I haven’t checked in for a while, so I thought I’d give a little update. Last week was a good one, I’m feeling much better. I started the week still not able to each much of anything. By the weekend I was getting more and more real food. I declared yesterday “No Can Sunday”, since it was the first day I didn’t have to put a can of jevity in my feeding tube. I had a protein shake for breakfast, soup for lunch, and ravioli for dinner in a restaurant. The side dish was asparagus. I was so happy. I was eating real green vegetables by themselves! You can’t imagine what a big deal that was for me.
A lot of food still doesn’t taste right. I taste some things well (like the asparagus), and other things just taste bland (like the ravioli). I hope all my ability to taste comes back. They say some things may not come back. The oddest one has been the inability to taste anything sweet. Since a lot of the things they recommend eating early on (shakes, protein drinks, ice cream, etc.) are sweet, none of that stuff tastes good to me. Now that I can eat more savory things, I’m beginning to enjoy it again.
This is a big deal! For over a month I didn’t eat anything by mouth. It’s weird but you kind of forget how to swallow! And when I first started trying to eat, NOTHING tasted good. It really messed with my head. I knew I needed to eat, but I almost dreaded it. I lost about 40 pounds. If you know what a “foodie” I am, that is crazy! Now I am just beginning to actually enjoy it. Hopefully, I can get rid of this tube very soon. I do hope to keep most of that weight off, and get back in better shape. I also lost a lot of the muscles in my arms and legs from lack of exercise.
I only have a week and a half to be ready for Thanksgiving. I hope by then I am ready to overstuff myself the way you are supposed to do on that day.
I finally caught that big speckled trout I’ve been dreaming about! O.K., not for real. But it was a nice surprise all the same. Peggy and I were out shopping at Target yesterday when I got tired. I went and sat in the car while she finished up. I was feeling a bit frustrated and sorry for myself for not having any energy. Just as Peggy walked up to the car she saw some friends of ours. I look up and there are two of the nicest people I know – Susie and Rick Thornton. After asking how I was doing, Susie said “We have a birthday present for you in our car”. Rick went to the car and came back with this fish. And, on the back of it several of our dear Crossroads Community Church friends had written notes. What an awesome and thoughtful gift!
Susie had got the idea from a Facebook comment exchange from one of my blog posts. She had commented that the fish are going to miss me while I am in treatments. I responded that fish fear me. The gift made my day.
This whole thing reminded me once again of the presence of Godly people in my life. So many people of faith have surrounded me with prayers, words of encouragement, and acts of kindness through this time. We often look for the presence of God in our lives. I must admit that sometimes I feel God’s presence, sometimes I don’t. However, we should never neglect to recognize His present with us through the lives of His people. In the same way, we should always remember that there are times when we bring God’s presence into the lives of people through acts of kindness.
One of the ways I marked progress in my cancer treatments involved 35 rocks. At the beginning, the rocks were in a Mason jar. Each day I had a treatment, I moved one of the rocks to a small sweetgrass basket. You may notice how colorful these rocks are. They are mostly quartz, minerals, and semi-precious gem stones from the Bon Ami mines in North Carolina. Those mines were originally used to collect feldspar, the main ingredient in Bon Ami cleaning products. Other rocks and gems were dumped aside as by-product. Now, you can go to the “Emerald Mines” there and buy buckets of dirt mixed with the stones, and mine your own stone and gems.
I’m sure there is a great insight in the Bon Ami story. Feldspar was previously considered worthless. In fact, originally cleaning companies mines the quartz as an abrasive, having to separate it from the worthless feldspar. When Bon Ami discovered that feldspar worked as an abrasive that wouldn’t scratch surfaces, suddenly the worthless byproduct became the target of the mining process. They tossed aside rubies, garnets, and emeralds to collect the dust that would make their company famous. Peggy and I love this place, and have come home with lots of beautiful gems.
I decided to use the stones to count my treatments. Each day I would pick a stone based on size and smoothness to represent that day’s treatment. It was a great moment when I put the last rock in the basket! But, there is something a bit misleading about using this as a method of marking the progress in my treatments. It has now been over a week since my last treatment, but the side effects seem as strong as ever. I was warned that I wouldn’t begin to feel any better for at least two weeks, and even then it would be a slow process of weeks.
Of course, like most people I figured I would be the exception and would start feeling better right away. Now, I don’t have any way of counting progress. I even thought of putting the rocks back in the jar one at a time until the basket is empty – in hopes I will have recovered by then.
This is a good example of the Stockdale Paradox I mentioned in a previous post. I’ve got to embrace the brutal reality that my body went through seven weeks of brutal assault, and it isn’t going to heal overnight. This means forcing myself to take it easy and not over-exert myself. That is really hard for me to do!