Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Drums keep pounding a rhythm to my brain...

I bet you thought I was on another blog hiatus, didn`t you? In typical fashion, once something has happened that upsets me I find it hard to sit down and type. And I`m upset. But in such a cliche manner, writing about it does seem to make me feel better. 

About a week ago I started to have symptoms similar to those before I had my surgery. 

I went from feeling absolutely normal, fine... even great... to feeling pretty darn crummy all the time.

And I am pissed.

The symptoms came, literally, out of no where. I was laying down with Amelia, nursing her, and all the sudden noticed my head was pounding and felt `full`. It struck me as odd since I had not felt that way since my superior vena cava was all blocked up (brush up on my heart history here if you`d like) so I reached up to feel my neck to see if my jugular veins were all hulk like. And they were hulk like. 

Before my surgery, when my superior vena cava was closed to 3mm, I would get pressure headaches and the veins in my neck would bulge out because the blood could not flow through that small opening. I would get a back up of blood in my veins which caused those symptoms. 

And now they are back.

And this is strange. If the area of my superior vena cava was going to scar back over it would have done it sooner rather than later. At least that is the standard school of thought for re-scaring. 

And I am back to having next to no tolerance for physical activity. Just walking around while holding Amelia gives me chest pain and I become weak. Ya`ll, I was just running the other week! 

I went to see a Doctor on Base who decided that I should have a study done to see if the vein is clogged back up again. I am waiting for an appointment to be arranged with a Japanese hospital for a trans esophageal echocardiogram. Basically they put a long probe down my throat to get a good, clear image of my heart. This will tell us if there is anything causing my symptoms, structurally speaking.

I keep hoping that I am just going a little nuts and the symptoms are all in my head. The moment I start feeling more `fine` than `crappy` I get confidence. I say to myself `It is all in your crazy little head, you are fine!` and I hop up to play with Noah, scooping him up and swinging him in the air. Then I get weak, my chest starts to ache and feel tight. 

And, if I am lucky, that is the end of it. But more often than not I spiral into a mini panic attack. My skin gets hot and feels like needles are pricking me all over. I start to panic that I am alone with the kids, or that I am miles away from the hospital, or that I don`t speak a lick of Japanese yet live in Japan... and if I am particularly dramatic I start worrying about what would happen to the kids if I just kicked the bucket. I mean, Amelia Will. Not. Take a bottle. 

But the beat goes on, right? 

But I am having a hard time handling this with grace this time. I am angry and scared. Whatever it is that is causing these symptoms... I just hope it is an easy fix. I don`t know if I can muster up any more courage or grace, ya`ll. 

So on that utterly depressing note, I am done whining. Let`s cheer ourselves up with cute pictures of babies:

Man, do my children look alike as babies or what?

Until next time, folks.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The only thing the gingerbread man and I have in common is molasses

Remember a while back when I said I was going to start training for a marathon? And remember how I said I was going to start a new blog about my training efforts? Well, wouldn't you know, I am bad enough as is with this humble blog, I thought it would be best to just track my training efforts right along with our other adventures. Anyway, moving on...

I have been running now for two weeks. And by running I mean walking and running and then walking some more. I am OK with how slow of a start it seems to be for me. I keep reminding myself of all that my body has been through in the past couple of years to try and not become discouraged. But I gotta tell you folks, sometimes it is darn right pitiful.

I used to be able to pop out of bed, lace up the sneaks and hit the pavement no matter what I had to eat the day before or how little sleep I was allowing myself. I used to be able to head to Lake Johnson, my favorite running path in Raleigh, NC, and run the BIG loop. I would stay there all day long, not paying attention to miles or the time, stoping in the middle of the woods to think, meditate. I used to used to used to be a RUNNER.

Having these 'used to' thoughts running through my head made me feel like I was running through molasses.

The beat goes on, folks.

Here is the ugly, honest truth. It is taking me a long time to feel comfortable in my sneaks again. I feel awkward and uncoordinated. I am having a hard time finding the time to head out the door (those darn children and their 'needs') so going out for a quick jaunt feels more like a chore. And I am sore. My phrenic nerve ( which is the nerve that controls your diaphragm and therefore helps you breath) was damaged during my surgery. This means that my right lung is smaller than my left, with less capacity. It also rubs on my diaphragm, which is painful when I am breathing hard. It also just freaks me out to feel any pain in my chest. Pain is an ugly little mind game, isn't it?

But the beauty of it? I have an amazing support system. A wonderful friend (who is also a wonderful photographer, go look and be in awe) offered to write me a training schedule. She is a runner. A mother. A beautiful soul. And then there is my wonderful sister, Jessica, who just finished her second marathon. She is also a runner. A mother. A beautiful soul. And of course there is Jeff, who ever so cooly will say 'I've got the kids, why don't you head out the door?' when I am about to just sit down at the computer and waste some time on pinterest.

So I may not be run run running as fast as I can, but I will get there. In the mean time, I am just taking it one beat at a time. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Autumn Pasta, PERFECTED

OK folks. I have done it. I have created the tastiest, semi healthy pasta dish. I did not even have a chance to take a picture, it was THAT GOOD. Plus, my phood photog (see what I did there?) skills are no good, it would not have done the dish justice.

You should make it. Tonight.

Autumn Pasta

What`s in it:

1/2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch spears
2 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 egg yolks
2 Tbs milk
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 lb pasta

How to make the magic:

Toss the veggies in the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes. 

Cook your pasta, timing it to be done about the same time as the veggies. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, milk and parm in a bowl large enough to hold the pasta and veggies (your serving bowl). Press the garlic into the egg mixture. Before you drain the pasta, ladle a spoonful of the hot pasta water into the egg mixture. Be sure you whisk as you pour to keep the egg from clumping as it cooks. 

Congratulations! You just made carbonara sauce!

Dump the pasta and the roasted veggies in with the sauce, mix it up. 

Ya`ll, it is some serious good eats. And the squash looses its integrity a little when you mix it all up, but that`s ok, it only adds to the creaminess. And gives the pasta a sweet orange color.

And I`d like to think that I invented this dish. I looked online for similar recipes but could not find one. So just let me live in my own little world where Bobby Flay stumbles upon my humble blog, reads the above and says to himself `Who is this lady and how soon can we start filming?!`

In other news, I also made the best pumpkin muffins I have ever had. However, I did not invent this recipe. I did search high and low for a recipe that used melted butter instead of vegetable oil. I am not a fan of baking with oil, it tends to make things chewy. And I did not add the candied ginger or the nuts to my muffins. I am a purest.

Since I had half a can of pumpkin puree left over from my muffins I made a pumpkin spice latte syrup. While there are Starbucks here in Japan they do not have the beloved PSL. This syrup is fantastic for those addicts out there who want to save a few pennies (or yennies, if you will).

Autumn sure does smell and taste good, don`t you agree? What are your favorite fall treats?