Thursday, June 12, 2014

In Which I Pass Off a Homework Assignment as a Blog Post and Hope You Don't Notice

Happy Anniversary Peeps!  It's been a year since my jaw surgery.  And I'm still trying to get back to blogging.

Last month I started course #4 in my Aromatherapy Certification.  This has been a dream of mine even though I don't plan on leaving my current career behind any time soon.  These courses add some balance to my life.  In my fantasy world I become a wise Reiki Master and Aromatherapist and work with animals. Dogs and horses bark and neigh with joy wherever I appear.

But course #4 is a business class.  And I thought it would be a no-brainer after those other courses, which involved research, case studies and (gasp!) chemistry. After all, I have worked in accounting for over 25 years. I should be able to do this in my sleep, right? 


This course is challenging me to reevaluate the way I go about running my current business.  It doesn't matter if all the debits equal all the credits.  If you go home at night and furiously channel surf because you do not want to speak to any of your family after a day of dealing with the ridiculous compost pile of a tax code with which our country is saddled, something is wrong. 

I made it through Module 1's focus on self-reflection.  It was challenging. After all, I had surgery that wiped me out physically and emotionally and altered my appearance at the same time. There are times when I pass a mirror and it takes a moment to realize that the person looking out is me.

Module 2 focused on being successful in your chosen business. It kind of shocked me out that there was a chapter on job burnout at the BEGINNING of a business book.  But this is a business class for the Holistic Health Industry. And I'm looking back at all my college courses wondering why nobody talked about this. 

Our instructor gave us four choices for our first project for Module 2.  When I first reviewed the choices, I made a mistake.  I looked at Option 4, "Stress Management Plan," and my first reaction was “If I chose this one I will not get a good grade.  All the other choices are more business oriented and the instructor might think I am taking the easy way out.” 

Then I remembered that the reason that I am taking these Aromatherapy courses is so that that I don't become physically and emotionally burnt out in my professional life.  I love my clients but I get exhausted trying to keep up with the tax law changes and levels of Federal and State government compliance that a tax practice entails. Blogpeeps, this is probably the most important assignment I could give myself.

So here is a copy of my homework assignment. These are the things I have been focusing on as I continue to recover from major surgery and actively work on reinvigorating my professional life.  May it serve you well.

Ude’s 10 Point Stress Management Plan

  1. Say thank you.  Plant your feet on the floor in the morning and say thank you for something.  Anything.  At first it may seem silly, but the more you do this, the more you will find to be thankful for.

  1. Hey you!  Yes you.  Breathe.  That’s better.  Now move.  Move!  Exercise is great when you have time.  If you don’t, put on your favorite song and do a silly dance around your bedroom while you brush your teeth.  Just breathe and move.  Doesn’t that feel good?

  1. Commit an act of kindness.  It costs nothing and it feels so good.  It creates positive energy that will return to you all day.

  1. Is there anything you can say “NO” to today?  It doesn't need to be a big thing.  If you say no to something, you are not a failure.  It will create space for something to which you want to say “YES!”   And here is a little secret-if you say no to one thing, something better is guaranteed to come along.

  1. Open the door.  Nature heals.  Even if you only have five minutes, stand outside and stretch your body.  If you live near a body of water, find time at least once a week to bask in its presence. 

  1. Have you smelled a baby’s head today?  It’s the most wonderful thing in the world.  What smells make you feel grounded and happy?  Horses.  Carnations.  The smell of the ocean.  Freshly tilled earth.  Hay.  The floor of a forest after the rain.  Aromatherapy doesn’t just come in a bottle.  Go smell something wonderful.

  1. Eating is an act of nurturing.  Eat well and mindfully.  Learn what your body needs to consume to function like the high performance thoroughbred you are.  And eat dark chocolate.   In your pajamas.  With fuzzy slippers on.

  1. Touch or be touched.  Ask for a hug.  Touch someone on the shoulder.  Get a massage.  Give a high five.

  1. Sleep.  Chose how long to sleep and don’t let anyone interrupt the commitment you have made to your body so it can rest and your mind so it can process the day.  If something is interrupting the quality of your sleep, find out why and make it stop.  Find a place to stretch out for a few minutes during the day, even at your place of work. 

  1. Your favorite late night talk show host wants you to have a good belly laugh before bed to release stress and take in some wonderful oxygen.  If you can’t stay up late enough to watch the show live, tape it and watch it tomorrow.  With that dark chocolate you have been saving.

The assignment was for a 10 point plan. So, I didn't get to include number 11 in my homework. But this is my blog.  I offer you the 11th point with utter sincerity.

Above all, be silly.  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Bad Poem About Saying Goodbye to my Car

She’s running on fumes

At times she was my safest room

She took me far

And close

Now she’s a ghost

I know she isn’t human

But her metal was like family

Her seats like home

And now I feel alone

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

You Can't Stop The Signal

But you can interrupt it.

Blogpeeps, I know it's been six months since I have created a post for your reading pleasure.

Here is what I have learned in six months:

Recovering from major surgery is hard.

It's even harder when that surgery affects your brain.

And while I remember all the arcane tax law I need to keep my accounting practice running, the part of my brain that can translate the creative thoughts in my head to words typed on a keyboard has ceased to function.

This is not stopping me from continuing my New Year's Day ritual with my family.  Notice this year's addition to the BIG DUMB FUN! category-Pacific Rim.

So all I can do is leave you with this message on the first day of this new year..  I will be back.

Until then:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Drink L'chaim, To Life!

Hi Blogpeeps!

Well, it's finally time.  Tomorrow I fly back to the East Coast.  Santa Barbara has treated me kindly and I'm as close to physically ready as I am going to get to make the endless journey home.

Did I mention packing sucks?

I know I owe my fellow jaw surgery patients some blogs about food, but before I can do that, my focus needs more focus.  My mind wanders off at a moment's notice.  One minute I'm trying to write a food blog and the next minute....Oh look! Candy Crush Saga!

So for now, I want to take a moment and talk with you about liquid refreshment.  (Non-alcoholic liquid refreshment.)  

My son enjoys a good cup of tea, and has turned me on to visiting tea houses whenever we travel.

In fact, I am fortunate to live in a place that hosts one of the best tea houses in the country.  My son and I have spent many hours enjoying their hot and cold teas.  

If you ever visit Burlington, Vermont and like tea, you owe it to yourself to pay a visit.

Our favorite cold tea is called Staroborshov.  It is served in a tall beer glass and let me tell you, there is nothing better on a hot summer day that sitting at one of Dobra's outdoor tables holding a cold frosty glass in your hand and people watching...

I am the nectar of the Gods.

As we were getting ready for our trip out, we researched tea houses in Santa Barbara.  Sadly, there aren't any.

So, I packed some tea.

Do you think I brought enough for 6 weeks?

When I first had the surgery, I was kicking myself for packing so much.  After the operation, I could not taste or smell anything.  In addition, I was not allowed to have anything hot.  This was because I had no sense of temperature and could have burned myself.  In addition, the roof of my mouth is very vulnerable due to the rebuilding of my upper jaw.

But as the days progressed, I regained my sense of smell, taste and temperature.  (In fact, thanks to Dr. Gunson, my sense of smell improved.)  I was able to warm the tea enough that it made me happy without giving me pizza palate.  It has been a great comfort to me to make a cup of one of my favorite teas and sip it while looking out the window of our cottage at the mountains.  

This view does not suck.

And folks who have never been to this part of the country?  I now understand the meaning of the lyrics "Purple Mountains Majesty."  (Which leads me to one of my favorite rants-why isn't "America The Beautiful" our National Anthem?)

As I got stronger and started going on some outings, I had a lot of hesitation about going to restaurants with other people and watching them eat.  But then I had a brain storm.  Why not plan some outings that were beverage centered?

So for those of you having jaw surgery with Dr. Gunson in Santa Barbara, here are three enjoyable outings that will allow you to experience some of the attractions of the area without feeling deprived.  In addition, they are very inexpensive.  That's a huge plus given the cost of temporary housing while recovering from surgery.

Outing #1:

High Tea at the 4 Seasons 

If you are going stir crazy, this is the place for you.  First of all, this is your view while you sip your tea:

Secondly, the tea is presented beautifully.  Witness this lovely tea pot:

I want to take this home with me but it won't fit in my purse.

And tea cup:

Citron Green Delight.

And shhhhhhhh!!!! I'm going to share a little secret with you.  Make your reservation for High Tea and plan to arrive early.  When you get there, the helpful staff will valet park your vehicle.  Then, you can walk across the way to experience the beauty of Butterfly Beach without worrying about finding a parking space.  And/or, you can enjoy exploring the beautiful grounds of the resort.  Not a bad deal.

Jaw peeps, is the one time I will share pictures of food you will not get to eat.  Because you will want to splurge for the $35 (instead of $6 for your pot of tea) it takes to provide the loved one taking care of your every need after your jaw surgery with the entire High Tea experience.

So they can eat this:

And then have this for dessert:

I ate this with my camera.

Outing #2:

Chocolate Maya

Oh My Oh Maya!

I have always wanted to try Mexican Hot Chocolate, but I have never found a gluten free version in Vermont.  I scored big at Chocolate Maya!

This is the sign that greets you as you walk in to the small but goodie-packed store:

The store is filled with funky art:

They have gorgeous handmade chocolates, pictures of which I will not be posting here because they will make jaw surgery patients cry.

They also have amazing chocolate bars.  This was my favorite:

They warned you!

It's made with something called Ghost Chile.  I assume it's called that because you die after eating it.

The back of the bar lists the ingredients.  They are as follows:   Organic dark chocolate, organic milk chocolate, spices, pain.

There are two types of hot chocolate at Chocolate Maya:

The nice lady behind the counter let me try a sip of "The Sacrifice."  Oh. My. Tasty. Goodness.  

My lips were still a little too swollen to handle all that heat at once, so she kindly offered to mix it half and half with the Eurococoa.  Mmmmmmm....

By the end of my stay, I had graduated to a full cup of Sacrifice.

I am all that is good and right in this world.

Outing #3:

Virgin Mojitos at The Boathouse

Straw removed for the safety of jaw surgery patients.

The Boathouse serves something called a "Honeycomb Mojito" because they use honeycomb to make their simple syrup.  All I know is that it wasn't cloyingly sweet like most simple syrup and it was incredibly refreshing.  They made no fuss when I asked for one without the alcohol (or for the three extra limes.)  

Since the temperature where we are staying has been too hot for my comfort as June progresses, we've escaped to the Boathouse a few times-it's located right on the beach, and there are plenty of umbrellas to shelter those of us who wilt under the sun.

And also?  This is your view:

So is this:

Things could be worse.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Bad Poem About Candy Crush Saga

Well blogpeeps, I've been in Santa Barbara, California recovering from my May 22nd jaw surgery and I've been doing a lot of resting.  So, I finally gave into the game that seems to be the obsession of all my facebook buddies and started playing Candy Crush Saga. 

I had better beat this game before I return to my regularly scheduled life or I am doomed.  I am currently stuck on level 37.

And so I offer you this horrible poem I wrote in between attempts:

I have no resistance against Candy Crush;
This stupid game makes me play too much.
And when I do not clear the jelly;
There's a sinking feeling in my belly.

The end.

(Unless someone wants to send me some extra moves...)

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Nerve of my Face!

Well blogpeeps, I ran into a bump in the road in my quest to fill you in on my jaw journey.

In preparation for my surgery, I learned about the fact that my nerves would be damaged during the reconstruction of my jaw.  I was told about the risks involved, such as having some permanent numbness in my face.  I was told that the worst part of the immediate post surgery experience was the feeling of pressure, which was true.

After the surgery, my face was truly numb.  In fact, I was told by my nurses (I have NO recollection of this) that in the first few days after the surgery, I kept touching my nose and asking "WHAT IS THIS?"  

So I was delighted when about a week after the surgery, my face started tingling.  It was actually a pleasant sensation.  By the end of two weeks, I could feel my cheeks and chin when I touched them, with only one clearly numb spot on the left side of the bottom of my chin.

Jump to day 21 after the surgery.  You know that spot on the left side of the bottom of my chin that I couldn't feel?  I started feeling ALL THE FEELS!

I'm not going to lie to you blogpeeps.  When nerves regenerate, it f**king hurts.  The good news is that it means I am regaining all the sensation in my face.  The bad news is that around 4pm each day since June 11th, I have wanted to crawl under the bed in my lovely recuperation cottage with a bottle of tequila and cry.

And of course I can't.  Well, of course I can cry, but I can't have the tequila.  I CAN have Tramadol in limited quantities.  It dulls the pain, but does not make it go away.

So, I have not felt up to writing any blogs that talk about the time leading up the surgery, or the surgery itself, or my wonderful doctors who are helping me through this journey.

Instead, I am going to spend some time talking to you about food.

For the first two weeks after the surgery, I was on a liquid diet.  Ever single thing I drank had to be blended and then strained.  Even broth.

Blogpeeps, here is a very sad truth about this phase of my recovery.  On the 10th day on the liquid diet, I actually salivated when watching a dog food commercial.  

Also, I may the only jaw surgery patient in the history of jaw surgery that spent the entire time I was on the liquid diet watching the Food Network.

So at my two week appointment, when my doctor told me I could switch to a blended diet, I actually clapped my hands like a seal.

I then did what my nurses tell me every single patient does after they get this welcome news.  I made a beeline to a decent grocery store and threw anything that looked good into my cart.  Anything.  Because anything can be blended in a Vitamix.

I love my Vitamix.  I want to marry it.

Why is a Vitamix the only blender you will want to purchase if you are going to have jaw surgery?  To find out, you must watch this:

Are you done?  Good.  Thank you for following instructions.  Now you will understand this analogy.  A regular blender is the switchblade the guy pulls on Mick Dundee.  And the Vitamix?  It's the machete Mick pulls out in response.

My Vitamix and I have had some adventures trying to satisfy my finicky palate until the day I can move to the next phase of my recovery.  (That would be the "soft chew.")  

And since I am recovering in the fruit and vegetable paradise that is Santa Barbara California, this has involved some food adventures for this east coast girl.

Stay tuned blog peeps!  If you are interested in learning how to turn every single food group into a bisque, you are in the right place.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Ballad Of Judy's Jaw-Or, the Surgical Expedition of 2013

Hello Blogpeeps, long time no see...

But, I have a good excuse.  In fact, I have a doctor's note.

I had surgery.

A long planned, complex, life-altering surgery.

And since I'm on medical leave and finally have my sense of humor back, you are going to get to hear all about it.

It starts with a picture...

My airway

See the little black shape?   That was my airway.  And it was not supposed to look like that.  

And until May 22nd, I did not know what it was like to take a normal breath, or sleep without fear.

It's why I've spent the last three years preparing for a surgery that required a leap of faith and a trip from Vermont to California so I could be in the hands of the right surgeon.

So stay tuned for my journey.  And if you know of anyone with sleep apnea, point them my way.  Because I can breathe now.  And nothing will ever be the same.