Oops I Did It Again

Monday, November 23, 2015

Remember my earlier post about not giving in to other people and my revelation about focusing on my own wants and needs? That was when I finally realized that I can't continue doing shit for people who don't care and who won't do the same for me anymore. Over the past few months when the situation arises, I have been actively assessing and analyzing what I should do in situations that require me to be assertive.

Very recently, I took the Caliper test and the results further confirmed that I was the kind of person to give in to others and have a need to be liked*. My accommodating trait was sky high! Which wasn't a good thing, because at some point, you accommodate people so much that you start to forget yourself. You lose yourself in the process. And that has happened one time too many. I need to set healthy boundaries of which extent I'm willing to accommodate to other people, and when I will say enough is enough.

I regressed and it happened again a few days ago on a larger scale when I strongly convinced myself to give my opportunity away to someone else who may do better than me and be okay with it. I willingly made the choice for the both of us and offered my own chance to her. In the end, it was all for (call it whatever you want but I'm going to call it...) drama and the want for heightened emotions, as all of us got the opportunity we wanted. At that time I was operating in mode "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". She was my friend, who I expected at least an acknowledgment from after the whole debacle. But she didn't say anything, and probably treated the situation as if nothing happened. After that, something just clicked within me and I thought, not everyone has the same heart as me. Not everyone will fall on their own sword for me. That's reality and a fact of life. You can't expect others to do the same for you. And I didn't give away my opportunity to please others, it all boiled down to friendship. What I've learned from that is: when it comes to things that truly matter and benefit me, I need to fight for it regardless of sentiment or friendship. I almost subconsciously let someone else take what I deserved away from me.

There has to come a time when you just have to be a little selfish. I don't know if I could've lived with myself if I was selected and that person didn't get through, because I would feel bad. If I reject the opportunity, I'll feel guilty. If I take it, I'll feel guilty. I can never win. Which is stupid, because why on earth should I feel guilty or sad about that? I deserved it and fought for it, I should be proud. There will always be winners and losers because when you snooze you lose. There is always this tendency for me to look down on myself and subconsciously persuade myself that I am not good enough. Well, this is where my other Caliper trait came in: my assertiveness. It was below average and wasn't at the level I wished to achieve after years of working on it. With a combination of low assertiveness and high accommodation, it was the perfect recipe for low self-esteem.

Clearly, I still have a long way to go. But I have made progress for sure. The me years ago would be very uncomfortable talking to a crowd, hesitant to step up and I cared too much. Now, I'm making slow but steady progress. But I think I'm all too ready to propel myself towards the next stage: believing in myself, fighting for the things I want/believe in, learning to say no and not letting anyone make me feel inferior. I certainly don't live to constantly please others and be taken advantage of.

Ugh. This has to change because I'm so sick of all this.

* = The results of course do not define who I am and are not conclusive because the level of my traits can be moderated over time by practice.

Stockholm syndrome

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Just gained a new perspective on Stockholm syndrome. I've always only applied SS in its original conception, where hostages develop strong positive attachments to their human captors. But I recently just realised during one of my intense overthinking sessions that metaphorically Stockholm syndrome can happen to anyone. Anyone can fall victim and be a 'hostage' to anything that keeps it 'captive'. Your captor could be something intangible like depression, your career... or something entirely physical like an emotionally-abusing friend/partner. It's so easy to be addicted to things that don't benefit you. What's important is realising what is keeping you captive and breaking those chains that tie you down.

My worst enemy

Sunday, September 13, 2015

I've caught myself being very out of it lately. I can't even seem to recall those moments of being so absent-minded because I am that out of it. The short-term memory loss doesn't help either.

Do you know how it feels to be waiting for something that looks like will never come? When does this end? When can I ever stop feeling this way? The brain may be smart enough to tell you to get the hell out of this mess before shit hits the fan, but the heart isn't catching up. The heart still remembers. It always does, and it always will. It remembers the sentiment and memories of it all. While the brain is trying to get rid of all that you've known before, the heart remembers it back all over again - rendering your brain's effort useless. My brain is also a total douche, making me ruminate all these things in my head. It doesn't have to be this difficult and complicated. I wish I could suck it up and move on. But it doesn't work that way for me.

It made me so happy, yet it broke me. The similarity in both situations was that I felt so alive, and it was an introduction to a world of what I'd like to call - the most intense emotions ever. I've never felt that way before. And now I know what you're thinking, this sounds like a boy issue but it is not. I wish it was that easy and tangible. This is something I cannot control, with my pleas and my efforts, it's not something for me to decide. Maybe it's something for certain humans to decide, but ultimately it is God's decision. Since I can't control THAT thing, I can only control myself. Which is the real problem here. This is beyond what I think I can handle, this is an issue between the heart and the mind. I'm fighting myself in this battle. There is one enemy, but it is the most complicated and crucial one yet. Because if you win this battle, you'll come out not only a better person but a wiser one. There are other fights with giants within that battle, but if you win the main battle with yourself, you win everything.

Daily, I am reminded by my scumbag brain (my heart is a scumbag too) why it won't work out and how hope is the most dangerous weapon in my arsenal. Because while hope is the fuel to the flame, hope can only do so much. Hope gives you the strength to go on but if it doesn't happen, then what? You also need persistence, optimism and determination. A thick skin is preferable and a spirit that never gives up is not optional. And right now, I only have the tiniest sliver of hope in me and I am hanging by a very thin thread. That is all I have to go against the giants. And hope isn't useful, if things weren't meant to work out. That is where God comes into play.

You may want things this way, but God may have another way for you. So whatever you hope and work for, doesn't succeed unless God wants it to happen and blesses it. Now that's another crux of the problem: I don't know what God wants in this situation. 'Signs' are subjective and utterly misleading sometimes. I may think something I saw is a sign, but it may be just a pigment of my overactive imagination, guiding me to the wrong path. I've prayed for nearly 6 years, for it to work out and actually, it does almost every time, for which I am extremely grateful for and continues to heighten my expectations. But it always goes back to square one. It always breaks apart, dashes my hopes and expectations, and unravels into this complicated unsolvable thing. So I pray again. And the cycle continues.

However right now we are at the end of that cycle. If things don't work out then there is no chance for it to ever happen again. This is the pinnacle, peak opportunity. The last round. But it seems like things are going further from how I need it to be and I'm getting closer to my nightmare. This nightmare hasn't even happened yet, but I have a sense of foreboding that it will happen. That my life will never be the same ever again. Is God not willing for what I want to happen, or is this a test? While this opens a new path for me to start afresh, it's not something I want. Some people say change is good, it sets a whole new blueprint for your life. But, sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's change for the worst and you have a legit and valid reason to not succumb to that change. Instead, you fight and you don't choose flight. There is not an option to flee, at least to me there isn't. It taps into my core belief and I will not sway from it. I'm extremely stubborn when it comes to this. While being able to hold fast to what you believe in is commendable and admirable, sometimes it is better to let go.

An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you. 
- Goi Nasu

I've tried my very best to avoid the external factors of negativity. But what matters most, is internal. If you don't let the negativity get in, then you'll be fine even with it surrounding you. But even if you were to rid of all the negativity outside, and still THINK about them then what's the point of it all?

To conclude my long but emotionally charged post, I will repeat myself - I strongly believe that if you win the battle against yourself, you win everything.

But how?

Fire noodle challenge

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I first heard of this challenge on Bubzbeauty's video where she and her husband (Tim) tried it, and Bubz didn't even break a sweat! Amazing. So I got all over-confident and thought nah can't be THAT spicy because I can take spicy. I love spicy!

But on a scale of 1 to 10, this was probably an 8 for me. The noodles was actually pretty delicious, cooked al dente with a good flavour, but it was too spicy for me to slowly savour it. If you want to take on the challenge, you can get it at the Korean mart in Ampang. Never thought I'd find it there!

I suggest you get a cup of milk ready on standby. I underestimated how spicy it was going to be and had no emergency drink ready. I don't remember if I pooped fire, but be ready for that too.

AvocaNO #2 - Avocado toast (kimchi and grilled cheese)

Monday, August 17, 2015

With a little experimentation, curiosity and craziness, I found out that avocados go well with something I really love: KIMCHI - the love of my life (among many others). If you know me well, you know I love Korean food and that includes the glorious fermented cabbage, kimchi. Good kimchi gives you a kick in the tastebuds, a real party in your mouth. It's got sour, spicy and crunchy all there at the same time. And as I said earlier, I don't particularly love avocados. But I'm willing to try almost anything to make the eating smoother and less gross.

I like to pair kimchi with everything I can. Rice, noodles, yam cake... you name it. So naturally I tried to pair kimchi with my smashed avocados on toast instead of adding salt and pepper (I don't even like pepper so that's a bust). You must be thinking, how can this possibly taste good. Surprisingly it did and it worked out so well! Kimchi has a very strong and distinct taste, while in my opinion avocado has a more subtle flavour. So instead of the usual salt and pepper, I used kimchi to enhance the overall taste. The kimchi did not take away the quiet taste of the avocado and is basically a substitute for the minimum salt and pepper.

Avocado Kimchi Toast
1 Avocado
A lot of kimchi
That's it
This doesn't even require a written recipe

Avocado grilled cheese sandwich
1/2 avocado (if you love avocado, go all out and use 1 if you want to)
A lot of cheese (I used shredded mozzarella from the packet)
2 slices of bread

My second avocado toast is pretty common - avocado grilled cheese sandwich. Unfortunately, I put too little cheese and 1 avocado was actually quite a lot for a sandwich so I didn't like it that much. I was hoping for the melted cheese to envelope the whole sandwich but clearly I didn't put enough!

Ingredients: cheese, bread, avocado, butter
Sandwich the cheese and smashed avocado together
Place the sandwich (buttered side down)

When golden brown, flip your sandwich to other buttered side.
Tip: Use a plate or something with a bit of weight, and place it on your sandwich to ensure the heat fully grills the whole sandwich.
And there ya have it.
Tip to self: ADD MORE CHEESE next time.

AvocaNO (for people who don't like avocados) #1 - Tuna avocado pasta

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Personally, I don't really like avocados. THERE I SAID IT. Avocado-lovers come at me. There's very little taste, the texture is like butter and I don't like the texture of it in my mouth. I'm fine with guacamole when it's mixed up with all kinds of different things that it tastes more than just avocado. And except when there was one time I ate sliced avocado with toast in Australia which was actually tolerable. The texture wasn't as gross as when I make it. BUT, having said that I do know how beneficial and nutritious it is for my health. Those healthy fats are good for me. So I have been trying to make myself love avocados by eating more of them.

My second struggle with avocados is real, and I'm sure it is relatable to everyone: Picking a good, ripe avocado. I usually pick the ones that are going to be ripe in a few days because I gotta plan my avocado recipe out. It's always hit and miss (more misses than hits) when I open the avocados, only to find the flesh still hard, rotten/too soft or just not at the right condition to be eaten.

Thirdly, avocado is so expensive. 1 avocado here costs an average of RM6! It's not something I can purchase and make very often, so when I do I gotta make sure it's yummy and not wasted.

I know there are recipes like this out there, but my thought process went something like this. I had some cans of tuna at home, untouched and asking to be used. People usually mix tuna with mayonnaise and I don't like mayonnaise (at this point, I know I may sound like a picky person when it comes with my food but I'm not!) mainly because of the taste, texture and how fattening it is. I try my best to substitute it with a healthier alternative, greek yoghurt (which also isn't cheap).

So I bought 3 avocados for a cheaper price because they were starting to ripen and the supermarket was trying to clear off their stock. I used the first avocado to make avocado kimchi toast which will be the next post in my avocano post series.

I just used the second avocado to make tuna avocado pasta. Something which I will definitely make again in the future. It's an even healther alternative to greek yoghurt and mayonnaise! It provides the smooth texture and acts as a glue for all my ingredients. There are other avocado pasta recipes out there but this is my own improvised recipe. The recipe is based on my taste, preference and portion. I put some salt, and if it's not enough I add a bit more in until it tastes right.

Tuna avocado pasta
Ingredients (serves 2 people):
10 Roma tomatoes halved
3/4 stalk of celery diced into tiny cubes
A pinch of pepper
1 t/b salt
1 t/b sugar
2/3 t/b lemon juice
2 tsp oregano
2 t/b Greek yoghurt
1 tsp dijon mustard (I wasn't even sure if mine was expired lol)
1 avocado, mashed
1 can of tuna (I used the Ayam brand one soaked in extra virgin olive oil, I don't think it matters)
2 servings of pasta (I used farfalle, type of pasta probably doesn't matter either)

There's no rocket science involved here. Just cook your pasta in salted water till al dente, mix all the other ingredients together. As simple as that. I love this recipe because I don't mind eating avocados like this. Even though my recipe is as good as it is, I think it can be further enhanced but I haven't found out how right now. Maybe a bit more lemon juice or onions? It just needs a bit more kick (by not adding mustard or pepper because I don't like both). If you have any ideas, do tell me!


A moment of self reflection

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

(ETA: I did not realize I posted this already because I thought it wasn't ready to be posted LOL. Maybe it was on queue o.O)

I am way too nice for my own good. I say 'yes' to things I don't really want to say it to, I give bits of myself to others but at the end of the day I'm left with nothing, and I put the needs of others above my own until I become so emotionally exhausted.

Very honestly, I'm getting sick of it. I think this ultimately stems from my desire to please everyone and make them like me. Like Monica Geller (from Friends) said, "I have this uncontrollable need to please people". Even if I wanted to dislike someone, I'm still too nice to them!

"Once you start wearing a mask, it is almost impossible to take it off." - Jaz Marie 
The worst thing is, I can't help it. It's not like I could switch it off with a tangible click. It's embedded in my personality, it's stamped into my DNA. I tried to give up the whole shtick of not revealing my true emotions and opinions about certain things, and that backfired because my second line of defense kicked in. My own brain didn't want me to change, maybe because I've been stuck in this position for the last 20 years and I couldn't bring myself to undo what I've established as a routine behaviour of mine.

I need to learn how to say no. I want to learn how to reject what I don't need in my life, without having the guilt and impact of my actions bothering me. To voice out what I really think instead of agreeing to what I don't necessarily agree with. I need to be more aware of what's going on instead of letting it be a constant blur, and not allowing others to walk all over me because they don't take me seriously. I am not a convenient rug people can trample on.

Of course, that doesn't mean I'll be rude, obnoxious and selfish. I can never stand those type of people. It just means that I realize I deserve to choose what I will give a big resounding NO to. To things that I care too much about that suck the life out of me.

6 years ago, if someone didn't like me, I would (over)think about it all the time and go all out of my way to find out why. I would correct the situation by giving in to the other person. It made me feel insecure and bad about myself. I realize now that in most of those times, there was nothing to be corrected. I shouldn't feel sorry for being myself. I'm a little proud of how I advanced from that mentality. I felt a little of that transformation when I entered university. If it was something that I did wrong, then of course I'll take responsibility for it. But if someone doesn't like me for my opinions or for who I am... well then I no longer have the energy or time to give a damn anymore. This is how you know you're getting old lol.

I'm just very tired of putting up a facade for people. That facade has become a permanent mask. I can't even tear it down even if I wanted to, or maybe more accurately I don't know how to. As a result people think I'm this chirpy, happy-go-lucky person. I'm darker than most people think. But from now on, I will try my best to not let what people's thinking or judgment of me dictate my actions or opinions. It's time to be a little selfish. It's time to stand up for myself.

My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to find peace with exactly who and what I am. To take pride in my thoughts, my appearance, my talents, my flaws and to stop this incessant worrying that I can’t be loved as I am. ― Ana├»s Nin

A surreal opportunity

Friday, June 19, 2015

So I had to do some serious updating to my "All Around the World" project (can be found on my sidebar).

Because very recently, I traveled to the USA with the initial purpose to attend a friend's wedding. But since I'm making the effort to go half way across the world and have that golden window of opportunity, why not go all out?

Our close to 1-month travel itinerary consisted of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas (only for half a day), Waco, Houston, Greenville and New York City. It sounds like we're stretching things a little bit, but we did it! We got to see a majority of what we planned to see and of course, ate what we planned to eat.

I was a little disappointed of some of the things we ate because they were widely regarded as must eats and being very delicious *cough*Artichoke Basille Pizza & In-n-Out*cough*. But that was compensated as I was also impressed by certain foods I thought were going to be mediocre. A few of them that probably deserve honourable mentions are Chipotle's rice bowls, Luke Lobsters' lobster rolls and Eddie Huang's Baohaus creations. I wasn't expecting to be craving for them, but I am! Even Panda Express wasn't too bad. A bit disappointed with the fast food as well, but hey, how good can fast food get anyways? Argh, too bad I didn't get a picture of the Chipotle rice bowl!

Yummy buns from Baohaus
Better-than-most-fast-food Shake Shack
Surprisingly delicious Japanese curry chicken rice
Koja Kitchen - Korean fusion food. So good too.
I was floored by the variety of choices and availability of everything over there. I also underestimated the weather and didn't come fully prepared. Though it's quite sunny, it's also very windy in Los Angeles/San Francisco. I loved the weather (except where sometimes it threatened to freeze me to death).

Golden Gate Bridge in (almost) its full glory
I also had a lot of firsts in this trip! First authentic American wedding, picked cherries for the first time, tried my first deep dish pizza, the first time I saw a sarcophagus...

The bride and groom

Speaking of the wedding, it was interesting to say the least. I'm not going to divulge details about some embarrassing moments that happened to me on the internet here, but all in all it was such a lovely, filled with the most friendly and accommodating people. I could not ask for more. The wedding was located at a very scenic 'farm' and it was simplicity at its best. Of course, in any American wedding, dancing was one of the most significant highlights of the night. Let's just say at least I didn't fall or step on any toes while dancing lol.

And not to mention, I have very photogenic friends to take pictures of during the trip. Like, seriously guys they make a simple photo look like they were in a photoshoot.... unacceptable.

I also visited Korea for a little while. I have always wanted to go to Korea. And don't be mistaken, it's definitely not because of the K-pop craze, because if you knew me well you wouldn't be asking that question anyways. It's because of the KOREAN FOOD!!! I get so excited about Korean food, especially Korean bbq. It was too bad we didn't get to try much because Ivy was full and only I wanted to try it, but most of the bbq restaurants require you to order a minimum of 2 portions. Was pretty disappointed about not getting to try actual Korean bbq in Korea. But hey, I'm definitely going back next time when I have the chance. Also, since I was there I had to get those cute Korean-made socks.

The first time we were in Seoul for our first layover, we joined a 5-hour airport transit tour which brought us to Gyongbukgung Palace, Jogyesa temple and Incheon street. We probably only had only 20-30 minutes to roam around each place. I love that the airport thinks of the transit travelers and provides us with activities to do.

The second layover we had in Seoul, we had to venture out ourselves because our timing didn't fit the transit tours unfortunately. It was underwhelming - we reached Myeongdong by bus at 7am, only to find that everything wasn't open yet. Not even any small street stalls! We thought maybe the ajummas (Korean aunties) might be early risers and open their food stalls to feed people for breakfast... but NOPE. Our only salvation was McDonalds. Only like 3 hours later, shops were opened. Oh well, at least we got to see a little of Myeongdong.

This trip did little to quench my thirst for adventure, but only served to spark my wanderlust even more. And I think that's how it's suppose to be - having this perpetual desire to explore every crevice of this planet, to absorb and experience its variety of cultures and to not be afraid to take chances when it comes to making new memories. This is just a stepping stone. A huge one though!

But of course, I am so very grateful for the experiences I had and the opportunity to travel. Thanks mom and dad!!! This trip has been in the making since last year - a lot of major changes to our plan, discussions about how to go about things, doubts on where we are going to stay etc... but the fruits of our labour were sweet, almost everything went pretty much according to plan. After I broke my ankle I thought I'd never be able to hop on a plane and go half way across the world anytime soon. But by God's grace, my ankle was healing well and thus here I am telling you my stories.

Here's to more adventures!

Hoarder problems

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I was cleaning up my drawer today, and realized I have so many things I didn't need. So much junk. SO MUCH DUST. Which meant I haven't touched them for a long time.

Among the mess was:
a) many dusty notebooks which were all almost empty except for a few pages of scribbles
b) memorabilia from almost every single trip or major event I've been to like concert tickets, keychains and restaurant paper bags (forreal carmen, forreal?)
c) empty envelopes which contained sentimental content which came from far away lands and from various places
d) a lot of old greeting cards - Christmas, birthdays, Chinese New Year
e) things that were meant to be given to other people, but I forgot and kept it for years :D

This only proved my suspicion right - I AM A HOARDER. I always feel the need to keep something... anything, from a major life event. I have a book of stickers from almost 10 years ago with stickers I never got to use throughout my childhood, simply because they weren't needed anymore (I am however, very proud of my collection). Some I even kept out of obligation. Maybe it's because as time eludes us and things change, you want to hold on to something that reminds you of the good old days.

Well one day, I just cleared it all up. I threw away old things tied to good memories, to make room for new ones. It wasn't easy for me, to give up things that had sentimental value. It's not in my nature to let go. As David Foster Wallace said, "Everything I've ever let go of has claw marks on it".  I felt guilty! But I wanted to teach myself a lesson as well, to cast away all the mess in my life to create space for better things. I'm learning how to detach, or not so easily attach myself to things and memories in the first place.

Granted, I did keep some things of course like postcards, polaroids and stuff I couldn't throw away because they were significant & important to me, but I think half of the overall amount of things I had went into the trash. De-cluttering felt slightly liberating. But don't expect me to do it often ;)

In denial

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How do you know you're getting old? Go to an Ed Sheeran concert and you'll find out lol.

1. When you've only been standing an hour and your legs are feeling tired already (also because I'm recovering from a broken ankle). You used to be able to stand for longer hours!

2. When people (mostly teenagers) start yelling "We want Ed!" an hour before the concert is supposed to start and you think "Ed's not gonna come out this early for y'all no matter how much you scream". Well I'm gonna save my voice and energy thank you very much.

3. When teenagers scream too loudly and too often (that even ED started shushing us cause the crowd was too noisy, seriously), you roll your eyes. Girls, you don't need to scream every 10 seconds.

4. When you don't exactly relate much to any of the new friends you've made because they're all young teenagers (maybe except our taste in books), and you end up giving them somewhat motherly advice. Ew.

5. When everyone in the concert you go to is under 20, and are shocked to hear you're 21. Like that extra year makes a whole lot of difference. That notion stays with you the rest of the concert/night.

6. When you're thinking "Kids these days..."

I'm technically 20 plus (I'm in denial), but I'm 1 month away from crossing over to the land of adulthood. I personally am not looking forward to being one. I've seen how it is and dipped my toe into the waters, but yeah it's not me for me, thanks lol.

Carmen Eats Clean: Natural Banana 'pancakes'

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Personally, I can't really label it as pancakes because it doesn't contain any flour that gives it that fluffiness, which is the cornerstone of pancakes IMO.

Today, I followed Blogilates' recipe in making easy banana pancakes.

I used 2 eggs and 1 banana, as stated in the recipe. I didn't have a masher or a whisk, so it was slightly difficult for me to mash the bananas with a ladel. Oh well, that's morning arm exercise for you.

Drizzled some good ol' olive oil in the pan and spread the banana-egg mixture on it. These babies cook pretty quickly so I had to keep my eye on them the whole time, getting ready to flip it when it's done.

It is a very simple quick way to whip up breakfast which is right for me, because sleep is more important than breakfast and I'd rather spend precious time in bed than making an elaborate breakfast platter in the morning.

However, this was basically glorified sweet banana omelettes. The fact hit me only when I started frying them, because in the video they looked like pancakes! With a rounded circumference and that light brownish-white colour pancakes have... Thought mine would turn out the same way, but it really just looked like omelettes, yellow and eggy (Disclaimer: I dislike omelettes so this was clearly displeasing to me). Could also be because I suck at cooking, but I digress.

But hey it actually tastes good if I forget the fact it is an omelette. I can convince myself to live on it if I was in stuck in a zombie apocalypse and only had eggs and banana for survival.*

*Let's hope Blogilates never reads this post. In the event that she does... I love you! Don't hate me!

Carmen Eats Clean: Grilled Vegetables

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Yes, Carmen is trying to eat clean. Note that 'trying' is the key word.

So the day before I went to Ben's General Food Store to check on their 50% off produce. Being the Asian that I am (and having a frugal mom), I was happy to see brinjals priced at RM2! I think that's pretty worth it for 3 moderately sized brinjals, right? Got some mushrooms and baby spinach too.

This didn't turn out as 'clean' as I wanted to because the amount of olive oil I had to mix with each batch of vegetables going in the oven was probably excessive, but I didn't want it to stick to the foil! I put too little oil the first round and my julienned brinjal pieces stuck to the foil.

I followed this recipe (not really a recipe, more of a tutorial lol). I know putting vegetables in an oven isn't rocket science. But I am horrible at cooking and I wasn't going to take any chances.

Some Tapping Tapir soda to cool off the heat

I used crushed garlic-infused olive oil to lubricate the vegetables. Added salt, pepper, dried oregano and parsley (expired, but still usable I guess?) for seasoning. And screw using a basting brush, I didn't have one.

Before I put my vegetables in the oven, I googled thoroughly on how long I should leave the vegetables in the oven for. In the end, I gave up on following online instructions. I felt that it's mostly trial and error, and from your own observation. Also depending on your oven. I used a pathetic toaster oven! Small, but does the job (very inefficiently I might add, it took me almost 3 hours to grill all my vegetables). Different vegetables have different cooking times, and not to mention I didn't cut them all the exact same way. The longer you let it grill, the more caramelized (therefore, sweeter) it is. But you also run the risk of burning your vegetables like I did!

The end result:

Mmmmm. I like the taste of grilled, caramelized vegetables. I almost burnt my baby carrots from leaving it in the oven too long, but it came out sweet and juicy. The mushrooms were in a separate bowl so it was left out in the picture. But those tasted good too :)

So there you have it. I usually can't cook to save my life. I previously made tuna sandwiches and instant noodles, and it tasted disgusting. Grilled vegetables however... not bad! If I had a much bigger oven, I would roast/grill them more frequently.

Broken Ankle Pt. 3: Week 5-12 Recovery

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hi everyone! It's been a long, challenging few months trying to adapt to a broken ankle, but as you can see I'm still alive lol and I do think the worst is behind us. As of today, I can currently walk but with a limp which I have to get rid of by trying to make sure my right foot (the one the broken ankle is supporting when I walk) takes the same time to land as my left foot. I tend to land faster on my right foot which is essentially why I'm limping. I just can't seem to balance myself because my muscles are weak, but it's a work in progress! It feels like I'm hitting a plateau really.

Warning: Many disgusting photos of my leg ahead :P

1. Walking boot
The doctor I'm seeing recommends I don't use a walking boot because "he doesn't believe in using the boot". Well while I understand that maybe he's going for a less financially burdening approach, I was worried it might impede with my healing process and isn't making me put excess pressure when I bear weight without a boot. But so far, I'm dong okay without the boot.

2. Slip N' Slide FALL
85% of the times I slipped it was because of my slipper. It lived up to its name because it literally became a slipper for me, always making me slip and fall, giving me more pain as if I wasn't already in pain. Getting rid of that wretched footwear (for now)!!! Don't know why I didn't do that earlier, I gave it the benefit of the doubt. It brought nothing but pain. I found a better alternative: I converted to wearing sport shoes and hadn't slipped since then. Planning to invest in some good quality footwear for once like Birkenstock. Having flat feet doesn't help.

3. Scarring/Dry skin
My skin was extremely dry from being in a splint for so long. But after a while my skin started to peel and the dryness is gone :)

Somehow there is a dark brown blotch with a pink centre directly at my spinal anesthesia injection site from my last ORIF surgery. It may be a hyperpigmented scar. I only found out about it on week 6 post surgery because how often do we look at our backs in the mirror. Maybe it was because of the abrasiveness right after the injection, but I was not expecting a scar. It's not giving me any pain or discomfort at all, and it's... just there. And the fact that it's there bothers me!

My scars from the surgery on my ankle are still healing. I'm afraid they may turn to keloid scars because the scars seem to be 'raised' and not flat :( I have one obvious keloid scar on my chest so I guess I'm more susceptible to more keloid scars. Let's hope not!

Below is a comparison of my foot from week 5 to 10. The awesome process of healing <3


4. Muscle atrophy
My calf muscles are still atrophied! Thinking of the muscles and fitness I tried to gain during 2014 all gone is kinda sad.

Atrophied left leg compared to normal right leg

5. Syndesmotic screw removal
Took out my syndesmotic screw on week 6. This time for surgery, I opted for general anaesthesia, where they put me to sleep. I tried epidural so now I wanted to try general anaesthesia. Definitely less painful of course, only the part where they put in the IV line hurt like a mother.

It was such an interesting experience. The first stage was induction, and they put in some drug in my IV line, and 5 seconds later I felt light-headed. I was surprised at how fast the drug traveled through my blood stream. It was a very psychedelic moment lol. The room felt like it was rotating. And then they put on the breathing mask let me breathe in the drugged air and I couldn't remember when or how I fell asleep. Not really even a gradual sleepiness. Just bang, I was asleep. There's just something about anesthesia induced sleep that feels really good. I think it's the instantness of rest. Nowadays sleep doesn't come easy for me. And to just fall asleep and slip away from consciousness without pain like that felt relieving and somewhat relaxing. I'm weird that way :/ I woke up outside the O.R, feeling tired and a tiny bit nauseous. Once again, thank God I didn't suffer from intense nausea or a sore throat.

I read online, and usually people take their syndesmotic screws out like at least on week 8 to ensure everything is joined and healed. Apparently taking it out on week 6 is pretty early? Oh well it's out already anyway.

6. Learning how to walk/Physiotherapy
My range of motion (ROM) was pretty limited in the beginning. Apparently the first time my physiotherapist (PT) saw me she said I could only move my ankle to a 90 degree angle (neutral), and that was it. I couldn't move my ankle up and down (dorsi/plantar-flexion). I was gutted, but I knew this was the beginning of my healing process and there will be improvement if I worked hard. Right now it feels as if it's not improving at all and I'm worried it may be due to too much scar tissue (worst case scenario - I'd have to go for another operation to remove the scar tissue).

Starting to take your first steps (with crutches of course) after not bearing weight on your leg for 6 weeks will be pretty terrifying. I'm always afraid of pain, and I always think that I might break my already-fragile ankle again. So far, after 6 physiotherapy sessions, I'm able to walk without crutches (with a limp)! It still gives me a dull ache or feel like my tendon is stretching whenever I bear weight, which I hope will go away. I needed my physiotherapist to teach me how to walk properly, as if I forgot how to walk! I was swaying too much, my hips were leaning towards the right too much, my knees were too straight... all without me even realizing it after not walking normally for about 2 months. And so the day after I was given full weight bearing exercises, my muscles everywhere ached! My hip, my butt, even my good leg hurt (which I assume is normal due to my lack of activity). Almost like 1 step forward, 2 steps back. But it's all the process of recovery.

Also, the area where my Achilles tendon always hurts and is always very sore. My PT said I experienced shortening in my tendon from being in a splint on my left leg for so long. I also have scar adhesion at the stitches site, where my tissues are stuck to the bone, and is not letting me do ankle inversion to its full potential which sucks and impedes my rehab process. My PT gives me these extremely painful massages along my left calf muscles to help it not be so stiff. She makes me rotate my ankle at the same time! I shudder at the thought of the pain. It leaves my calf feeling very bruised for the whole week. It's like she finds pleasure in my pain.

My ankle was initially swelling pretty badly. But after around week 9, after listening to my PT's advice to apply ice (which I'm not sure helped or not), my swelling has significantly gone down. It used to swell up a lot after half a day of putting my leg down, but right now it doesn't swell as much (still does, but not as badly as before). Not sure if it's because I'm starting to bear weight or because of the ice. Either way, I'm glad the swelling went down because it was so troublesome when I had to go out or go for classes and worry about how badly my leg will swell.

The worst of my swelling during the early weeks of my recovery. GAH CANKLES!
Swollen foot as of today! Still swollen but not too horribly bad. At least I can see my veins now!
Doing dorsi, plantar and inversion flexion exercises at home with a theraband helps. I credit my recovery to my PTs! Because of them, I am able to walk again. They're awesome :)

1 of the 4 ankle exercises I usually do
My PT gives my ankle musculoskeletal ultrasounds before I start my exercises as well, known to vibrate the ankle tissues and scar tissue.

7. Itching
Oh man. This is the worst. Of course I was expecting a little itch and there after removing my splint which had been on for 6 weeks, with all my dirt and dead/dry skin accumulated in that small space. But I did not expect the itching to be THIS INTENSE. It is SO itchy. And worst thing is it's not only on my left leg. It's on my right leg as well. And on week 9 of my recovery, my arms are starting to itch as well. I've had keratosis pilaris for as long as I can remember, and usually doesn't itch that much. But now it's itching up a storm. I hate this! I feel so frustrated all the time because it's itchy and the more I scratch it, the more raw my skin becomes and it gets so ugly. I feel like killing someone.

During the early recovery process I've had petechiae (flat red dots) on my leg too (which is normal because my doctor didn't make an issue out of it).

Ehmagerd my hairy petechiae-filled leg.

Post week 10, the itching is going down. Still not sure if it's allergy to antibiotics or whatever that's toxic in my body, but I'm glad it looks like it's not here to stay because it has overstayed its welcome. One fine day in week 11, the itching came back with a vengeance when I went out for lunch. The funny thing was I didn't even eat anything for breakfast. So I think that indicates that the allergy is not due to my food. Could be the heat, or stress? I don't know. I tried everything from H-Cort/Egoderm ointment to oral antihistamines but these are all short-term solutions. The itch comes back unpredictably from time to time which sucks because I could be in class one day and feel super itchy. Also something I need to consult with my doctor.

8. Laziness
I have become extremely lazy. I could take the extra effort to walk to whatever I need to get or do, but after 2 months of not being able to do that, my body doesn't want to do it anymore. I think one of the best things about breaking your ankle is not having to do chores (look at the bright side, right?). I didn't have to do anything actually. But now that I'm healing and I will soon have the ability to do those things again, I don't want to lol. As if I wasn't lazy enough before I broke my ankle! This is laziness at its best.

9. Adhesions
Yup I have tissue adhesion, where the 2 scars on the side of my ankles are stuck to my bone :/ I'm told to massage the scars whenever I can to tear it away from the bone.

Other than the whole broken ankle tragedy, now that it's slightly less inconvenient for me to do things, I've joined the Edgewiz investment simulation competition and the Maybank Go Ahead challenge! Not that I'm expecting to win them because I know nothing about investments or banking, but it would be a good experience for sure. Trying to be busy so I can distract and get my mind off things I shouldn't think so much about.

Also, the plan to go to the US in May/June is formulating! Tickets are bought, and rough itinerary is set. Here's to hoping my ankle doesn't try to be a party pooper for me during the trip :/

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