Coffee and Reconstructive Kidney Surgery

Mom. Mom. Wake up. We need to go to the Emergency Room.

These are the words I said to my mom as I stood at her bedside at 4am with the worst pain of my life.

My mom, who normally takes 15 minutes to wake up, throws back the covers, proceeds to fly out of bed, grab the keys, and drives us safely and swiftly to the hospital emergency room.

What killed me the most about that experience was the look of sheer terror on my mom’s face.

They ran tests and more tests and had no diagnosis, a lot of guesses but no real answers. So they sent me home to see my GP later that morning after they got pain under control.

He knew what was wrong and he knew it was bad. He sent us to a Urologist who saw us immediately and he said the funniest and scariest thing you never want to hear a Urologist say.

He said, “you feel that? That’s your kidney. We shouldn’t be seeing or feeling it.” Then he asks the funniest question: “do you drink beer?”

No, I drink coffee, lots of it.

Well, that’s the problem. If you drank beer we would have caught this a long time ago.

How much coffee did you drink last night?

I’m studying for finals for undergrad, so I had three Venti lattes.

Yup, that’ll do it. Your blocked kid. You’re going to need surgery.

Whaaaaaaaat!!!!! I have finals!!! I can’t have surgery. It’ll have to wait.

That’s not up to me kid, you’ll want to talk to my colleague she’s the expert. I’m old school, I’ll cut you halfway around the middle, take half a rib and leave you a 12″ scar and it’ll take you 4-6 months to heal. She does robot-assisted, reconstructive kidney surgery. She’ll leave you with a few small holes and a few weeks recovery time. Go talk to her to see if you’re a good candidate for her surgery. Best of luck to you kid, good luck with finals.

So off we went to see robot-lady. She asked a lot of questions and drew a diagram of what she thought my problem was. She said, “you have UPJ. A congenital condition. It’s a miracle you weren’t diagnosed with this earlier. You’re 37 that’s amazing.”

The simplest way to describe it is: you have a kink in your kidney straw.

So she runs tons of tests to see if she could even perform the surgery as there is a major artery that she needs to be sure is safe to not be affected. After many nuclear tests and tons of peeing in cups, it was determined that I was an excellent candidate for this procedure. She asks when I would like to have the surgery?

At the end of the year. She looks at me and says, “no, seriously.”

I am serious. It’ll have to wait. I already missed some finals and have to make them up. This will have to wait until December. It was July. She agrees begrudgingly and says, “no later. We’re booking it now.”

I said you got it. I literally had my robot-assisted, reconstructive kidney surgery the day after my last final of the year in December as promised. I was back in school 4 weeks later to finish out my last year of undergrad.

The surgery was a success! Everyone was jubilant, especially me as I could now drink 3 Venti lattes without issue while studying for finals which was awesome since I still had two more years of university.

Sometimes I can feel my scar tissue pulling inside when I’m dehydrated. I simply drink some water and wash it down with some coffee (see blog:

Coffee: I Can’t Quit You.

I tried.

It was the worst two weeks of my life.

Can you imagine an avid coffee drinker not drinking coffee?

What was it like you ask?

It was horrible.

Why did I do it?

Well, I thought I would try a 30 day detox program that came highly recommended.

I had to clean out the fridge, the pantry and myself.

Part of that cleansing was to purge the body of toxins. I thought no biggie, I am not a sugar freak and bread and chips and salsa are my only real weakness so this should easy peasy.

I was totally in. I bought the products and I had the meals planned out; I was ready for this program.

Then the “coach” sent out the message: no coffee for the next 30 days.

WHAT. THE. Literal F*#% do you mean no coffee for the next 30 days???!!!!

Coffee is not toxic!! Coffee is the opposite. It has many benefits, we know because it has been studied.

I sent a message back saying I would have never signed up for this if I had known that this was part of the deal. SERIOUSLY!! But I already paid some exorbitant amount for the program so I might as well try.

She said, “just try it for a day. If you can survive the headaches and grumpiness, keep going for the next few days after that.”

I had to warn everyone I worked with that I was trying a new detox thing and no coffee was part of it. I was not happy. I was in a bad mood every freaking morning. Which is very out of character for me. I always wake up ready for the day and excited for my first cup of coffee. Now I had nothing to look forward to other than mood swings, crankiness, agitation, and a poopy mood in general.

It was one week in and I was over the initial shock of the lack of coffee. I kept a journal to see how I was “feeling” when I already knew how I was feeling: f@#$%^ pissed. There were a lot of ugly words written during that time. Words that scared and surprised me 0_o

I was through the second week and still being “coached” through the program. I bombarded her daily as to when I could have just a sip of black coffee. I never drink black coffee, but I was so desperate to have my friend back I was willing to drink it black.

Finally after two weeks she said, “go ahead drink your coffee if you want, but you won’t have the same results since you weren’t able to stick to the complete program.”

I said, “EF the results!! Never, ever take away my coffee again” and walked away from the program.

That was the first and only time I quit coffee. It was the worst two weeks of my life. I’m sure my team, my boss, and my coworkers were just as happy to have my happy, coffee-loving-self back.

Then I hired a real Coach and Personal Trainer; I asked her if she would ever take my coffee away and she said, “no, never. I love coffee” I knew I had the right Coach. After eight months following her program I had amazing results and was in the best shape of my life with all the coffee I wanted.

She took nothing away; she allowed me to have anything I wanted. The only thing I had to earn were my soy cappuccinos (which are now oatmilk cappuccinos) and cheat meals. I was eating up to seven meals a day and I was super toned at 48!!

I apologized to coffee for quitting it for those two weeks and promised to never quit it again.

Thank you coffee for understanding and thank you Coach for NEVER, EVER taking my coffee away.

Here’s my first blog about Fasted Cardio:

Food, Fitness and Fun

This weekend I had the pleasure of chatting with my friend and former coworker, Angela Yee, about food, fitness and fun.

What was supposed to be a 1 hour chat turned into a 2.5 hour chat. We had a lot to share and look forward to telling more stories about our fitness journeys.

Here is part 1 of the Instagram Live.

Thank you for listening and watching.

More coffee and fitness and unicorning to come…

Eating My Dreams

What the heck does that mean?

For me, it means, not letting fear hold me back from a goal or trying something.

Let me go waaaaay back to how these words came about.

I was asked by my girlfriend at the time what I wanted to do with my life; I was 34 and halfway through my Associate degree but contemplating a master’s degree. She already had her MA in Education so she knew how much longer I had to go. I had no idea what academia was going to be like and we were just bouncing dreams around.

The phrase we used at the time was actually “Crack Smoking Dream” so I responded, “my Crack Smoking Dream would be to fly helicopters.”

She said you should do it. I said really, you support this. She said if that is what you want to do, then do it.

So then next day I looked up helicopter flight schools, booked a demo flight and was hooked riding co-pilot for 30 minutes in the cockpit. I started training that week. (See But I Fly Helicopters blog.)

My mom was terrified, but she was on board for me to start training to be a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor), I had a lot of fear but I also had a lot of support. I spent 12 months training like a CFI to unfortunately run out of money at the very last hurdle. I. Was. Crushed. I had passed the FAA written test, the medical flight test, and all I had to do was the actual flight test.

I was stopped dead by $1000. Mind you this was the last $1000 of a very expensive training program. I couldn’t ask for anymore money from anyone. I was on my own. So what to do?

Get a job, work on plan B which was my MA, then if I really wanted to finish my training go back and take the test. I had one year to go back before all my training would be lost.

So I got a good paying, part time job and resumed my studies toward my MA. My gf and I had broken up so I moved back home with my parents and started the process of building myself up all over again.

This time the plan was to have a degree to always have something to fall back on and if I ever felt like flying helicopters again, I would.

\m/ determination feels good \m/

I was determined to not let anyone or anything get in the way of this plan. I spent ten years straight in school, working both full time and part time while getting my AA (at one time I was working 5 gigs: I was freelancing for 4 music publications, and worked a part time job—sleep was optional 0-o), then my BA, then MA (I tutored part time and was a Teaching Associate—once again sleep was optional). I was fried but dammit I had done it. I had eaten my dream: I got my Master’s in Literature at 40.

I had a lot of fear during those ten years, but I always had support. I had dreams and goals. I knew I could do anything after my Air Force career (I lived in Turkey for 18 months this was right after Desert Storm), helicopter flight training, and lastly surviving grad school.

After reflecting on how far I’d come and what was next, I decided that “Crack Smoking Dream” was not the best phrase and started saying “Eating My Dreams.”

So when the next opportunity came to “eat my dreams” I took it. (See Heartsleeves Coffee Comes the O.C and Snow Coffee).

Now that I had tasted and eaten the helicopter, grad school, coffeeshop and cabin in the woods dreams, the next steps are to work on my rebooting my podcast and lastly my blog-to-book project.

Both projects are currently underway and I am super excited to sharing a coffee while chatting with some friends and sharing my very first blogs from my first website.

Stay tuned as I continue to eat my dreams and see where my tastebuds lead.

Coffee Lover not Coffee Snob

I’ve always described myself as a coffee lover or coffee fan; I would not say I’m a coffee snob. Here’s my thought process.

I’ll drink any and all types of coffee.

Gas station coffee, fancy coffee, automatic drip coffee, Keurig coffee, Instant coffee, Espresso, Turkish coffee, leftover coffee, Air Force coffee, fast food coffee, decaf coffee occasionally, and of course coffeeshop coffee.

Just a few of the coffees in the cupboard.

I have been drinking coffee since I was 16 years old.

Most of it was really bad coffee, mind you, but dammit—I was drinking coffee because that is what the cool kids did.

See I was not your typical teenager, I was the poet-writing, deep-feeling romantic who just didn’t quite fit in and I embraced that about myself. I preferred the company of adults and the adults I hung out with drank coffee. Lots of it.

Mostly I blame it all on Adam Ant.

I was in love with Adam Ant at 12 or 13. His favorite drink was cappuccino. I had heard of it, seen it on menus, but had no idea what it was. So I did what any kid who has access to a full set of Encyclopedia Brittanicas (the Google of Gen X) does: I looked it up. I learned all about the name, the drink, and was fascinated. Now I wanted to try a cappuccino!

I asked my mom about this drink, she told me all about growing up in Argentina and how they went to Espresso Bars where you ordered at the counter, drank while standing up and then went about your daily routine in the city. Wow! I thought my mom was so cool, she drank every kind of espresso drink and knew all about the glasses they were served in and what time of the day you drank them. It was so much more than coffee. It was a culture. I was in love and I hadn’t even tried any of the drinks she told me about: Espresso, Macchiato, Cortado, Cappuccino, Latte, Viennese, Affogato. I was in love with the words!!

If my mom could have made a chart of the coffee drinks she told me about, it would have looked like this.

I was steeped in coffee culture as a child of an Argentine and had access to espresso on the regular as my parents owned a small home machine. I watched as they would grind the beans into a fine powder, fill the odd-shaped metal thing with a handle (Portafilter, I was a kid and had no idea all these parts had names, and each glass had a name) with the coffee powder, then smash the powder, stick the thing into the machine, place the very small glass under the odd metal thing, push a button and a few minutes later, dark foamy liquid started spilling out of the odd metal thing.

My mom would say, “look at that crema!” She seemed happy about this so that must mean it’s good. Then they would steam some milk and add just the smallest scoop of foam to the drink. My mom would take the “demi tasse” mug, give it a “profundo” inhale and say, “now that’s a coffee.”

Me, me, me. I’m next!! I would say. I want a cappuccino. It was my turn now and I would watch the same process again. Grind the coffee. Bang the metal thing, fill the metal thing, insert the metal thing, push the button, and bam, espresso comes out. Steam some more milk, add the milk and foam, tah dah cappuccino.

Mind blown!!

Next thing I knew I was hanging out at local Cafes and Espresso Bars drinking my cappuccinos and writing. The problem was these coffee shops weren’t always open all hours so I had to find other places that served coffee all night. I went to Denny’s, Bob’s Big Boy, Carrow’s, and other late night places to write and drink coffee.

The coffee was not good, but I drank it nonetheless.

I learned to drink any coffee and manage to make it palatable with cream and sugar. If I was a coffee snob I would be very disappointed by every coffee that I didn’t make. And I would have horrible coffee experiences around the world. Well I did have a few of those, but that is a blog for another time.

As I grew up I learned more and more about coffee, roasting, origins, cupping, and the different coffee cultures around the world.

I loved coffee so much I wanted to have my own coffee shop and live above it. At one time I wanted to have a Yoga/Coffee Shop on the beach in some tropical location and then I did have a coffee shop. (See I had a life-changing soy cappuccino from the sexiest barista alive and we have coffee together on the daily. So thank you Mom, Adam Ant and Brandi for sharing your love of coffee.

My dreams changed over the years, but my love of coffee has never waned.

Once a coffee lover, always a coffee lover.

Guilt-Free Coffee

What is guilt-free coffee?

Coffee with a view can be guilt-free 😉

Some could say Fair-Trade, others would say substituting sugar-free syrups in place of the heavy calorie sauces.

My coffee is pretty low in calories even when I have a “cheat coffee” which is an oatmilk cappuccino these days. My morning coffee is anywhere from 45-65 calories depending on how creamy I want it. My cappuccinos are only 65-95 calories depending on the size I get which means I add two sugar in the raw packets or one. So again this is not really anything I feel super guilty about.

What I mean when I say, “guilt-free coffee” is that my coffee is sourced from a fair wage plantation that takes care of the workers and the profits go right back to the producers. My conscience is guilt-free and I know that I am helping the farmers and workers.

sustainable coffee producers

There is another element that guilt-free means and that has to do with my creamer. Most people are surprised that I used powdered creamer. Before I go into the details of that let me explain why I use powdered creamer.

Before we knew I was lactose intolerant. ❤ you mom.

I’m lactose intolerant and cannot use, drink, consume, or go anywhere near dairy cow’s milk. My mom informed me that I was covered in a rash from head to toe and had to have goat milk delivered to the house so I could get my calcium and nutrients. My rash was so bad that I would be walking around in a diaper or just completely naked. I am glad she never took pictures of these memories and only shared them with via story-telling.

So growing up it was always hit and miss with dairy. Sometimes I was fine, sometimes not so much. I think I have had upset tummies all over the world and have learned that I should not go anywhere near half-and-half in Southeast Asia because it’s really just milk 0_o.

Over the years I have had enough burbling and gurgling in my insides to stop the madness and take care of things my way. The dairy-free way. And that means powdered, non-dairy creamer. I have never had any issues with this product. I can pack it with me and take it around the world. And I have.

I like my coffee sweet and creamy (see How You Take Your Coffee blog). I have consumed black coffee with sugar in Ireland, Thailand, Fiji and other places where I feel the creamer could be suspect. It’s not my preferred taste or color, but it’s just not worth the trouble if I take the risk.

Black with sugar 0_o in Kauai, no cream 😦

This leads to the last element of guilt-free coffee: Coffee-Mate, non dairy, powdered creamer. I know this is what seems to shock everyone. The good news is Nestle is now committed to safe palm oil production and this makes the last element of my guilt-free coffee even better.

Not only is my coffee guilt-free, my sugar is guilt-free, and my creamer is also guilt-free.

This makes the perfect cup of coffee for me.

Happiness in a mug.

Proper coffee with cream and sugar. Look at the sexiness in a glass.

Coffee Slurping!!

Do you do this?

Is there anyone who actually enjoys this sound?

I sometimes make this sound when I am so desperate to get the coffee into my system while it’s still scalding that I will make a slight slurping sound.

I try to be cognizant of the noise as I am doing it, but sometimes I just can’t help it.

I’d love to hear what you have to say about coffee slurping.

Let’s take a poll:

Some people can’t stand the word, “moist” which I think is silly because it is used in food references all the time. The general consensus is cake should be moist. Who wants to eat a dry cake?

So it seems that coffee slurping would be more disturbing than the word “moist” but I could be completely wrong.

I’ve traveled to very humid places and we would say the air was very thick and moist; I never thought about how it might upset someone to say this. I have made a conscious effort not to slurp my coffee.

If I do slurp it is due to my rash behavior and not being able to control myself with a fresh cup of coffee.

If you’re okay with the word moist and coffee slurping is cool with you, but some other thing drives you crazy, let me know in the comments below.

CoffeeFitnessUnicorn Podcast is Back!!!

CoffeeFitnessUnicorn podcast is back!!

Hello!! I’ve got some Great News!!

The CoffeeFitnessUnicorn podcast went through some changes from a solo operation to a joint effort to once again being a solo endeavor.

I’d like to take this time the thank all of you who supported the Those Coffee Humans podcast and redirect you back to the CoffeeFitnessUnicorn program.

I know you loved us both to tell stories and share tales about ourselves and our adventures, however, this new podcast will have special features: such as subscriber benefits, VIP access, and Instagram LIVE specials where I can talk with you personally to make it more interactive.

The latest episode is up on Spotify

Fitness Chat with Angela Pt. 1 Coffee Musings

I had the pleasure of chatting with my friend, Angela, about our fitness journey. We had so much fun that we talked for 2.5 hours. Here's part 1 of our coffee talk. Stay tuned for the rest of the chat session in future episodes. Thank you for listening.
  1. Fitness Chat with Angela Pt. 1
  2. CFU intro
  3. Rebooted CoffeeFitnessUnicorn Podcast
  4. Coffee Musings (Trailer)
  5. Coffee Mugs are Perfect.

Right now the voice is automated as we are still unpacking from our arduous and somewhat traumatic move. I did find the podcast equipment, I just wasn’t able to set it up in time to release the episode. Next episode will me talking and sharing the newest features of the podcast.

Stay tuned for more details, give the episode a listen and let me know what you think.

Tell me what you would like to hear, know and how we can make this a better user experience for you.

Thank you!!

Coffee Mugs are Perfect.

Coffee mugs have traveled with me around the world and I have traveled back with mugs from those exotic places so I can savor the memories while enjoying my favorite beverage in those magical containers.

If you have ever been a guest, I probably served you a drink of some sort in a coffee mug, be it wine, whiskey, soda, or of course coffee.

I may not have much, but I will always have coffee and coffee mugs. When I was overseas in the Air Force the only kitchen items I had were a: mini coffee maker, mini espresso maker, plate, bowl, and coffee mug. It was all I needed and I never thought about buying anything else. I had everything my little coffee-loving heart needed, why be superfluous with my purchases?

I have pretty much always been utilitarian with things and the coffee mug is the perfect utility drinking tool for me.

Coffee mugs are very multifaceted and depending on the size, it can fit a plethora of uses. I’m sure I’ve even used one as a vase for fresh flowers at sometime.

Many times I’ve used a coffee mug as a pen holder. See image below. I usually use an Alumni mug for pens to remind me how far I’ve come. In the case below, we had just moved and I wanted a little reminder of a friend so I used the mug she gave me <3.

Using a coffee mug as a toothbrush holder was a first for me and I am sure it won’t be the last example of the ever multi-purposeful coffee mugs.

When you move and your household items are two weeks behind you, you get creative with coffee mugs and toothbrush holders.

I’d love to hear that I am not the only one who does such things with coffee mugs.

Do you have any creative coffee mug uses to share? Tell me in the comments below…