Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

December was snow-free in Albany - until Christmas morning!  Mom and Renee came for a holiday visit (yay!) and we had an excellent walk around a snowy white Thacher State Park today.

Renee sitting on John's snow angel head:

John tracks:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jaws Unwired Open!

On Tuesday the doctor removed the front wires that were holding my mouth closed.  Finally free!  Sort of, at least.  Free enough to celebrate being able to open my mouth after 25 days.  Phew!

The wires on the top of the sparkling grape juice look awfully familiar...

The biggest "yay!" is being about to run AND breathe at the same time.  I don't need to clench my mouth closed to keep my teeth from jiggling.  I can get enough air in - as much as my current fitness level will allow. Time to ramp up (slowly of course) on the training.

I talked with a guy at work yesterday who had a bike accident a couple months ago - avoiding a dog, oddly enough - and broke his hip.  He was on crutches for a while.  I had a hard time deciding whether, given the choice, I would pick eating vs. running.  I still don't know, quite honestly.  It does make me thankful once again that the only things I fractured were above my chin.

The second biggest "yay" is being able to brush the insides of my teeth!  Ahhh, finally clean again.  I'm looking forward to a real cleaning at a dentist after all this.

I had assumed that eating would be a huge "yay" but that is taking some time and practice.  For sure, drinking is much easier and I'm very happy about that.  I no longer deal with little bits of stuff getting caught in the wires and blocking up the food access ports.

I'm using a spoon again, which is awesome.  Yogurt was the first achievement.  Applesauce!  Then soups - pea soup, potato/quinoa/spinach, anything that is really soft and doesn't require chewing.  I need to try again with the lentils and make them softer (or blend them) so they are more mushy.  Trader Joe's frozen sweet potatoes in the microwave are heavenly.

The doctor said I can chew soft food, but that is taking some time to get used to.  I worked my way through a small plate of white rice last night because that's what I was craving (first step toward the sushi that I really want).  It took quite a while and a glass of beer to wash it down and subsequently a lot of teeth cleaning, but I did it!  My teeth are tender and those wires on the roof of my mouth are really in the way now (trying not to complain TOO much).  Baby steps...

The only slightly positive thing I can say about those wires is that I've taken to blowing bubbles with them to amuse myself.  No one probably needed to know that.  Neither do you really want to see them, mostly because it involves a close-up of my face... I'm on the fence as to whether I'll post a picture at some point.

I'm using elastics to keep my mouth stable at night for a week.  This is a pretty minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.  But I'm counting down the days (nights) anyway.

My weight is stable, happily.  After losing 3 pounds immediately after surgery, my weight leveled off and hasn't fluctuated since.  I guess my food intake is working OK.  I'm still drinking one serving of Spiz each day to keep a good variety of nutrition while I experiment with what else I can eat, and I'm still doing smoothies and soups, but I stopped the Ensures at least.

No telling what will happen when I can really start eating - trying to figure out how much self-control it will take not to go crazy with that...

My doctor told me to exercise my jaw and get it working again.  The word "exercise" is right up my alley.  My jaw muscles are still stiff from being closed for so long, and there is a part of the arch bar that rubs the inside of my cheek in the back, but I'm doing my best to improve the range of motion.  Three days out, and I can fit 2 fingers-width into my open mouth.  Look, my tongue is visible!

Next stop = January 2 for removal of all the hardware.  That will be a big YAY!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Challenge Nation - NOLA championships

I was feeling good enough to fly and really didn't want to miss another championship race.  So we hopped on a plane last Friday and took a little trip down to New Orleans!  Ah, warm weather for a couple days.  A great time with our teammates Kip and Dave.  Blended gumbo - yum!  An urban racing experience - with jaws wired shut!  It was all a wonderful way to spend the last few days of not being able to open my mouth.

This was the first year for a Challenge Nation championships, and they decided to go with a semifinal/5-team final format.  We didn't think we really had a shot at making the finals since I could only jog (limited by airflow) but we had fun in the trying.

I'll toss Kip and Dave's race photos in the mix - they took a different route and smoked us (and everyone else) in the first race.  Great job y'all!

First stop - the cemetery with Marie Laveau's tomb marked with X's:

Am I allowed to add commentary to Kip and Dave's pictures?  I'll leave this one alone for now...

Across a couple streets we located an out-of-state license plate with an X on it:

Dave and Kip found one too:

We opted to start on the west side of town while Kip and Dave traveled up to City Park first.  We purchased a toy at Office Depot to drop off for Toys for Tots at an Irish pub:

While heading back toward town we ran past a couple of Santa's - John had plenty of time to snap their photo and chat with them before catching back up to me:

Hiding in the bunker outside the WWII Museum:

We had a few extra minutes before the ferry arrival, so we jogged up to this statue of Ignatius J Reilly where I made a point to really show off my mouth metal for a reason I cannot currently fathom:

We jumped on the ferry for a ride to the other side and back, capturing the city skyline along the way.  This checkpoint certainly cost us some time, but we got to sit for 30 minutes instead of potentially having to run up and/or back to City Park so we figured it made sense in my current condition.  And it was a pretty day for this photo:

Dave and Kip got a picture of the Blue Dog in the sculpture garden instead:

One bonus for our ferry ride was finding someone from Florida (one of 4 states ending in the letter "A" that also has no income tax).  That was extremely lucky!

She was a good sport as we attempted to make the shape of Florida with our arms:

Hey, at least we did better than Dave and Kip!

We couldn't skip the northern parts entirely - we did manage to catch a trolley just as it was leaving in that direction.  We got out at Jeff Davis Parkway for a photo with Mr. Dreux - yay!

Our timing on the return trolley wasn't as good.  John suggested starting to run back, but I nixed that idea so we waited a few minutes and eventually our transportation back to the French Quarter arrived.

Back south - then it really was time to run.  We were trying to make it to the clock before 2:30 pm (we had to get a picture at :00, :15, :30, or :45) and I wasn't sure I could get there that fast.

It wasn't easy, but we got within a couple blocks and then decided we even had enough time to take our picture at the Cat's Meow.  This karaoke bar had been closed when Kip and Dave came through, but it was open now.  So we got to jump on stage!

One of the guys running the place posed with us while an actual karaoke customer sang "Call Me Maybe" and completely ignored us.  I was impressed with his focus.

We made it to the church and ran around the alleys for a minute before figuring out exactly which clock and horse we were supposed to be looking for, duh.  The clock was running slightly fast, but the chimes were right on time - does that count?

Breathing through my teeth...

Dave and Kip 45 minutes earlier:

One last clue - we had to share a beignet!  Luckily I didn't actually have to EAT one because we would have had to skip that checkpoint... unless there was a blender around somewhere...

Kip and Dave easily made the finals race, while we were a few minutes out of 5th place.  Still, 7th place ain't bad for my first (and with any luck LAST) urban race with my mouth closed!

We had fun walking and running around the French Quarter helping Dave and Kip where we could in the finals race.  It was a really quick affair, less than an hour for most of the teams, and only 8 checkpoints with 1 skip allowed.

Their first photo with a cannon, with Kip possibly yelling "noooooooo!" even though he didn't know it wasn't the right one at the time:

The "hands" bench near Lee Circle:

A plaque commemorating the birthplace of "Dixie":

Mr Fountain next to a fountain:

The "chief of chiefs" in Armstrong Park:

A plaque at the Old Ursuline Convent:

A T-shirt from a school in one of the bowl games:

Unfortunately Team Nads (Go... Nads!) made it back to the finish first, and all of their photos were good.  So they came out on top - congrats guys!  Kip and Dave were the 2nd team back by a few minutes, and other teams came running in close after.  Exciting finish!

Most of the racers from the finals:

Well done, Nads!

I was just happy to be a part of the whole event, close up and in the middle of the action.  Time to get back in shape for some real racing in 2013  :)  See you there!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Jaws wired shut - food edition

Current "Soups around Albany" list:

  1. Homemade red lentil/carrot/onion soup!  I'm drinking some right now.
  2. Pea soup (minus the ham) from Uncommon Grounds coffee shop
  3. Bruegger's Butternut Squash - almost pureed enough to not need blending (almost!)
  4. Trader Joe's Cream of Portabello Mushroom
  5. Campbell's Pea Soup
  6. Amy's Lentil Vegetable
  7. Panera Garden Vegetable with Pesto

Although no one probably really cares, since I've given myself permission to talk about food I somehow feel the need to make a list of what I've been eating these days.  As someone who *loves* to eat, this is a pretty pathetic list to work from for 25 days, but I'm trying for variety where I can.  The bright side is that I don't need a straw anymore - just cups and bowls and few napkins.

Chocolate SPIZ - one serving a day (split between morning/evening)
Ensure - one bottle a day (lunch)
Liquid multivitamin
[So at least I'm getting a base set of calories and range of nutrition]

Smoothies - various ingredients such as juice or almond milk, berries, banana, apple, mango, pineapple, avocado, spinach, carrots, Greek yogurt, protein powder, milled flax seed, honey, oatmeal, and I've recently started experimenting with Nutella  :)

Soups - the main source of legumes and vegetables, see above plus a staple of Trader Joe's purees such as squash, sweet potato bisque, and carrot-ginger right out of the box (no blending needed!)

I recently bought some Kefir and have been enjoying this for a bit of variety.

Various drinks - orange juice, local cider, other fruit juice, chai latte, ginger ale, chocolate soy or almond milk, and a little bit of high-calorie eggnog!

I've been walking about an hour every day and my weight has been constant since I dropped those first 3 pounds after surgery.  Now it's just patience for another 8 days...