Monthly Archives: April 2012

Minestrone/Italian Wedding Soup Hybrid

Every now and then I get these urges to try something new and experiment in the kitchen. I have never been a big fan of soup. I’m a chicken noodle when sick type of girl, but today, I decided to step outside of the box and try this.

When I told my husband I was going to try my hand at a minestrone soup he became kinda silent and then pointed out that it wasn’t really soup weather. He had a point as it was 60 degrees and kinda sunny, however, I have a thick head and wanted to try it. He brought up adding little meatballs to it, like an Italian wedding soup and I thought why not!

I found the recipe on Pineterst. It is a Jamie Oliver recipe that you can find here and it looked very simple and easy. I of course tweaked it to fit what I had on hand and to add the tiny meatballs that my husband requested.

Minestrone/Italian Wedding Soup Hybrid

Ingredients for the Soup:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic – peeled and chopped
1 red onion – peeled and chopped
2 carrots – peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery – chopped
1 zucchini – washed and chopped
1 bunch of scallions – washed and chopped
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
2 – 14 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
1 large potato – scrubbed and diced
1 – 15.5 ounce can garbanzo beans – drained and rinsed
4 cups (1 qt container) low-sodium vegetable broth
1 large handful curly kale – stalks removed and leaves chopped
½ cup mixed small pasta shapes
a few basil leaves – torn (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese to garnish (optional)

Ingredients for the mini meatballs:

1/2 lb ground sirloin
milk
parmesan cheese
panko bread crumbs
parsley
chopped garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Sorry I don’t have exact measurements for these. I just eyeballed everything like I would normally prepare my meatballs, gently mixed it all together and rolled tiny meatballs out of the mixture.

Instructions:

Heat a large pot over a medium heat and add olive oil.  Add the garlic, onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, scallion, oregano and bay leaf. Cook slowly for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables have softened.

Add the tomatoes, potato, garbanzo beans, vegetable broth and mini meatballs. Cover and bring everything to a boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Check (with the tip of a knife) that the potato is soft and cooked through.

Once potato is soft, add the kale and pasta. Cook for 10 more minutes or until the pasta is cooked through. If the soup is too thick for your taste after cooking the pasta, thin it with a little more broth or water.

The basil is optional but I think it added a nice taste to the broth.  Finish by seasoning with a little salt and black pepper and if you desire, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

The result of this culinary experiment was yummy, healthy, light yet filling. I will definitely be making this recipe again and I would like to continue trying different soups.

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Two Weeks Post-Op and Putting a Plan Together

Yesterday marked two weeks since my surgery and I’m feeling good! I’m becoming more active each day and this week I’ll be easing my way back into work, which should be interesting.

My milestones over the past week have been three things I’ve longed for:

  • I can finally sleep on my side again.
  • I was able to fit into a pair of my jeans.
  • I no longer need to take Percocet, at all.

Sleeping on my side again has been wonderful. I am finally able to sleep for more 2 hours at a time, so I am feeling more rested these days. It’s a little difficult to get myself onto my side and rolling over is a bit of a challenge while I’m sleeping but not being stuck like a turtle on it’s back is simply blissful.

As for the jeans, I honestly didn’t think I would be able to fit into them yet, but I being my thick-headed self, had to try again. I was pleasantly surprised when I had no trouble getting the button to fasten and that truly made my day. In all honesty, these are not my normal size jeans. They are a pair that were too big on me, but I would wear to work because I didn’t care if they got ruined. I’m hoping in another week I’ll be able to fit into my normal size, but progress is progress, so I’ll take it and be happy.

Being off the Percocet feels great. I didn’t like how tired they made me feel. Napping all day was not very productive at all. About a week ago I weened down to needing them just at night, and at that point I was using them more for the sleep aspect than for pain because I was struggling with sleeping on my back so much. I am now just taking Tylenol as needed, which is really just before bed and I’m sure I’ll need some once I’m more active at work.

Being laid up for the past two weeks as been making me antsy to workout again. I know I’m going to have to take it slow once I’m cleared by my surgeon. I’m planning on getting back into walking the fitness trail and I’m hoping that lower body workouts will be OK. If I am able to do lower body stuff, I think I am going to restart Brazil Butt Lift. The workouts are pretty quick and all of the moves are very effective. I’d LOVE to be able to lift again so I can regain the shoulder/arm definition I have lost, but I’m pretty sure that it off the table for awhile since you need to stabilize your core to lift properly. Sigh.

I’ve been doing really well with my nutrition lately, too. I know how important vitamins and protein are to my recovery right now, so I’ve been very motivated.

Next week I have another post-op appointment with the surgeon, so I’m hoping we will be covering all of my new do’s and don’ts. I’m also hoping I will be given a “transition” garment, because I am officially hating the compression garment. My only fear is that transition one will suck even more and I’ll wish I was back in the first one. (Cause that’s my luck and how things usually work, right?)

Till next time…

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Movin’ and Grovin’

10 days post-op and I gotta say, I’m feeling good. I barely have that hunched over look anymore, my bruises from the lipo are fading (although those areas still hurt like a bitch!) and the drain holes are closing up. I still have the Steri-strips in my belly button and my incision still has the skin glue over it and I have to keep large, gauze like pads over it. Getting up and down from a sitting position is easier and getting out of bed is almost not a chore anymore. Granted, I’m super stiff in the morning because I’m still stuck sleeping on my back at night (which I hate), so getting up can be kinda funny if you were watch me.

Wednesday, I began getting stir-crazy in the house. I decided to get dressed and drive for the first time since Easter to the grocery store. (I know, I lead an exciting life). Getting dressed was a tad tricky since I’m still pretty swollen and none of my pants can button yet. I HATE wearing sweats outside of the house unless I’m headed to the fitness trail, but it was cool out, so a summer dress wasn’t an option and I couldn’t go outside pantless…meh.

I got behind the wheel of my truck and headed out. At first it felt weird and it wasn’t very comfortable to drive, but I adjusted quickly and it felt good to get some fresh air. I knew I couldn’t grab a lot of things at the store because I can’t lift much, so I just walked up and down a few aisles, grabbed a few items for dinner and headed home. I was out for less than hour and I felt exhausted. I decided to relax for a little while and woke up 3 hours later. Oops!

For the second night in row, I also prepared dinner. I love cooking and controlling the ingredients that go into my body. It’s also a big part of my daily routine so it felt good to have a little bit of normalcy back in my day.

Later that evening, I received a phone call from a  co-worker and then one from my new boss. As many of you know, I work at Cold Stone Creamery as a cake decorator. Our location also has a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory inside and I have been responsible for making all of our caramel apples. They have been having issues making the apples since I’ve been out on surgical leave. They had some questions and I was feeling restless again so I offered to go in for a bit, sit and guide them in the process. I know my husband wasn’t happy with this decision because he knows I’m a doer and he feared me trying to do too much and hurting myself, but I was good and listened to my body. As soon as I started feeling tired, I made sure they were OK and I headed home. I was sure I had over did it for the day and expected to begin swelling but I didn’t. I actually felt great and that made me happy.

Yesterday my husband was off from work and we ran a few errands, had lunch together and sorted through our son’s wardrobe to see what he needed for the summer. Today I’m trying my hand at some laundry. Don’t worry, I’m not lifting any baskets or anything, it was all already in there.

I find that I fatigue pretty quickly, but I’m happy that I am slowly easing back into my routine. I am still resting as needed and listening to my body. It’s actually been nice to take little naps here and there.

Oh…and in case you were wondering, I still have a love/hate relationship with my compression garment ;)

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One Week Post-Op

Yesterday marked the one week milestone of my surgery and my second post-op visit with the surgeon.

I’m happy to report that everything is going well. My swelling is beginning to go down and the compression garment and I have figured out how to be friends (for now).

At my appointment yesterday, I had my fingers crossed that they would be able to remove the drains, and thankfully they did. It is such a relief to no longer have those tubes coming out at my hips. I was always afraid of accidentally getting them caught on something and pulling them. I also feel like I could go out in public now without having to try and hide the grenade like bulbs that were pinned to me.

While at the appointment, I also had the stitches removed  from my belly button which was a weird feeling. I have no feeling in my belly button at this time, but a numb sensation in the area around it. It’s really freaky and I hope feeling returns sooner than later. The surgeon did mention that I may not have feeling between the belly button and the center of my incision for about a year. That completely freaked me out but I’m staying hopefully that that won’t be the case.

I’m allowed to walk and do small things around the house now. I have to go back to the surgeons office on May 1st for another follow up appointment, to make sure no fluid is collecting since the drains were removed.

I’ll be happy when more of the swelling goes down so I can fit into my clothes. It was a little disheartening when I tried to put a pair of shorts on yesterday and they wouldn’t button. I have to remember this was a major surgery and things take time to heal. Until the healing happens, I’ll have to hope for sundress weather or chilly days so I can wear sweatpants.

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First Post-Op Visit

I had my first post-op visit on Friday and it went pretty well.

I arrived for my appointment and the nurses where impressed by how easily I was able to get up and down from the waiting room chair. They went over my drain log, took my blood pressure and opened up my compression garment after laying me back with my knees up to prevent any pulling in my abdomen.

Having the garment opened was a weird feeling since it had been squeezing me to death since Monday. The surgeon noticed how tightly it was squeezing me and gave me permission to unzip the side and open the top hook if needed. While he was talking to me, he removed the catheters from the pain pump and I was able to look down to see my new stomach. It was very flat and the incision is very low which I’m thinking is a good thing. The drains were not removed since I still had a decent amount of fluid draining from me. I have another appointment on Monday to have the stitches removed from my belly button so they should come out then.

While the garment was open, I was showed how to change the dressing over the incision and drain site. I was also told that I could shower if I’d like to even though I still had the drains in. (If I could have, I would done a happy dance at this news) My husband and I were instructed on how to wash and dry the garment, I was given a new prescription for Percocet and we were on our way home.

After dinner, I decided I needed to shower! I hobbled my way to the bathroom, removed the compression garment and looked at my new stomach for the first time in the mirror. I had mixed feelings while doing this. I was amazed at how flat my stomach now was but the drains were kind of disturbing to look at. When I turned to the side I saw how bruised I was from the little bit of lipo he had to do to even out my flanks and I saw how swollen I was. I tried to shake it off and shower as quickly as I could. While in the shower I could feel my abdomen swelling and I knew I needed to finish up and lay down. I quickly made my way into my room, had my husband lay down some towels and I laid down to relieve the pressure and wait for the garment to finish drying. While laying there I could feel my stomach puffing up, I began to have chills and an aching pain across the whole surgical area. I started to panic that I did something wrong.

As soon as the garment was dry, my husband brought it upstairs and we got it closed up around me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy to line up with me laying down so there was a little pulling and discomfort in the process. I felt how tight the garment was as soon as it was closed up, so I knew how much I swelled in such a short period of time. I also began to run a low temp that started to freak me out but after taking some meds, it quickly went down and was gone by the morning.

Yesterday and today have been ok days. I’m still very swollen which has me a little frustrated, but I know it is going to take time to heal. I guess I’m hitting that stir-crazy point since I’m not one to just lay around doing nothing all day. I have watched more Netflix, movies and cooking shows in then past few days then I have in the past few months. The highlight of my day this past week is moving from the recliner in the living room to my bed for a change of scenery.

Tomorrow is my next post-op appointment and hopefully the drains will be coming out so I won’t have to deal with them anymore. It’s also supposed to be in the upper 80′s so I’m hoping to even sit outside in my yard for a little. I’m sure the fresh air will help my mood.

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No Turning Back Now

Monday was the big day! I woke up at 6am and I was full of excitement which was a relief because the night before, I was full of anxiety. I went over all of my “day of” instructions, dressed comfortably and tried not to think about how badly I wanted a cup of coffee. By 7am, hubs and I were off to the surgeons office. One of the things that I find pretty cool about these procedures now, is that many plastic surgeons have “surgical suites” within their office, so you don’t have to go the hospital.

When we arrived at the office we were greeted by the nurses and we were taken back to a prep room.  I once again had to wear the oh so sexy pink gown and horrific paper string bikini bottoms. This time they added some knee-high compression socks, teal non-skid slippers and a hair net thingy. (Yes, thingy is a word to me). I really should have had the hubs take a photo of me but I was starting to get nervous at this point. The nurse went over all of my consent forms again, placed a warming blanket over me and then hooked my up to an IV which wasn’t very comfy at all. Shortly after, the surgeon came in and I became his canvas. He had me stand up and he began marking my abdomen for symmetry and incision lines. When he was done doing his best Picasso impersonation on me, the anesthesiologist came in and went over what he would be doing. Before I knew it, I had to say goodbye to my husband and make my way into the surgical suite.

As we walked down the hall, I began to get nervous. The room looked very similar to a standard operating room but a little more cozy. They had me lay down on the table and I guess the anesthesiologist started the sedative because I felt woozy and out of it when I had to sit up so he could start the spinal block for the procedure. I don’t remember laying back down or anything, next thing I knew I was in a recovery room and in a lot of pain. It seems I was having muscle spasms due to the muscle repair that was done so they gave me a shot of demerol and it knocked me out a little longer. I can’t recall much of what happened while in recovery. I just know I was very uncomfortable from the muscle spasms and I was very groggy from the demerol. I don’t even recall being moved from the bed to the wheelchair. I just remember an awful muscle spasm at that time, getting nauseous and vomiting, which was the most painful thing I ever felt.

I was grateful to see my husband and happy to be on my way home. Getting in and out of my truck was not fun, but once I was home, he was able to give me a muscle relaxer and I was able to just pass out and rest. Monday is really just a blur since I had so many meds in my system and we didn’t get home until 6pm. Tuesday was a little better but trying to get up so I could use the bathroom was not an easy task. I remember thinking “Why did I do this?” many times throughout the day. It’s amazing how much you take your core strength for granted. Wednesday I was able to get up on my own and I didn’t need help in the bathroom anymore. I did however start to have issues with the compression garment. It seems I have “stranger rib anatomy” so the garment was bunching up and squeezing me under the rib cage. I was allowed to unzip the garment a little for some relief and they had me take two Percocet every 4 hours to help with pain relief.

Today I am pretty zombie-like from taking so many Percocets but I was able to get some good sleep last night. I even made it upstairs so I could change my sweatpants, tank top and wash up a bit.

Tomorrow is my first post-op appointment and the surgeon should be removing the two drains as well as the pain pump from me. I’m looking forward to this because 24 hours after they are removed, I’m allowed to shower. I think once I’m able to shower I’ll feel more human again. I’m also looking forward to this because the compression garment should come off briefly and I’ll be able to see what was actually done.

Sorry if this I’m rambling in this blog post or if it has typos or unfinished thoughts. I’m as high as a kite on pain meds right now but I wanted to give everyone some form of an update.

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Tomorrow’s The Big Day / What I Wore {Easter Sunday}

Yup! You read it correctly…tomorrow is the big day. In less than 12 hours I will be taking a major step in my weight loss journey and I’ll be having my tummy tuck with muscle repair.

The past week has been a whirl wind and with things being so hectic up at work, I didn’t really have much time to think about the procedure. I did manage to find time to make a list of things I needed from Target and pick them up, but outside of making sure I was taking my supplements as directed, that’s it.

Since we are on the subject of supplements….let me vent about what I pain in the ass they are! I feel like a junkie popping pills all day. It’s not fun and I’ll be happy when I’m 7-14 days post surgery, so I can stop taking them. 

At this current moment, I keep flip flopping between excitement, nervousness and full blown anxiety. I’m thankful that today was Easter. I had plenty of things going on to keep my mind busy, so I didn’t dwell on it all day. It wasn’t until around 6pm when people started texting me to wish me luck tomorrow, that I started to enter panic mode.

Speaking of Easter, I decided to be girly and wear not only a dress but also my 5″ platform sandals. For those of you know me, you know how tall I am in 5″ platforms (as well as how ungraceful I am in them) but I wanted to step out of the box and finally wear these shoes. I bought them a year ago in two different colors because I loved them. I swore I would wear them but they never saw the light of day before today.

Coral Dress: Old Navy, last year. Teal Animal Stripe Sweater: Charlotte Russe, last year. Sandals: Charlotte Russe, last year. Necklace: Premiere Designs about 2 years ago. 

It felt nice to get dressed up instead of just tossing on a pair of jeans and a shirt. I won’t lie, I took a pair of flip flops with me in my purse and wore them for the drive home. My feet can only take so much…they are used to my beloved Converse after all! Plus I’ll be living in sweats and I won’t have a need for shoes over the next 1-2 weeks.

I’m hoping sleep will find me tonight and the anxiety will subside. (Plus I can’t eat after midnight or I’ll turn into a Gremlin.) I have to be at the surgeons office tomorrow morning at 7:30 am, so I think I’ll be waking up around 6 am so I can shower, get into some comfy clothes and try not to be too cranky without coffee or breakfast. Sigh.

Thanks again to everyone who has supported me in my decision to do this, has been there to ease my anxiety and has kept me motivated along the way. You all mean a lot to me and I’m happy to have you in my life.

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P.S. - I was hoping to have some pics of where I’ll be staying during the first few days of recovery, but we never got around to setting it up this weekend. Thankfully my husband is going to take care of all that while I’m in surgery tomorrow. I didn’t want him just sitting around waiting for 4-5 hours anyway, so now he’ll have something to keep his mind busy for a little while.

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Less Than One Week and Counting

Today was my pre-op appointment with the surgeon, which means my surgery is less than a week away….YIKES!

My nerves have been on edge lately as the surgery date rapidly approaches. There is excitement to finally have my muscle issues corrected and to say farewell to the excess skin that taunts me as I get dressed daily. Then there is fear. Fear of going under the knife and everything that could go wrong. I think excitement is finally starting to win out over the fear, but that is something that can flip flop at any moment. I know…way to stay positive Nikki. Sigh.

At today’s appointment, we went over everything regarding the surgery again. I got to slip into the oh so sexy, pink gown that I’m shown wearing, but this time I was also lucky enough to put on a pair of black, string, mesh-like underwear. Be jealous! …and no…there is no photo of those horrific underwear, sorry. 

Once in my lovely new attire, I was asked to stand by a blue wall so the surgeon could take my “before” photos. I had to face him, then left, the angled, then right, then angled again. This is when I mentally died a little of embarrassment.

After photos were done I had some measurements taken for the support binder I will have to wear for 2 weeks post surgery and then I was able to ditch the pink gown, hop back into my clothing and move to the next room where my vitals were taken.

The next segment of my pre-op appointment took place in the conference room where we went over all the surgery again. I was given my surgery time, we went over all of the risks, do’s and don’ts for both pre and post surgery and I was able to ask questions at this time. He also showed and explained the “pain pump” to me again. After reading things on-line, I’m very happy the surgeon I selected uses one of these and I think it’s going to make life a lot easier that first week.

Once everything was gone over and I signed all of the consent forms, we made our way up front and I was given my prescription for post surgical pain medication, appointments for post-op care and I received my “Recovery Support Program” which is a box of vitamins that I started taking tonight. In the box are the following item:


Clinical Support: Morning Formula – I have to take 3 tablets daily with breakfast or lunch, from now through 2 weeks post surgery.

Clinical Support: Evening Formula – I have to take 3 tablets daily with dinner or at bedtime, from now through 2 weeks post surgery.

Bromelin with Quercetin – 2 capsules on an empty stomach before breakfast, lunch AND dinner, for 3 days prior to surgery and continue for 7 days post surgery.

Arnica Montana 30X HPUS – The evening of surgery and for 7-14 days after, 3 tablets, under the tongue on an empty stomach before breakfast, lunch AND dinner.

*I also need to take 500mg of Vitamin C twice a day as it helps to promote healing.

As I type this, I can feel all of the pills I just swallowed sitting in my chest. This is A LOT of pills to swallow daily and I must admit, I’m not looking forward to it…however, they are supposed to help me to recover faster sooooo……

After receiving my surgical handbook and goody bag of prescriptions, appointments, pills and antiseptic cleanser, I was off to talk with the surgical nurse. She went over when and how to use the antiseptic cleaner and what I can and cannot use when prepping myself the day of surgery. She went over all of the vitamins again and made sure I received my prescription for blood work.

From there, I went to the financial office, where I left a very large chunk of money and suddenly it hit me…..I’m actually going through with this!

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