Why Mama needs a drink.

July 24th was both one of the best days of my life but also one of the worst. I woke up that morning having barely slept, so full of excitement that I’m pretty sure I galloped out of bed into the shower. The reason behind my ear-to-ear grin was because I was going to be on television! My first T.V. appearance, oh-mah-gawd, you can only imagine my full-on freak out. It was  pretty epic.

After applying a few months ago, I finally heard back from the producers of Check, Please!, a local Chicago show focused on restaurants & the dining experience. You can find out more information about the show, here! The filming itself took place the afternoon of the 24th and it was pretty fantastic, although I can’t really reveal too much about my experience. That’ll all come after the show airs – which, I’m hoping is sometime this fall. The new season starts early September, so I’ll be sure to alert the masses once I find out the specific date!

Regardless, I filmed, came home and was flying high on adrenaline. Blood was seriously pumping and I felt like I could conquer the world. I think I was home for 2 minutes before the phone rang.


“Hi Allana, this is Jen from Dr. Patel’s office. Do you have a second to chat?”

(Never the words you want to hear from your doctor).

You see, while the majority of my summer has been spent sippin’ on negroni slushies and laying on my patio, the other part has been spent at Northwestern Hospital, getting various cat scans, MRIs and ultra sounds thanks to some  fussy lymph nodes in my neck that for the love of fried food, would not “go down,” or decrease in size. What’s been most frustrating about all of these doctor visits is that nobody, including the Gosling look alike who took my first MRI scan, was straight with me about what was going on. Every single doctor I spoke with jumped around the word “lymphoma” like it was a severe nut allergy.

It wasn’t until I was sitting in a hospital gown, hooked up to an IV about to go in for a biopsy when Dr. Patel finally told my mom and I, “It’s most likely an a-typical virus, but we just want to make sure it’s definitely not lymphoma”. Mmm, lovely, I thought.

I woke up a few hours later to a strange man rubbing my arm, telling me it was time to open my eyes. “OMG, I’m alive,” was my first thought. Second was that, if this doctor didn’t get to me a bathroom A.S.A.P., I’d be the talk of the hospital as the girl whose bladder exploded on Nurse John. Turns out, those fluids they pump through you in an IV? They don’t go away and I immediately awoke feeling like I chugged five bottles of water.

The good news was that surgery was a success and the enlarged lymph node was out of my body and off for observation. I quickly nodded and was overcome with excruciating pain. The left side of my neck, jaw and ear were completely numb and as I swallowed, shockwaves ran through my body to alert me that yes, I did have a tube down my throat and yes, that does leave you rather sore. The bad news was I had to stay put for 15 minutes until the meds kicked in. That meant no bathroom break.

A few hours later, I left the hospital with my mom as stiff as a friggen fembot. And no, I wasn’t on medication. The incision on my neck was held together with what my doctor called, “super, super doctor glue,” rather than a stitch. In my mind, that meant : “do not ever move your neck again because if you do, your wound will break open and you will eventually die a slow death of bleeding by biopsy”.

I suppose my reasoning behind this whole story is to explain where I’ve been the past month. Clearly, my blogging skills have been lacking due to this whole debacle. And thankfully, it was just an a-typical virus! Do I think it was worth it to get the biopsy? Yes and no. Turns out, the node they removed was sitting on a nerve – the specific nerve that controls your shoulder to move up and down. All that movement in surgery definitely angered my little nerve and still, a month later, that nerve has yet to forgive me & decides to flare up and cause my body immense pain whenever it most desires. Which unfortunately, is all the time. Thank god for physical therapy.

Now, as we near the end of this post, I have to wonder … are you in need of a drink? Because after the past month, I sure am and thankfully, this homemade Blueberry Smash cocktail should do the trick.

My mom had plucked this recipe out of the latest Bon Appetit and I’m so glad she did. I’m not the biggest fan of sweet drinks, so this tart and slightly sour drink is right up my alley. It’s a cinch to make and with blueberries still in season, I see no reason not to whip up this concoction tonight or this weekend for Labor Day.

Blueberry Smash

Blueberry Smash Cocktail (serves 7)- thanks, Bon Appetit

  • 2 lemons, sliced into rounds
  • 2 limes, sliced into rounds
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (we used frozen and they worked just fine)
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves + more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups vodka
  • 3/4 cups St. Germain

In a pitcher, mash together the blueberries, lemons, limes and mint with either a mortar and pestle or handle of a wooden spoon. Stir in the vodka, St. Germain and 2 cups of ice cubes. Divide among high ball glasses and garnish with fresh mint leaves. Recipe can be easily halved. I also imagine it would be tasty topped off with a bit of club soda to add a bit of fizziness.

While it’s been an interesting time away from blogging, I’m so happy to back on the bytes track. Hopefully you are too.

xx, bytes

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3 thoughts on “Why Mama needs a drink.

  1. Bytes! I’m happy to hear that my favorite foodie is doing better. Keep on keepin’ on! I think the only way to make up for lost time is to nosh on some majorrr meals and retail therapy. I hope to make it out to Chicago sometime in the coming year and you’ll be the first one that I call!

    1. Thanks for the well wishes, B! Definitely try the blueberry smash – it’s the perfect friday cocktail! And don’t worry, I too am constantly dreaming of the negroni slushie. I am dying to recreate that recipe …. now if only I had a slushie machine. 😉 xx

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