May. 19th, 2016

ritaxis: (hat)
The oncologist said my hair "might fall out, maybe probably, but can't be predicted." The nurses said my hair would fall out and recommended getting it cut very short in advance of the time--which they predicted would be a couple of days to a week after the second infusion. Also, the printed materials suggested the same thing. And when I asked my friends and family, not if I should cut my hair short, but whether I ought to do it as soon as I could arrange it or closer to when I expected it to happen, the consensus was to do it earlier rather than later, and shorter rather than less short.

So that is what I did. My wonderful daughter Emma came over as soon as we could arrange it and buzzed my hair. With electric clippers! It was really amusing! She took before and after pictures of me and they are good ones. I looked pretty cute in them both! I think the short hair makes me look even more Jewish than ever. In my mind I think that is a neutral value. I mean, it's good enough to look Jewish, but it's also good enough to look like other things too. She also brought me some very nlce headscarves to borrow until my hair grows in again. So I have been practing with the headscarves now and then to get a feel for how I like them. Apparently simple heascarves are the best, for me. Just tied in the back, or the ends brought round, twisted & tied in front, or held on with a hair tie. They all work.

Since my hair was already thin on top ("female pattern baldness" but not as severe as that sounds) I started sunscreening my scalp when I remembered. I'm supposed to be more sensitive to sun rays now, so I have appropriated K's 30 spf sunscreen he used when he worked for the post office and doesn't use any more.

Anyway, this morning--two days after the second infusion--when I was rubbing on the sunscreen, my hands came away all fuzzy and my first thought was not how alarming it was but how cool it was. This is rather indicative of how things are going in general. I credit the extensive preparation that the cancer team has given me and also the word CURATIVE right on my papers and also the fact that my side effects have been so mild and manageable. It's turned the whole thing from a dark and frightening journey into an adventure, rife with inconvenience but also full of discovery and meeting new and interesting people. I think I'm a little disappointing to my friends and family who want to jump in and help me but the main thing I ever want from anybody is to go on a dogwalk with me. I mean, I think they feel in their heart of hearts I probably need more than this, but they're too polite to insist that I must be wrong about my self-assessment.

I got followed on twitter by a cancer quackery bot, so I blocked them and made a general tweet that I would do the same for any more quacks. Some actress showed up on NPR promoting her book about how she made her husband refuse "conventional" treatment for advanced bladder and prostate cancer and treated him herself with nutrion and stuff. I don't know how the thing came out because I was offended and I turned it off so I wouldn't be yelling at the radio.

Well, I was going to write a food post too, but now I have to pee and take a nap. Then I'm going to get the cardoons, the mignonette, the clematis, and the purple flower that Ellie gave me into the ground, or die trying. I've had them all too long.

Phenological observations: it is jam season now. I made strawberry jam from the giant berries that came in the grey bears bag last week. I prefer smaller strawberries with no white in the middle, but they are hard to come by these days because marketing decisions. My sister-in-law is making apricot jam this weekend because her tree recovered from the drought this year and produced a lot of fruit. The yellow plum tree around the corner has started dropping plums so as soon as I can get myself organized I'll make yellow plum jam. My coreopsis and love-in-a-mist and some other flowers I can't think of now are blooming freely. The sweet peas that were in too much sun are completely down, but Robin my co-mother-in-law brought me a bouquet of deep purple, very fragrantr sweet peas and orange Peruvian lilies, a very dramatic combination.

And now I have to go because I am totally falling asleep and in danger of pissing my pants.

One last thing: you needn't say "fuck cancer" on my behalf. It does nothing for me.
ritaxis: (hat)
I know I've been slagging on the people who want to sell me that we can "fight cancer with nutrition." Every word of that phrase sets my teeth on edge. I do believe in nutrition in a sort of general way, though I'm pretty well convinced that for everyday purposes most people's metabolisms are pretty flexible and if you're giving yourself a pretty good diet with enough of the basics, you'll do okay for a long time. When you have various physiological challenges including genetic dispositions and acquired deficiencies or metabolic disorders, you have to pay a little more attention, naturally. And then, on an entirely different hand, nutritional chemistry is fascinating, so I don't blame people who get wrapped up in it for reasons of enthusiasm.

But the nutritional cancer treatment people tend to push one of two overlapping agendas--one that boils down to variations of the regular "healthy diet" versions that are duking it out in the marketplace, or one of several crazy crank diets that eliminate whole categories of food or that ask you to ingest megadoses of micronutrients. As for the first: if a healthy diet worked against cancer, I wouldn't be here today. As for the second: just no.

I am, however, eating well. (woops, I scratched the back of my head and came away with another little clump of bristly grey hairs) I'm paying attention to protein and vitamin-rich vegetables, most of which are coming from the Grey Bears bag or my garden (or kitchen, as I have suddenly become entertained by sprouting peas and alfalfa, and I got a little mushroom kit for ducks). This is only a bit ramped up from my usual. I'm back to eating somewhat less starchy food, but that's because I was told that the cancer treatment could raise my blood sugars, and I don't want to cross over from pre-diabetes to diabetes if I can help it.  But I'm not up to doing a severe no-carbohydrate diet unless I have to.

So what am I eating? That's the fun part. Last week's Grey Bears bag had triple mushrooms because the driver doesn't eat them and neither does his wife, so I dried all the prettiest ones and made a big mushroom-green onion omelet out of what was left and I am still working my way through that for my breakfasts. I also got a two-pound bag of cauliflower florets, so I made cauliflower moussaka which I have been eating for lunch or dinner. My pea sprouts came due so I harvested them and ate half of them in chicken broth with sesame oil and tapatio salsa, with snow peas and kale flowers and green onions from the garden along with some turkey meatballs that fell apart. I'll eat the other half probably tomorrow, I don't know exactly how. I also had a pile of broccoli, which I finally cooked today and grated cheese for the traditional broccoli-and-cheese casserole I will make tomorrow. Today I made split pea soup with precut coleslaw from last week's Grey Bears bag and herbs from my garden and dried tomatoes I made last summer in it and alas dried onions because there were no more ready green onions in my yard and no fresh ones in the Grey Bears bag.

Every week for the last month or so I have also done a wee bit of baking. I still do this simultaneously with a casserole-or-something in the oven (one week it was a lamb pot roast) to conserve the use of gas and stack up the kitchen time. Anyway, what I make are lightly-sweetened cookies or bready cakes that fill the place of treats without overstimulating the sweet tooth or giving the body too much sugar at once. They are often peanut butter or oatmeal variation cookies with dried fruit or carrots or something in them. Those are easy to make, K and Zack like them, and so they are good for my purposes. Like I say, they don't make me want to clear out the whole lot in one sitting, though they do taste nice to me, and so I think they help me eat in a more balanced way,

When I want something like ice cream I have either yogurt or cottage cheese--whole milk in either case, which I'll explain in  moment--with fruit, or my homemade lower-sugar jam, or a bit of both. Or I might mix a spoonful of peanut butter and jam, or peanut butter, a bit of honey, and sunflower seeds. These things are not a lot less calorie-dense than ice cream, but they don't make me want moremoremore, and they please me very much, and they are pretty nutrient-dense.

There are a few reasons I use whole milk products. One: they make fat-soluble vitamins more available that are implicated in the absorption and use of the minerals that dairy products are good for. Two: they taste good. Three: they seem to me to be better emulsifiers. Four: they seem to satisfy my appetite more quickly in most cases, though there are times when I can eat nice crackers with butter or blue cheese on them much longer than it seems is reasonable. So when I am being sane I just don't start those things.

I was going to go on with a precis of the garden but this has gone on long enough, so that will have to wait for another time. I would like to say for the record that I moved the coral bells and a nice baby parsley plant today and finally got the basil, cardoons, and mignonette into the ground, leaving the purple clematis, the miscellaneous blue salvia shrub, the white passionfruit,and  the purple flowers from Ellie, still to be planted out or transplanted, as is appropriate for various reasons.  I spent nearly two hours in the yard and ended up a bit short of breath, which I think is because I'm anemic again but the oncology nurses do not think I am anemic enough to treat--but the labwork was just before the last infusion and the shortness of breath is after. In any case it's not severe enough I can't wait a few days.

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