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My Pre-Surgery Checklist

Nine surgeries later, I’ve become very good at compartmentalizing my surgical anxiety.

For awhile, I was having surgeries so frequently I became vaguely numb at the thought of yet another one.

I’m anything but numb this time around.

At my last visit with Paul Newman, he wanted to talk about Surgery #9.

“NOOOOOOOO!!!” I yelled, startling the hell out of him.  “I don’t want to think about it yet!”

The subject was changed.

Until tomorrow.

Tomorrow we will have to talk about “it.”

(I know it sounds weird, but I can write about IT without really thinking about IT.  However, when I have to actually talk about IT, then IT will become real.)

I have no idea what goes through other people’s minds before a surgery.  We all know my mind isn’t normal, right?

I thought I’d share with you my pre-surgery checklist.

24’s Pre-Surgery Checklist:

•  Make sure I’m lined up with the best doctor possible for the surgery.  DONE  Dr. Painless is the very best at what he does.  I love him.

•  Feel exceedingly confident about my post-surgical therapist.  DONE  Paul Newman has won my trust, completely.  He understands me, my arm, and *most* of my other abnormalities.  Poor guy!  (Also?  Thank God!)

•  Get my hair cut  (that way I don’t have to worry about it for awhile post-surgery).  DONE

•  Find an assistant to help me with work after the surgery (and beyond).  DONE   Miss Kay is going to be a great help.  (Waving to Miss Kay!)

•  Get the car washed.  I won’t be at car washes for awhile post-surgery.  This makes sense, right?  My car is full of sand.  DOING IT TODAY

•  Get my nails done.  One less thing to worry about post-surgery.  DONE

•  Get a pedicure.  If I die during surgery, I’ll look nice for the funeral.  Oh wait, I want my ashes sprinkled in the ocean.  (No one cares about my toes?)  DONE

•  Get cash from the ATM.  I don’t know why.  There’s absolutely no reason for this one, but it’s on my list anyway.  NOT DONE YET

•  Brazilian bikini wax.  Strangers are going to see me naked during the surgery, right?  I wouldn’t want to neglect something as important as this.  DOING IT TODAY

•  Or do I need to buy Granny Panties?  Will I be naked or not?  Part of the surgery will be on my abdomen.  Should I buy granny panties?  UNDECIDED

•  Get my sensor cleaned.  (This is not the same thing as a Brazilian bikini wax.)  My camera needed a complete professional cleaning.  DONE

•  Get my kitchen knives sharpened.  OK, I know this seems like a weird one.  They’re in need of professional sharpening.  The sharper they are, the easier they will be for me to use as I get back to cooking post-surgery.  NOT DONE YET

•  Grocery shop to really stock up the kitchen.  My family members are probably incapable of taking care of themselves so I need to do this for them in advance.  HAPPENING OVER NEXT WEEKEND

•  Cook as many things ahead of time as possible.  (See previous item.)  HAPPENING OVER NEXT WEEKEND

•  Say good-bye to my college-aged son as he returns to college.  HAPPENING THE NIGHT BEFORE MY SURGERY

•  Buy Washable Magic Markers.  During my last surgery, the nurses “forgot” I had a warning medical bracelet on, and “forgot” they had just discussed my (severe) allergy to a particular medication.  I ended up in the emergency room and the entire ordeal was a NIGHTMARE.  This time I plan to write “allergic” all over my body with magic markers prior to surgery.  My biggest surgical fears revolve around this “accident” happening again.  NOT DONE YET

•  Make sure the car is full of gas.  It might be hard to fill it for awhile post-surgery.  Hell, it’s hard for me to do this left-handed NOW.  NOT DONE YET

•  Go to the drugstore.  Have a way-too-long conversation with my pharmacist who thinks he loves me.  Stock up on whatever it is Dr. Painless thinks I’ll need post-surgery.  NOT DONE YET

•  Feed the hummingbirds so they can get by for a few days without me.  NOT DONE YET

•  Make a list of books I want to read and movies I want to watch.  (Related:  buy magazines!)  NOT DONE YET

•  Have my last pre-surgery visit with Paul Newman.  Try really hard not to sob on him.  HAPPENING TOMORROW

That’s it so far.

What am I forgetting?

I’m sure I’ll be adding to the list every day between now and Monday …!

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Laguna Beach Sunset

I’ve been crazy busy over the last 24 hours.

(Trying to get lots of stuff done before #9 next Monday!)

I didn’t have time to write a “real” post.

I did, however, pull over and make a pit stop at the beach when I saw a spectacular sunset brewing yesterday evening.

How could I resist?

Winter sunsets are sometimes the most beautiful ones we get.

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What’s New for 2013?

January is off to a great start.

I’m hoping a positive first week bodes well for all of 2013.

I thought I’d catch you up on a few things from previous posts today.

•  I’m happy to announce I’m beginning the new year with a fantastic photography assistant.  I’ve decided to “blog-name” her Miss Kay.

•  Miss Kay experienced her first hands-on training with me last Friday.  She’ll be easing in gradually over the next few weeks (since I have Surgery #9 to deal with next week).  As she gets trained, and learns more about what I do and how I do it, she will become a huge help.  I especially like how calm she was when she asked, “And why do we need to actually stand in the ocean?”  Ha ha!!

•  Some of you have inquired about Paul Newman.  He’s fine.  He’s helping me SO much.  I’m amazed, truly AMAZED, at how much progress I’ve already made.  I can move my arm more right now than I ever have since the car accident.  I’m a long way from “normal,” but there’s no doubt he’s The Best Thing To Happen To My Arm Since Forever.  Yay for Paul Newman!

•  Remind me of that entire last statement next week after I have surgery, mkay?

•  Last week, Paul Newman mentioned I’ve already cried on him once.  “I have not,” I replied.  “Yes, you did – out of frustration.” he reminded me.  I flashed back to my first visit with him when my eyes might have welled up just a little bit.  “Oh, that doesn’t count.  I haven’t done The Ugly Cry,” I informed him.  “Oh great,” he sighed.

•  I realized my FitBit gets a bigger smile on its face as the day goes on!  It gets happier as my recorded activity goes up.  Honestly, I have a crush on my FitBit.  Love it!

•  Today is my 6th day on Weight Watchers.  I haven’t gone off the program by even one little-itty-bitty bite.  I’m very focused.  I’m looking forward to recognizing myself in the mirror again someday in the future.  Am I skinny yet?

•  Some of you might remember I received a Vitamix as an early Christmas gift this year.  It has been used every single day.  I’ve been using it to wet-chop vegetables (which is a huge blessing for my arm).  I also make “green” smoothies for myself and/or family members nearly every day.  I’ve made soup in it several times.  In fact, last week I threw some ripe Roma tomatoes, a few basil leaves, a clove of garlic and a pinch of salt in it.  Four minutes later I had delicious tomato basil soup … steaming hot directly from the Vitamix. My post-car accident life would have been much easier if I had one of these wonder machines a few years ago.

•  Surgery #9 will be one week from today.  As a result, I have a lot to do this week.  (I don’t know what the recovery will be like.)  I’m hoping for the best, but I’m trying to get a lot done in case I’m unable to do much post-surgery.  And yes, I’ve already managed to work myself into a pretty bad pain flare-up.  Stuff has to get done this week, regardless.  (Now please pass the pain pills??)

•  I am SO excited!  I hit 150,000 subscribers on Facebook last week!  Woo hoo!  I’d love it if you joined the party too!

•  My entire family is REALLY into watching football this year.  And yes, I do mean my ENTIRE family …!

Watching TV @ SHaggerty 2013 W-1


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Resolution: Fit Bit!

Yesterday, I wrote a post about joining Weight Watchers.

The past six years (car accident and resulting numerous surgeries), have not been kind to my body.

In spite of the fact Surgery #9 is scheduled ten days from now, I am going to get healthier in 2013.

I’m focused on getting back to my pre-car accident weight.

It involves two things:

1.  Dieting to lose the weight I’ve gained,

And …..

2.  Being more consistent with exercise.

I’m a very active person, but I’m also very inconsistent with my exercise routine(s).

For Christmas, I requested (and received) a Fitbit Zip.


Do you know about Fitbits?

They’re an activity tracking device, and I’ve fallen in LOVE with mine.

It tracks the steps I take (like a pedometer), but it also does so much more.

It records distance, calories burned, and syncs to both my phone AND my computer.

(A Fitbit can track the food you eat and your weight too.)

You can set goals and/or have friendly competitions with your friends/family members if they have fitbits too.

I’m obviously easy to please, because as soon as my Fitbit sent me a message (badge) saying,

“Congratulations you just nailed ten thousand steps!” I broke into a full-fledged grin.

(Not because of the number of steps I’d taken so far that day, but because it’s damn cool it’s communicating with me.)

It’s so lightweight, I forget I have it on.  (You can attach a Fittbit to your clothes, put it in a pocket, or put it in a purse.)

Most people probably already know, we are supposed to walk at least ten thousand steps each day to stay healthy.

I’ve used pedometers before, but they weren’t nearly as motivating or as FUN as my Fitbit Zip.

The Fitbit Zip Briefcase bought me is lime green – it even LOOKS like it’s happy.

(Fitbits are available in different colors.)

I’ve only had one disappointing day with it so far.

I changed clothes in the morning one day and forgot to transfer my Fitbit when I changed outfits.

At the end of the day, I realized I hadn’t worn it most of the day.

I was SERIOUSLY crushed … my Fitbit would think I FAILED for the day.

I felt like I had disappointed a friend and wouldn’t be able to explain my error.

Yes, I’ve already come to think of it as my cute little lime green friend.

I recommend Fitbits to everyone I know.

If you have a sedentary lifestyle you can set small, reachable, goals for yourself.

If you’re exceedingly fit, you can set goals to push yourself even further.

Seriously, these little devices are fun, motivating, toys tools.

I’ve been surprised to discover a lot of people I know are using Fitbits also.

Do you have one?

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Resolution: Weight Watchers!

I have three kids.

After each pregnancy, I lost my “baby fat” by going on the Weight Watchers program.

It worked pretty well for me, until I would get close to my ideal weight.

Then, it didn’t.

I always had to finish the last couple pounds “on my own” in order to get back to my normal weight.

There were some things I really liked about Weight Watchers.  For instance, I liked the flexibility it provides for special events and dining out.

I also really LIKED having to get weighed each week.  It keeps me honest and accountable.  (It’s just too easy, if I’m dieting without a program, to slip up for a day or two.)  If I know I’m going to get weighed, I tend to be more diligent about following a program.

There were some things I really did NOT like about Weight Watchers when I tried it years ago.

I felt the program (or at least the leaders I encountered) pushed a lot of foods I didn’t consider healthy.

Processed foods.

Artificial sweeteners.

Even “way back then,” I didn’t like having stuff like that in my diet.

I talked to Dr. Painless recently about the weight I gained while on prednisone for a prolonged period of time.  (Weight I haven’t been able to lose, even though I have a pretty healthy diet.)  Dr. Painless deals with a LOT of patients who are battling pain, physical limitations, and the negative impact of pain medications on their weight.  He told me the only pain patients he has seen successfully lose and keep weight off long term have been his patients who have gone on Weight Watchers.


I decided to give it a try again – all these years later.  (My “baby” is now 17!!)

Yesterday, I went to my first meeting.

I was happy to hear a lot has changed at Weight Watchers.

For instance, you can eat all the fruit and veggies you want, with a couple starchy vegetables being the only exception.

They also now have apps (!) and etools (!) and little magic calculators!!

More importantly, the program is flexible in a much healthier way.

I can easily leave out gluten, or artificial sweeteners, or pretty much anything I have a personal aversion to.

In other words, I can keep my 95% already healthy eating habits.

What I will be working on is the other 5% …

Alcohol, the food splurges when we eat out, or go on vacation, and the occasional chocolate craving.

(Damn!  I should have enjoyed that chocolate Santa before I joined!)

Oh, and portion sizes too!

Weight Watchers is all about small portion sizes … something we know very little about in the United States.

Will it work for me?

Well, who knows.

I hope so.

I plan to exclude most grains from the program because I happen to have a metabolism that doesn’t do well with them.  (I can starve myself, but still gain weight if I’m consuming grains.)

I will keep my green smoothies, and I’m very happy about that.

I considered waiting until after upcoming Surgery #9 to begin a weight loss program.

But, the truth is, I just want to start getting the “old me” back.

I know the anesthesia and drugs from Surgery #9  will most likely cause my weight to go up for awhile.

I also will have to be fairly inactive while I recuperate.

Still, I felt it was better to start now instead of postponing it for a few more weeks.

I walked out of the meeting with all sorts of stuff to read, and recipes to try.

I’m sure I’ll probably make a few mistakes as I get used to doing things the WW way,

But I hope I’ll still make some progress.

I will keep you updated.

If I find a great recipe, I’ll share it.

If I fail with a giant chocolate Santa, or a bottle of red wine, I’ll share that too.

And hey, if I lose weight, I’ll dance a happy dance as I share that info too!

OK, now it’s your turn …

Are you trying to lose a few holiday pounds?

And if so, how are you going about it?

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The Very Best Kale Salad Recipe in the Entire World!

Are you trying to eat more green, leafy, vegetables?

One of my friends gave me a kale salad recipe ages ago.

I finally got around to making it last night and my family loved it.  (Even my pickiest son!)

To be honest, I put off making it because the idea of kale salad wasn’t that appealing.  I like cooked kale, but I didn’t think I’d enjoy an entire bowl of raw kale.

I was wrong.

This recipe is a keeper and it only took about 30 minutes to make.

It’s ideal for a pot luck, or when guests are over, and/or just a treat for yourself.

The recipe is originally from the Esalen Institute in Big Sur.

I’m writing the recipe here as I made it which is a slight variation from the original recipe.

It’s absolutely delicious.



1/3 cup tamari soy sauce

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 medium red onion

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 pound fresh kale (I used lacinato kale because I wanted it less curly!)

1/2 cup sunflower sprouts

1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts

1 avocado diced

Combine the soy sauce and lemon juice in a blender or whisk it together in a bowl.  Slowly add in the olive oil with the blender on, or as you whisk.  Slice the onion thinly and let it marinate in the dressing while you prepare the rest of the salad.  (I made the dressing in my Vitamix – easy peasy!)

Toast the seeds in a pan until they’re slightly golden.  It’s best to toast each seed separately since they’re different sizes and require different amounts of time to be lightly toasted.  (This process, for all three seeds, only took a few minutes on my stove.)   Let the seeds cool to room temperature.

De-stem the kale.  Kale stems are very bitter so you don’t want to include them.  Thinly chop the kale leaves into 1/4 inch ribbons.  (Small strips are important!)

Toss the seeds, sprouts, and kale with the onions and the dressing.  Massage the kale with your hands.

Yes, I said MASSAGE THE KALE!  (The lemon in the dressing helps break down the “toughness” of the kale!)

The above quantities will serve 4 – 6 depending on serving sizes.


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Happy 2013!

I hope everyone’s off to a good start for the New Year.

I spent a good chunk of yesterday hiking around beach caves.

Isn’t that what everybody loves doing?

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I guess today’s the first day of pretending to keep those nasty New Year’s Resolutions, isn’t it?

Have you made any?

Have you disregarded any of them yet?

I’m having trouble remembering what mine even were.

Flipping the calendar to January brought mixed feelings for me.

I’m pretty burnt out on holidays and ready to move on.

In that sense, hurrah for January!

(Is it just me, or does it seem like the holidays have been going on for eons this year?  I really miss having a “normal” routine.)

I’m also excited about a few upcoming opportunities in my life.  I think there will be a lot of good stuff going on in 2013.

On the other hand,

I’m unreasonably scared about Surgery #9 which is … (oh dear God!) less than two weeks away now.

By scared, I mean … panicked.

Heart racing, stomach churning, sweaty palmed … panicked.

I know I’m over reacting; it is not going to be a very difficult surgery.

I’m pretty sure, however, I’m experiencing “normal” anxiety considering it’s my 9th surgery since the car accident.


The whole concept of nine surgeries on one body part is just WRONG.

I’m having a Pavlov’s response …

Kick the dog enough times, and it starts to crouch in fear even before its kicked.

I’ll try my best not to write, “I’m terrified,” over and over every day between now and the surgery.

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2013 New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

I don’t make them for two reasons.

First, New Year’s is my least favorite holiday.

In fact, I really (!!!) dislike New Year’s Eve.  I always have.  I wish it would disappear.

It seems like a “forced” holiday.

You MUST go to a party.

You MUST drink until you get drunk and/or sick.  (I’m a lightweight with alcohol.  What do I do all night after I get drunk on one glass of wine?)

You MUST stay up until midnight even if you don’t want to.

You MUST be happy.

I don’t like being told what to do.

Second, no one ever keeps their New Year’s resolutions, right?

And if no one keeps them, what’s the point of having them?

But …!!

This year, I keep thinking of all sorts of things I want to do.

“I should make that a resolution!” I say to myself.

Over and over and over again.

I decided I would write a list of all my 2013 resolutions, even though I will most likely forget I even made them within a week.

Here they are, in no particular order:

•  Hire a hot trainer as soon as I’ve recovered from upcoming Surgery #9.  He must be very, very, hot because otherwise it would be a waste of money.  The whole point is having a hot hard body around to drool over, right?

•  Get an assistant for my photography business.  I have my first meeting with my (possible) future assistant this Friday.

•  Lose “the prednisone fat” I’ve been carrying around since Surgery #8.  I don’t know who the fat girl is in the mirror, but I want ME back.

•  Cook more.  Unlike many people, I actually like cooking.  However, most cooking tasks (stirring, chopping, lifting) really HURT my bum arm.  I have to find a way.  What cooking tools make your kitchen life easier?

•  Exercise regularly.  “Regularly” is the key word here.  I’m very inconsistent.  Things like surgeries, travel, and children seem to keep getting in the way.  I’m a very active person, but I need a more consistent exercise routine.

•  Re-organize my house.  I’d really like to bulldoze it completely, but reorganizing will have to do.

•  Put on at least ONE photography workshop for all of you who have requested it.

•  Dress a little “nicer” at least one day a week.  This is a big challenge for a girl like me.  I prefer wearing beat-up sweats and jeans.

•  Continue to challenge myself artistically.  Art is a journey and it never ends.

•  Read more books.  I love reading.  Why do I feel like I rarely have time?

•  Visit places I’ve never been to before.

I could probably list at least another ten “resolutions” if I tried.

Are you making any resolutions this year?

What are they?

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Fall Leaves in Winter

It’s finally gotten cold enough here for THIS to be happening in my backyard:

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Most of the United States is covered in snow, so I guess it’s okay fall has arrived in Orange County.  It’s Almost-January, after all.

I have to admit, I really love having pretty leaves on my trees.

(Color changing doesn’t happen every year in my too-warm-for-that backyard.)

It’s an unusually cold December.

I was okay with cold weather for a day or two, but I’m ready for warmer temperatures now.

I hate being cold …!