Monthly Archives

November 2010

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One Little Indiscretion

Tomorrow morning I start my next phase of speech therapy. I’ll be traveling over to Seattle every Monday for the next six weeks. Fortunately, Danny has a 4-wheel drive vehicle that can easily conquer the passes. Hopefully my full stomach will subside by morning. I’m in a food haze. Like most, I ate too much and I’m still hurting. Although my family had an extremely healthy organic feast, I still ate things that I don’t usually consume. I had been really good about avoiding sugar (other than whole fruits), but my mom made an apple pie with raisins and an orange glaze that I couldn’t resist. It was unbelievable. I even went back for seconds on Friday. Here’s the problem, after I relaxed my food guidelines, I ended up eating all kinds of other things over the weekend. Food is a slippery slope, and one little indiscretion can snowball things pretty quickly. At least tomorrow is a new day. Each day is an opportunity to start fresh and get back on track.

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Relinquishing Control

Every few weeks I get nervous about the tumor. I try not to let it dominate my life, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. I try not to stress too much about my heath, and the future, but then I find that I’m stressing even more by telling myself NOT to stress. It’s a vicious, counter productive cycle. I thought I’d be further along in my recovery from the surgeries. Again, I’m having to tell myself to slow down, rest more, and take joy in the little things. I can get caught up in the future, borrowing trouble. I saw a woman at the gym today who I believe is undergoing chemo. She was completely bald, no eye lashes or eye brows. I smiled at her, and she smiled back, knowing that she probably has no idea that I’ve gone through some tough medical stuff too. I thought to myself how lucky I am. I’m healthy, I have my hair, I can exercise, I’m reading more and more, I’m really lucky to have successfully passed my past two MRI’s. I have everything in the world to be grateful for, and I’m just going to keep focusing on that! Each time I start to worry I’m going to think about something that I’m grateful for. Just now, I tried this little trick again, and my blood pressure dropped. My body relaxed and I inadvertently let out a deep sigh. Just like Jessica Abu Dhabi mentioned the other day, “Surrender to things.” I need to relinquish control, and just be grateful. I don’t think it’ll be too hard to do. Just like thinking positive, you just have to keep on it. 🙂

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Maitake Tumor Soup

Sometime around the stage when I realized red licorice was unhealthy (it’s a processed sugar, and often contains high fructose corn syrup which has been shown to proliferate tumor and cancer cells), I started to care more and more about what I’m ingesting. I started talking to other people about nutrition. As things tend to work in mysterious ways, I saw an interesting book about healthy foods in Susea’s kitchen (one of my mom’s close friends, who has helped raise me as if I was her own daughter – that’s the thing about Friday Harbor, you have love and kindness from all over the island. You’re raised by a village). Susea, seeing how excited we were as we flipped through the pages, sent us a copy of the book, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, by Johnny Bowden. It’s been a great way for Danny and I to read together. I read aloud to him, and he corrects my errors (which are getting fewer all the time). He explains things when I have questions, and most of all we have completely changed our diet. I now look at food differently. I often eat meals that aren’t that tasty, although with the power of the mind, you can happily eat anything that’s good for you. My meals are no longer just based on flavor. I’m going for nutrition to sustain my body. Some people would like my meals, but most would probably yearn for a burger and fries, a steak…maybe even meatloaf. I’ve delved into vegetables in a serious way, with an emphasis on mushrooms. Apparently, they’re known to safely eliminate toxins, while also boosting the immune system.  I don’t know if my diet will change my outcome, but I hope that it does. From the book mentioned above, we’ve learned…

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Winter’s Here!

Danny, Emma and I just went for a lovely evening walk. It’s supposed to be an insanely cold and snowy winter, and we’re very excited! For example, just now when we went for the little evening stroll, it was 16 degrees and dropping quickly. The low for tonight is -2 and the high for tomorrow is 15 degrees.  If you look closely, you can see my eyes. Danny bundled me up, nice and cozy! When it started snowing a few days ago I had a bit of anxiety. I was excited for the change of season, but in the same moment I flashed back to the last time I was in the snow. It was last April. The 9th, a Friday, and Danny and I were snowshoeing around the outskirts of Mission Ridge. During the middle of the outing I had a massive headache, which led to a doctor’s appointment the following Monday, and the diagnosis on Tuesday. Life was pretty different then, pretty carefree. I didn’t have to worry too much about my diet, my limitations, my stress levels, a need for rest, my future or anything for that matter. If you would have asked me at the time though, I probably would have rattled off a list of things that I was worried about, and stressing over. I remember looking at the photos from that day and I couldn’t stand how I looked in the pictures. I didn’t like my hair. Now, I laugh at that and think about how lucky I was, and I didn’t even know it. Man, life can sure change in an instant. I think that most people are grateful all year long, but right now, this week, we have time to truly celebrate giving thanks. I’m thankful for my life, and my health….

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Andrea Luthringer Martin

Just a moment ago, I sat down on the couch with my TCU Magazine. It comes four times a year, and I love perusing through it. Everytime, before I even read any articles I flip to the back to see the Alum News section. It’s where you find all the fun photos of weddings, babies and alumni gatherings. Today, at the end of the section Frogs We Will Miss, I saw Andrea Luthringer Martin’s name. She was in my pledge class in Pi Phi. It was a class of less than 50. I feel like such an idiot that I didn’t know that things were so bad. I’ve been so out of the loop for so many months. There’s a blog that I found, that was written by her mother, father, mother-in-law, and father-in-law. I started reading it, and I just continued to go back further, and further, until I couldn’t read it any longer. I feel sick to my stomach. The account of her story was so honest, and so heartbreaking. Here I was, soon to go into surgery, and she lost her battle. Just as her fight was ending, mine was beginning. I wish I could have spoken to her.  If you want to check out her blog, please do. I don’t think anyone’s managing it anymore, but it’s a story that should be shared. If you get the chance to read it, please think of her family, and her husband especially during these holidays that are rapidly approaching. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to be in their position, missing Andrea so much. She was an extremely kind, intelligent, compassion person and I’m better having known her in the short time that I did. Life can be short, and I have to cherish every moment…

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The Little Voice

I’ve been trying to take it easy lately, focusing on relaxing. I used to curl up with a good book, but these days I’m unable comprehend most fiction. You know the little voice that reads to you while you read a book? That character that lifts up from the pages and talks to your mind? I don’t have that. I’m able to read non-fiction, factual upfront information, but the fun stuff escapes me. I’m missing the voice inflection, the hidden meaning, the inferences, and ironies. I do really well in conversations because I can see facial expressions, and hear the tone of voice. If I’m in a conversation I can ask questions and clarify. With a book you don’t have that. Most of the fun in reading non-fiction, is the twists and turns, and sadly, I tend to miss all that. It takes the fun right out of reading. That is, unless you have a friend like Jessaca. She, without request, started voice recording chapters from a book from our book club. That’s how sweet she is. I have a copy of the book, and I listen to her recording at the same time. It is HILARIOUS. I hear the voice inflection, the tempo, and sometimes she’ll even pause and say things like, “What’s a ____?….it must be an animal or something” – which makes me laugh out loud ridiculously. Now, I feel like I’m reading just as I had been before, only it’s better. It’s like reading a book with a friend, or having a conversation. When Jess reads the book to me, I hear her voice on the tape and I often realize that the written word is being said in humor. I take things literally, so when she starts laughing I realize that it’s sarcasm, or just…

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Key Ingredients

My first successful dinner made from scratch (since before the surgeries). Mahi Mahi on a bed of red quinoa, Peruvian beans (used my pressure cooker – thank you Ash!), shredded kale with garlic, mushrooms with onions, purple cabbage, cherry tomatoes (I can’t believe that they’re still hanging on in my garden), and green chillies. For the first time while cooking, I didn’t cut myself, burn anything, or forget any key ingredients. Over the past several months my cooking has been pretty hit or miss. I often resort to steamed broccoli, or pan seared veggies as an entire meal. Sometimes, when I’m full of energy, I’ll chop up a bunch of veggies into a quinoa salad with a dab of tahini, but that’s about as complicated as I get.  Not the other night though. I’m sure it was nice for Danny to be treated. For months now, he’s been doing the majority of the cooking. Although, as I’m looking back at the pictures, I basically did the same thing that I usually do except I separated them out into bowls. Oh well. Like I said, I didn’t hurt myself, burn anything, or forget any key ingredients. And we ate at the dinner table. Success!

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The Man Handbook

Recently, I went back to work full time. Well, kind of. It only lasted a week. I’ve had it in my head that as soon as I get back to normal life (pre-surgery life that is) everything will be alright. As if the tumor doesn’t exist; that everything has just been a crazy unimaginable dream. The truth is that it’s not a dream. I do have limits. I had to cut back my hours because I was so exhausted I couldn’t function properly. After leaving work on the second day of going full time I took a nap and slept for five hours. That was a bit of a wake up call. At the most recent appointment with my speech therapist I mentioned my new full time schedule and my exhaustion. She looked at me wide eyed and smiled. She told me that almost all of the patients who’ve had my type of surgeries and head trauma are not back to full time work after six months. When she told me that, I felt a lot better. It’s hard to know what you’re supposed to be capable of. I don’t know what the guidelines are, other than listening to my body and even then I sometimes get mixed signals. I feel like my brain is constantly fuzzy. It’s the difference between running in water or running on land. I feel like everyone else is jogging at the gym, and I’m slugging through waist deep waves. My mind is so exhausted. I have to do double or triple the amount of mental work, in order to get the same result. There’s so many things that I want to do, but I don’t have the cognitive ability. Sometimes, I feel like I’m floating, and even though I might be in a crowded…

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Style Points

Last night was my weekly soccer match. After discussing the ball-to-the-head incident with my doctors, I decided not to play soccer for now. I’m not saying that I’ll never play again (I’m too stubborn and competitive for that), but for the first year after the surgeries I’m just going to try and take it easy. Since my skull, and tissues are still fusing, I figure I might as well avoid hard impact. That sounds like a no brainer (no pun intended), but prior to the diagnosis I was a go-big-or-go-home kind of girl. Since I can’t kick butt on the field, I decided to earn style points. It all started yesterday when Danny found my old high school cheerleading skirt (which actually still fits…a little snug, but it fits). I tossed on my jersey, my soccer socks, and painted black lines under my eyes. I’ll do anything for a laugh. It was our third game, and we have yet to win, but we’re not that invested in the score. We’d love to win, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the meeting after the game, at a local pub, that we’re truly after. There’s nothing better than a girls night. Here’s a goofy team photo to make you smile. I’m the odd duck on the left. Hard to miss the skirt. PS You can kind of see my new hair cut which I have yet to capture photogenically. Soon, I promise.

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