Technically, I Got a Nose Job

During my junior year of college I broke my nose in a friendly scuffle, which caused a nasal septum deviation, otherwise known as a deviated septum. I was able to partially realign the peripheral for aesthetic purposes; however, the internal configuration was out of sync, impairing my ability to breathe through my right nostril. Without knowing the extent of the internal damage, I let the wound heal itself and once the bruising subsided effectively forgot the injury ever occurred. While not evident at the time, the restricted breathing became more apparent as it led to unforeseen complications that would affect my daily life. The frequency with which I was catching colds was increasing and the severity of the symptoms was worsening; persistent sinus congestion would lead to post-nasal drip which, in turn, would cause a sore throat.

It was roughly three years after the injury when I noticed a particular cold-induced sinus blockage was lasting longer than had been typical. My girlfriend suggested that I make an appointment to meet with Madeleine Schaberg, an ear, nose and throat specialist, to address these issues. I had not realized at the time, but after speaking with Dr. Schaberg, I was informed that my deviation was likely affecting not only my immune health but also my sleep cycle; the deviated septum was likely triggering sleep apnea, a disorder caused by interruptions in normal breathing patterns, thus negatively affecting sleep habits. After I presented my pertinent medical history, she proceeded with a nasal endoscopy and examined my left nostril with relative ease, but before she could get the endoscope past the hairs of my right nostril she began to chuckle – “I think we’ve found the culprit…the deviation in your septum is causing a 95% blockage on your right side, making it nearly impossible to breathe through.”  Since the cost of that appointment covered half of my annual deductible and rates were expected to increase with the ACA legislation, my decision to elect for surgery became that much easier. Dr. Schaberg referred me to a different specialist who focuses on rhinoplasties, which are often associated with plastic surgery procedures, so technically I got a nose job. I had heard a lot of bad things about this procedure and began to do some research of my own. Despite the dissuading testimonials, I was ready to go under the knife.

The procedure itself was nothing to worry about; however, the recovery was far less than enjoyable. I was told 2-3 days would be adequate time to recover to the point at which I could return to work, yet this was far from reality. It was not the pain that created cause for concern but rather the vast amounts of blood-saturated gauze that was taped to my face that made it extremely difficult to breathe with my head upright. Both nostrils were ‘packed’ with gauze while my septum was kept stationary with plastic stents, each nearly the size of a credit card. Frankly, I was unaware these were even in there until I went for a follow-up a week or so later and the doctor told me to look away while he used pliers to yank them out. Throughout the recovery, I was concerned even the slightest of contact to my nose would again dislodge the septum. It was necessary to sleep elevated on my back and I recall attempting to roll over one night and tapping my nose to the pillow, thinking to myself that I would need to go back and redo the procedure, but according to my doctor, this turned out to have been extreme cautiousness. I took a generic form of sleep aid (without a decongestant per my doctor’s orders), which offered some nighttime relief, and I indulged in terrible daytime television throughout the day, intermittently napping, drinking lots of fluids and eating soft foods. After the third day, the recovery started to become easier as I could tackle more solid foods and sit upright for longer periods of time without too much blood rushing to my head, and after a week, once the stents were removed, other than the residual bruising, all that was left of the recovery process was occasional sensitivity and daily sinus rinsing.

It’s been almost a year now since I had the procedure and the benefits are definitely noticeable. Part of the reason I decided to move forward with the procedure was that much of the research I had found suggested that the results were life-changing and while that term is rather strong, the surgery resulted in remarkable improvements in my daily life: the quality of my sleep is noticeably better, I do not become tired as frequently during the day, and I’m now capable of breathing through both nostrils and am no longer classified as a ‘mouth-breather’. If you are contemplating getting a septoplasty to improve your nasal passages, I would highly recommend it.

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Blueprint Health

I attended the Blueprint Health Demo Day yesterday where seven potentially disruptive healthcare companies each presented its progress over the past three months. A little background – Blueprint Health is a startup incubator/accelerator similar to the more well-known Y Combinator or Techstars, however, Blueprint is solely focused on the healthcare industry and as such, has dug out a strong presence in this “niche” market. The incubator selects a handful of companies from thousands of applicants to participate in one of its semi-annual three month long intensive programs, during which the companies have the opportunity to hone their business models, generate market traction and most importantly, seek valuable advice from Blueprints unique mentor network comprised of leaders across the healthcare industry.

I had the opportunity to first meet the most recent Blueprint class at their launch event on the fourth day of the program. The companies each gave a brief introduction speech followed by an open forum discussion where I spoke with a few of the founders to get a better sense of their businesses and respective outlooks. It was obvious that these were early-stage startups as some of the companies seemed to lack strategic focus or even market applications. While the Fast forward three months and it is apparent that the time spent at Blueprint was extremely beneficial in “accelerating” every one of these companies. Some of the teams were able to sign major contracts while others found the strategic focus they were seemingly lacking. Each of the seven companies ended its presentation with an open invitation for investment, with most having over 50% of the $1-$2 million dollar rounds committed. While the investment markets are extremely active, this is an impressive feat and quite noteworthy for the founders as well as Blueprint Health Team.

Catching Up With Old Friends

Last night I grabbed a drink and caught up with close friend from high school. He was one of my best friends growing up but as was the case with many friends from childhood, we didn’t do a great job staying in touch after graduation. While I had not seen him in many years, a sincere hug made the lapse feel like just days. From the outset, the tone was quite candid – within in five minutes, Will had asked what my annual salary was and despite knowing he’s taken on six-figure debt to fund med school, I felt sympathetic yet surprisingly comfortable telling him what I make.

At first we each gave the rundown of our lives over the past few years, noting how ‘old’ we felt. Shortly after we caught up on each other, we began gossiping quite bluntly. “Did you hear Jeff got married? Did you see how much weight Meghan put on…I always pinned her to have skinny genes?” By the end, I felt like I had attended my high school reunion, which apparently is not happening as Will informed me that the money we raised to fund the event was “lost in a bank account.” While he didn’t seem too taken back by this, he mentioned that our class advisor, who I did not see eye-to-eye with, somehow lost the password to the bank account (what does that even mean?) and that the “reunion chair” of our class now has a baby (did not see that one coming) and perhaps, not surprisingly, didn’t not want to take charge of organizing. This sounds a lot like a low level embezzlement scheme that could turn into a Lifetime movie, but regardless it appears that last night will have to suffice in lieu of an actual reunion. We spent time discussing the whereabouts of classmates, teachers, coaches and friends and between the two of us, we must have touched on half of the community.

When I got back to my apartment, reflecting back on our conversation, I realized we spent the majority of our time together talking about other people. Although this initially seemed unusual, I realized that while Will and I had a personal relationship, we also enjoyed mutual experiences and friends; in the years we spent growing up together, we played on the same teams, took many of the same classes, attended the same parties and played at the same poker table (easily over 100 times), so it’s only natural that we would reflect on shared memories. Telling old stories is cliché when getting together with old friends, but I really enjoyed catching up with Will, hearing what he is up to, and sharing updates on our friends and community.

Bargain Shopping – Thrifting

Since I was a kid, my mother has instilled in me a habit of bargain shopping. I have countless memories walking with her down the aisles of TJ Maxx and other discount stores or sifting through clearance sections as she refused to pay full price for what she “knew” she could find for less. Even when she found a bargain, she would haggle for a few extra percent because a button was loose or the color looked faded. At the time, this insistent need to find the best deal was quite bothersome to me (probably because she wouldn’t buy anything for me) but I now find myself on the other side of the table, stacking coupons and habitually thrifting. Its to the point where I will walk by a store I like and even though I may have stopped in just yesterday, I will think to myself, “there must be something new in the clearance section.” Rarely do I pay full price for anything, from electronics to clothing to furniture, using sites such as RetailMeNot or my outdated student ID to receive some form of discount.

I’ve recently established a personal rule to help curb my impulsive buying habits – while I’m permitted to browse, I’m limited to making an actual purchase until the following day. This is meant to prevent any rash decisions and allows me to contemplate the potential purchase, however, the rule seems to break down at thrift stores; I convince myself that if I leave the store, the customer that’s walks in behind me is going to scoop up that antique shelving unit or even worse, I’ll show up the next day and someone will be in line to buy it. Thrifting has become a hobby for me, particularly because NYC is saturated with quality thrift sores.

I typically will check out a few stores over the course of a month but lately, since moving apartments, Ive been in search for new furniture. Often times people will suggest stores like ikea to find reasonably priced furniture, however, a major concern with places like these is that while their furniture may appear nice, the quality breaks down extremely easily. A roommate of mine had a night stand from ikea (~$50) and after only a few months of ‘gentle use’ the door had fallen off and the top became waterlogged and warped. Another friend purchased a new couch from Bob’s Discount Furniture ($500) and not surprisingly, the springs broke rendering the couch more uncomfortable than the hardwood flooring. During my thrifting, I’ve come across dozens of quality couches, nightstands and all sorts of other furniture which are typically higher quality for much less. Oftentimes, the furniture found in thrift stores is made of solid wood using quality carpentry methods such as the dove tail joint (picture 1) while the cheaper options found at low-cost retailers are made of fiberboard wood (picture 2) which depreciates relatively quickly.

 dovetailfiberboard

The one caveat to thrifting is the commitment required to achieve a successful outcome. If you’re looking for a specific item whether it be by size or color, you’re unlikely to stumble upon it, but if you’re open to what you find or are committed to the search process, you’re bound to come across something of interest. I’ve had great success buying quality furniture in a variety of thrift stores and perhaps on a more limited basis, I have found some great second-hand clothing as well including a recent $60 purchase for a blazer which I found online for $900. Below is a list of a few of thrift shops I frequent.

Cure Thrift Shop

Housing Works

Angel Street

Vintage Thrift

East Village

My Non-Profit Organization – Requip Sports

My sister and I have been working on a non-profit initiative to help collect and redistribute sports equipment to undeserved communities. The program, which we named “Requip Sports,” works with outstanding high school leaders, who serve as ambassadors of Requip and act as liaisons to the community to organize local collection drives. Similar to the company Revivn, Requip promotes successive utilization over the life of a product, a form of recycling through shared economics, offering these underprivileged youth the opportunity to partake in team sports. In addition to the obvious philanthropic efforts, this project is a great opportunity for me to improve on my business fundamentals, from creating marketing materials to managing logistics. Ive attached a general solicitation form which we use to connect with these ambassadors.

Untitled

Dear John Doe,

I want to share an opportunity to support an outstanding social initiative which helps to provide underserved students and communities with secondhand sports equipment. Started in 2014, Requip Sports is non-profit organization building a unique platform to collect and redistribute athletic goods, providing underprivileged youth an opportunity to experience the power of sports. We are looking for motivated individuals, community organizations and local sports programs to assist in creating local equipment collection drives.

 Millions of children around the world lack the resources and funding to play organized sports while every year, millions of pieces of reusable equipment such as cleats and pads are discarded. Studies have shown that in addition to the obvious benefits of regular activity, kids who participate in sports attain improved nutritional awareness and higher self-esteem. Additionally, these kids are 57% less likely to drop out of school, 49% less likely to take drugs, and 37% less likely to become teen parents. Requip helps provide underprivileged individuals the foundation to participate in team athletics and appreciate sports, an experience that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to partake in.

Our goal at Requip is to connect these underprivileged communities with donated equipment by helping lay the foundation to support a local collection program. Requip will make setting up an equipment collection drive easy by providing volunteer ambassadors with the tools and necessary assistance to organize local campaigns. You can volunteer as a team, group or even take on the challenge by yourself – The Requip team will help you with the necessary preparations and will coordinate the logistics throughout the process – we just need your help getting the word out!!

We are asking for your help in selecting candidates in your community to work with Requip in this generous endeavor. If you or somebody in your community is someone who would be interested in working with Requip Sports, please send us an email at RequipSports@gmail.com or give us a call at 603-252-7448.

Thanks for your help!

The Requip Sports Team

NYC Apartment Hunt

Searching for an apartment in New York could not be more of a pain in the ass. After deciding I was not going to renew my current lease in the middle of July, I first notified my management and immediately began to look for a new apartment for a 9/1 move-in. Turns out the September inventory does not get released until partway through August. This makes sense for listings where the tenant is unsure if they will renew until the last minute (30 days) but why are there not listings any sooner? My current apartment, for example, has now technically been “on the market” for almost a month and its not posted online and has not been shown once. In most cities, management companies pay brokers as an incentive to fill vacancies but in NYC broker fees are most often paid for by the tenant and in some cases they are even paid to brokers who have done NOTHING at all. My building uses an exclusive broker, which means that even if I told my friend there was an opening for a 3-bedroom, showed him the building and he were to then apply, my friend would still have to pay a broker.

I had spent a few months working on an idea with a buddy of mine which I can most easily compare to new site Renthackr which allows users to post listings of their soon to be available apartments. While Renthackr does not solve the problem of brokers in NYC, it is a step in the right direction. Another idea we had come across during our research was JumpPost, which would pay tenants $500 to post their upcoming vacancy. While the founders of JumpPost ended up taking the company in a different direction, they claimed to have early success and decent traction. Sites like these are pioneers for a necessary change and in the meantime there are plenty of apartment listings which dont require paying a broker fee. What Ive discovered however, is that the rent essentially factors in a broker fee. For example, an apartment that would go for $3,500/month using a 15% broker fee would cost $4,025 pro rata; the same apartment listed without a broker would likely rent for around $4K as well. The whole process is a crap shoot but if you’re like me and are morally opposed to paying unnecessary broker fees, here are a few management companies and articles to check out.

Icon Realty

Landmark Resources

Stone Street Properties

Jakobson Properties

Sky Management

Brodsky 

8 No-fee Websites