17 August 2012

An Anniversary

Today marks one year since I had the strictureplasties for my Crohn's, and I am happy to say that I am [still] doing brilliantly.

No pain, no niggles, no uncontrollable symptoms. Business is as usual as it can be for me (if you have Crohn's, your version of "normal" is completely different from that of a healthy person).

It's actually difficult for me to remember all the pain and suffering I went through last year when I was ill. And even though I was in hospital for nearly three months last summer, I barely remember any of it. It's amazing how the mind tends to forget the difficulties in life so we can move on and focus on the good things.

Since I've been feeling well, it's been my mission to make the most of the good days (or at least try!). I restarted running in November--and again in June after a break from April through May--and have tried my best to eat healthfully. I planned a wedding in three months, got hitched in April and then travelled to Australia (absolutely amazing place, by the way) for the honeymoon. In a sense, I feel like this year's life theme has been "go big, or go home," and I love it.

For those of us with Crohn's, this is a life-long disease, but with a bit of perseverance, we can win the battles, and enjoy our lives. Make the most of the good days, and you'll hardly remember the bad.

Coffee Crisis 2012

It's like the Exxon Valdez... a coffee spill in my kitchen.
After living in the UK for nearly three years, I've finally managed to re-establish my hardcore coffee addiction.

In Britain, coffee usually comes in instant form, and as one might imagine, it's not the tastiest. Because tea is a much more popular hot beverage in Britain, most people don't have coffee makers, instead opting for electric kettles. As such, kettles are considerably less expensive and easier to find than coffee makers, so that is what I went for when I moved here. It was difficult enough getting my flat set up without a car, and I really had to pinch pennies after the move, so I was not prepared to hunt for a coffee maker.

Fast forward to today. I've recently gotten into Twitter, and after following my local council, I discovered a coffee place called Astrora Coffee in nearby Teddington. At first, I thought they may be another coffee shop flogging coffee beverages, but it turns out that they don't sell coffee beverages at all--they only sell coffee beans and coffee making accessories. Not wanting to completely waste my trip (and miss out on delicious coffee at home), I decided to buy a pour-over coffee funnel, paper filters and some coffee beans. I excitedly took my new purchases home, and instantly rekindled my love for black coffee.

Pour-over coffee really isn't that much different from a drip-coffee maker one may have in their kitchen in America. Instead of relying on the coffee maker to do all the work, I have to boil the water separately and subsequently pour it over the ground which I have set up in the funnel. The beauty of this process is that it can be done quite easily for a single cup, and it's quick. The downside, as the picture shows, is that it's possible for the coffee to overflow if your cup is smaller than expected. I realise a french press would eliminate this issue, but I really don't like the oiliness of the coffee associated with the method.

After much success with my first 250 grams of ground coffee, I went back to the shop and bought a hand coffee grinder, another 250 grams of whole bean Tanzania, and 125 grams of decaf Guatemala. The hand grinder has turned out to be quite a bit of work, but totally worth it. I'm so happy to be reunited with my favouritest beverage ever.

02 February 2012

Name Change

It has been a hectic few months, and I cannot see things becoming any less so in the near future. I managed to make it back to America for Thanksgiving, did some travelling for work, celebrated Christmas and started wedding planning.

My health has been quite good, in fact, and I managed to regain all the weight I lost while ill and then some. I got up to 54 kilograms (approximately 119 pounds), which was a new high for me. I've trimmed a bit off in recent weeks, but I'm still at or above 50 kilograms.

In addition to successfully regaining my weight, I've also taken up running again. I spent nine weeks on the Couch to 5k program, which I found to be incredibly enjoyable. Even better were the Couch to 5k podcasts posted on the NHS website. The aim of Couch to 5k is to get people who do not run running for 30 minutes at a time in nine weeks. Weeks 1 through 6 have participants running for a few minutes with walking breaks between. So week 1 for example is one minute running, one minute walking eight times, and progresses to 90 seconds running, two minutes walking in week two and so on. It felt like quite an accomplishment to get to 30 minutes of non-stop running at the end. Unfortunately, I had a bit of a set-back a few weeks after completing the program consisting of knee and ankle pain. I figured this might have resulted from over-training, so I decided to pick up Couch to 5k from week 5, and go from there. Additionally, I received a heart rate monitor for my birthday, so I am using that to ensure I do not over-train. My pace has been almost painfully slow since using the heart rate monitor, but it does ensure that my workouts are not overly strenuous, and has been a good indicator of effort.

Besides trying to lead a healthier existence, my boyfriend and I have been busy planning for our wedding in April. A few things I've learned so far:

  1. Weddings are expensive (though we realised this earlier)
  2. Three months is not much time to plan a wedding
  3. In an ideal world, you need more than three months to properly order a wedding dress

I had a few mini panic attacks after talking to friends who got married in the past few years, realising three months was not much time to get things done. But as I've managed to cross a few of the bigger things off my to-do list (venue, dress, etc.), I've calmed down considerably and find myself more relaxed. Don't get me wrong, we still have plenty to sort out, but we'll get there soon.

I've decided with the new year that a name change for my blog was in order. People mention on a regular basis that I'm sounding more British in terms of terminology and accent (mostly according to people who are not British), and I find myself moaning about everyday things as much as the locals. I've gotten used to rainy days, and dare I say this place is starting to feel a bit more like home. Of course, none of this changes the fact that I want to move back to California some day, but for now, I'm going to roll with the punches and see where this takes me.