of it, which I had to drain out using a syringe. About 10 mL/ day continued to collect until it came out.  My doctor said this was fine as long as it wasn't cloudy or bloody. I noticed that the fluid in the tube stopped moving when I was breathing. Before, if I inhaled, the fluid would move in the tube in the direction of my body and vice versa if I exhaled.

Went into the thoracic surgeon… and this time I actually did a little better on the droplet test! The surgeon decided he wanted to be conservative with my treatment and give me the weekend to continue to heal before deciding on surgery.

The nurse practitioner helped me figure out why I had so much pain in my left arm- the chest tube was bumping against some of the nerves in my chest cavity, so when I moved that arm or lifted anything, it was painful, but normal and nothing to worry about.

Day 13: Back to the thoracic surgeon with my fingers crossed and… I passed!

The surgeon removed all of the bandaging around the site where the chest tube had been inserted (which ripped off a few layers of skin) and had me take a deep breath and hold it while he pulled out the tube. It was like when you swallow a strand of spaghetti down the wrong tube and pull it out, except also really painful. The pain didn't last though- as bad as it was, it went away pretty quickly. The pain in my left arm was also gone immediately.

I had a waterproof bandage put on, which meant that I could shower and wear normal clothes (I had been living in a tank top and baggy zip-up hoodie)!! Brian was probably extremely relieved about the whole being able to bathe again thing.

Day 14: Back to work!

Day 15: The surgeon told me to remove the bandage after 48 hours, so I did that after my shower. There was basically just a tiny little hole. I put a lose cloth bandaid on it while I was at work just so that nothing was rubbing against it.

Day 17: Saw my primary care physician and he had me go for an x-ray. It was good!

So there you have it, there was also a follow up with my surgeon and then another with my pulmonologist. Right now, I'm feeling about 85%- that last 15% is just a little bit of discomfort when I take a deep breath and a little tiredness. As far as the rest of my life goes? Here's what I can expect:
  • No flying for one month
  • No exercise for 3 weeks from when they took the tube out
  • No scuba diving (ever)
  • I have about a 50/50 chance of recurrence 
Hopefully, it won't happen again, but if it does I will at least know what I'm in for! If it does happen a second time, both my pulmonologist and surgeon have told me that I would need to have the surgery that time around.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Have you heard?

The 7 Minute Workout

Over the past couple of weeks, I keep hearing about this 7 Minute Workout that supposedly provides the same health benefits as endurance training- but obviously in way less time.

I've definitely heard about the benefits of interval training before, and I know that doing interval workouts is really important in building fitness, but I'm definitely doubtful about this one. It's described as high intensity circuit training (HICT), and again- I think it's great, but I would probably add it into another workout.

I haven't been able to try it yet, but I will add it to my list!

Could eating less save your brain?

This is an interesting one. Remember a few years back when we heard that eating a very low calorie diet would make you live longer? This one says that they deceased calories by 30 percent (in mice) and found that it prevented neurodegenergation- which was exhibited through learning and memory deficits.

Interestingly, I think that 30 percent figure is close to the amount that they recommended to live longer- it was an incredibly restrictive number of calories at about 1,000/ day. If you figure the average person is supposed to be eating 1,500, then that's pretty close. It's not that I don't believe the research… just that I don't think I could function on 1,000 calories and I'm not sure how practical this one is. Sounds miserable, right?

Bacon: Key to living a long life.

We have all heard this one. Someone asks a 105-year-old woman how she managed to live so long and she answers: bacon.

It's funny, and I think most everyone realizes that while comical, its not true. There was a study in the 1990s/ 2000s that tracked the amount of processed meat that people consumed. The more processed meats that someone consumed, the higher their risk of death from heart conditions or cancer.

The study did not find a link between early death with eating unprocessed red meat- like a steak- which I think only touts the importance of an unprocessed, whole foods diet. That said, I totally eat bacon. You can find bacon that is made with only pork and salt. Just check labels for weird words that you don't understand; that means that the pork has been processed with non-food chemicals.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What to do if you get hANGRY

I stopped in to see my thoracic surgeon yesterday morning, as a follow up from when he removed my chest tube last week. Good news- everything is healing just as it should. My heart rate and blood pressure are all back to normal after being high throughout the whole ordeal- I think my body was just super stressed out. My oxygen level is a perfect 100. Excellent.

Bad news- I can't work out for another two weeks. And that doesn't just include running, it really includes everything- crunches, yoga… basically anything that would cause my muscles to strain or my lungs to work hard. As bummed as I am, I'm still very committed to this recovery and I don't plan to push the limits. I am focusing on food for health and packed up tons of healthy snacks for today.

When I first cut out processed foods, like Special K bars, crackers and Yoplait, I noticed a huge difference in how much better I felt. Its so sad that snack foods tend to be super processed, because they crowd out healthy, whole foods that fit the bill.

I pretty much always have some type of portable food in my purse because I am the type of person to get really hANGRY when I go without food. Some of my favorite options for snacks include:

Fruit Salad: Consisting of whatever fresh fruits I happen to have- strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, kiwi, pineapple, grapefruit, grapes and watermelon are my top choices.

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Veggies Dipped in Hummus: Carrots, celery, endive and sliced bell peppers (this is a new one for me) all taste delicious when dipped in hummus. 

Homemade Trail Mix: I use unsalted peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and raisins. It sounds boring, but your taste buds adjust. You could also use half salted peanuts, half unsalted.

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Frozen Mango & Yogurt: Trader Joe's frozen mangoes are frozen when they are perfectly ripe- seriously avoid Whole Foods brand- and I toss some in a container with some plain yogurt for an afternoon snack. By afternoon, the mangoes have defrosted and some of the juice has flavored the yogurt. 

Edamame: I'll throw a handful of frozen edamame (in shells) into a baggie and bring it to work. Then just microwave for a bit and you have an easily stackable veggie. 

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Ants on a Log: Maybe I'm too old for this one, but I still like it. Celery filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins.

Rice Cakes with PB&J: I love brown rice cakes (ingredient list: brown rice and salt) and I love peanut butter, so you really can't go wrong.

Fruit and Cheese: Apples, grapes or pears and cheese. Basically I'm obsessed with pairing fruit and cheese. 

Bananas and Peanut Butter: Brian and I usually enjoy this one on weekends, we just slice up some bananas and throw a pile of peanut butter on a plate.

Popcorn: It's a whole grain! I won't touch the microwavable stuff, but buying popcorn in bulk is so cheap- you can put it in a brown paper bag and microwave it on your own, add a tiny bit of oil to a pan over the stove and pop the kernels in there with the lid on, or buy a fancier air popping tool. Add salt or parmesan. 

Larabars: It's no secret that these are my favorite back up. They're expensive, so I try to only use them when I'm really running out the door, but I do love them.

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I'm looking for more ideas of veggie snacks. Honestly, sometimes I'll just microwave some frozen broccoli or cauliflower and eat that if I don't have any other snacks around or I need a veggie. I don't really feel like I can recommend that option though because it sounds really weird. Any other veggie options out there?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gratitude

The news last night was pretty devastating, and it doesn't seem to be getting much better this morning. I certainly have Moore, OK in my thoughts today and I am remembering to be extra grateful for my family, friends, health and home. 

A question came to mind last night when I was watching the news, and Brian and I started to talk about it a little bit, so I had to do some research this morning.

Why don't tornadoes it big cities? The answer: They do (or at least, they can),  but the odds are less simply because there is a lot more open/ rural land than urban. 

I came across some other interesting facts today too:

  • Violent tornadoes are fairly rare outside of the United States, although a few significant tornadoes occur each year in Europe, Asia, Southern Africa and South America.
  • North America's geography contributes to the frequency of tornados- the continent extends from the tropics into the arctic without a major mountain range spanning east to west which would block the air flow. "Tornado Alley" has more frequent tornadoes because of the pressure created as air flows east off of the Rocky Mountains. 
  • Tornados occur most frequently during the spring.
  • The most devastating tornado in the US occurred in 1925 when 695 people were killed. The tornado that struck in Joplin, MO in 2011 was the most deadly in recent history with 158 deaths. 

I'm one of those people who is always comforted by information, although some of what I learned simply made me more grateful that I just don't live in an area that experiences frequent (if any) tornadoes because there is such a lack of information. We have so much information and technology today, but humans are still no match for nature.

I was planning dinner for the night when reports of the tornado first came out, and maybe that's why I gravitated towards something really comforting.

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We had salmon, sweet potatoes and kale chips.

I was coming home late last night, and this was both comforting and quick to put together. I made the sweet potatoes in the microwave for the first time- 5 minutes, then 2 minutes, then 2 minutes more. I also put them in the oven with the salmon for the last 10 minutes of cook time at 400F. I definitely prefer the roasted flavor that comes when you bake the potatoes the whole time, but this was a decent quick-fix. 

The salmon was Wild- Caught Coho Salmon from Canada. Coho salmon has a green rating on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program. That means that the species of fish is abundant and that the fishing method used causes little damage to the natural habitat. It is also significantly less than Alaskan Salmon, but provides the nutrients that you can expect from a wild caught fish (more omegas than farmed fish). I don't see it in Whole Foods too often, but I always like to buy some when I do. 

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Monday, May 20, 2013

15 Minute Lamb Marinade

Continuing with my new theme of trying to relax, this weekend was somewhat uneventful, but I'm definitely getting the hang of it. AKA- I am lazy. When I have to start doing things like grocery shopping on the weekend again, it's going to be quite difficult.

After work on Friday, I came home and crashed. I actually think I fell asleep on the couch before making dinner. So glad I woke up though, because we enjoyed a really incredible meal.

I tested out skinny alfredo sauce from Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life. It was fantastic. I didn't have any broth on hand (need to get on that), so I just used water in place of it and increased the garlic that I used.

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It was really phenomenal. I have never made any type of alfredo sauce before, and I thought it sounded kind of intimidating, but this was a simple meal to throw together. I tossed some pasta in the sauce and added asparagus, sliced portabellas and greens. Topped with more cheese :)

On Saturday morning, I got up and went out for bagels and coffee. Waiting in line at Bethesda Bagel's in Dupont is such a pain- I was probably there for 20 minutes- but, Brian braved it for me when I was stuck on the couch so I definitely owed him a turn. Then, I managed not to do anything for the rest of the day until late afternoon when I headed out for a mani/pedi to get ready for the main event of my weekend.

The All Junior League's International Annual Conference was in DC this year and I was invited to attend the awards banquet on Saturday evening. The Junior League of Washington submitted for an award based on some of the social media work we do, which was executed by my committee. And, we won!

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(That's a cutout of Mary Harriman, the founder of the Junior League. Love her hair.)

Sunday followed with more bagels and coffee, plus a trip to the farmer's market. I am getting really excited to go to the market every week now because more and more things are available. Things I am looking forward to- strawberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, peppers, green beans, okra, tomatoes and corn. We were lucky to be able to pick up some mini zucchini this week. I absolutely love all things squash/ zucchini, so this was a good one.

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I marinated some lamb and cooked beet greens on the side.

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The lamb was fantastic. Brian has had lamb on his mind for awhile now, and we were happy to see it at the market. This marinade is so, so simple, but incredibly flavorful. I left the lamb in the marinade for just about 15- 20 minutes before cooking it in a frying pan. I cooked the beet greens alongside, and then tossed them in the lamb pan after I took the meat out so that they'd have a little extra flavor.

15 Minute Lamb Marinade

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients and allow lamb chops to marinate for 15- 20 minutes before cooking.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Trying to Relax

It has been just over two weeks now since my lung collapsed and I'm feeling significantly better. I have a little pain when I take deep breaths, the location where the inserted my chest tube is still healing, and I'm a little more tired than usual. Compared to where I was two weeks ago, or even a week ago, I'm pretty happy with where I am at right now.

The healing process continues. I am doing my best to eat tons of veggies and nutritious foods that will help my body continue to heal, and I am trying to relax and rest (which for me, is way harder than eating vegetables).

Relax and rest includes not running all over the place to various grocery stores for the best deal, and relying on other people to cook for me.

For example, on Wednesday night I had a meeting that ran late so we got take out. I didn't make my lunch for the next day, and then when I woke up on Thursday I had an early doctor's appointment. I opted for a few minutes of extra sleep, and bought my lunch out yesterday. I packed a banana and a PB&J Larabar for breakfast on the go, then grabbed some tacos at the Farmer's Market by the White House for lunch.

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They were from a new vendor at this market, Chaya. The market actually opened at the beginning of the month, it runs May- October, but this was the first time I was able to make it for the year. I was excited to see some more lunch options.
They offered three tacos, and I got one of each- Asparagus and Potato with Creamy Ramp, Mushrooms and Feta, and Garlic Kale with Sheep's Cheese. I thought the flavors were really fantastic and I loved the corn tortillas. My only complaint was that it wasn't quite filling enough for a lunch- maybe the addition of some beans would have helped. Luckily, I had a container of trail mix at my desk that I enjoyed as a side.

Thankfully, my favorite vendor was back this year. I don't know what I would do if I had to go without my favorite Lemon Drop cookies from Praline. They are so good. So good.

I picked up an assortment for dessert- and grabbed a pint of Champagne Mango sorbet from Dolcezza on my way home.

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Yum. We made a pretty good sized dent in both.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Takeout Makes Life Easy

Just a quick post this morning because I have a seriously busy day ahead. I scheduled one of my follow-up doctor's appointments for this morning before work and then after work Brian and I are having dinner with his parents- they're driving up from Charleston and stopping in DC on the way.

In case you couldn't tell, Brian and I have been eating out a whole bunch lately! We have had a lot going on and sometimes it just happens. I do want to make it a priority to stock up on some more staples to keep around for these busy days, and maybe make a few extra meals to keep in the freezer. For now though, I'm not doing any serious cooking or baking because I'm focusing on my recovery and getting back into my routine.

We are so lucky to have tons of healthy and high quality food options for take out in DC. My mom recently sent me this New York Times article, appropriately titled, Giving Fast Food a Good Name in Washington DC. The article features a few of our 'fast food' options- The Union Market, DGS, ShopHouse and Sweetgreen. I actually have not yet been to The Union Market (it's fairly new) or DGS (I don't really eat deli meats), but ShopHouse and Sweetgreen are regulars for us.

One thing I love about where we live now is that we never order anything for delivery. All of the places we would want to order from are within walking distance! So convenient.

ShopHouse is actually owned by the same company as Chipotle, and its the same style of dining, but with an Asian concept. You walk through a line and they pile up your bowl with things like rice, noodles, meat and veggies. Sadly, every single option is way too spicy for my taste, but Brian loves it.

Many times, Brian will get ShopHouse and I'll grab a Sweetgreen salad from right next door. Sweetgreen is similar to any other salad takeout concepts, but the ingredients are all local and I can tell the difference. Their food is just incredible. I'm pretty picky about salads and this is the only place I'll grab a takeout salad.

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Last night, I tried something new at Sweetgreen. I usual get the chic p (falafel) salad, but last night I tried The Earth Bowl, which includes grains, arugula, tomatoes, fresh corn, cheddar and seeds. I swapped spicy broccoli for sweet potatoes and chicken for tofu. Dressed with a pesto vinaigrette. It was really good, but I wish I had asked for 'medium' dressing instead of 'light' for a little more flavor.

What are your favorite takeout options?

My absolute favorite is a veggie burrito bowl from Chipotle :) Other faves include:

  • avocado, cucumber or asparagus sushi
  • veggie assortment from a local kabob restaurant (cauliflower, chickpeas and eggplant please!)
  • falafel (Greek)
  • pad see ew (Thai)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Back to Normal

Things are slowly getting back to normal around here. Yesterday, I went into work and came home and made dinner. Sounds about right!

The days already feel so different to me without my morning runs. Not only is my routine out of whack, but I'm not getting the rush of endorphins that comes with exercise and I think it makes me feel a little blah. I have woken up at 6 AM (or earlier!) just about every day, including the past two days, which gives me a ton of time before work. I have started packing my lunch in the morning, blogging in the morning, and taking some extra time to walk to work. Normally, I am all about speed walking and between 8:30- 9:30 AM and 5- 6 PM the sidewalks of DC are like an aggressive racecourse. It's not easy to slow down!

When I got home last night, I received something really exciting in the mail. It was the full report of my visit to the ER and everything that happened in the hospital. I sat down with Google and read every word. I also had to Google about 1/3 of the words, but I thought it was SO interesting! There weren't really any surprises, but it was cool to read.

Then I got around to making dinner. I actually ended up working late yesterday, so dinner happened pretty late.

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I roasted up some potatoes (just a little olive oil, salt and rosemary at 375F for about 40 minutes). I love potatoes, especially when they are super crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. These were perfect. Roasted asparagus and sautéed greens on the side.

In my effort to cut back on oils, I kind of steamed the greens. Just fill your biggest sauté pan to the brim with your greens, then add a few tablespoons of water to the bottom of the pan and cover. Let it cook down, then finish with a spritz of olive oil and some salt.

We had some mahi-mahi over a salad the night before, and there was a ton leftover so I made them into fish cakes. They were really great, and this is such a good way to use up leftover fish.

I didn't have any breadcrumbs, so I just popped a slice of bread in the toaster and then broke it down in my blender (the food processor was dirty).

I used my cookie scoop to make all of the little fish cakes perfectly uniform. Maybe I'm a little crazy, but its the small things that make me happy :) A cookie scoop was one of the first things I bought when I moved from a dorm room to an apartment with a kitchen! I just can't make misshapen chocolate chip cookies. Drives me crazy.

Fish Cakes

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup leftover (cooked and seasoned) fish, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon mayonaise
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, being careful to minimize the mixing time so that the fish doesn't become mush.
  2. Using a spoon or a cookie scoop, scoop out eight small piles of the mixture and flatten to form patties.
  3. Spray (or lightly coat) a large saute pan with olive oil and heat medium-high.
  4. Add fish patties and cook for two minutes on each side, adding another spray of olive oil to the pan if needed when flipping. 

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The fish cakes would also be great on salads or you could make them larger and serve them on a bun. Even Brian was a fan and I don't think leftover fish is really high on his list. I was pumped because the mahi-mahi was only $6 and we got two meals out of it- such a good deal!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho

When I went back to the surgeon yesterday, he decided it was finally time to remove my chest tube! It was a great way to start the day. It was actually more painful than I had anticipated, but also quicker. I was expecting less, but more lasting, pain.

I plan to do a more detailed post about the whole process of recovering from a spontaneous pneumothorax, to pick up where I left off. I really feel like there was a lack of information out there on the topic. Only 1.2 to 6 per 100,000 women each year experience a collapsed lung, so it isn't very common, but as one of those 1.2- 6 women, I would have appreciated a little more info. Stay tuned!

Right now, I am focused on moving forward and today I head back to work! That might not sound to exciting to you, but I've really been bored. It's been 13 days since I've been out and about.

Today, my doctor said no exercise for a few weeks. That was really surprising. I guess I had expected something more like one week? I'm kind of bummed. That said, I am 100% motivated to do everything to fully recover, so I won't be cheating at all.

Not running is a big change in my lifestyle. So far, I've already noticed that my body needs less sleep and less food. Both of those things make sense, so I'm not necessarily surprised, but it is an adjustment.

Weight gain isn't my top concern right now (that would be my lungs), it's more about the fact that my body doesn't need as much fuel for right now.

  1. Less oil, more fun. Normally, I am pretty liberal with my use of healthy oils like olive and coconut. I need to reign that in a little, and I have a fun new toy to help. (below!)
  2. Less cheese, more (new-to-me) veggies. I love cheese, especially on my lunch salads, but I do plan to reduce my intake for the time being. I'm not interested in deprivation, so I'm planning on adding some healthy additions to my salads instead. (below!)
  3. Less processed sugar, more fruit sugar. I try to avoid processed sugars all of the time, and I genuinely think that sugar in any amount is really unhealthy. This is why I don't buy bread, salad dressing or cereal at the grocery store- that stuff is loaded. I do enjoy desserts though (hey, if I am going to be eating sugar, I want to be tasting sugar!). No plans to eliminate dessert, just replace it with healthier options like my Chocolate Frosty.

What are some of these fun things I mentioned?

First off, I bought a Misto!

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I have wanted one of these things for awhile. You can add your own oil and spray it like Pam. It helps to reduce your use of oil while cooking or roasting. Why not just use Pam? Because the ingredients are:

Canola Oil*, Lecithin from Soybeans, Phosphated Mono-and Diglycerides, Dimethyl Silicone (for Anti-Foaming), Rosemary Extract (Preservative), Propellant.

Gross. I'll just take olive oil, thanks. I tested this out last night on some fish and it worked really well.

Also, some fun salad toppers like mung bean sprouts.

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And, beets:

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I love that these beets are already prepped, no roasting and peeling required. The package was $2.99, which isn't too much more than buying fresh beets, but you don't get the greens.

And now, (heigh-ho, heigh-ho) it's off to work I go.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Jail Break

I left my apartment this weekend and it was NOT to go to a hospital or doctor's office! Jail break!

I also did some baking :)

I guess I should back up a bit and discuss the status of my left lung. On Friday, I did go see a surgeon and I expected that he would either say, 'You're cured!', or, "You need surgery!" Neither of those things happened. He said, "I think you are really close to being healed, but not yet. Let's give it until Monday." So, I spent the weekend in limbo.

Today, I head back for another check up. This time, I'm not even going to predict what will happen because I have been wrong about everything so far. Low expectations!

That said, I felt pretty good this weekend. Oddly, I noticed that my chest tube stopped reacting to my breathing AT the doctor's office. The morning before my appointment, the tube was still reacting to my breathing (which indicates that air was still leaking out of my lung), so I think the timing of the improvement was pretty miraculous. I was sore on Friday because the doctor did some adjusting, but I woke up on Saturday feeling good.

Saturday night, Brian and I went out to dinner!!!

I can only wear one top… a zip-up hoodie that is baggy enough to hide my chest tube. That meant we were going somewhere semi-casual.

Mandu is a Korean restaurant that we've both heard great things about. We actually went once before when we first moved to Dupont, but it was for brunch.

I started with a mango sojutini… similar to a martini.

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Then we shared some veggie mandu… fried dumplings.

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And, for the entree, we both went with Dolsat Bibim Bap. It's a bowl of rice and vegetables topped with an egg. Brian had short ribs on his and I had tofu.

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It was good, but I think next time I'm going to get something else- you're supposed to add hot sauce for flavor, but I can't do spicy, so mine was a little bland. Also, it was served in a HOT stone bowl. Everyone had recommended it, but it was SO HOT. I would get the regular bowl if I ordered this again. It was a ton of food- I'm going to have a nice lunch later today!

As for the baking, I made this beautiful looking dish for brunch Sunday,

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It was like a baked pancake, and I loved it, but it needs a little tweaking before I post the recipe.

Now I am off to the doctor's once more! No expectations...

Friday, May 10, 2013

NoBull Burgers

When I went to Glen's earlier this week to pick up dinner items, Brian and I talked about what he wanted to make ahead of time. Ravioli and burgers.

Well, they didn't have any ground beef. They did have- veggie burgers!

I was pretty excited about this. Brian was less excited, but he's always open to bring something new. I love veggie burgers. I remember when I was younger I tried one at camp because I was still hungry after my hot dog and there were only veggie burgers left, but I thought it was so good. I remember rice and mushrooms in that one.

Since then, I haven't loved a lot of other veggie burgers that you can buy in a store. I am not at all interested in imitation meat. If I want something to taste like meat, I'm going to eat meat. Instead, I like my veggie burgers to be completely different- they should taste like vegetables! I still like rice burgers, and I've made some bean based burgers too (kind of like falafel). This is on my to-do list now for when I am able to cook again!

I bought NoBull Burgers, which I've read about on a bunch of other blogs and have heard good things. They are local and organic with a lentil and barley base. Also noticeable are the carrots, spinach and onion. They have spelt too, so while they are wheat-free, they're not gluten-free. The combination of veggies and some herbs was really incredible. And this is coming from someone who once made a lentil loaf and did not eat it- letting food go to waste is pretty much unheard of for me, so I was a little wary of a lentil base.

Brian made the burgers with a side of kale.

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I bought the buns we used at Glen's too, and they were a bit bread, so I'm not sure I'll buy them again. I ended up only using one bun and two burgers.

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What was the final verdict? I loved them and Brian didn't (he still ate two, so even he thought they were way better than the lentil loaf). I didn't love the price, so chances are I'll just make my own veggie burgers for the most part, but I do like having another option.

Today is a big day- I'm heading to see a thoracic surgeon who will check on the hole in my lung. If its fixed, I am free to go, and if not, he will probably schedule a surgery to go in and fix it. Let's hope for a happy Friday!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Welcome to my Home Office

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Yesterday, I completed a whole bunch of work from home and it actually felt pretty good. It has been an entire week since I have been at work, and I'm actually getting a little bored. I did some writing and even a short webinar presentation. Exciting stuff, huh?

Since I did not have any doctors appointments yesterday, I was feeling pretty good (no napping necessary) and even ventured out!

I headed over to Glen's Garden Market to pick up a few things for dinner.It was super exciting. I'm not supposed to be doing any heavy lifting, so I split up my grocery list and will be headed back today to pick up milk.

I also made two of my own meals yesterday. For breakfast I had two eggs over easy with some cheese and bread. I made the meal with one and a half arms (still a little limited with my left side) so it was super ugly and I felt no need to document that with a photograph.

My second meal was another delicious smoothie.

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With oats! Have you ever tried them in a smoothie? It helps to make the smoothie more of a meal than a drink. I once tried adding flax meal to my smoothie and it was so disgusting I couldn't finish it. Oats, however, are not a problem.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup milk

Directions

  1. Add to your blender and blend until smooth

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Pink and pretty with minimal effort :)

I have a trick for natural peanut butter. I read it in a magazine a long time ago, and it is SO helpful.

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When you buy a new jar of natural peanut butter, the top of the jar has a whole bunch of gross oil. Directions say to stir the oil in, but that is so messy. Instead, just place the jar upside down in your cupboard for about a day before you open it. The oil will distribute through the peanut butter and there is minimal mixing required! Natural peanut butter needs to be refrigerated after opening, so that helps keep the peanut butter from separating after that.

Brian was home to make dinner, and we used some ingredients that I had picked up at Glen's.

Glensravioli

It was really good, these ravioli hold together so well and they are so perfectly shaped. To be honest, they kind of looked like Chef Boyardee. They tasted much better. The ravioli aren't 100% real food- there's white flour and vegan (processed) cheese, but they're perfect for a once-in-awhile meal.

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On the agenda for today- more of the same! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spontaneous Pneumothorax

Before we get on to the fun stuff, I have to show you what Brian made me for dinner last night:

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Pan-seared scallops and roasted asparagus.

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They were delicious. Brian is getting pretty good at this. Maybe I will never heal...
Just kidding. I miss cooking!

The other day, I mentioned a little bit about what happened to me. It was a hug surprise. I figured this happened to people who were injured or had some kind of respiratory illness.

A collapsed lung is basically a hole in your lung that is leaking air into your chest cavity. As air fills the chest cavity, it begins to press against the lung and your lung is unable to inflate with air. Symptoms include shortness of breath or chest pain- and the pain can get pretty severe.

There are a few different types of collapsed lungs. A traumatic pneumothorax is when you are injured and your lung collapses as a result. A secondary spontaneous pneumothorax is when your lung collapses as a symptom of another illness, like cystic fibrosis or COPD.

The third type of pneumothorax is a primary spontaneous pneumothorax. These happen most often to smokers, tall males, and people in their twenties and there is no underlying cause. That's me. The number one question I have had from family and friends is, "What caused this?" and "Well, when will you find out what REALLY caused it?"

I think the answer is going to be that I will never know! Every single doctor I have spoken to (and that is a lot) has said that these just happen spontaneously to healthy people, usually in their 20s. I prefer this (lack of) explanation versus the secondary pneumothorax, because that would mean I have something chronically wrong with me.

How do you treat a collapsed lung? I only know about the spontaneous types of pneumothorax, but I would assume treatment for a traumata injury is different.

  1. Sometimes, there is no treatment required. If only a small amount of air has leaked out of the lung, it might just be left alone to heal.
  2. The next level up is to insert a tube into your chest cavity and suction out the air that has leaked into your chest so that the lung can inflate against the chest cavity and begin to heal. Then the tube is left in to prevent air from accumulating, and the lung usually heals itself in 3-5 days. 
  3. If that doesn't work, the next option is surgical. This is usually a laparoscopic surgery that will staple off the hole in the lung and help it attach to the chest cavity. 

There are a few intermediary steps that a doctor may try, but these are the most common. Right now I am somewhere between steps 2 and 3. My lung has until Friday to heal before moving on to step three.

There you have it! When I first received the diagnosis, I was really frustrated with a lack of clear information online. I sat down with my new pulmonologist (lung doc) yesterday and she talked to me about this for almost an hour.

And, finally, I leave you with my latest portrait.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Still Down

Yesterday did not turn out as well as I had hoped, so I'm still down a lung. Friday is the new day to look forward to! I am doing my best to maintain my optimism, and I will say that it's not so bad having Brian take care of me.

Obviously, I haven't been cooking in quite awhile, so Brian has taken over the kitchen.

He made a really yummy pasta- penne, spinach, onions, pine nuts and parmesan, tossed in olive oil.

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AND he went out to pick up some gelato for dessert :)

Salted caramel and dark chocolate.

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For breakfast, a hearty breakfast sandwich with eggs and bacon on an egg bagel (my favorite kind).

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Pork chops were on the menu as well.

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Served with a side of kale chips. Obviously, this is a picture of Brian's plate! He even took over photography duties! I am abstaining from alcohol because most of my meals over the weekend were served with a side of painkillers.

One meal that I made on my own? A smoothie!

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It was really easy to throw a bunch of stuff in the blender and press a button. This one has Greek yogurt, a banana, frozen strawberries, peanut butter and milk. Smoothies are my new go-to for super easy meals- you can add some raw oats to make it a little heartier too. Speaking of oats, I've been making a lot of oatmeal as well because its so easy. 

So that's that! I am trying to get out and about more, at the recommendation of my doctor, so maybe I will have something more exciting to report on tomorrow!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Still Here!

I can't believe that it has been five days since my last post! Hopefully no one assumed that I have fallen off the face of the earth, because I am certainly still here.

Wednesday evening when I was walking home from work, my lung collapsed.

Surprise!

Isn't that shocking? I work out every day and eat tons of vegetables. I've never smoked, and when it comes to drinking I mostly stick to a glass or two of red wine. I'm not overweight, and I'm not underweight. Brian jokes that I'm going to live to 110. But, apparently I am not so invincible. 

The good news is that I will heal. Last week, a drainage tube was inserted into my chest cavity and all of the air that leaked out of my lung was suctioned out. The tube stayed in for a few days and this morning Brian and I are heading back to the hospital to have it removed. I'll follow up with a pulmonologist (lung doctor) to make sure that I do not have any type of underlying condition, but most likely it was just a random event without a cause.

In addition to learning a lot about hospitals, lungs and various pain medications, I also learned how incredibly important it is to have a primary care physician that you trust! I write a lot about living a healthy lifestyle, but truthfully I think this is the most important thing you can do for your health.

When my lung collapsed, I was actually outside of an urgent care facility and walked in. They kept me from passing out, and confirmed that I was not having a heart attack (it felt like it!), but then they sent me home and told me to take some Advil. I wanted to confirm their diagnosis, which was basically just that I had pain and it would go away, so I scheduled an appointment with my primary care physician. It was that doctor who sent me to the emergency room and started the process.

If I didn't have a primary care physician, I would have probably just accepted what urgent care told me and my lung would have continued to collapse (it was at 40% when I went in). That's a scary thought.

Hopefully all goes well today and I'l be back tomorrow to share all of the delicious foods that Brian made me while I was stuck on the couch!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fresh Pasta

What is the most delicious food you can make at home?

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Fresh pasta dough. If you have the right tools, it is way easier than you might think. And, the ingredient list is SO simple. I often make this when I don't have a lot on hand.

A few years ago, Brian bought me an Imperia Pasta Machine and I use it all the time. I make fresh pasta anywhere from 3-8 times each month. It definitely takes awhile to get the hang of. When I first started, it took me significantly longer than it does now. Right now, it only takes about 15 minutes to make a huge batch. If you have a Kitchen Aid mixer, you can buy an attachment that will do some of the work for you, but I'm perfectly happy with the hand crank.

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Start off with three cups of flour. I always use white whole wheat flour and I think that it creates a great firm texture in the final product and is the easiest to work with. This batch as actually about 2 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup regular whole wheat flour, because I ran out. Flour makes a big difference when it comes to texture, so maybe start with white whole wheat and then play around with different blends once you are comfortable with the process.

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Create a well in the middle of your flour and add four eggs.

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Start to mix up.

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I use a fork and circular motions to move around the perimeter of the flour well, pulling in more flour as I go.

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When it starts to thicken up, get in there with your hands. I start when it looks something like this,

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It's super sticky. I keep it in the bowl to minimize the mess, and bring it out for some more kneading on the counter when it's a little more combined.

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Stop when its firm and get tough to knead.

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Let the dough set a minute, while you put together your machine.

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I split the dough into quarters and work with one quarter at a time.

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Flatten and add to the machine, cranking through at the lowest level (the rollers are farthest apart).

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Roll it through, then take the dough and fold it into quarters before adding it back in.

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Its time to embrace imperfection, because this stage will never look the same.

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Continue to roll the dough through the lowest setting five more times, for a total of seven. (hello toes! whoops!) Then move on to the next setting and roll the dough through each of the following settings one time.

When you get to the second highest setting (the dough will get thinner each time), cut the dough in half. This will make the final strands of pasta more manageable. I don't use the highest setting at all- the pasta is too thin.

Add on the pasta cutter and feed each half in- I used the linguine setting. I imagine you could also slice the dough into strands, it would just take a bit more time.

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Repeat with the remaining quarters. You will have tons of delicious pasta all over your kitchen counter.

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To cook, add to a boiling pot of water. Fresh pasta only takes one minute to cook- if you leave it in there longer it gets gummy and gross. It floats up to the top just like this:

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Enjoy! Last night, I added the pasta to some diced tomatoes, artichoke hearts, broccoli, spinach and some salt and pepper. Topped with mozzarella cheese!

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