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January 9th 2017

I’m in L.A. today for my post-op visit.

I’m looking forward to getting my stitches out and finding out from my surgeon what I’m allowed to do (or not do?) in upcoming weeks.

My arm still hurts quite a bit.

Hopefully, that will begin lessening soon since tomorrow will mark two weeks since the surgery.

Weather reports were saying today will be the worst storm in a decade for California.

Southern California freeways don’t move even if there’s a SLIGHT rain shower.

I imagine it might be a 12 hour round trip to and from L.A. today if weather predictions are accurate?

Ugh!

My college-aged son will be home for one more week on break.

He’s been a great help post-surgery.

In case you missed it on social media, here’s a photo of 10 month old puppy Frank trying to be a lap dog.

Puppy Frank is looking towards me as I tell him he’s too big to sit on laps.

Frank is quite a bit smaller than Fred.

Neither of the Newfs have any idea of their own size.

Both Fred and Frank have been very sweet during my recovery.

They make me laugh several times a day, and laughter truly is the best medicine.

My life continues to be slow paced as I “recover” from surgery.

My son has been helping me do a lot of cooking.

(He pushes the grocery cart, helps chop, lift, stir, and other arm-intensive activities.)

Our weather has been much cooler than normal SoCal winters.

Cooler weather makes me feel like cooking.

It’s been a fun activity to do with my son, and it’s great because what 20 year old male doesn’t love to eat?

I’ve signed up for three online art classes.

I’m sure they’ll keep me entertained until I can be more active.

(I already take an ongoing course through Courtney Diaz’s patreon account – I just love her!)

I’ll probably begin the other classes this week, but I don’t think I’ll spend much time on them until after my son departs.

I’m expecting a return to physical therapy this week also.

I’m pretty sure I’ve spent more time at physical therapy than any other ONE place over the last ten years.

Oh well, everyone needs a second home …. right?

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Hello 2017!

Hello, hello!

I hope everyone had a nice holiday season.

Most of my family and guests departed yesterday.

I’m one week out from Surgery #12.

I’m so glad I got the surgery over with in 2016, because it just feels better going into a new year knowing it’s over and done with.

I think (?) I’m six days away from my post-op visit when I should be cleared to re-enter real life.

(That means I’m about eight days away from returning to PT.)

I have a three inch incision in my elbow and what looks to be a zillion stitches putting me back together.

My surgeon confirmed I had a really messed up elbow.

(It’s amazing how I knew that without ever seeing inside my arm???)

I’m not taking any pain pills but yes, it does hurt.

My life is fairly boring right now …

I drove my car yesterday for the first time since my surgery.

I only took pain meds for the first two days so I figured it was safe to drive.

But, the vibration/jostling of the car hurt quite a bit, so I’ll probably try to drive as little as possible for as long as possible.

The day prior to my surgery I went to see Cavalia.

I went in with an expectation of what I thought the show would be like, and it was very different from what I expected.

I enjoyed it, it was beautiful … but, I think making the show a bit shorter would enhance it.

(I felt like a few parts were redundant and/or a bit too slow paced.)

Overall, however, I was glad I had the opportunity to go.

I’ve been very busy with a house full of people.

I did SO MUCH cooking prior to my surgery.

(I can’t even express how much I love my Instant Pot.  It has made life so much easier!)

In fact, I’ve already returned to cooking in it post-surgery …. but, so far I’ve just made very easy not-arm-intensive stuff …. two minute hard boiled eggs, seven minute steel cut oats, a whole chicken in 24 minutes, etc., etc.

Like most people, I fell off the healthy-eating-bandwagon for a few days over the holidays.

But, I’m back to eating very healthy foods with the hope good nutrition will help me heal faster.

I’ve watched several movies at home in the evenings lately … if you have any movie suggestions I’d love to hear them.

(Most recently I’ve watched Boyhood, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (my son had never seen it), Sully, The Accountant, all episodes of West World.)

I also read A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron – a gift I received for Christmas.

(It made me cry … more than once.  My family laughed at me!)

One night, a friend brought over a board game called Secret Hitler.

I did my best to stay awake until Hitler had been assassinated.

(I’ve been sleeping a lot since Surgery #12 …!)

We’re having an unusually cold winter here.

It’s been in the 50-60’s F.   (12-20C)

I guess it was a good time to have surgery …. I can just hunker down until I get cleared for a little more activity.

I’ve signed up for a few online art classes so I don’t lose my mind from boredom.

I’m not sure how long it will be until I’m allowed to hold my camera again ….?

Thank goodness my twelfth surgery is my last.

(I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence?  My life is so not normal!!)

I can’t wait to get a semblance of a real life back again!!

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Surgery #12

Update:

I had Surgery #12 on Tuesday.

I opted NOT to spend the night in the hospital.

My arm is in a soft cast type thing and it’s very big.

I can’t use my right hand at all which sucks because I’m right handed.

My pain level is very high, but that should get better each day?

I’m sleeping a lot because DRUGS.

I’ll update again when I can.

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December 14, 2016

Hello, hello!

I’m completely failing at year-end blogging.

I apologize, but with family visiting, the holiday rush, etc., I keep finding myself a few hours short each day.

Beautiful Maui, Hawaii sunset.

I stopped in today primarily just to let everyone know I’m FINE.

I will try to pop in with a post or photo now and then before 2017 arrives,

But, at the same time, NO PROMISES.

Christmas is in 11 days and my surgery is in 13.

Family is visiting … and more and more guests will be arriving/visiting all the way through mid-January.

(!!!!)

When/if I get a break in the action I’ll try to find some alone time to write.

But, if I don’t show up here, I want to wish you all a great holiday season.

As you know, 2016 was The Worst Year Ever for me.

Seriously, 2016 kicked my ass.

I’m so glad it will soon be behind me.

I don’t know how soon I’ll be able to post after Surgery #12.

I’ll probably dictate a post to my laptop to let you know I’m back home and recovering.

(I don’t think I’ll be able to type/write/use my hand/arm for quite awhile.)

Paul Newman tells me it’s a “big surgery” and I know, like many tendon surgeries, it will be a long, slow, recovery.

BUT …

2017 will be a much better year – I just KNOW it.

Also, I’m working on some goals for 2017 and being a much better blogger is definitely one of them.

I appreciate every single reader who has stuck with me through the challenges I’ve had this last year.

I hope all of you have a beautiful, wonderful, special holiday season.

Much love always …. Suzanne  xo

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December 9, 2016

There are, approximately, two more weeks until Christmas.

My family begins arriving at the beginning of next week. (!!!)

I’ve been running around like a mad woman trying to get as much done as possible before I have extra bodies in the house.

(Speaking of “the house” …  my house is a MESS!)

Frank and Fred are fed up with the decrease in my attention lately.

“Really, Mom?  You’re leaving us for errands AGAIN?”  Frank the Newf (10 months), Fred the Newf (2 years)

They’ll be spoiled soon (and for many weeks!) with lots of extra people here to play with them.

I’m starting to freak out about Surgery #12 which is now only eighteen days away.

I’ve done a pretty good job of putting thoughts of the surgery away in a box in my brain (a Brain Box?) and refusing to think about it.

(It’s called compartmentalizing, Suzanne!!)

But, the closer the surgery gets, the more often I feel flashes of panic and sheer terror hit me at odd and unpredictable times.

(Yes, I know.  I definitely have PTSD from all the surgeries.)

There are no words for the jumble of emotions I’m trying to suppress.

I keep trying to shove the fear, and panic, and terror, back into my Brain Box and slam the lid shut.)

Most of the time, I’m glad I’m busy with holidays and family because distraction helps.

On the other hand, I’ll only have one day after Christmas to catch my breath before the surgery ….

And, even then, I’ll still have family visiting.

In the meantime, I have pre-op tests, and visits, to squeeze into an insanely busy schedule.

I also have a few more gifts to purchase, a tree to decorate, lots of presents to wrap, a ton of cooking and baking to do, etc., etc.

But, along with all the chaos, I keep reminding myself how far I’ve come in the last twelve months.

A year ago at Christmas, I couldn’t do ANYTHING with my arm and I was in terrible pain.

I’ve progressed by leaps and bounds.

I know the next six months will *feel like* I’m going backwards ….

With pain, with the loss of function … with an increase in PT visits and doctor’s visits.

But, hopefully, when it’s all said and done I’ll (finally!) be able to have a fresh start to my life.

And, in the meantime …?

There’s a gigantic Christmas tree standing in my living room just waiting to be decorated.

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Instant Pot!

Last week, I wrote a post about the air fryer I’ve recently begun “learning” how to cook with.

I like to share information about products around the holiday season in case you’re thinking of making a purchase.

Today, I want to tell you about my Instant Pot pressure cooker, because I honestly think it’s the best kitchen gadget in the world.

But, before I get started, I wanted to add one last thing regarding my Air Fryer post last week.

Right after writing that post, I attempted cooking fries again.

I used one large russet potato cut into half inch strips, one teaspoon of olive oil, and some seasoning.

The fries came out GREAT and they were very crispy.  (See?  I’m learning!)

One large russet potato made plenty as a side dish for two people.

(It was probably enough for three people, but … yum yum!!)

Okay, now back to the Instant Pot.

instantpot

An Instant Pot is a modern, very updated, pressure cooker but it’s also so much more.

I remember my mom cooking with a pressure cooker (on the stove) and worrying about whether it might blow up.

Instant Pot is electric and has ten (!) built in safety features.

Isn’t everything so much better when you don’t blow up the kitchen??

It really is SO EASY to use.

(I’ll admit, when I first took it out of the box I was a bit intimidated – but that didn’t last long.)

I did the manufacturer’s recommended “water test,” and then I began cooking.

I can make steel cut oats in less than ten minutes.

I can hard “boil” ten eggs in 2-3 minutes.

Homemade soup is a breeze.

Ribs are melt in your mouth tender!

Butternut and/or acorn squash … easy-peasy!

(Seriously, I don’t even cut a huge butternut squash before cooking it! I put it into the Instant Pot whole.  Cutting a raw butternut squash is difficult for most people and impossible for me with my bum arm.  Fifteen minutes of pressure cooking and it’s done!)

Whole artichokes?  Never tasted better!

The Instant Pot has a saute feature so you can brown a piece of meat prior to turning on the pressure feature.

The meat comes out beautifully browned, and falling off the bone tender.

It even has a feature so it can be used as a slow cooker, and another feature so it can be used as a rice cooker.

Yes, that’s right, you can get rid of your crock pot and rice maker and have ONE device that does almost everything.

There are several preset options on it, and there’s also a manual button which gives you a lot of flexibility.

When something is done cooking, the Instant Pot switches into “Keep Warm” mode.

It’s a great feature which allows me to prepare something, walk away, and not have to worry about it.

Lots and lots of people make yogurt in their Instant Pots also.

I haven’t tried it yet, because for some reason, the very thought intimidates me.

But, I’ve been told it’s VERY easy so I’ll gather my courage and try it sometime soon.

Afterall, I love Greek yogurt, so why not make my own?

Cheesecake made in an Instant Pot is also very popular.

(Again, this isn’t something I’ve tried myself yet.  I might try it at Christmas.)

Instant Pot comes in a few different models and sizes.

I purchased the newest version in the six quart, most versatile, size.  (Instant Pot IP DUO60)

It stays on my kitchen counter all the time because I use it so frequently.

They also make an eight quart size for those of you who cook for a lot of people … and have the counter space for it.

(I’ve heard many people like their Instant Pot so much they end up with multiples!)

Honestly, I really, really, LOVE my Instant Pot!

I purchased mine on a one-day sale via Amazon – for less than half price.

They’re also available at WalMart and via the Instant Pot website.

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Air Fryer!

A few weeks ago, I purchased a GoWise Air Fryer.

One of my friends has been raving about his air fryer (the same model I bought) for over a year and it made me curious.

As soon as mine arrived, I began cooking/experimenting.

 

airfryer

GoWise 5.8 qt AirFryer

As background, I normally never fry food.

All I knew about air fryers was that they’re supposed to be convenient to use, a healthy way to cook, and create a “crispiness” similar to what you get if you fry food.

wing-suzanne-haggerty-2016-w

Crispy Chicken Wing – Cooked in my Air Fryer

I also have to tell you, I’m by no means an expert at using my air fryer.

I’m very much a beginner, but I wanted to share with you my initial thoughts.

So far, what I like most about my air fryer is the convenience.

Most foods cook much faster than they would in a conventional oven.

It’s also extremely easy to use and easy to clean after using.

(The basket the food cooks in is nonstick and dishwasher safe.)

I find myself using my air fryer a lot when I need to fix a meal just for myself.

Why heat up my conventional oven, dirty pans, etc., when you can cook a piece of chicken in 20 minutes with nearly no mess?

Also, most foods require NO oil, a spritz of oil from a mister, or (at most) a tablespoon of oil.

Using an air fryer really is a healthy way to cook.

But, I’m also definitely experiencing a beginner’s learning curve.

Knowing how long to cook things has been my biggest challenge.

The first time I cooked chicken breasts, I followed an air fryer recipe.

The chicken breasts came out dry and overcooked.

Now that I’ve done it a few times, they come out great … but I had to experiment a little before I got it right.

While I had guests here, I “air fried” a very large batch of sweet potato fries.

They tasted great, but they weren’t very crispy.

I was disappointed with the lack of crispiness.

I did some research afterward, and I *think* the problem was that I cooked too large of a batch?

An air fryer cooks by circulating hot air around the food.

Small batches of food seem to cook better than large batches.

One of my favorite things, so far, is to toss a medley of vegetables into the air fryer with a light spritzing of olive oil.

Five minutes later I have perfectly “roasted” vegetables.

It’s easy, fast, healthy, and tasty too.

I’m going to cook a whole chicken in it sometime soon.

I also plan to attempt fries again next week.

I think cooking some foods in small batches might be a hassle for people cooking for big families.

But, on the other hand, if you’re cooking for just a few people, an air fryer might be perfect for you.

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November 29, 2016

My family and friends have departed.

I love having people here, but it’s definitely a lot of work.

I was able to do much more this year … it made me realize how much better my arm is than it was a year ago.

Progress is difficult to see on a day in/day out basis.

But, remembering where I was a year ago and where I am now was eye opening – in a good way.

Let’s hope Surgery #12 brings me to the conclusion of my multiple-surgery-journey.

The Newfies were happy with lots of additional attention over Thanksgiving weekend.

Fred The Newf – Two Years Old

Both dogs got “outdoor baths” which kept them clean for about five full seconds.

Frank LOVES the hose and will chase it all over the yard.

Frank The Newf – 9 Months Old – Jumping For Joy!

Fred, on the other hand, stands calmly for his bath.

My son was helping with dog baths and he commented, “Fred really is such a GOOD dog.”

He really is.

I’m so lucky to have him.

“Mom, am I done yet?”

Frank still has his puppy fluff and looks adorable when he’s clean.

Frank – 9 months old – didn’t stay clean long.

Frank is like Pigpen (from Charlie Brown) only in dog form.

Both pups have been sleeping a lot now that our guests are gone.

I think all the attention and excitement wore them out.

They better rest up …

In two weeks, I’ll have guests arriving for several weeks!

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Thanksgiving and Update!

I hoped to have a new product review post up for you this week,

But, I just couldn’t pull it off with a house full of people here.

I’ll definitely have it up for you next week …. it might be something to add to your gift list this holiday season.

Today, I just wanted to pop in and wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I’m very happy to have all my kids here this week … along with some additional friends.

I’ll be cooking nonstop for the next week.

I ordered such a big turkey this year, I’m worried about whether or not it will fit in my oven!

I’m also hoping to enjoy a few hikes (with my camera!) while everyone is here.

Here are a few things I wanted to update you on:

•  Surgery #12 is scheduled, in Los Angeles, for December 27th.  My surgeon is going to be on vacation part of December, so that’s the best I could do.  I think it’s probably a good date because Christmas will be over and I won’t be “fresh surgery miserable” for most of December.  I’ll have family in town and available to help me.  It also allows me to get it over with in the year 2016 which has just been a despicable year.  (It will be my third surgery for 2016.)  I’ll be able to start 2017 with a clean slate … which is, psychologically, so much better than having a surgery in January.  I know it isn’t the simplest of surgeries, but I have more faith in my current surgeon than I’ve ever had in previous ones.

•  I want to publicly thank Paul Newman for being my biggest supporter, cheerleader, and morale booster for the last several years.  He not only figured out the biggest thing wrong with my arm before the surgeons did, he’s given me the support to keep moving forward on what often seems like a never ending journey.

•  I’ll be taking some photos of Fred and Frank for you over Thanksgiving weekend.  Fred continues to be the easiest, most well behaved, dog I’ve ever owned.  Frank continues to be a mischievous hellion … albeit an adorable one.  Frank sneaks into the pool for a swim every chance he gets.  He loves nothing more than to get muddy and come running into the house.  Sometimes Fred looks at me as if to say, “Can you believe the things he gets into, Mom?”

•  I’m still working on my Non-Diet Diet.  I’ve lost some weight pre-holidays so I’m very happy about that.  My goal now, is to maintain through this next week of constant cooking and dining with friends and family.  Then, I hope to lose a couple more pounds prior to Surgery #12 …. if I can pull it off with December parties and holidays?  In any case, my big goal was to begin 2017 weighing less than I did last September when I began my Non-Diet Diet.  I realize I’ll be recuperating in January, but once I get through the first few weeks, I’ll be all set to continue my Non-Diet Diet for a healthier 2017.  I’m so tired of these surgeries throwing my life into chaos.

•  My love affair with art-play continues.  I find myself painting and/or drawing in the evenings on a frequent basis.  I know I won’t have a lot of time for it during the holidays, but I hope to sneak in a few hours prior to my arm being immobilized.  Having never considered myself the least bit artistic, it’s still a surprise to realize how much I enjoy it.  And, every now and again, I actually LIKE something I create.

•  I know a lot of you enjoy my “Things I Love Lately” posts around the holidays.  I’ll try to get a couple up for you in the near future.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ll be back next week!

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Knock, Knock?

I’ve been a terrible blogger lately.

I can’t promise I’ll be any more consistent through the holidays.

But, I wanted to pop in and give you a little update and let you know …

I’m thinking about you even if I haven’t been writing.

I’ve learned I will need to have Surgery #12 on my arm.

I’m trying to come to terms with this news, but I’m not there yet.

I’ve kind of been walking around in a fog.

(I’m pretty sure the hysterics will hit me any minute?)

It has been one year (this week!) since the tendon in my elbow tore.

I’ve had two surgeries in 2016 – a “huge” surgery on my upper arm and shoulder …

And a smaller, less invasive, surgery on my elbow.

Because of my arm, I haven’t taken any big photography jobs since I returned from New Zealand.

And now … I’m looking at yet another surgery.

Why?

Well, a big portion of my elbow tendon has healed, but there’s still a significant area torn where it connects to the bone that has NOT healed.

And, in fact, that particular area hasn’t improved at all in the last four months.

(My doctor looks at it fairly frequently via ultrasound.)

So, this Friday I will be meeting with Dr. Itamura (the orthopedic trauma doctor who specializes in arms and performed my “big” surgery this year.)

Dr. Itamura and I will look at schedules and he will be performing an “open” surgery to reassemble my elbow.

I think I’ll be getting some more metal in my arm, among other things.

I LOVE Dr. Itamura because after ten years (and zillions of orthopedists) he’s the genius that figured out how to remove the vast majority of pain I’ve lived with since the car accident.

I know he’ll do a fantastic job on my elbow also.

The doctors have explained to me, this surgery is the only way to get me “to the finish line” where I will (hopefully) be able to begin using my arm again.

(Will I even know how after ten-plus years of not using it??)

I don’t know when the surgery will be.

I’m hoping I can get it over with as soon as possible so I can begin healing.

My life has been on hold for a year AND I’M LOSING MY MIND not working!!

Dr. Itamura tends to book up a long way in advance.

I’m hoping he can pull some strings and help expedite my surgery.

He’s been very invested in my “case,” but I don’t know what is, and isn’t, possible.

I’ll let you know more when I know more.

In the meantime, I’ll get posts up when I can.

P.S.  2016 sucks!!