Excited to be alive.

Dear Friends,

Today I just finished my last day of in-patient physical therapy, and I must say I’m very amazed with how quickly my range of motion is coming back and I’m feeling truly optimistic with what I’ll be able to do after outpatient therapy! I’m dreaming of deep squats for sure! I don’t know how many times I’m going to say this but I feel extremely blessed to have had this operation, and am excited for the future because every day I get one step closer to full recovery. In your face, avascular necrosis! Okay so I’ll admit my physical well-being isn’t the only reason I’m so excited to be alive right now. Something occurred this past Saturday afternoon. Something big. Something beautiful. Something incredible, special, remarkable and spectacular!

….And that something is that I, Jessica Adriana Malave, got engaged!  And not just to any old fellow either, but to my best friend, motivator, encourager, blessing and the love of my life Michael. We couldn’t be any happier either! Our journey together has been nothing less of a blessing and though we’ve been through many trials this year, we’ve only grown to love each other more and more. God has taken care of us both immensely. He continually uses Michael to encourage me and motivate me to be the best version of myself. Michael supports my dreams and I support his dreams. Ah, I’m just so happy because we’re finally engaged after talking about it for months! Oh my word, Michael is my fiancé. Alright, I know what you’re thinking the million dollar question… How did he do it?

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As you all probably know, I haven’t been out of the house much. I’ve been feeling pretty sick from the all the horrible Coumadin pills I’ve been taking, (which I stop taking on Monday, wee!) and being out of the house for longer than twenty minutes can be very uncomfortable. Last weekend we also got a lot of snow too. So, I was a little surprised and kind of suspicious when Michael told me he wanted to take me to the park where we had our first date just to “talk.” To make a long story short, we walked by the lake and we took a few pictures. He then went on to say very sweet words to me which I honestly couldn’t concentrate on because I was just waiting for it to happen. I knew it was coming as soon as he unbuttoned his coat and reached for something in his pocket. Yep. It was a black box and as he opened it he recited the question, “Will you marry me?” I couldn’t help but attack him at that moment and kiss him. After that he placed the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen in my life on my ring finger and carried me to my car.  And the whole ride home we kept saying, “Ahhh, we’re engaged” and “you’re my… fiancé/fiancée!” (said in a much exaggerated French accent of course.) All and all it was a beautiful experience and I wouldn’t have asked for anything better. I just felt the need to express my happiness to the world! By the way, I hope you don’t mind seeing wedding stuff on here for a little while. Muahaha 😉

PEACE.

-Jessica

Repinning recipes all day long.

Hello!

So, it’s the second week since I’ve been home from the hospital, and I must say everything is going rather splendid and I’m feeling a little bit better each day! On Tuesday I graduated to one crutch and should be walking unassisted by next week which I’m really looking forward to. Crutches are not fun! I remember when I was little, I always wanted to break my leg so I would have to use crutches or break my arm so people can sign my cast. I have no idea why I thought those would be fun experiences because having to use crutches has been anything but fun! Sometimes people stare at me like they’ve never seen a person on crutches before, other times I’m bumping into other people with them or people are bumping into me. Anyway other than that I’m super optimistic about how I should be feeling these next few weeks, and I am still blown away by the absence of hip pains that I had been experiencing for over  a year.  It’s such a relief.

Now that I’ve been spending a lot more time at home, I’ve been obsessing drooling over food blogs and have been repining gorgeous foods from Pinterest nonstop! Most of the time I’m drawn to the foods I’ve never made at home and I dream of making them instantly. But because I’m still healing and get tired easily, I’ve limited myself to cooking new things only on the weekends. The weekends are also the only time I see my lovely boyfriend Michael. He helps me tremendously in the kitchen and we both have a blast cooking new foods together! Last Sunday we made “Dirty Chai Pancakes” with bacon and boy did those pancakes taste incredible! They were perfectly spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and COFFEE. Yes, coffee. Oh, and we both loved how perfectly they absorbed the maple syrup like a sponge. I’m not a huge pancake lover and neither is Michael, we would definitely choose waffles (and ice cream!!) over pancakes any day, but these were wonderfully delicious!

I am coming to the realization that breakfast is indeed my favorite meal of the day and it should be eaten without hesitation. I’ve wrote about the nutritional importance of it but the comfort it provides is what I truly love. Coffee, fellowship with those you love and the sweet & savory flavors joining forces make me feel so delighted. I honestly don’t know where I was going with this post… But I guess all I can say is I’m going to continue enjoying to eat with the people I love and not hesitate to make the beautiful foods I’ve been daydreaming about for weeks! That’s all I got to say.

-Jessica

Recovery Update :]

It’s been exactly one week and one day since I’ve had my spur of the moment bilateral hip replacement. I call it “spur of the moment” because everything happened so quickly! It all started on January 17th  while sitting in the doctor’s office with my parents and Michael. After Dr. Alexiades came to the conclusion that I needed a bilateral hip replacement, he told us he would probably be booked until May or June to do my procedure; unless of course there were cancellations… After hearing that I said a quick prayer in my head as we waited in his assistant’s office to schedule my surgery date. She told me there had been some cancellations and then asked me how soon I wanted it done and I was like, “as soon as possible!” So after a little waiting and plenty of praying, she asked me, “how about on Monday?” and I said “yes” without hesitation. Monday was only four days away and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, it was my first serious surgery after all. But I was calmed after hearing rave reviews about The Hospital for Special Surgeries and the overwhelming flow of prayers I had been receiving.  God revealed His mercy to me and it couldn’t have worked out better, after the surgery I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off shoulders, or in my case both of my hips.

At the moment, my pain is at bay and I’m feeling pretty great considering I had both of my hips replaced. In fact, I should be off my crutches by next week and switching to a cane for another couple of weeks which is exciting progress. The swelling on my thighs, butt (oh my word was it huge…) and pelvis went down significantly! I can finally tell that I’m standing and walking without a wobbling, and notice that my legs are now even. Unfortunately I think the only thing compromising the pace of my recovery is the Coumadin I have to take on a daily basis; which is a blood thinner which prevents blood clots but like anything else it has its side effects. It makes my skin very vulnerable and more susceptible to cuts and bruises. For example I’ve noticed a heck of a lot of bruises on my knees, calves and inner and outer thighs, making it uncomfortable for me to sleep. But I’ve been sleeping on my back and with fewer blankets on me which is different, but very helpful at the same time! I also have to limit eating too much vitamin K which is the antidote of Coumadin. So this means I must go easy on the kale for the next three weeks. Wah!

Aside from getting random bruises on my legs and a little swelling, I’d say I should be ready to roam about unassisted, by my next follow up visit on February 21st. I’m so thrilled to be able to be active again, and enjoy being 20 years old without experiencing arthritic pain and always feeling fatigued. Most importantly be able to do the merengue at my grandmothers 80th birthday party in April, oh it’s going to be a whole new world for me! A la Aladdin. In other words my life is going to change a lot this year in more ways than one!  Now I am going to enjoy some reading followed by a nap, I promise to continue keeping everyone posted on my recovery status. Peace!

-Jessica

Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

These cake-like cookies are a delicious little treat to enjoy with ginger tea, coffee or a spiced hot chocolate. (I could drink hot beverages all year long!) I absolutely love how pumpkin both moistens and binds these cookies without the use of extra fat and eggs. In fact, I believe bananas, pureed pumpkin and unsweetened applesauce are wonderful staples for any health conscious person’s kitchen! Recipe adapted from here.

  • 1 cup spelt  flour
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup coconut sugar + ¼ cup maple syrup (or 1 cup raw sugar)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon whole flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • ½ cup raisins

The piggy cookie jar Michael gave me 🙂

Preheat oven 350° F. Stir flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and sea salt in a mixing bowl. In another bowl mix pumpkin, sugar, coconut oil, flaxseeds and vanilla. Combine wet and dry ingredients, and fold in raisins until fully incorporated. Using a tablespoon or ice cream scoop, drop batter onto a parchment lined or greased baking sheet.  Press down each cookie with hands or a spoon, keeping them at least one inch apart from each other. Bake for 11 minutes and let cool for 2 minutes before transferring. Enjoy 🙂

My week:

This week started with me getting sick. I had a terrible head cold which made my nose annoyingly stuffy and my entire body was plagued with fatigue. I was scheduled to start my internship at Good Karma Café on Monday but couldn’t sleep the night before, and called out sick the following morning. I spent the rest of the day sleeping and attempting to make myself useful but of course that didn’t happen! The next day was similar only I was finally updated about my avn. Turns out my condition is too advanced for the stem cell procedure. So Michael scheduled an appointment for me on Friday morning with a doctor who specializes in microvascular surgery. Unfortunately on Friday when we went to consult with the doctor, he didn’t have any good news and barely recommended I even consider his surgery. He said that I needed to take care of my condition immediately, that I should be on crutches and seeking doctors who specialize in hip replacements. Oh yeah, I ended up calling the owner of Good Karma on Thursday to let her know I had an medical emergency and wouldn’t be able to do my internship at this time. Fortunately she was understanding and said I could come in whenever I was ready. But I don’t even know if I’ll get a diploma because my school has deadlines. But that’s not even a big deal to me right now, my hips are. I’m twenty years old and my left femoral head has collapsed and the right side is on the verge of collapsing. What does that mean? I need a bilateral hip replacement. Needless to say this week has been emotionally overwhelming, upsetting and scary. On the bright side the support and comfort around me is unbeatable; this may be scary but I still manage feel happy and truly blessed with my life. I’m seeing a doctor on Thursday to see when I can schedule my surgery and am praying that everything works out for the best. But that’s all I got to say, I will continue to write more about what’s going on, once I know what’s going on!

-Jessica

Never giving up.

Me giving a very short speech at my graduation ( I had no idea we were supposed to give a speech!)

The other day I thought I lost my journal and was scrambling all over the place. I know it’s just paper but it still cultivated personal thoughts and my prayers, you know? Anyway I ended up finding it in one of my purses when I came home from visiting Michael. Which brings me to some pretty disappointing news I had received on Monday about the status of my Avascular Necrosis. Remember how I was saying I was going to send my x-rays to an AVN specialist?  Well I did, and he responded a little under three weeks. It turns out my necrosis is much more advanced than formally addressed from my previous doctor, and there’s a high chance that my hip is close to collapsing; if it hasn’t done so already. The specialist told me the stem cell procedure may not be my best option and there’s only a 50% chance I could even benefit from it. The only two other options I know of are: core decompression or a hip replacement. But the good news is that he requested a new set of x-rays so he can determine the status of what’s presently going on in my hips, and help me further.

What was my initial reaction? At first my heart sank a little when I heard the word “hip” and “at the state of collapsing.” Being only twenty years old this is not exactly an ideal situation for me… Of course I think it’s unfair, especially since I’ve just graduated from culinary school and have dreams of getting married and opening my own cafe someday! But after receiving love and support from my family and Michael, my heart managed to ease up and I was immediately reminded of how this whole experience is bringing me so much closer to God. It’s taught me patience, humility and to ask other people for help. I know I’m never alone and believe that there’s ways around this trial even when I’m feeling sad. New hip or not, I will remain joyful in His name and won’t ever give up!

-Jessica

what’s going on with my health…

I’m not sure why but I find it incredibly hard to write about my personal experiences with avascular necrosis. The hardest part is writing about it without coming off as a negative Nancy or sounding afraid, and the second hardest part is that not many people know what the heck avascular necrosis is. It’s bone death caused by poor blood supply to the area, and in my case it’s in both of my hips. The pain can be debilitating and sometimes even disabling. My doctor believes that my necrosis has been linked to my short-term intake of steroids. (I had severe ulcerative colitis a couple years ago, and needed the ulcerations to heal quickly so I could get nutrients my body.) And to be completely honest these past few months have been very scary, and it’s sometimes challenging for me to be remain positive when I’m experiencing pain almost every day; I’ve experienced both physical and mental frustrations. The physical frustrations are my limited range of motion, limping and leaving school every day with achy bones; which often triggers my anxiety which makes me feel emotionally drained.

But I’ve come to conclusion that getting upset over my discomfort only worsens the pain, and that talking about really does help. As I learn more about my illness I become a little more comfortable bringing people’s awareness to it, and proving that underneath all this pain I’m a joyful young woman. Right now, I’m doing what I love in school, have passions, goals and dreams just like other people my age. I’m decided to become my own health advocate and have been researching different treatment options that aren’t surgical. One procedure that caught my eye was one that would use my own stem cells from my bone marrow to promote growth in the diseased area of my hips. It’s recommended for someone who was recently diagnosed with necrosis, and today my mom is sending in my x-rays & MRI’s to a doctor who specializes in the stem cell treatment to see if I’m a candidate… I am praying that I’ll have good news by next week!

-Jessica