Be careful what you wish for

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I wanted Michelle Bridges arms and a six pack. As I have had numerous people point out over the past four weeks, you don’t need legs for that.

Maybe I should have added in killer thighs – plural – or curvy calves – again plural. But I didn’t, so I really don’t have any excuse if I don’t get them, even with my dodgy achilles.

In the weeks following my operation not a lot happened. I was picked up from the hospital, still slightly drug induced and wheeled home with a goodie bag of takeaways including Tramadol, Endone, Oxycontin and my first three weeks of Clexane injections.

I was promptly placed on couch, handed TV remotes and given permission to boss, direct and order others around whenever I needed something.

What I needed was better TV. Even with Foxtel I forgot how boring, yet strangely addictive day time TV is. 16 and pregnant, 4 Weddings and my all time favorite Geordie Shore.

For whatever reason, perhaps because my brain was still floating in clouds and my leg still ached, but whenever I tried to read I had a hard time focusing. The words would swim on the page and well constructed sentences made no sense. So I gave up and just succumbed to the junk that is reality TV.

Along with the bossing and the ordering, I also called on a few more favours.

The first day post operation my ‘almost always paleo’ friend who happens to be a pharmacist bought over the pair of crutches she had ordered and I had paid for, saving me the weekly $10 hire fee from the local chemist. Given I had a bill from almost every doctor in the Epworth, the savings was well welcomed.

Her biggest favour however, was her clinical hand there to steady my own when the time came for my first injection.

Actually her hand was the only steady one, and so instead it was she who injected the preventative blood clot drug into me, slightly pinching my stomach and using one of the alcohol swabs she had thoughtfully also bought over. This time I watched. I wasn’t naive enough to think I was going to have her come over at 6pm everyday for the next six weeks.

The needle pierced my skin and the fluid was pumped into me. It swelled around the area, between her fingers and the flesh of skin she was still pinching and even when she slowly withdrew the injection the fluid remained poised. We could both feel it, bubbling just under my flesh, until she lightly pressed over the pin prick with the swab and sent the fluid flowing through my body to help keep my blood flowing.

The first of many injections was dropped in the safe syringe canister and I popped another pain killer. When my head was too cloudy to focus, she left and I returned to my TV viewing.

My routine of waking, stumbling to coach, being fed, bought coffee, food and handed remotes, iPad and water was interrupted in the first few days by welcomed visitors. My circle of friends who were part time workers or stay at home mums were the biggest help during the day. Not only did they bring conversation that actually made sense and did not involve underage sex, but my visitors also bought well meaning care packages and lunch. And their children, who could run around and distract me from the throbbing that had remained in my leg since the surgery and who pointed at my boot with a confused look on their face and asked what my ‘ouch’ was.

Good old trusty Grandma, Gma to those who know her, was also a big help visiting twice during the first week I was home alone. The first time she came for lunch it was with chicken, salad, fresh rolls and her world famous orange cake. I was thankful and hungry, but also vividly aware her orange cake was loaded with sugar and gluten and the rolls, despite being still warm, were something I had stayed away from too long to risk.

Bollucks. The part of my brain that was less drug affected thought. How was I going to tell my 84 year old Gma that all the food she had bought had recently been crossed off my ‘yes I eat that’ list. The very same Gma that had once scolded my vegetarian sister for not eating the zucchini slice she had made because it had ‘only a little bit’ of bacon in it.

Oh thanks Grandma, but I don’t eat bread very much anymore (at all)

Oh don’t you love? Do you want only half then?

Um, maybe I’ll just have the salad and not the roll.

Ok, I’ll just put you the half, which half do you want?

I faced the same challenge with the orange cake.

I’m a little full now Grandma, I might have some later.

You didn’t each that much love, ill just put you a little piece.

The second time she came, it was with her homemade soup that not long ago was my favorite. Luckily Joel had eaten most of the remaining orange cake and what little was left I had farmed off to my sister so nothing but crumbs remained.

But how this time could I explain that her once treasured and loved chicken and corn noodle soup was now a big NO on the paleo diet.

I didn’t. I ate the soup; nobody likes a fussy disabled girl.

The days were largely boring. I had visions of writing a witty and entertaining blog entry every day, but just like the fog that entered my brain when I tried to read, I couldn’t find the right words to write into my newly purchased journals and so the pencil stayed pointed the pages blank.

Slowly, at my brothers warning, I tried to wean myself off the pain killers. Perhaps I tried a little too early but his sms had freighted me

What drugs are you on? You better be careful, some people can get addicted to those you know. You should try not to take them.

Three years ago, my brother had broken his neck playing football and while thankfully he is fine now, he had been in a world of pain and bother back then, and had also been doped up on various blood thinners and pain killers. I was worried his warning may have come from personal experience, so excluded my daily helpers only a few days post surgery.

It was a mistake. By Tuesday I found myself in a bout of depression and pain. I had been home alone for most of the day left for once to manage my own snacks and hobble up to the kitchen every time my water bottle needed filling. TV had been bad, I was bored and feeling a little sorry for myself. And my leg was throbbing.

Epic fail.

Dad called, criticized my brother for his ‘well meaning’ warning and told me to pop a pill if I needed it.

I took two.

Nights were better.

At night friends popped over with care packages. Annie with parcels of food – all paleo food I might add – recipes she had taken the time to photocopy from the Against All Grain cookbook. Magazines, books and DVD’s. Nisha with more magazines. Megan with hand weights to help focus my frustration (and get those Michelle Bridges arms) Anna came to see me on a visit from Perth and together with Annie and Nisha, I broke my paleo diet with Thai food, wine and champagne.

But it was worth it, I felt human again.

And of course there were the flowers. A beautiful bunch from all the coaches at Crossfit Hawthorn East that arrived (conveniently) on a day when my sister was babysitting me.

A bouquet from work, cuts from Gma’s garden. Nisha, Anna and Charly all bringing a bunch when they came. My house smelled and looked beautiful, even if I didn’t

And then the first week was over.

The second week I went back to work. Well I went back working, from home. I had decided again to stop taking pain killers and for the most part the days were fine. But long. I had underestimated how much longer everything would take when dong it on one leg, by oneself, still slightly fragile from the surgery and post op week.

Getting dressed – unable to take my moonboot off until the stitches came out – meant that my wardrobe was limited. Very limited. As in I often stayed in my pajamas all day or managed to stretch a pair of trucksuit pants over the boot and hoped I had no visitors.

Making a coffee. Travel mug strategically placed on the edge of the kitchen bench. Down the two stairs I go on the crutches, leg held in air. Mug placed carefully in bag then gently lowered onto right crutch or over shoulder and slowly, very slowly, maneuver over to the couch or into the study. By the time I got there, the coffee was cold.

Showers. All of a sudden I was a child again and couldn’t perform this simple task on my own so resorted to (as hideous as it sounds) bathing only every second day. Garbage bag over moonboot, stool in base of shower. Leg stretched out of shower door and resting on another chair so it didn’t get wet and stayed elevated. All of this had to of course have a helper to lower me on stool and get me out of the shower when the time came.

Food. It was almost too hard. Breakfast was provided to me by well meaning husband (who now refers to me as the English patient) before leaving for work, but lunch and snacks were left up to me. It meant I got up only when I was starving and not for snacks, although my appetite still had not come back from the operation. At least I managed to FINALLY give up my nut addiction.

I was exhausted.

Just getting around on my own sapped my energy, and my brain trying to focus on working that first week was tough. I took regular lunch breaks, plopping myself in front of the TV on the couch for an hour while eating whatever it was I had managed to make and carry on my own.  I answered emails and dialed into meetings said a silent thanks that I didn’t have to make any massive decisions.

On Friday of that second week I glanced at myself in the mirror after negotiating the shower and was a little horrified by what I saw.

Dark bags circled my eyes, unwashed, greasy hair that hadn’t been brushed in a day or so. Pale face, very pale face from sitting indoors for weeks. Track marks and bruises some purple, some black and blue spotted my stomach from the daily injections.  And I had lost weight. The muscle tone I had tried so hard to achieve had faded into the background and left my stomach, arms and back with a thin layer of flesh. It wasn’t fat, it was just skin. For some reason despite the lack of exercise I had lost both size and weight.

Defiantly no sign of Michelle Bridges arms and a six pack. I looked hideous.

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The Primal Challenge Day 13 & 14

The second weekend has come and gone and again I have survived! And while I ate like a cave man I didn’t hibernate like one. I went out – a few times, and took my new clean eating with me. Ok so no bars, just restaurants, so no real alcohol temptation – but still.

Friday night dinner  – no worries. Just give me a steak and a pile of greens and I would be happy. Thai was almost forgotten. I felt great for not drinking – well maybe just good – but it actually didn’t worry me.

When I ordered my food the slightly odd waiter with his thick Czech accent repeated it by saying (with a creepy smile) “I know what you want, steak, medium, salt, pepper, lots of greens, no butter, no oil, no gluten, no dairy…ok no worries. But one question, how you look like you do when you eat like that?”

It’s because I eat this way I look this way! I wanted to respond.

Because I have cut out sugar my skin is clearer, I did a PB in my last back squat, my arms are on their way to looking like Michelle Bridges, (random goal of mine) and my hair can last three to four days before I need to wash it (apart from the crossfit sweat).

And maybe if you tried it you would be able to too! I wanted to scream at him.

But I didn’t because he was bald, and slightly odd, and I hadn’t got my food yet, and in a strange sort of way he was trying to pick me up until a)my husband appeared next to me and b)an attractive brunette got his attention. Plus I don’t/didn’t want to sound like I have/had tickets on myself.

But it’s true. My skin really is clearer and for a 30 something that often gets a bout of teenage acne, this is quite a positive development and given the length of my hair, the less frequent hair washing is not only a big time saver, but also a big cash bonus.

That Friday night, my meal was actually the envy of the table.

Saturday (day 13) I replaced boxing with a trip to my newfound physio Alex from Evolutio, who has conveniently opened up a studio above the Crossfit Hawthorn East box.  Another bonus is Alex actually does and coaches crossfit so understands the sport and the movements.  Which also means he is not one of those physios who looks down on you, shakes their head with dismay and lectures you about how you could really hurt yourself doing crossfit for a full 20 minutes of your 30 minute appointment before actually treating you.

13 days in and I’ve well and truly turned into one of those don’t knock it till you try it people.

Saturday afternoon the Hawks came back with a great win (thank god) I snacked on a smoothie and some celery and carrot sticks, a few almonds and felt royally in control.

Although that control was short lived.

Carlton v St Kilda was only a few hours away and I was going (and was not really thrilled about it).

While my fridge was full of greens, my Cannings meat supply was out. The first inch of panic twitched in my legs when I realised there was not much in my old pantry I could mix with a salad and want to eat.

The supermarket (shudder) my only option.

I couldn’t face it myself so instead sent my now completely aware and strangely still supportive “although I think you are becoming obsessed” husband up with strict instructions.

Free range, organic chicken breast. Nothing added. No sauce.

Then to take my mind off his potential failure and my potential challenge doom I began my weekly food prep with Primal Junction’s spicy pumpkin soup recipe.

A SOS came in while I was still cutting the pumpkin.

Is it just free range or both organic and free range.

Both.

So not this Lilydale Chicken?

I don’t think so, what does the packet say?

At Lilydale, we are proud to farm free range chickens. 

All Lilydale chickens enjoy a nutritious, vitamin enriched natural diet; have access to the outdoors during the day and are free from growth promoters and antibiotics.

Hmm, nothing about what they eat?

No?

What’s the other option?

Inglewood Farms, Organic Free Range Chicken

That sounds better.

Its $15 for two chicken breasts!

Silence.

Are you there?

More silence.

Ok ill get this one.

And while we almost had to take out a second mortgage for my two chicken breasts, I must admit it was worth it. My thyme chicken salad was a winner at the football and so was Carlton meaning my husband forgot about the emptiness of his wallet with the happiness of the result.

Sunday (day 14) afternoon I watched others snack on party pies, sausage rolls and chicken nuggets trying to hold back the vomit in my throat (well not really vomit, but distaste) and every now and then popping in a snide comment about how much sugar was in their latest blob of tomato sauce.

Eventually after the third or fourth person glared at me with irritation, and about the same time the chocolate birthday cake was being cut, I stopped and let them enjoy their lunch.

Note to others – Please don’t let me turn into one of those people.

Light bulb moment and note to self – don’t turn into a superficial, high and mighty, and all judging pain in the arse. Its only day 14 and if you think you’ll never eat another piece of cake in your life, you are kidding yourself.

Then I prepped for the week. I prepped a lot.

I made two different smoothies (ok the first one didn’t last the weekend which is why I had to do the second), spicy pumpkin soup (but I used water no stock as i couldn’t find a no sugar one), bacon and vegetable frittata and a pot of clean pasta sauce with some carrot and zucchini.

My fridge was loaded and my freezer stocked, and I was set for this week. Week three!

It also provided me with another light bulb moment.

I don’t miss pasta – I missed the pasta sauce.

I tried the Primal Junction zucchini spaghetti recipe and hardly noticed my noodles were carrot and zucchini instead of penne or spaghetti. It was the rich tomato and garlic flavor with mince and Italian herbs that I looked forward to on Sunday nights and I still got that – all of that.

But I got it without sugar and without carbo loading on cheap wheat.

Why did I wait so long to try this?!

Oh that’s right I don’t have a julienne slicer and had to cut all my vegetables by hand which took me a long time, and before this challenge had no idea I could substitute pasta for something and still love it.

Perfect pasta without the penne!

Wining.

Plus when my sugar craving kicked in after dinner as others around me had strawberries and ice cream with chocolate topping for dessert I had a cup of left over smoothie and felt satisfied.

So Sunday night, the second Sunday night, and I was ready to face the week head one. Breakfast – frittata and smoothie, lunch – soup and left over ‘pasta’. Plus I had reserves for a salad if things went pear shaped and the other $7.50 chicken breast in the waiting  – better not leave that waiting too long would hate to throw it out and waste the home loan payment.

Primal Junction Challenge Day 14 which means –  I’m almost half way there……

Lessons Learned –

  • Don’t buy your organic, free-range meat from a supermarket if you want to pay off your mortgage this decade.

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