LGSMASH As A #FitFluential Ambassador

Today has not been a very great knee day so far. (Surgery was on Wednesday; read more here)

After too much nausea last night, I’d decided no more pain pills. I’d rather have a bit more pain and feel like a normal, clear headed, not sick-to-my-stomach person than to have a bit less pain and feel like garbage. So I didn’t take any medicine before bed.

I woke up this morning to a knee that was on fire with pain. HOLY cow. And we’d run out of ice for my awesome Game Ready Ice Machine. And I desperately had to go to the bathroom. So I did what any normal person in my painful situation would do – I cried. I didn’t remember surgery being so painful last time!

After I calmed down, got some more ice in the machine and ate some toast, I decided (with gentle coercion from my fiance) it would behoove me to take some medicine, if only to take the edge off the pain so I could function without tears. So far, so good.

While I’m feeling pretty decent, I wanted to share some exciting news I got last week during our epic cross country drive: I’ve been selected to be a FitFluential Ambassador! (!!!!!) So many of my favorite bloggers and twitter friends (Courtney, Heather, Kia, Suzanne, Shut Up and Run, and so many more!) are #FitFluential and I’m so excited to join the team.

As I’ve been on this journey with my knee surgeries, I’ve blogged about it for two reasons: to give my condition (Osteochondritis Dissecans) a real voice where there was none and secondly, to encourage and inspire others. To inspire other injured athletes to overcome their injury and get back into the game (or run or bike), inspire those just starting on their health journey to keep going (if I can do it after 2 knee surgeries in 3 months, anyone can!), inspire those who are able to walk, run, play to appreciate their abilities while I can’t.

What does this mean for you, my reader? I don’t anticipate much changing. You can expect to still read about the surgery recovery and in 6 weeks, how I’ll start getting myself back into regular physical activity safely. I’ll continue to blog about healthy recipes when I’ve made something extraordinary that needs to be shared. Healthy living, healthy recovery, same ol’ lgsmash.

It is my promise that FitFluential will do nothing but enhance the your reader experience.  Thank you guys, the friends and readers of LGSMASH, for your support through my surgeries and recovery. It’s meant the world to me and I’m looking forward to continuing this journey with you!

Left Knee Surgery Recap

Well, surgery #2 for 2011 is over and done. It feels good to know that all I have left to do is recover!

We arrived at the Rocky Mountain Surgery Center at 7:30 a.m. for my scheduled 9:15 a.m. surgery. After checking in and getting all my paperwork in order, Alex and I sat down in the waiting from for about 15 minutes until I was called back to get changed and set up for surgery. I know I posted yesterday that I was feeling more at ease about this surgery, compared to my first knee surgery in October; all true until I was sitting and waiting to be called. All confidence went out the window and nervous thoughts flew through my mind:

  • What if my right knee isn’t ready? What if this is too soon?
  • What if recovery doesn’t go as smoothly as the first one?
  • What if I find out in 2 years that this DeNovo procedure didn’t do as well as I thought it would? Do I want to risk 2 bad knees if that’s the case?
  • Oh shoot – I forgot about the PAIN. And the NEEDLES (I hate getting the IV).

Fortunately, the nurse who took me back was super friendly and helped take my mind off the needles and surgery. She took my vitals, let me get changed and then started my IV.

My bed partners before they wheeled me back – knee brace and my purse.

After I was IV’d, they let Alex come back and sit with me until it was time to get started. Having him with me in the minutes before surgery was extremely comforting – he helped keep the butterfiles at bay, as much as possible.

The last time I stood on both feet for the next 6+ weeks.

Before long, the anesthesiologist stopped by to talk about anesthesia, my previous reactions to it (nausea/vomiting) and what we’d be doing this time. I opted for a femoral nerve block, like all of my previous surgeries, to numb my left leg for about 12ish hours. It feels as though your leg is completely asleep and really helps mitigate the pain after surgery.

After the consult with my anesthesiologist, it was time to say goodbye to Alex.

Then, things got real – I was sedated (still conscious but a lot less with it) and given a bit of local numbing to my left groin area to prepare for the nerve block. In order to administer the block, my anesthesiologist uses a long needle to poke around on the different nerves in my thigh to find the right ones to block. As he moved the needle, different muscle fibers would twitch – some were long and slow, others were small and rapid and felt like a rubber band snapping on my skin.  This is the strangest sensation in the entire world: to have your leg muscles twitch uncontrollably, in a not so comfortable way. He found the fibers he was looking for and pumped me full of nerve blocking meds.

Now, time to be wheeled into the operating room. I tried to sit up a bit and look around but I don’t remember much of this part. As they brought me into the OR, I heard Passion Pit on speakers (my request) and smiled. Earlier while I spent time with Alex, we discussed what music I should ask them to play. Last time, I’d picked Ryan Adams (my favorite singer) but he was a bit too slow for the situation. This time, I wanted something more upbeat and exciting to ‘pump me up for surgery’. Mission accomplished.

The last moments I remember in the ER were trying to crawl on the operating table from the bed I’d just been wheeled in on – much harder when my left leg was numb – and very lastly, a burning-ish sensation in my IV arm and shoulder as I went under.

I woke up in Recovery 1 which is where patients are re-acclimated to the waking world. My mouth was completely parched – no food or drink since dinner the night before – and downed 4 apple juice boxes. A nurse helped me change into my clothes after I’d been awake for about 10-15 minutes and then I was able to be moved to Recovery 2.

Recovery 2 is in an oversized arm chair and Alex was able to come back and see me. While in Recovery 2, I had 2 more apple juices and 2 packets of saltines. The nurses took my vitals, reviewed discharge instructions with Alex and we were on our way out.

I settled in the back seat of the car and after a quick stop for a bagel – the only thing that sounded edible – Alex got me home and into our apartment quickly and safely.

I spent the rest of Wednesday (surgery day) sleeping. The nerve block wore off at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday and I started taking Percocet for the pain. During my last surgery, I’d thought Vicodin was the culprit of my nausea but it has since turned out that Percocet isn’t much better.

Thursday was consumed with sleep and nausea but not without a wonderful visit from one of my best friends, Sarah, in the afternoon to help take my mind off things. It was such a nice reprieve from bad TV and thinking about my knee to catch up with her while she’s in town for the holidays.

From the last surgery, I know the first 2-3 days were especially crummy so I know I’m almost through it. Despite the pain and nausea, I do feel better than post-surgery in October. I’m hoping this is a foreshadowing of the rest of recovery!

Wedding Wednesday: (Cup)Cake Tasting!

**Wedding Wednesday is a feature on my blog documenting our wedding planning process – thoughts, reflections, ideas, milestones. Follow along as we plan a wedding in our home city of Cincinnati while we live in Denver.

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Mmm…Cake tasting. Hands down, the yummiest part of wedding planning so far.

While we were in Cincinnati last weekend, I set up some time for Alex and I to taste potential cupcakes for our wedding. My cousin used Heavenly Frosted for her wedding (that’s her on the Wedding page!) and I loved them! I couldn’t wait for Alex to taste and see what he would think.

From left to right: Red Velvet, Holiday Confetti, Chocolate Indulgence, Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter Bliss

In addition, we tasted seasonal flavors that Nichole made earlier that morning including: Egg Nog, Peppermint Stick, Carrot Cake and Gingerbread.

The verdict? He loves ‘em! Cupcakes it is!

We brought our younger sisters and brother to help us taste and decide on flavors. I’m so glad they came! I’m not sure how Alex and I would have been able to eat 9 cupcakes between the two of us.

Although there were a few clear flavor winners among the 6 taste testers, we won’t solidify our final flavors for another few months. We’ll have the opportunity to taste summer seasonal cupcakes (raspberry lemonade? YUM!) later next spring.

The best part about our cupcake experience was meeting Nikki, owner and baker at Heavenly Frosted. She was so accommodating and helpful, despite the busy, busy day her bakery was having. I know that we’re going to have a great experience working with her – she’s got a lot of fun ideas for cupcake displays, too!

Spending the weekend at home, with our families, was the first time we could really ‘celebrate’ and enjoy being engaged with our families. Both of our families are so excited and supportive of us – it’s been fun to bounce around ideas and timelines and imagine how it’s all going to come together. All I can guarantee at this point is that we’re going to have one great party to celebrate. I can’t wait!

So – what do you think: Cupcakes Yay or Nay? Clearly, we’ve said a loud YAY but I’m curious to hear your opinions!

Left Knee Surgery Day

It’s that day again… surgery day. I’m undergoing the same surgery as my right knee to treat the Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) defect in my knee cartilage. You can read more about OCD, my previous surgeries and the procedure I’m undergoing  here.

When this goes live, I’ll be happily knocked out on the operating table, dreaming of the day in February that I’ll be walking again. 7 short weeks!

Before my last surgery, I was incredibly nervous – I’d forgotten what all surgery would entail and was very unsure of what to expect. This time, I am much more at ease. I know better what to expect and what recovery will entail – I’ve learned a lot since my right knee surgery!

  • In the days and weeks before surgery #1, I was rushing around to get to all doctor, dentist, hair cut, eyebrow waxing, you name it appointment before I was stuck on crutches.
  • In the days and weeks before surgery #2, I spent as much time enjoying life and using both of my legs as possible. Walking the dog, working out, meeting with friends, shopping. Doing life!
  • On the night before surgery #1, I was eating a dinner out and throwing things together for the hospital in the morning.
  • On the night before surgery #2, I ate dinner at home, gave myself a pedicure, washed my hair EXTRA well, enjoyed my extra long shower, cleaned up the apartment and set up the couch for my crutching return tomorrow.

 

 

 

I learned after the first surgery that I won’t be able to take a shower for a few days and I won’t be able to bend my knee to paint/have my toes painted for a few weeks. I’ve tried to make sure I’m set for the first few days which were the most painful and difficult last time.

Here’s to hoping the next surgery update I post is to say that everything went just as smoothly as surgery #1!

Catch ya on the other side.

Epic Cross Country Road Trip: Time Travel

And just like that, our short 3.5 days in Cincinnati ended and we’re back on the road, headed west.

Leaving Monday, we opted to come back the same way we arrived (OH-IN-IL-IA-NE-CO) and tackled 7 hours that evening, stopping in Iowa City. That left us about 12+ hours to drive today.

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Iowa wasn’t so bad to drive through; much hillier and the landscape was more interesting than flat Kansas.

I volunteered to drive our first half today – I’m much more of a morning person than my fiance. While I drove, Alex ‘time traveled’. (See also: sleep)

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In truth, it’s been a pretty painless drive and really couldn’t have gone any smoother. We were able to keep each other entertained and awake and managed to keep the pup alive. All the marks of a successful roadtrip.

We’ve just entered back into Colorful Colorado which means we have only a few more hours till we’re home in Denver. Until then, I intend to ‘time travel’ and wake up at our apartment.

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Nap time, pup!

Home in Cincinnati

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We made it! In truth, this is not how Ohio looks right now. It’s mild, gray and rainy.

It took 20+ car hours, 3 days of driving and crossing 5 states but we are home – safe, sound and ready to see and do as much as we can in our short 3.5 days here.

I hope you enjoy your holiday weekend as much as I know I will.

Merry christmas!

Epic Cross Country Christmas Road Trip & Chobani Giveaway Winner

As you read this, we are probably somewhere across Iowa as we make our way to Cincinnati for Christmas. Due to weather concerns and highways closing earlier in the week, we opted to take the less weathered route and drive north, rather than straight across like we did in September.

Yes, that says 20 hours. 20 hours!

After working a full day, we drove 6 hours last night and got to Kearney shortly before 1 a.m. CST. Our plan was to get up and drive at 7 a.m. for the final 14 hours home but 5+ hours of sleep was not enough and wouldn’t have been safe for us. Instead, we slept until 8 a.m. and are now driving.We’ll get home later than we wanted but we’ll be more alert and safer on the road. I’d rather get home in one piece than rush to get home faster!

And now for the important part! The Chobani giveaway winner!

Winner is: Lena @ Fit On The Rocks! Congratulations!

Thanks to all who entered!

Skydiving As Teambuilding

Last week, my boss took me and a coworker to do some very unique team building: Indoor skydiving!

Skyventure Colorado is an indoor skydiving facility in the South Denver area. There are other facilities around the country but this is the only facility in Denver or Colorado.

Ho-ly cow. I had butterflies in my stomach all afternoon before our 5:45 p.m. appointment. I’ve always wanted to try ‘real’ skydiving but suddenly, when faced with an intermediary step to the real deal, I was extraordinarily nervous.

We filled out waivers and had a few minutes to check out the air tunnel before it was our group’s turn to get started.

The tunnel is 40 vertical feet from bottom to top with wind speeds able to be adjusted from 80 miles per hour to 160+ miles per hour.

Did I mention that I had butterflies?

Before each beginner’s session, there is a 15 minute lesson that details what to expect, how to react and commands that our instructor would use with us. Since it was everyone’s first time flying, our main position to try was the Belly Fly.

And we were all required to practice before the lesson was over. Our instructor gave us tips to better position our bodies – arms up more, relax our shoulders, arch the back.

Not awkward at all.

I walked out of the classroom feeling a bit more confident. To help ease fears even further, our instructor took us out onto the screen floor to let us get a taste of what we’d be getting into.

Next came the very stylish flying suits. With an abnormally long toros (see the short legs in the photo above), I was  nervous that the suit wouldn’t fit as most one-pieced clothing doesn’t (like swimsuits, rompers, footie pajamas).

I was very pleased to find out it did fit – and that I got to wear purple and pink. underneath our suits, we wore elbow and knee pads to protect us if when we bumped into the glass while flying.

Final touches: helmet and goggles. We’re ready!

I clearly disregarded the tennis shoe memo. If you decide to try this – wear tennis shoes.

My boss bought us each 5 minutes of flying, broken into 3 segments: 1 minute, 2 minutes, 2 minutes. This was just the right amount of time – we each spent the first minute of the flight trying understand what was happening to us and how to move our bodies. The second segments were a bit more fun because we had started to get the feel for it and could move around a little on our own.

We weren’t able to bring our camera into the flying chamber so I’d asked a parent of the young kids (9 and 11 years old) flying in our group to take photos for us. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of memory (of all times!!) so I only have a few pictures of my co-worker flying.

It was SO MUCH FUN! After the first minute, all of my fears and butterflies disappeared. Our instructor was right next to us the whole time, making sure that we’re doing things correctly and safely. And it’s good for kids of all ages – the 9 and 11 year old flying with us were great sports and loved it!

There’s no way to really get hurt – I fell from the air a few times but the instructor is right there. He straightened me out and got me back in the air. The netting below is somewhat bouncy so no crashing onto hard floors.

One STRONG recommendation I have for anyone with long hair – be sure to tie your hair back tightly! I braided mine under my helmet but my hair tie came out during my second segment. I was having too much fun to care about it…until I got home. My hair was one massive tangle that took a lot of time and tears to brush out. Learn from my mistake and don’t let your hair fly free.

We bought the DVD that I’ll share once I receive my copy of it.

I would recommend Skyventure to adventure seekers, adrenaline junkies and anyone looking for a fun, unique activity in Denver. As nervous as I was to get in the wind tunnel, I had so much fun and would definitely go back. So much fun!

Now real skydiving? That’s another story…

 

Giveaway: Chobani Greek Yogurt

You know that Chicken Tikka Masala I made last night? Or my Healthy Buffalo Chicken Dip? Wanna know what these both have in common – besides chicken, of course? Chobani plain yogurt!

I’ve been finding new ways to incorporate Chobani into my meals to make them a tad healthier and a whole lot tastier. The possibilities are endless! There are a whole slew of recipes over at #ChobaniKitchen.

In the spirit of holiday giving, Chobani has offered to let me hook you guys up with some Cho to try for yourself!

One reader will get 3-32 oz containers of Chobani: 1 0% Plain, 1 2% Plain and 1 0% Vanilla. With 96 oz of Cho, your enjoyment possibilities are endless!

YUM!

2 easy ways to enter: 

  1. Leave a comment below letting me know what you wanna make with your Cho. (Next on my list, FroYo Popsicles)
  2. Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted! (You can copy and paste this to make it even EASIER: ‘.@lgsmash is giving away a whole lotta @Chobani. Enter here: http://wp.me/p1oGVP-os )

This giveaway will be open until Wednesday night, 12/21 so get your entries in! I’ll pick a winner at random (using Random.org) and announce on Thursday, 12/22.

An early Cho-liday gift, if you will. :)

Full disclosure: Chobani is supplying (and will send out) the yogurt for this giveaway. As always, any opinion about Chobani (and any other product on my blog) is expressly my own. 

Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala

My love affair with Indian food, and specifically Chicken Tikka Masala, began in college. There was a hole-in-the-wall Indian joint nearby my houses in college and after my brother introduced me to the deliciousness that is CTM, there was no stopping this girl.

After eating far too many plates of CTM at Indian buffets (currently loving on India Oven), I decided it was time to get my act together and learn to make CTM at home. I stalked the recipes online for the perfect one and waited for the right night to get my Indian on.

Last night was the night. Modified from this recipe, I am thrilled with how it turned out.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves 2-3 (Adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients - Marinade

  • 1 cup yogurt (I used Chobani plain)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breast tenders, cut into bite-size pieces

Ingredients – Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients for marinade in a medium bowl; mix in chicken and put in the fridge for 1 hour.
  2. Spread chicken on roasting tray to broil in the oven; pieces should be evenly spaced. 
  3. Broil on high for 4 minutes; drain juices and flip with spatula; broil for 4 more minutes or until evenly cooked and juices are clear. Remove from heat.
  4. Melt butter in large saucepan; add jalapeno and garlic and saute for 1 minute; shake in paprika and cumin to season; add tomato sauce and heavy cream. Stir until well mixed.
  5. Simmer sauce for 15-20 minutes until sauce thickens; mix in chicken and let simmer for another 10 minutes.
  6. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
  7. Spoon onto plate and devour.

The sauce and chicken had a nice heat – not overwhelming and brought a great flavor – and was so creamy and filling. The jasmine rice rounded out the meal. I almost forgot I was eating in my own apartment and not at an Indian restaurant.

I was surprised at how relatively easy this was to make and generally healthy it is - full of spice and flavor and not so much full of calories. Of calorie contributing ingredients, I used plain Greek yogurt (Chobani 0%, healthy), plain chicken breasts (healthy), butter (eh), tomato sauce (plain & low sodium, healthy), and heavy whipping cream (not the friendliest caloried ingredient).

I made jasmine rice during the last 15 minutes that the chicken was marinading – it kept warm and fluffy in the saucepan while I made the sauce.

The one thing I will change about this recipe next time is to reduce the salt in the marinade. It was a tad salty for our tastes.

The best part about this meal? I can’t go back for seconds at the buffet! :)