20 September 2011


Since I've been back home, my boyfriend and I have been doing a fair amount of baking. In the first two weeks, he made a batch of chocolate chip cookies each weekend. Then the weekend before last, we stopped at my favourite bakery, Outsider Tart, for some delicious baked treats (and amazing coffee). The guys that run the shop recently released a bakery book, Baked in America, which has all sorts of delicious recipes for some of the items they sell in their shop, including, but not limited to, brownies and bars, cookies, muffins and whoopie pies.

I let my boyfriend choose the first recipe as they all looked delicious to me, and I accidentally ate most of the chocolate chip cookies when he made them. He chose the recipe for the Hepburns. There was no picture for this recipe, only an introduction and the recipe itself, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. It turns out that these so-called Hepburns are the best tasting brownies I've ever had the pleasure of eating. Seriously. We managed to bake them just to the point where the knife came out clean when the brownies were tested, which left us with a perfectly gooey brownie.

The delicious result of the Hepburn brownie recipe from Outsider Tart's Baked in America.

Baked in America has turned out to be a great purchase. In addition to the Hepburns, I've made some delicious ginger muffins (though I'm not convinced they turned out quite right) and chocolate snickerdoodles. What makes this bakery book great, however, isn't just the amazing recipes, but the fact that it is accessible to any would-be baker, not just American bakers, nor British bakers. In America, we tend to measure things by volume: one cup, two cups, etc. Whereas in most the rest of the world, things are measured by weight (grams, kilograms, etc.). This bakery book includes measurements in both traditional American measurements as well as weight (including both imperial and metric measurements).

I've been trying the weight-method of baking since I've gotten this book. This is mostly because British butter is not sold in easy-to-use sticks as it is in America, so I'm often left to measure that by weight anyway. Even though I'm most familiar with the American way of baking, I'm actually finding baking by weight enjoyable. The best part is that I can tare the scale after the addition of each ingredient, and am actually getting fewer things dirty as a result.

With all the baked goods that have been made in the past week, it's no surprise that I've managed to gain another three pounds in 10 days. The weight gain seems to have slowed down a bit, but I think that's a result of a combination of getting out more and getting closer to my target weight. I've only got another 4.5 kilograms to get back to 50 kilograms, but I'd be happy just to reach 105 pounds again--that tends to be the lower range of my normal weight, and probably the weight I was when I was reasonably healthy here in London.

12 September 2011

Oh What a Relief It Is

Things have been a bit busy in the past two weeks, hence the lack of updates.

I went back to work last Monday. By went back to work, I mean logged on from home as I don't think I'm technically allowed to carry the weight of my laptop plus power adapter for a total of eight weeks post-surgery. Luckily, I work for a company with flexible working practices, including the ability to work from home. This has been helpful not only from my recovery standpoint, but also when I was not feeling well enough to make the trek to the office, but not poorly enough to take a sick day.

The first week back went pretty well. I'll be honest, I was pretty useless the first few days. I was trying to regain my bearings--turns out a lot can change in three months--and refocus on some of the activities I was working on prior to being hospitalised. Whilst I'm now getting plenty of calories, which in theory should make it easier to concentrate, I've not had to concentrate much in the past three months. So the first few days were a bit challenging. Though I did find meetings easier to participate in than they were before I went to hospital because I'm no longer dealing with pain/discomfort.

By the end of the week, I had regained my bearings and met with several people who were able to steer me in the right direction in terms of the work I should be focusing on in the immediate term, and some things to think about for the mid- to long-term. While I'm still struggling to concentrate for a solid workday, I feel I'm doing better, and I think once I'm back to the office with fewer distractions, I will be functioning better than I was earlier this year.

I should point out that no one has forced, or even asked, me to return to work so soon (I'm only in week four of my recovery). I have no idea what I would have done to entertain, but not overexert myself for the six weeks after my dad went back to the States. I suppose I could have done a lot of baking, walking or knitting, but I was actually looking forward to using my brain a bit.

On Friday, I went to the surgery [doctor's office] to have the surgical staples removed from my wound. In the past, it's been a bit uncomfortable to have the staples removed, and I was not looking forward to this experience. Not only that, but I had been changing the dressing every two to four days and noticed that some of the staples looked a bit buried-- scabs had formed over some of them, and there was one that looked like it was lost in my belly button (which still exists!). The thought of the nurse digging for them totally wigged me out every time I saw them. It turns out, however, that having the staples removed three weeks on is actually less painful than having them removed within 10 days, as I had in the past. My theory is that there is less bruising by three weeks, so it's not really upsetting anything in that way.

However, having staples in for three weeks becomes a bit painful. On the Saturday prior to having them removed, I was starting to get some nasty stinging/burning sensation around near to my wound. It wasn't a consistent pain, and only really bothered me when I tried to stand or walk. Suffice to say, I stayed at home most days last week, and only went out when I needed something. Once the staples were removed, I noticed not only did the stinging/burning pain go away, but I was also able to finally stand up much straighter. And now that it's been a few days, I am back to standing and walking fairly normally.

So the staple removal turned out to be uneventful, though my wigging out a bit (I think I kept wincing and clenching my fists like I was being tortured) did not go unnoticed by the nurse. She kept asking if I was OK and needed a break. I assured her I was OK, and that I was just a little wigged out by the experience and the fact that my wound virtually has no feeling. The numbness of my wound has freaked me out for years, and I always get uncomfortable when people are poking at my tummy, or if I have to touch it more than simply rubbing it with a flat hand.

While I was there, the nurse also noticed the stitches from the incisions that were made to remove my Hickman line. They were supposed to be dissolve-able stitches, but almost three weeks later they were still there. The nurse kindly offered to take them out because she said if they had not dissolved by then, they were not going to dissolve on their own. Both the incisions are looking much better, and I no longer have to worry about the stitches catching on my shirt; I just have two more scars to add to the collection.

And speaking of scars, by new belly scar looks much, much neater than my previous ones. The scar from my first surgery was about five millimetres wide, and about eight inches long. The scar from my second surgery was directly on top of my previous incision, but was only about three millimetres wide. One of the surgeons--the one I dubbed "the serious surgeon" because of his overly serious and dry demeanour--had mentioned that they cleaned up my scars from the previous surgeries. Because of the way the wound was stapled, I could not really see what they had done, but since it has settled, I noticed that 1) my old scars are completely gone; 2) my new scar is only two millimetres or so wide. I'm guessing once it has faded, it will be virtually invisible compared to my previous two.

Me at nearly 45kg
Other than work and surgery appointments, I have not been up to much--other than gaining weight. I don't have a proper scale at home, but I do have Wii Fit Plus which has a weight-tracking capability. I decided to weigh myself the first weekend I came home from surgery. I was only up about one kilogram in that first week. Then Friday, 12 days later, I decided that I would weigh myself again. In that 12 days, I managed to pack on 10 pounds, roughly 4.5kg! That puts me near 45kg total, which is nearly halfway back to my normal weight of 50kg. So I guess my week of not going out too much and continuing to drink my supplement drinks has paid off. Even my smallest pair of jeans now fit without a belt! Win!

Perhaps when I have a minute, I will share how you, too, can gain 10 pounds in 12 days!