Category Archives: Body Image

The Day I Broke My Face

It has now been about a month since the day my face broke.

For a chronic over-sharer like me, not posting the blow-by-blow of my experience was unfamiliar behavior.  This experience, however, felt intensely personal.  I was scarred by it and not just on my face.

More than a week after our New Year’s Day party, my new three-pot crock pot serving piece sat on the counter waiting for me to find a place to store it.  My disdain for clutter finally overcame my resistance to find non-existent storage for my Christmas gift.  I maneuvered the other entertaining pieces around on top of the China hutch to make room.  I grabbed the crock pot system in my hands, stepped onto the dining room chair and in slow motion went from lifting the crock pots into place to cracking my face on them as they hit the floor.

A leg on the chair had snapped into pieces and sent me flying – hard and heavy crock-pot first, soft and fragile face shortly thereafter.

While I fancy myself somewhat of a stunt woman (I once jumped off the back of my bike, tossing it forward to avoid being run over by a Chicago taxi.), this happened so fast I was unable to brace my fall or shield my face.  Maybe if I hadn’t been so close to the wall, I could have tossed the crock pots forward and avoided impact altogether.  Maybe if I had used a different chair or asked hub to do the lifting, no harm would have come.

But harm did come.

I heard my daughter cry out.  I heard Hub run down the hall in a panic.  I felt the warm wet that I knew meant this was going to be ugly.

For one minute, I couldn’t speak.  My thoughts were formed and my action plan ready but I couldn’t make my mouth say the words.
When I did, the sentences came out in the wrong order:  “I need an ice pack,” “I’m ok,” and then “Get Claudia out of the room.”

Steve brought me a rag and the frozen peas.  He asked again if I was alright.  I knew I wasn’t.

I tipped my hand open to show him the steady stream of blood coming out of my face.  I didn’t know the size or shape of the cut but I could see the puddle growing on the floor.

I didn’t pass out.  Instead, I gave instructions: Yes, call an ambulance.  Call, no go knock on neighbor’s door.  Call this friend.   No, call from my phone so she knows who it is.  Go comfort the kids.

What I expected to feel, I didn’t.  I wasn’t in pain.

But I was acutely aware of not being able to comfort my own kids; I didn’t want to scare them.

A whole lot of things happened after that:  Fire truck/EMTs/Friend arrived, ER visit, plastic surgeon called, on-staff plastic surgeon referred, ice packs, bad jokes (Doc: “blue or black thread?”  Me: “black – it goes with everything”), stitches to pull together my brutalized forehead.

On the way home, the adrenalin wore off and I discovered all the other injuries to my body – bruised hands, elbow, inner arm, hip, shin.
Nothing was as bad as my face though.

Over the next 3 days, my nose bridge expanded until I looked like Eric Stoltz in Mask.  Both eyes were a deep eggplant/black.  (I wish the pictures did justice to just how crazy things looked.)  The black thread holding my wound closed looked menacing.  I was also having really strong headaches behind one or both eyes.  My forehead throbbed and couldn’t be touched.

From open wound, to stitches, to surgical tape, to bangs... the evolution of my broken face.
From open wound, to stitches, to surgical tape, to bangs… the evolution of my broken face.

According to my surgeon, I was going to be fine.  I just needed a better story.  I considered some…

“I’ve started MMA training.”  

“There was a brawl that broke out at Mommy & Me.”

or my personal favorite “The first rule of Fight Club…

But the truth is I suck at lying of any kind and there may be some truth to this.

So let my life serve as a warning, dear friends:  DON’T STAND ON CHAIRS EVEN BIG HEAVY WOODEN ONES USE A STEPLADDER!
(Like this super sexy one that I bought.)

No self-actualized person worth her salt would let this big bad experience go by without learning a lesson.
But what was mine?

I couldn’t think of it right away…  “Be more careful” was just too obvious (and boring).  Was it time to let go of my vanity once and for all?  Would I finally have to do something about my “baby” weight (you know breaking chairs and stuff) now that I couldn’t get by on my face?  Was the universe telling me to aim lower (I have been punching above my weight for some time now).  Should I stop playing hostess?  Sure, sure – any of those could have fit.  But then I got it.  See if you think I’m right…

After the accident, I was too scary for public.  I sent an email to work, explaining the accident and that I’d be working from home for a few days until the swelling/bruising went down.  The office where I contracted sent a heartfelt email reply, flowers, and a new crockpot with love from the entire office.

I had texts, emails and calls from friends and industry colleagues and family.
I had a friend pick me up from a doctor visit, drive me around to errands, and returned me safely home.

But really the best were the friends, who are struggling with their own big and bad, who dropped off homemade pasta dinner for my family the night after the accident.

Even with something totally crappy happening in their life, they still had goodness and compassion and generosity to share with others.

And That?  Well, THAT was MY lesson.

Lumpy, Sneezy, Dopey and Doc (Or Why Policies can Suck It) – Part 1

Part 1:  Lumpy

Earlier this year, I found a lump in my breast.

Since I’m not a regular self-examiner, I found it because it itched.  It was huge.

The timing of this discovery coincided with a) a report about breast cancer during pregnancy in older women and b) finishing a book where the heroine’s best friend dies from breast cancer leaving two young daughters.

What went through my head was

Or something along those lines.

What’s worse is I forgot to mention it to my OB.  For a month.

When I finally did, she suggested I get it checked. (um, yes.)

So I had an ultrasound done by a  radiology technician.  The doctor never came in, never introduced himself, never called me with results.  The results did not indicate cancer (evidently cancer shows up on film like bright white alien life) but because it was so big the radiologist wanted me to have a biopsy.  He never mentioned that to me.  Instead, my OB followed up with him, heard that a biopsy was the way to go and relayed that info to me.

So I called several oncology offices for a biopsy.

No office would schedule a biopsy without an exam appointment first, which meant not only the delay of getting the original appointment (two weeks) but also the delay of the follow up appointment (unknown time) and double the appointment with a specialist appointment (what am I made of money?).

Being five months pregnant at the time, I lost my mind.  I literally scream-cried at several people.  I’m not proud of this but it is what it is.  I had reached the point where logic and rationality left and hormones took over.

My OB and her reassuringly competent nurse took over.  They got me a few names and told me what I needed to say to get the right appointment.  The exam/biopsy by the first doctor who would see me was nothing short of violating.  I don’t know if what he did was normal or not but it was mortifying and I felt abused and disgusted for weeks.  Those biopsy results were “inconclusive” so I was told I needed to go through the process again.  I would have rather “died” but since that was actually on the table, I decided I’d better suck it up and get a second opinion.

I chose a doctor via my hospital network rather than revisit the site of the ‘attack.’

That experience was SIGNIFICANTLY better – sterile, clinical and very very public.  Rather than one dude in an office exam room, I had two doctors, a radiologist, and three nurses in the room with gloves, gowns and masks.  Two nurses were hands-on comforting at all times.  The doctors were slow and careful in their practice and talked to me about my family and in particular my unborn daughter the whole time, sharing anecdotes about their own families and offering kind, reassuring commentary.

They definitively concluded that the lump was normal breast tissue – likely a duct that went haywire under hormonal showers and would
either go away on its own or be a benign part of my breast until I wanted it removed in a simple surgical procedure.

Here’s the kicker:  my sister-in-law, a nurse in Australia, suggested that exact diagnosis when I first discovered the lump.

Maybe this was a case of CYA.  Maybe our litigious society mandates that doctors ignore Ockham’s Razor and pull as many levers as possible in our complicated and expensive sick-care system.

I have an estimated 47 separate bills from this experience – from the doctors, the hospitals, the labs, the radiologists, the techs, the
offices, the insurance company, etc.  Everyone billed me separately with terms and codes I couldn’t possibly understand.  I tried calling a few times to determine what exactly I was paying for and why more wasn’t covered by my insurance but I quite frankly gave up.

It was exhausting and confusing.  I’m pretty sure that is intentional.

Whatever the case, the system is broken and is making me broke.

Chips, Dips, Chains and Whips

(Republished with permission (from me to me) from the Your Fitness Mate post 5/7/10)

That’s a classic line from “Weird Science” where hottie Kellie LeBrock talks tough with Gary’s parents.

It’s also highly descriptive of the problem with most parties…  calorie-packed bowls of fatty deliciousness and piles of the saltiest, snackiest crackers, chips and breads you’ll ever see.  The only way to avoid them is to chain yourself to the chair or stay home.

Unless you know how to cheat properly.

First things first, STOP using Mayo and Sour Cream.  For crying out loud… you are just asking for a heart-attack.

If you can season properly (a skill ANYONE can learn), you can skip the fatty, heavy bases of most dips, and just use yogurt.
The problem you’ll find is that fat-free plain yogurt has the wrong consistency.  Easy fix = strain it!  (Coffee filters will work too.)

Our good friends at Yoplait have also just launched a greek yogurt with extra protein.  Love them!

Another fun little trick is to use cottage cheese or beans (garbanzo, edamame, white) as the base and to mix in flavorful additions.

My weakness is the Spicy Crab dip from Straubs. Those people are the devil with how they tempt me to eat rich, fatty foods! Now don’t misunderstand me, much of their ready-made offering is fine in moderation and always delicious. My typical choices, however, are not.

I’ve figured out how to make a delicious Crab dip that is a pretty good rival:

Skinny Crab Dip:
1 can crab meat
1 cup small curd lowfat cottage cheese
1 garlic clove
1 TBS of Thai sweet chili sauce
(or if you’re super-hardcore, 1 packet of stevia, 1tsp sriracha, and red pepper flakes)

Mix up until consistent in color throughout.  Serve with celery for the lowest of low-cal options or whole wheat crackers/pita triangles.  I’ve also had it as an openfaced sandwich for lunch (toast the bread).  Either way – it’s darn good.

Another surprising winner is Edamame Hummus.  The following is a knockoff from Robust in Webster.  It isn’t quite as good as theirs but I bet I saved a few calories.

Skinny Green Hummus:
1 bag of frozen SHELLED edamame (thawed)
1-3 garlic clove(s)
Sesame Oil
lemon juice
fish sauce
fresh cracked pepper

This dish requires a food processor.  I got my Cuisinart mini at Sur la Table but any will do.
Add all thawed edamame, garlic and 1tsp of sesame oil at a time until consistency is something like good mashed potatoes.  The lemon juice and fish sauce will make a big impact with very little so be sparing.  I would estimate 1-2 tsp of each should suffice but this is to YOUR taste, not mine.  Fish sauce is very salty so the less you can use, the better your skin will look the next day.  I like cracked pepper on top as a garnish.  You’ll be surprised how people love this.  It is excellent with crudite as well as crackers or pita.

The tsp or TBS you use of premade sauces (bbq, sweet-chili, etc.) won’t derail your efforts to be healthy when combined with a bean or yogurt based dip.  You can also use horseradish and spicy brown mustard which are very low in calories to liven up a bland dip.

Finally, those handy premade packets of spices (hidden valley ranch and knorrs vegetable) that we love to use so much are almost always full of sodium.  You can get the same impact on taste without the harmful side-effects by using sea salt and spices.  Sea salt has the added benefits of magnesium and calcium (Yay bones!).  Get in the habit of looking at the labels of pre-made food stuffs.  If you can’t replicate the ingredients at home (because they are chockabock full of things like methylchloroisothiazolinone or disodium EDTA sodium nitrate) do you really want to be eating them?  or have your family eat them?

One final thought:  if you’re used to eating salty, fatty food, your tastebuds are about as dead as a smoker’s.  As you wean yourself off this crap, your tongue will become more discerning for the subtleties of flavor in dishes.  You won’t need as much of anything because you’ll appreciate everthing more.

Now, where’s the party?!?!?!


Note from Schugarmama:  If I ever pretend that my mom’s opinions don’t matter to me, smack me.  Schugarmama’s mama mentioned my work on the Fitness Mate blog recently and said how much she missed reading my tips & recipes.  Since the business (and the blog) are essentially defunct, I thought I might just transfer a few of the posts to my current project.  Being fit, healthy, and still enjoying good foodies are definitely part of the ‘sweet life.’

Signs of a Mama

If you catch me without makeup on, you might think to yourself, “Voldemort 1, Schugarmama 0.” 

I have a ‘Harry Potter mark.’

Right down the middle of my forehead is a jagged stripe of skin that doesn’t tan.  Or rather, the bulk of my forehead has turned brown save for a lightning strike down the middle.  I also have little patches that are reverse raccoon eyes (white instead of black) but those are less obvious, I think.

I’m not sure exactly when I got them but sometime during my last few months of pregnancy, they showed up. 

I understand the phenomenon is called “Melasma.”

The other day we went to Toddler Time at the Rec Complex and I noticed several of the other mums had similar masks on their faces.  Others had spots.  Not freckles but big brown spots. 

I’m not sure why, but I was fascinated seeing these women.  I did my best not to stare, because honestly… swimming suits are a recipe for self-consciousness as it is.  I just thought they looked beautiful.

The interesting thing about Toddler Time was that the pool was filled with all pint-sized kiddles and their folks.  The parents ranged from a few years younger to a few years older than us. 

There were thin mums and round mums.  There were mums expecting another baby.  Some mums had great arms, some had great legs, some had great abs.  (How is this possible?)  All of us had an extraordinary amount of skin exposed.  This is the same skin that has browned and bleached, dimpled, torn, scarred and stretched, mostly as a result of pregnancy.

The crazy thing is that I didn’t feel at all out of place. 

And ordinarily, I feel like the biggest person in the room.  Even if that room is the whole world.

Have you ever seen Gok Wan’s show? (Carson is fine, but Gok is Divine.) He does a queue of his naked beauties and asks women to place themselves in the queue by size.  They are always wrong – sometimes horrifically wrong.  It is amazing to me that we can be so wrong about the body in which we live.

It wasn’t as if I didn’t see these women’s flaws.  I have no doubt they were aware of mine.  But somehow, with only our scraps of lycra, sunnies, and sunhats to camouflage us, we were comfortable in our skin.

And that, my friends, is a Sign of a Mama.