As many of you may have noticed (or at least my best friend Sarina did) I haven’t posted a single entry on Party Girl since NOVEMBER. I apologize to the handful of people who read my blog and hopefully enjoyed it every week. But first and foremost I apologize to myself, because I love this blog and the outlet of creativity is grants me. I created this space for myself, to inspire me to cook (my most favorite thing to do), socialize, share and write more. However, I let my own personal issues and pain hinder me from writing (and even cooking!). When life was too painful to be at the restaurant, I found it selfish to come home and recipe test, let alone spend the 12+ hours it takes for me to finish a post (still rifled with spelling and grammatical errors, I know). I would like to take this opportunity to explain why I fell of the face of the blogosphere and explore the future of not only this blog but my personal health and wellness.
***Warning I will be discussing “feminine” issues such as periods and lady parts below, this will not be graphic but if you’re a wimp and can’t handle that I suggest just skipping to the yummy recipe and photos at the end!
As long as I can remember I have bad menstrual cramps. As I reached my mid twenties (when I was 24 was when it really got bad) these annoying cramps started to become debilitating. The first day or two of my period I would be unable to stand let a lone go to work, lying in bed with my hot water bottle and begging my parents for some sort of painkiller because nothing over the counter worked. About a year ago, at the urging of my father, I started looking into possible causes of this pain. Fibroids? Cysts? Endometriosis? There were a bevy of treatable and non treatable diseases which could be causing the pain. But then again it could just be that I had bad cramps. I made an appointment with my sister’s gyno and the nurse practitioner gave me a clean bill of health. She recommended birth control, specifically an IUD, to help alleviate the pain. I don’t want to get too into this, but I DESPISE birth control in almost any form (not condoms though – as RV’s mom told us freshman year of college “wrap it up!)”. Since I was 16 I have been on and off numerous types of the pill and the Nuva Ring, all of which made me crazy hormonal and not the regular happy go lucky girl I like to believe I am. Furthermore, I am at a high risk for breast cancer as my mother was diagnosed before the age of 50 (and survived without losing a single strand of her beautiful blonde hair). Long story short, I refused the IUD and figured it wouldn’t be the worst thing to live in pain one day every month.
Flash forward to this past November. The pain started 10 DAYS before my period even started and lasted for my entire cycle. At that point my sister (the unofficial family doctor who was just accepted in TUFTS MEDICAL SCHOOL) was convinced me there was something wrong. She just happened to be seeing our gyno, the wonderful and super awesome Dr. Deborah Ottenheimer (if you live in NYC go see this woman or just her practice, she is rad), explained what was going on with me and got me an appointment the very next day. Dr. Ottenheimer once again suggested an IUD, which she and literally every other medical professional agreed would be my best bet to alleviate the pain. For the time being she prescribed me Vicodin and I scheduled an appointment for two weeks later and was ready for the easy fix! Oh BOY was I wrong! The insertion itself was literally the most painful thing I have ever experienced, I almost threw up waiting for the cab ride home. The intense pain subsided but for the next two weeks I had constant cramps. I couldn’t work out, I couldn’t lift anything, I could barely be on my feet long enough to help with the dinner rush at the restaurant. At this point, my doctor realized there could be something seriously wrong and recommended a pelvic pain specialist, Dr. Kenneth Levey, at Pelvic Pain New York.
Before I met with Dr. Levey I had to fill out a twenty page history form, then there was another 10 page form when I arrived at this office an hour early (as instructed) rating levels and types of pain in different areas. After about thirty minutes speaking and a quick (spectrum free!) examination, Dr. Levey diagnosed me with a early stage of endometriosis and suggested surgery as soon as possible. (What is Endometriosis? I’m still now expert but it’s basically scar tissue in your uterus that can attach itself to other organs an causes CRAZY pain)(If you’re interested in more information check out the link or leave questions in the comments!) In some cases it can cause infertility. It’s somewhat scary but extremely treatable (I’ve been trying to keep my mind off possible fertility issues because it just stresses me out). He noted my history of growing pain and my lack of relief from birth control as red lights for the disease. We schedule surgery three weeks later and after a two week recovery I’m back at work and going forward with my life! I still have to treat the disease – just because it is removed does not stop it from coming back- and am starting some hormone treatments in the coming week. If you guys are at all interested in my post surgery medical life I’d be more than happy to share but for now I think that’s enough on my medical issues.
The reason I am sharing this all with you is that this disease and all the pain, suffering and recovery has brought me to a turning point in my life – I am 27 years old (relatively) healthy girl and I need to take advantage of that! Lying around for almost three months in constant pain and then another two weeks high on Percocet made me value life and what I do with it. I didn’t have the strength to go to work most days, let alone cook elaborate meals, host parties and then blog about it! I hardly left my apartment, saw friends rarely, never went to events but watched a lot of bad television. Now that I’m on the road to recovery, I want to spend the rest of my twenties (and hopefully 30s, 40s and so on) doing things that I love! And that includes this blog! For almost four months I have let pain hinder my work life, my personal life and my hobbies. This blog makes me happy because it is an outlet for me to be creative and share thing I enjoy.
The moral of this big serious post, there are going to be some changes in my life and on this blog. Being sick, figuring out what was wrong, needing surgery and the recovering was a wake up call to start living a healthier and more active life. And I want to reflect this new lifestyle in this blog. I am eating healthier – so far I’ve cut all all processed food, eating only grain free and organic meat, whole grains, no refined sugars and dairy free as much as possible. (It’s been a month and I’ve only caved to one tiny canoli – but I’m Italian so I pretty much couldn’t resist) I’m trying to live a more organized, active and social life, and hopefully soon when my body has fully healed, work out more (I already had a private yoga session last week)! I also dyed my hair back to brown and cut my bangs back to start feeling more like myself! Furthermore, I want to spend more time doing things that I enjoy doing! Specifically, pursuing creative outlets (other than cooking) like my dorky crafts, passion for braiding and cross stitching. And I want to share these things with you! I want to post more often about more things and I hope you will enjoy them!
So to sum this all up, I’m sorry I was gone, I’m happy to be back and I hope any other ladies out there experiencing similar pain and confusion may read this post and go get some help. I thought I was super healthy with bad menstrual cramps for over two years and boy am I am glad I finally got help! Please leave any questions, support or concerns in the comment section – I’d love to start hearing from you (whoever you are!)
And just because I’ve been gone so long I’m sharing an original recipe for balsamic braised lamb shanks! Not the healthiest dish (seeing that there’s all that yummy brown sugar I’m no longer eating) but it’s a DELICIOUS recipe, that’s perfect for these last cold nights!
4 small-sh lamb shanks
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
3 small carrots, finely chopped
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 cups red wine
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbs flour
1 tbs butter
2 tbs brown sugar
1 cup beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 bunch of thyme, tied together with twine
salt & pepper
1 stick butter, melted (You can use less if you like but why?)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Liberally season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Melt butter in large dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown lamb shanks on all sides, about 10 minutes all together. Transfer lamb shanks to a plate
2. Add chopped carrots, onions and celery (aka your mirepoix if you wanna get fancy) to dutch oven and sautee, stirring occasionally, until onions are brown , about 6 minutes. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined, 2-3 minutes.
3. Stir in wine, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, then add lamb shanks with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes.
4. Add all herbs to pot. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.
5. In a large bowl lightly mix together cornbread, pancetta, chopped sage and half of the melted butter.
6. Cook until lamb shanks are tender, 2–2 1/2 hours.
Serve with mashed potatoes. Really, whenever you braise something, it should be served with mashed potatoes.
You can transfer shanks to a serving dish and strain braising liquid and serve on the side. Or serve it “rustic” aka lazy style in your dutch oven and let everyone dig in!
AND JUST BECAUSE I WAS GONE SO LONG – HERE’S WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO LATELY SLASH SOME NOT TOO GROSS SURGERY PHOTOS