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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Party aftermath

The carnage - an ornament dropped right by the door!
It's a good party when you're sweeping up broken glass afterward...right? David and I hosted our Christmas party last weekend, and we had about 30 people over for food and drinks. I served: 
- White hot Christmas chili
- Pulled pork on buns with coleslaw
- Hummus with pitas and toppings
- Chips and salsa - two kinds, red and green (homemade)
- Cheese and olive plate. I kind of splurged here and it was delicious.
- Grapes and a largely ignored veggie tray
- Lots of beer
- LaCroix, this water all the hipsters drink
- Tempranillo and shiraz
- Three kinds of cookies - peppermint spirals, oatmeal toffee, and these deep, rich, brownie cookies using chocolate I bought in Peru

I bought ornaments and paint markers and people decorated ornaments while they were there. I also had a flash of brilliance and put dry erase markers out with our wine glasses, which let everyone personalize their glasses (except my ditzy sister in law, who drew on hers with one of the paint markers for the ornaments, which are quite permanent - and on a totally different table lest anyone accidentally confuse them. Some people).

We had a wonderful diverse group of friends over: our landlords, who are the two most interesting people I know, and big cheese eaters (hence the overloaded cheese plate); a renaissance man (lawyer, published and awarded writer, and business owner); our pastors (both); another writer; the news editor for; an accountant specifically for the movie industry; a yoga teacher; an entomologist; a competitive Judo practitioner. We know some cool people and are lucky to have them as friends! 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day one post-op: Our Christmas tradition!

When I scheduled surgery for the 18th, it was partly because I was already off on the 19th: a day I took off for our Christmas tradition at Commander's Palace: An incredible lunch and some day-drinking with their 25-cent lunch martinis.
Far be it from me to skip our tradition because of a measly surgery!
I managed to find a pair of pants that fit over my swollen leg, and added a silk blouse, pearls, burgundy heels, and a cardigan (I got this leather trimmed sweater off Ebay and I love it).

We sat downstairs at Commander's Palace listening to the carolers, enjoying the holiday bustle, and having delicious food! For not the first time, I chose one of the "Fit NOLA" pre fixe menus. Now, far be it from me to order "healthy" when at a splurge place like Commanders - but these menus always sound delicious, and I wasn't disappointed: my entree was easily the best thing I've ever eaten at Commander's. I started with a roasted tomato soup that you just have to taste to believe: it had this incredible smoky, robust flavor. Even David was wiping my bowl out with french bread, and he dislikes tomatoes!
25-cent martinis and crutches - what could possibly go wrong?
Then my entree - a pickled lobster and avocado salad. It was heavenly - huge claws of lobster meat, diced mango, finely cut and fried plantains, generous avocado. I grudgingly shared a bite with David and I think he almost swooned (he had the sausage-stuffed quail, which I've had in the past - also delicious).
For dessert, I had a cranberry-cointreau sorbet in a spun sugar bowl; David had Commander's' famous bread pudding souffle. I couldn't finish- it was sweet, and I was also tucking away my 25-cent martinis (I had one regular and one Commander's, a bright blue drink that will knock you out).

I was glad we'd found parking close by: it has started to drizzle, and by the time we got home, there was a steady, cold rain, perfect for snuggling by the fire. Haha.

Another year, another successful Christmas tradition, surgery or no!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Post-op hip labral tear: take 2.

I'm home on the sofa, eating Christmas cookies and watching Hercule Poirot, ice packs on my swollen leg.
Ice packs in the winter = very cold
Apparently, the surgery was very successful. And the post-op nausea was not nearly as bad as last time, either. I asked the nurse to skip the promethazine and just used Zofran, and I did better without its drowsiness and dizziness. However, this time I felt pain afterwards, and it took me a long time to be discharged. First, the resident in the OR locked my brace at zero degrees flexion, so I couldn't sit up! To remove it and reset it involved getting up, getting my IV out, getting undressed, etc.
Then, my wound started bleeding. Lots. Tons. Saturating the bandage, sheets, bed - it was bad. I called the nurse, who rolled me on my side and applied pressure. We finally got it under control, but it took a long time, so it was 6pm before we were discharged. I had two nurses during that time, and they were both so sweet and skillful! Definitely getting compliment calls tomorrow. 
At home, I struggled through the muddy construction on our street, trying to remember to use my LEFT foot this time! I was used to using the right! and changed into the only thing that could fit over my very swollen leg (boy shorts and knee socks... hence the limited photos). The swelling is terrible this time! 
What's happening to my knee?!
I also have a bit of pain, bad enough to take a naproxen and an acetaminophen. 
It seems like it's mostly leg pain, maybe some damage from being in traction. 
I plan on icing through the weekend to get the swelling down and hopefully will feel better tomorrow. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I survived my visit

I survived.

But only because I had a methyl group in my (excessive amounts of) coffee (cool shadow, huh?)
I was TOLD what to wear by my boss's boss's boss's boss. She said to wear subdued neutrals, but not black, and to wear my hair down because up "looked so severe". Rude. And sexist. Nobody would tell a man-pharmacist how to do his hair.

Me on the stairs...holding a compact of powder, which I thought it best to bring. Just in case I got all shiny-nosed.
I wore a soft gray button-down (untucked for comfort - hurray for white coats hiding such sins!), pinstriped pants with a traditional cut, and blue suede shoes....because I wanted to break just one tiny rule. And I had on the whitest, starchiest lab coat in the history of lab coats.
The visit was just fine. I had three VPs at my store, and they were interested, taking notes on what I said, complimenting our progress, and generally being pleasant people. None of my crazy customers came in (although my sister in law did, that was funny, she knew about the visit and I think wanted to see the big-shots), and they were only there for an hour. We even closed on time (they arrived an hour and 15 minutes before closing).
The reason they chose my location was to collect ideas and plans on growing organic pharmacies like mine, that opened with no support/buyout/integration plan - essentially from the ground up. I was interested to learn that the manager who opens stores like that usually gets replaced after the first two years, but I've kept this place going and succeeding. We looked at my business plan and my rather messy marketing records, and they took pictures of a some of my plans and processes. I also brought up to them two huge barriers our system throws in my way, and they'll look into those.
Overall, typical corporate visit, and pretty successful! Now all that's left to do is get that pesky surgery out of the way, and this week's a wrap.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lessons learned from my left hip

It's been six months since my left hip surgery, a labral debridement with femoral head reshaping. It was an ordeal, but I wanted to share lessons I learned in case others are considering - or just had - this surgery.

- It is a big deal. Don't let "outpatient procedure" fool you. You are under general anesthesia, intubated, and you are having major hip surgery with a long, long recovery.
- It doesn't hurt very much right after. It's arthroscopic, so it's nearly painless. The pain comes later, weeks later, as the bone heals.
- There is very little consistent information available about the procedure or the recovery, so don't let what you read on the internets make you panic. Some doctors have you on crutches for days; other for months. Some give a brace for weeks, others no brace at all. PT recs and return to activity timelines are vastly different. Reports of how you will feel at certain points can be diametrically opposed to how you actually feel. Fret not. Every hip is different!
- You must move the joint. This is so important! While you have to protect your hip flexor to avoid long-term hip flexor tendinitis, you also have to use your joint early and often. As early as the day of surgery, get it moving. You can use a continuous passive motion machine, but if I could do it again (hey, I am doing it again!) I'd hit the exercise bike, too (no resistance). You have to move the joint to promote healing and reduce scar tissue formation.
- You must rest a little, too. I went back to work Monday after a Thursday procedure. Bad idea. It was too soon, and it prolonged healing time. You CAN go back to work after a few days, especially if you have a desk job, but if you have to be active at work, I don't recommend it. I'd say take 5 days minimum.
- Do your PT like it's your job. This is major surgery, and you have a lot of rebuilding to do.
- Let pain guide you at first. While you are still on crutches, you should not do anything that hurts.
- For the 4 - 8 weeks post-op period, you will probably be in pain. You should minimize pain (do not push though pain, and tell your therapist if your exercises cause any pain), but you should not panic if you feel pain later in the day after walking or other normal activities.
- After your labrum is fully healed (8 weeks if debrided; I think 12 weeks at least for repair), you are going to have to push through some pain. The area is probably stiff and full of scar tissue, but you are now at a use-it-or-lose-it point. Your PT should have you doing more stretching and some aggressive strengthening. Listen to him. You've got to do it or you'll lose range of motion and muscle tone.
- Returning to sport is gradual, and should be guided by your pain and tolerance. Don't do anything that hurts WHILE you do it. You might feel soreness and stiffness later. Continue to aggressively stretch and strengthen!
- You will get well. You might not get to 100%, but you'll get better, and it might sneak up on you!
- It is worth it. If you are considering surgery and are on the fence, you've probably read things online like, "Almost everyone has a labral tear in their lifetime" or "It's an artifact and not the true cause of pain" or "Femoral impingement is a myth." Sorry, I don't buy that. I was in so much pain when I tore my labrum that I could not touch my foot down. Five months after surgery I ran a painless sub-20 5k, very close to my original level of fitness. The difference is astonishing. I'm not as good as new, but I'm about 98%, and that's a far better outcome than I expected. You don't want to live your life in chronic pain. Do it!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The president is coming!

Allow me to show you my schedule this week.
Monday and Tuesday: Visit from my best friend from childhood with husband and her sister and all that entails. I had requested these days off for months - since February, actually - but somehow our market scheduler did not cover me on Tuesday, and I went in to work after they left. Bible study, which we skipped.
Wednesday: work, dental appointment, tutoring.
Thursday: Work. Frantic cooking.
Friday: Work. Church Christmas party and chili cook-off. I am entering "White Hot Christmas" chili. It won't win. It's too weird.
Saturday: We're hosting a huge Christmas party! And I might have to go into work.
Sunday: Church; dinner with friends. And I might have to go into work...
Why all this extra work, you ask? Is it because of my upcoming surgery? No, not at all. It's because...
The president is coming! Or the presidents are coming. The VP of customer experience and president of business operations for the entire company are visiting my store on Monday. My store. Monday. I am in the throws of a panic attack as we speak!
Then that Wednesday I have pre-op, and surgery Thursday. Followed by our Christmas tradition Commander's Palace lunch on Friday right after surgery, then hosting family caroling on Sunday, then back to work Tuesday, then working Christmas day. Not busy at all.

I'm nervous as heck about this upcoming visit. These are the big guns at Walgreens, and I am sure I will say something stupid or not know how to answer a question. It's definitely the visit of a lifetime - I don't want to botch it. I'm heading in early today to get working on the basics, like cleaning coffee spills off my keyboard. The important stuff, like polishing my business plan, has to be done, too.  guess I will be working early and late all week!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Year of Running, 2014.

It's Miss Zippy's year-of-running post!
Join in on her page.
Best race experience: Racing in 2014 was almost nonexistent: I ran a hot and greasy half-marathon in a near PW time, a 5k in which I tore my labrum acutely, a pre-surgery hot and slow 5k, a post-surgery hot and slow 5k, and one normal, honest, real race 5k.
I'll go with that one, a few weeks ago: the Crescent City Fall Classic. I changed my pacing plan at the very last moment (starting line) and went for sub-20 to get a "B" corral at the Classic 10k next Spring. I squeaked in by a second!
Best run: Hands down, my first post-surgery run, even if it was half walking!
Best new piece of gear: I fell in love with Coeur's run short for comfort, function, fit, and appearance. I thought I'd be raving about their bras with pockets, which I love as well, but these shorts are so perfect for me that they had to win out!
Best piece of running advice you received: It's all about hip strength. Too late, but good advice nonetheless.
Most inspirational runner: This one, who completed the RnR New Orleans half for the second time. The first time her doctors were still questioning if she'd ever walk again. Not all recovery stories have fairy tale endings, like suddenly she can run and she's winning races, etc. This is all about hard work for Monique Koll.