Delicious Pumpkin Spice Recipes for Fall

 

Fall is right around the corner, and that means one thing…it’s also officially pumpkin spice season! (One of our favorite things about fall here at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction.)

It’s the season many of us have been waiting for all year, and we can’t wait to indulge in our favorite pumpkin spice cookie, pie, and latte recipes!

And there is no better time than now to whip out some of our favorite delicious pumpkin spice recipes.

The best part is that many of our favorite pumpkin spice recipes actually contain pumpkin, a very healthy and nutritious food.

So healthy, in fact, that pumpkin is well known for the following health benefits:

  • Pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A, a vitamin essential to keep your eyes healthy.
  • Pumpkin is packed with fiber, which is good for heart health.
  • Pumpkin is full of antioxidants, which make it an anti-inflammatory food.

That being said, please understand that eating copious amounts of pumpkin will in no way give you all the nutrients you need to live a healthy life.

However, the many health benefits that pumpkins do have surely make us feel less guilty as we consume our favorite pumpkin spice treats!

Keep reading to discover some of our favorite pumpkin spice recipes.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Spice Waffles

Ingredients:

  • 2¼ cups (200 grams) oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice or cloves
  • 3 large eggs
  • Scant 2/3 cup milk of choice (I used plain, unsweetened almond milk)
  • Scant ½ cup melted coconut oil or 7½ tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ cup (122 grams) packed pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:

#1 In a large mixing bowl, combine the oat flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and all spice or cloves. Whisk to combine.

#2 In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Then add the milk, coconut oil or butter, pumpkin purée, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk until the mixture is thoroughly blended.

#3 Pour the liquid mixture into the oat flour mixture. Stir with a big spoon until just combined (the batter will still be a little lumpy). Let the batter rest for 10 minutes so the oat flour has time to soak up some of the moisture. Plug in your waffle iron to preheat now.

#4 Once 10 minutes is up, give the batter one more, gentle swirl with your spoon. The batter will be pretty thick, but don’t worry! Your waffles will turn out great. Pour batter onto the heated waffle iron, enough to cover the center and most of the central surface area, and close the lid.

#5 Once the waffle is deeply golden and crisp, transfer it to a cooling rack or baking sheet. Don’t stack your waffles on top of each other or they’ll lose crispness. If desired, keep your waffles warm by placing them in a 200-degree oven until you’re ready to serve. Repeat with remaining batter and serve with desired toppings on the side.

Recipe Source: http://cookieandkate.com/2014/gluten-free-pumpkin-spice-waffles/

Pumpkin Chai Latte

Ingredients:

  • Latte
  • 1 tea bag of spiced chai (or decaf spiced chai rooibos)
  • ½ cup plain, unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
  • 2 tablespoons real pumpkin purée
  • 1 tablespoon real maple syrup or honey
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Dash nutmeg
  • Dash cloves
  • Tiny dash salt
  • ½ teaspoon arrowroot starch or cornstarch (optional, makes the latte super creamy)
  • Optional garnishes: 1 cinnamon stick or star of anise, coconut whipped cream
  • Optional coconut whipped cream
  • 1 can (14 ounces) full fat coconut milk, chilled at least 10 hours (the coconut milk MUST be full fat and MUST be refrigerated for at least 10 hours. Put a mixing bowl in the freezer to chill while you’re at it.)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

#1 In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup water to a gentle boil. Remove the water from heat, add the tea bag, and let it steep for 4 minutes. Before removing the tea bag, squeeze any water remaining out by pressing the tea bag against the side of the pan with the back of a spoon.

#2 Add the almond milk, pumpkin purée, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt to the pan. Whisk in the optional arrowroot starch or cornstarch. Pour the mixture into a stand blender and blend for a minute or two, until the components are blended together and the drink is nice and creamy. (You can alternatively use an immersion blender, but I had much better results with my stand blender.)

#3 Pour the mixture back into your pan and gently rewarm on the stove, then pour it into a mug. Top with totally optional whipped coconut cream and/or garnish with totally optional cinnamon stick or star of anise.

#4 To make the coconut whipped cream: Pull out the chilled can of coconut milk and mixing bowl. Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the solid coconut cream into the chilled bowl (you can use the remaining coconut water in smoothies). Using an electric hand mixer, beat the cream until fluffy and smooth. Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract and cinnamon and gently blend again to combine. Use the coconut cream immediately or cover and store in the fridge for later (it will be soft at room temperature and more firm when cold).

Recipe Source: http://cookieandkate.com/2014/homemade-pumpkin-chai-latte/

 Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 15 ounces (1 and 1/2 cups) pumpkin
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup honey, agave, or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

#1 Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, whisking well to break up any lumps of pumpkin.

#2 Chill in the refrigerator until cold, then whisk again.

#3 Store the ice cream in an airtight container in the freezer, and let it soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes before scooping.

Recipe Source: http://acalculatedwhisk.com/pumpkin-spice-ice-cream-vegan-paleo/

 What is your favorite pumpkin spice recipe? Comment below!

6 Back to School Tips to Relieve Stress

 

 

Summer coming to a close means one thing: getting prepared to send the kiddos back to school.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an elementary school kid, an adult student, or a parent…getting back into the swing of things is an adjustment for everyone.

To help you make the transition from a summer schedule back into the classroom, we’d like to share with you some of our favorite tips for going back to school.

Shift Gears into Scholar Mode

During the summer, it’s great to lounge by the pool, sleep in, and catch up on your favorite TV shows.

But as the first day of school approaches, it’s important to shift gears into scholar mode. Try planning a family trip to a local museum, nature center, or science center.

Encourage your kids to take notes, study new things, and learn as much as they can.

Adjust Your Sleep Schedule

During summer break, the family’s sleep schedule often shifts.

Late nights and sleeping in can become your new routine.

While there’s nothing wrong with this schedule, it can become a problem when you suddenly have to wake up at 6 a.m. to get your kids ready for school.

Try heading to bed a little earlier every night as the start of school approaches. It’s also helpful to set an alarm to help you wake up earlier each morning.

Create a Calendar

The start of school often means the start of new activities, sports, and after-school clubs. Creating a family calendar is a great way to ensure that you can keep track of everyone’s schedule.

Better yet, it also allows you to block off some time to spend with family, as we know the school year can be busy and hectic.

Get Your School Supplies

Most schools send out school supply lists before the year even begins.

Stay ahead of the curve and make sure your kids have all the books, notebooks, folders, pens, pencils, and other assorted supplies they need to start the year.

Purchasing these items a few weeks in advance will allow you to enjoy the rest of the summer without having to rush around at the last minute.

Put Together Meal Plans

Planning meals ahead saves a lot of valuable time and energy.

If your kids bring packed lunches to school, sit down and make a list of the foods they would like to have.

Having this list ahead of time will allow you to quickly run to the store and grab the necessary sandwich supplies, fruit, snacks, and drinks to keep your kids fueled during the school day.

Having a meal plan is also a great idea for dinner time, especially when schedules get crazy.

Put together a list of quick meals, and stock up on food items that won’t spoil so you can easily prep and serve meals without having to make an extra trip to the store.

Prepare for the Next Day Ahead of Time

There’s nothing worse than rushing around at the crack of dawn and trying to get everything organized and ready to go before the bus arrives.

Avoid this chaos and prepare for the next day ahead of time.

Lay out clothes for the next day, pack lunches the night before, and make sure backpacks are packed with homework and books ahead of time.

Do you have a favorite back to school tip?

Share it in the comments below!

Summer Surgery Tips and Suggestions from Nurse Chris

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Chris in Ireland

Our nurse, Chris Murakami, just returned from a wonderful vacation in Ireland and wanted to share some tips about sun and surgery with our readers!

Planning surgery during the summer months?

Here are some things to remember during vacations, trips to the beach, boating, or simply working in the yard.

It is very important to avoid becoming sunburned before surgery. It is quite possible you could be asked to postpone your surgery depending on the nature of the procedure and the degree of sunburn.  Many of our patients put a great deal of research and planning into scheduling surgery.  Making travel plans, arranging time off of work, and obtaining care givers is no easy task!  We’re here to help you keep your surgery plan on track.

Avoiding sun exposure immediately after surgery is equally important.  You are more likely to burn during that time period especially in areas that blood flow has been disrupted. Keep in mind your sensitivity to heat can be diminished so you might not realize that you are getting burned.

Submerging your body in standing water should not be done until all incisions are completely healed.  This typically takes as long as three to four weeks, but be sure that there is no open or draining area nor any remaining sutures before considering that summer swim.   There are micro-organisms out there that can cause infections and your intact skin normally provides a natural barrier.   You should always avoid the ocean, lakes, rivers, pools, hot tubs etc. whenever you have open wounds – surgical or traumatic.

As far as long term care, try to avoid sun exposure to both your incision lines and any bruised areas. The sun can turn your scars and skin dark if they are exposed before they completely heal or mature. This process typically takes about a year to happen for the surgical scar.  A good guideline is to wait until the scar is no longer pink before considering sun exposure.

Having surgery does not mean that you can’t enjoy the remainder of your summer!   Just be prepared. Stay in the shade as much as possible.  Hats, umbrellas, and sunblock are a must during pre and post-surgical weeks.  And remember, when you are out in the sun and heat, always stay well hydrated! – Have a great Summer! – Chris

Do you have a summer surgery tip to share with our readers?

Congratulations to the Class of 2016!!

Grad cap red

I’ve been in a bit of a stupor the past few weeks as my youngest is getting ready to graduate from high school and preparing to leave home for college in the fall.  It alternates between rambling on and on about scholarships, financial aid, school choices, to just standing, staring off into space not able to speak because it’s a bit surreal that my baby girl is ready to make her place in the world.  Not to mention, the constant feeling of being on the edge of a very long, very ugly cry.

Given that my current situation is what’s weighing on my mind right now it seemed natural to ask graduates what they want their parent to know and how that might differ from what the parents want their student to know.   I posed this question to a group of college bound seniors who will graduate June 1, 2016.  Some answers were funny, some sweet and reassuring but all in all do address some of our concerns as parents.

What is the one thing that you would like to tell your parent to help ease their mind and assure them that you are prepared and ready to go to college? 

– Parker also assures his parents that “I’m not going to spend all my study hours playing video games! I promise!  God!”

-Terry knows that “Uber saves lives.”  Smart boy!

-J.J. says beer tastes gross and Parker adds that it goes through your system too quickly.

-Alexandria appreciates learning some basic life skills!  “Thanks for teaching me how to do laundry!”

-Zachary tells us that his parent already knows his future college roommate.  We’re assuming that is a positive statement.  

-Simply stated Eli says “I got this!”

-Anizia thanks her parent for helping her become a mature, independent adult capable of taking care of herself.

-Ashton acknowledges the hard work it takes to be a parent. “I appreciate all the hard work and endless nights towards making me become the successful young lady I am today and I will not underestimate my gift and knowledge to surpass all obstacles.

-Bailey affirms that her parents have taught her well and helped her make good decisions and now she knows how to make good decisions on her own.

-Jonathan shares this “It’s time to for me to grow up in a new and unknown world. You have prepared me for this since I was being held in your arms. But it’s now time to find who I truly am. I will make mistakes, I guarantee it. But it’s you who has taught me to learn from every experience. So thank you.”

-Maddie adds with a smile emoticon that she is ready for this time in her life and reminds her parents that she will always be their little girl.

There are conversations that we parents all want to have with our graduates but somehow don’t seem to be able to do so without coming off as overbearing, nagging, or simply more involved than we are desired to be at this point in our students lives.  So, graduating seniors, bear with your parents as we try to make sure we have taught you and told you everything that we feel like you need to know in the next few months before you leave home.

Your well-being and success in college is our only concern.  We just need to know that you are going to be okay.   We need to know that we did a good job raising you and that you are able to make good, intelligent, and safe choices.   We need to know that you understand that you are going to college for a purpose, not just a party.  Have fun but be smart and keep your studies your number one priority.  We need to know that you feel equipped to handle most of the things we have always done for you – kept your schedule posted on the fridge, given reminders of your commitments, emphasized the importance of your schoolwork, handled your finances, filled out your forms, washed your laundry.    We don’t want you to be scared of new experiences.  We want you to make lifelong friends and we want to be confident in your ability to do so.

Ultimately, we hope you come out of your college experience a happy, productive adult ready to embark on a career that is meaningful to you and allows you to support yourself in the manner that you desire.   That is all. – Gail

 

Our Top 5 Breast Cancer Articles

pink-balloons-1-1421902-1279x901

With breast cancer being a big part of life’s journey for our patients and their family and friends, we always strive to provide useful information to help them throughout the process.

From debunking breast cancer myths, to fundraising tips, to caregiving advice, we want to be a partner with you each step of the way.

Below we’ve compiled a few of our favorite articles that we hope you’ll find useful, informational, and inspirational.

Preventative Measures: Staying Healthy to Stave Off Breast Cancer

Have you ever heard that wearing a bra with underwire increases your chances of breast cancer? According to health.com, this has been totally debunked by the scientific community.

There are a lot of myths about what does and doesn’t cause cancer. That’s why we’re sharing 5 ways that the Mayo Clinic has listed as being proven to decrease the risk of breast cancer—and every slight decrease counts!

Read more…

The Importance of “Thinking Pink” 365 Days a Year

It’s important we not just “think pink” in October, but every month of the year by spreading the word and becoming an advocate.

Traditionally, October is a time of great momentum for Breast Cancer Awareness, but the excitement of all the October events doesn’t have to end there! You can support these effortsto increase breast cancer awareness right in your own backyard—and beyond—365 days a year.

Here are some creative, original ways to “think pink” all year long.

Read more…

5 Myths About Breast Cancer

There’s a lot of false information swirling around these days about what causes breast cancer.

It can be really confusing and overwhelming to sift through what information is valid and what is just plain untrue. Not only that, but some of this information can make the difference in early breast cancer detection.

That’s why we’re debunking these 5 myths that you may have heard about breast cancer.

Read more…

How to Organize, Prepare, and Host a Breast Cancer Fundraising Event

Breast cancer fundraising events are a fantastic way to show support for someone you know who has breast cancer, or support awareness breast cancer awareness and research. Like most events, fundraising for breast cancer requires important event planning steps, such as organizing, preparing, and hosting.

However, unlike most events, breast cancer fundraising requires a few key, specific steps for raising money and registering your event with the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Read more…

How to Positively Support Someone with Breast Cancer

On average, 1 out of 8 women will get diagnosed with breast cancer. This statistic puts the harsh reality of this disease into perspective. Because you might not know how to react to a friend who says she has breast cancer, we put together some suggestions for you should this unfortunate situation happen.

Read more…

Like these articles? Be a regular follower of our blog!

Things to do – Independence Day 2015 in South Carolina

(Thanks to AppleOne Employment Services for sending this fantastic Weekend Recs e-blast for us to share!) 

Charleston

Fourth of July Fireworks on Folly Beachindependence day

 A holiday tradition on the Edge of America, the annual 4th of July fireworks display is set to take place on Folly Beach next Saturday. The fireworks will be set off at the Folly Beach County Park, at the west end of the island. Locals and visitors are invited to enjoy the Independence Day display, which will begin at 9:30pm. For more information about the 4th of July fireworks display on Folly Beach, please go to www.visitfolly.com or download the free ‘Visit Folly’ smart phone app.

When: 7/4/15 starting at 9:30pm

Where: Folly Beach-Folly Beach County Park- West end of Island

 

July Fourth on the Pride

Enjoy this Fourth of July with a sunset sail while watching the fireworks from the best seat in the house! Beer and wine will be available for purchase. Bring a snack or picnic aboard if you choose. Buy tickets by calling the number provided (843-722-1112) or visiting the website: http://www.schoonerpride.com/

When: 7/4/15 from 7pm to 9pm

Where: The Schooner Pride-Aquarium Wharf

Admission: $55 per person-book now as space is limited

 

North Charleston 4th of July Festival

The City of North Charleston is once again hosting the July 4th celebration at the Riverfront Park on July 4, 2015 from 3:30 PM – 9:45 PM. This year’s event features exciting musical guests, children activities, food trucks, craft vendors, and the Lowcountry’s largest 4th of July fireworks show. The Festival is presented free of charge to the public with all general admission for attendees. Guests attending the Festival are invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets, as there is no seating provided. Food trucks, beer and wine stations, and ATMs will be widely available. Children activities are available free of charge, including inflatable jump castles, games, the play area, the giant sandbox, and the water fountain. Beer and wine stations will be set up throughout the park, as well as ATMs for participants. For more information, please visit the website: http://www.northcharleston.org/Residents/Special-Events/4th-of-July-Festival.aspx

Festival performance schedule:
3:30 – Gates open
3:30 – Soul Fish (rock quartet)
5:00 – Blacklion (reggae)
6:30 – Dangermuffin (Americana)
8:00 – Funk Factory 5 (Mo-town/Top 40)
9:10 – Spectacular Fireworks show by Zambelli’s

When: 7/4/15 from 3:30pm to 9:45pm

Where: Riverfront Park-1001 Everglades Avenue, North Charleston

 

Patriots Point 4th of July Blast

 For those who want to enjoy the fireworks on the Yorktown, all Flight deck tickets are now SOLD OUT, but visitors are still allowed to watch the event landside and enjoy the celebration there! Parking is $10/vehicle.

When: 7/4/15 starting about 9pm

Where: Patriots Point40 Patriots Point Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464

 

Columbia

Lake Murray Fireworks Celebration

Beginning at dusk (approximately 9:15 pm) South Carolina’s largest fireworks display on beautiful Lake Murray. Fireworks will be set off from two great locations: Spence Island and Dreher Island State Park. The show is choreographed to a patriotic concert that will air simultaneously on B106.7. The best places to view the fireworks are Dreher Island State Park and both parks at the Lake Murray dam. Bring a chair or blanket, picnics are welcomed- NO Alcohol Permitted at any of the locations.

Admission (based on park):

Dreher Island State Park– $2 for adults, $1.25 SC Seniors, FREE for children 15 years and younger (Gates close at 8pm).

Lake Murray Dam park sites– open until they reach capacity- $3 per car.

The walking path on the dam will also be open. (Fireworks DO NOT launch from the park sites at the dam).

 

When: July 04, 2015 from 9pm to 10:30pm
Admission: Admission Based on Park

 

Lake Murray Patriotic Boat Parade

 Get ready for the 26th Annual 4th of July Celebration on Lake Murray on Saturday, July 4th!! CCLMC is trying to break our all-time record this year with over 150 boats and inclusion within the Guinness Book of World Records! We hope that you and your family will join us and participate to make this a special year! For more information, please visit the website: http://www.lakemurraycountry.com/things-to-do/events/lake-murray-boat-parade

 When: July 04, 2015 from 12pm to 3pm
Where: Bomb Island, Lake Murray, SC 29072
Admission: Free, but if watching from Lake Murray Dam park sites admissions is $2/car

 

Slide the City and Capital City Beach Party!

 Columbia is Famously Hot, so we’re bringing you a Surprisingly Cool way to have fun this Independence Day while supporting 2 great causes!  Slide the City is a 1000 foot water slide that will go from Blanding & Gadsden to Hampton & Gadsden Streets.  The chosen charities SC Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Celebrate Freedom Foundation will benefit each time you purchase a registration using the promo code FREEDOM, and you will receive $5 off! After you slide, go check out the Capital City Beach Party beginning in Finlay Park at 2PM. Water and Food vendors will be available for purchase at noon. Want to slide for free while helping out the charities? Sign up as a volunteer here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/slide-the-city-columbia-sc-volnteer-tickets-17332899168

When: July 04, 2015 starting at 11am
Where: Finlay Park-930 Laurel Street, Columbia, SC 29201

Greenville

Wells Fargo Red, White and Blue Festival

A barrage of colors illuminates the sky every 4th of July in downtown Greenville for the annual Wells Fargo Red, White and Blue, presented by AT&T. As one of the largest fireworks displays in South Carolina, the celebration features live music, food and a variety of family activities. A long-standing tradition, Wells Fargo Red, White & Blue represents a remarkable opportunity to support a free patriotic event that is enjoyed by the Greenville community. Sponsors have long recognized this event as a unique way to showcase their brand while enjoying hospitality and a celebration that only happens once a year. Wells Fargo Red, White and Blue presented by AT&T is Greenville’s premier 4th of July celebration, showcasing one of the state’s largest fireworks displays, sponsored by Bon Secours St. Francis Health System. The free event, scheduled for Saturday, July 4, 2015, from 5 to 10 p.m., features live music on two stages, fun-filled activities in the Zaxby’s Kidz Zone and a variety of popular food and beverage vendors. The event takes place in downtown Greenville from Court to Camperdown Streets and will encompass Broad Street, from Laurens to Falls Streets, and Falls Park.

When: 7/4/2015 from 5pm to 10:30pm

Where: City of Greenville-Downtown Greenville

 

Red, White and Bluegrass

Red, White and Bluegrass is a FREE 4th of July Celebration in downtown Fountain Inn. This event will begin at 7:00 p.m. with two bands performing: Justice Family Bluegrass Band and the Upstate Senior Band. Fireworks will begin at dark. There will be food, Italian ice and craft beer for purchase. We will have a special time to honor all veterans at this event. For more information, please visit the website: http://www.fountaininn.org/scs

When: 7/4/2015 starting at 7pm

Where: City of Fountain Inn-Commerce Park-110 Depot Street, Fountain Inn, SC 29644

Admission: Free!

 

A Night with Darryl Worley

 Honoring our heroes. Gates open at 5pm. Music starts at 6 pm.

Admission is free for military & first responders (military personnel, retired military personnel, police, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians). Regular admission is $20 per car (maximum 6 people per car). **Going on now!** Soldier care package campaign to collect items for local soldiers serving overseas. For more information and to get involved, see website. Collection total will be announced at the Darryl Worley concert to honor heroes on July 4th! Concert tickets on sale NOW! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: http://charterspectrumamphitheatre.com/event/a-night-with-darryl-worley/

When: 7/4/2015- Gates open at 5pm, Music at 6pm

Where: Charter Spectrum Amphitheatre-861 Southeast Main Street, Simpsonville, SC 29681

Admission: $20/car

How do you plan to celebrate? We’d love for you to share suggestions with our readers!

“A Learning Experience” In HIS Words

by:  Richard M. Kline Jr., M.D.

learning is a giftI think the biggest thing I learned was how important it is to have providers you trust when you are facing surgery. For me, this was relatively easy, as my wife worked with these people all the time, and I found them immediately likeable when I met them. But how is a lay person to know who to place their trust in? I think the initial step is selecting your surgeon. He or she should immediately look you in the eyes, really listen to everything you say, answer questions honestly, and never be afraid to say “I don’t know.” I think it can help if they have already operated on people you know (as I mentioned, this surgeon had operated on my Dad), but that’s usually not going to be the case. Once you have found a surgeon you trust, the rest should start to fall into place, because they will select the best team they can to help them take care of you. As it turned out, my surgery took longer than expected because it they couldn’t do it laparoscopically, and had to “open me up.” This bothered my surgeon, but it didn’t bother me. I had trust in my team, and felt that however it worked out, it was for the best.

 

I also noticed that, by and large, everyone I came in contact with on the day of my surgery seemed to be “tuned in” to how I was likely feeling at an unusually vulnerable time. I had previously lacked firsthand experience of the importance of that empathy to patients.

 

I think that I also gained some appreciation for how the patient can sometimes contribute to a good outcome. I think my preoperative efforts to lower my blood pressure and improve my overall fitness were helpful.  On the morning of surgery my blood pressure was normal, and I think my postoperative course might have been a little easier because I was in a little bit better shape due to the exercise.

 

And I will still prescribe to my patients those Lovenox shots, because I care about their safety – but I will do it with much more sympathy.

Hey doc how are you

Recovery daze…..

By:  Richard M. Kline Jr., M.D

 

pain scaleI woke up and wasn’t sure where I was. I thought about it a while, and finally asked. A nurse said “the recovery room.” I asked how long I had been there, and she said “30 minutes.” I asked how long the surgery took, and they said “about two hours”. I knew this was longer than was planned, but I didn’t worry about it, as I felt pretty intact. They asked what my pain was on a scale of (0-10), and I said “3.5.” She asked if I wanted some Dilaudid, or if I wanted to go back to the room without it. I said I wanted it, so they gave me 1 mg i.v. While the pain hadn’t been terrible, it was significant, and the Dilaudid did a great job of reducing it. It didn’t get rid of it completely, but it did produce a kind of “warmth” that made me not care too much about the residual pain.

I then went back to the same room I’d been in before surgery, and stayed only briefly before deciding I was ready to go home. When I got up to get dressed, I immediately got nauseous. The bubbly i.v. specialist nurse was there again, and she came over and held an alcohol wipe to my nose until the nausea went away. Then home I went, happy that it was over, and not feeling too badly.

For the first few days it hurt to get out of bed. I would lie there thinking about getting up for several minutes, planning the best way to do it, and only then proceeding. Once I was up, though, moving around wasn’t bad.

About two weeks postop, I noticed that coughing or sneezing didn’t make my incision hurt any more. I started walking on the treadmill at the gym. It hurt a little, but not bad. After that, I started to forget about the surgery.

The final installment of this 4 part series will post April 30.

Surgery Day (and other tidbits)

hospital sign

By:  Richard M. Kline Jr., M.D

My wife took me to the hospital at 6 a.m., and I sat in the preoperative waiting room with the other surgery patients. Eventually my name was called, and I was taken by a female technician to a room to be weighed. I wanted to say “NOT FAIR!” when she weighed me with clothes, shoes, and cell phone, but I realized it didn’t really matter. Next she took me to a private preoperative room, handed me a gown, and told me to take off “everything”, use the bathroom, and put on the gown. This was definitely unsettling, as I’m not used to taking off my clothes in front of strangers, but I realized I was going to have to comply if I was going to get through this. As I put on the gown, I couldn’t help but think about Jack Nicholson with his butt sticking out of his hospital gown in “Something’s Gotta Give.” After I had changed, the young lady returned, and directed me to lie on the stretcher. She then announced she had to “remove my hair,” and mentioned that others would be coming to check her work. I was a little surprised because plastic surgeons have learned that there is really no need to remove hair before surgery, but the last thing I wanted to do at this point was upset the routine. As I lay there trying to be calm while she trimmed my lower abdomen and groin with clippers, she chatted pleasantly, asking at one point if I wanted the “full Brazilian wax.” After she finished, her female supervisor came in, lifted my gown and inspected the job, then told her to trim another inch of hair off the bottom.  After this was done, I got a short reprieve, after which a third woman came in and “checked my prep” again. At this point, I was starting to get over being inspected, and just wanted to move forward.

Another nurse, the self-proclaimed “i.v. specialist,” entered. She was very bubbly and chatty (perhaps even more so after I told her I was terrified of needles). She complained about me grinding my teeth when the local anesthetic went in my hand, but after that I didn’t even feel the i.v. catheter go in, which was a relief. At that point I thought I was safe, but then she pulled out a syringe, smiled, and said “Lovenox!” That needle went into the left side of my freshly prepped abdomen. I didn’t realize until then that Lovenox burns going in. Ouch.

At last I was prepped, and my wife was allowed in. What a relief to see her again! Soon the anesthesiologist came in to see me. I’d never met him, but I knew my wife worked with him frequently and thought highly of him. He was very calm and matter-of-fact, exactly what I wanted. The surgeon then entered for the final preoperative visit, confirmed the procedure, and marked the surgical site. He was calm and reassuring.

Before they wheeled me from the preoperative room to the operating room, they gave me a dose of i.v. Versed, to “take the edge off.” This was a good thing, as the process of being wheeled down to the O.R. in a stretcher was, for me anyway, surreal. I’m usually the one pushing people down these hallways – this was too weird! As the team wheeled me down the hall I said “this is a very different vantage point from down here,” and they all agreed. Once we got in the OR, they had me move myself from the stretcher onto the table. The oxygen mask went over my mouth and nose, and the last thing I remember was the slight burn of the Propofol anesthetic going into my hand and wrist.  —Lights out—

(Part 3 of this series will post April 23)

The Doctor is Out…..

the doctor is outNo worries – he’s back already!  Dr. Kline shares with us his personal experience as a surgical patient and what he has learned from being on the other side of the exam table that will enhance the personal care of his own patients.

“The Doctor is Out” is part 1 of this 4 part series.  Enjoy and have a happy day! – Gail

Three weeks before my surgery, everything was fine. I felt good, a little heavier at 56 than at 26, but still hale and vigorous. Then, while operating late one afternoon, I felt a pain in my groin. “Probably just too much strenuous exercise,” I thought, and dismissed it. It didn’t go away. The next day, it was worse. I felt a bulge. DAMN. I had a hernia.

The whole concept of needing to get treatment, instead of needing to deliver it, was foreign and unsettling. For decades I’d been used to helping other people. Now, whether I liked it or not, I was potentially going to have to sit down and let others help me.

I called the same general surgeon who fixed my 86 year old Dad’s hernia last year (why did mine have to come 30 years sooner?). He told me there was no danger in watching the hernia for a while, and that if I wanted to try and lose some weight it might get better, but it was a long shot.  As it turned out, I didn’t actually have time to try and lose weight, because it started to get worse hurt towards the end of long workdays. I turned over all my long cases to my partner, and I started looking for the soonest, least disruptive time I could find to get it fixed.

I greatly respect the people I work with daily, but I didn’t want to have surgery at the hospital where I usually worked, because I wanted things to be as routine as possible for everyone. I felt that it would be much less stressful on me (and probably everyone else) if I wasn’t in an environment where I was used to giving the orders.

Fortunately for me, my wife is a surgeon, and she regularly works at a hospital I rarely visit. I thought this might be the best place to go – my wife could kind of “watch over” things, but I would not know anyone involved in my care personally.

When I visited the surgeon for my preoperative appointment, he examined me and confirmed that I did in fact have a hernia.  We discussed options, and decided to attempt a laparoscopic repair of the hernia. He advised me that it might turn out that it was too difficult to do the surgery laparoscopically, and that they might have to “open me up.” I assured him that after 20+ years of practicing surgery, I was well aware that things are not strictly predictable, and I asked him to please do whatever he felt he needed to at the time. This was the first time I started to “loosen up” a little bit, and I was actually kind of glad that it would be him, and not me, worrying about the details in surgery that day.

I also found out in his office that I had high blood pressure, for which they put me on medication. I began to limit my salt intake, and cut back on calories. Fortunately, jogging did not aggravate the hernia, so I also increased my aerobic exercise until two days before surgery. Yes, I was “in training” for this.

On the night before surgery, I went to bed early, woke at 2 a.m., and didn’t sleep the rest of the night.

(Part 2 of this series will post April 16)