Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Ultimate Buns

I was looking through my photo archive for a picture of me with buns, and I couldn't find one. I don't know if this is because I have never had junk in the trunk or we just never managed to get it on film.

Doesn't matter 'cause I'm talking about the ultimate hamburger bun. Did you know that Fraiche, best new restaurant in LA, serves theirs on a gougères, that crazy deliciouos French bread that's like a savory cream puff?

Check it out at Open Mouth, Insert Fork. And seriously think about a Culver City field trip.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I saved $5.00 today!

I went for my bi-weekly triathlon at the City of Hope this afternoon - blood draw, chest x-ray and consultation. I even added a little distance to the event by parking my car in the regular patient parking lot instead of using the valet service.

Today's trek from the parking lot to the check-in center was the sweetest little walk I've taken in weeks. And wanna' know the best part? I saved the $5.00 valet fee.

Since my brother and niece, both Strothers, were visiting this last week, I've been reflecting a lot about what defines our family. The first thing on my list is that it will practically kill a Strother to spend more money than is necessary. For example, I broke down and bought a lemon a couple of weeks ago, and I'm still in recovery mode. (I'm hoping that the lemons in our back yard will be ripe soon.) Thank God that $5.00 valet charge is no longer on the "necessary" list.

Dr. Forman and I looked at today's chest x-ray and compared it to the one from two weeks ago. At that point, we concluded that the left lung was not improving. Today we decided that my left lung is "clearing," but still has some work to do. And my miserable, raspy cough is still going strong. But, hey, I walked from the parking lot, so we're definitely moving in the right direction.

The thing that's moving in the wrong direction again is my weight. I'm down three pounds from two weeks ago. How can this be? You should see the way that I shamelessly pack away food. You should have seen the way I got up the morning after the wedding and polished off a huge 8" wedge of left-over butter cream frostinged cake. Well, maybe you shouldn't have seen it - definitely not a pretty picture. I was smashing it into my mouth like a bride and groom at a wedding.

I could go on and on with stories of my gluttony. I'm consuming the same hefty amount of daily calories that I was when I was packing on pounds, but since my activity level has gone from zero to 60, I must be in fast burning mode.

During my wait at CoH, I got to catch up with another patient who I hadn't seen for several months. She had a donor stem cell transplant in January and bounced back almost immediately, but it turns out that her aggressive acute myeloid leukemia (AML) returned ten weeks after the transplant. She had another transplant in April (same perfect-match donor), is now in remission and looks fabulous. She was complaining about the bags under her eyes, which I couldn't see at all. And I'm sure those have more to do with life with a sleepless two-year-old daughter than chemo or cancer. She was beautiful and energetic and planning her daughter's second birthday party with 75 guests.

All I can say is, "Wow!" And did I mention that I saved $5.00 today?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Talking makes me tired

Isn't that strange?

I have so much to say and I want to be engaged, but delivering long-winded (and even short-winded) stories or explanations still wears me out. While getting ready for the Saturday wedding, simple questions like "Where does this platter go?" could make me weak in the knees.

Yesterday, 26 third and fourth grade students from the alternative Sequoyah School in Pasadena came to our yard to learn about the food exchange group and to pick fruit. We gathered under the massive avocado tree while I talked and answered questions about growing and sharing for 15 minutes. My coughing became out of control and I was soon exhausted. I was relieved to let the future gardeners scatter like squirrels to pick figs, avocados and persimmons.

When my loving brother recognized this tiring-talking phenomenon, he asked George to give the toast at his wedding. This morning I woke up filled with regret that I didn't give a toast to him and his beautiful bride Bonnie. The top of his wedding cake is in our freezer, so I'll have to wait until their one-year anniversary to make that toast.

Seems like my turn at being taciturn is just fine with our three cats. With them, the less yakking and yapping the better. Puss (the cat I adopted from my friend Bob) and I have become especially close over the last few days because I slept in "her bedroom" while house guests slept in the king-sized bed. Puss made a daily ritual of grooming my head of hair. She started by licking my curls with her tongue. Then she wet her paw and stroked my hair. She finished with gentle nibbles on my scalp. I never had to say a word.

And I haven't had to wash my hair for days.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Summer

Goodbye fresh tomatoes and basil.
Farewell peaches and plums.

Hello squash and pumpkins.
Welcome soups and stews.

Summer is fading. Fall is here. Find out more at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Picture Perfect

A bowl of flowers and a photo from a simpler time replace night stand clutter.

Picture perfect.

Those two words kept running through my mind as I prepared our house and gardens for my brother's wedding and reception on Saturday. As I worked through each room, I felt like a zealous dermatologist eliminating pimples, blackheads and unsightly wrinkles. I was ridding the world (or at least my house and yard) of imperfections one flaw at a time.

The night stands in our bedroom were prime offenders. A pitcher of water, a half-filled (or was it half empty?) glass, a box of Kleenex, a dozen prescription medicines and TV remote control littered the top while newspapers, magazines and books filled the bottom shelf. It looked like a collision between a pharmacy and a book store. I cleared the debris on both stands and replaced it with simple ceramic pots overflowing with variegated leaves from our garden and fresh hydrangeas and mums.

I swapped an old dresser for an antique armoire that had been taking up residence in Cynthia's room for the last decade. With its rich bird's eye grain, cavernous hanging space and full length mirror, it was the perfect bridal accessory.

Room for storing bridal party finery inside and reflection for primping outside

Like an aging actress preparing for high definition TV, our bedroom was ready for the scrutiny of a camera.

But then a funny thing happened. Families flooded in and chaos ensued. A two-year-old flower girl transformed into a princess, but refused to wear her ballet slippers. Three other small boys streamed in and out . The bride and bridal party slipped into their dresses and fussed with hair and makeup. The bed became cluttered with clothing, coat hangers and makeup, with a small space left for a sleeping five-month-old baby boy. And, once again, my night stands runneth over. It was a glorious mess.

Through it all, two photographers clicked away. The room had been stripped of its picture perfection and replaced with more interesting qualities: life, emotion and depth.

The whole experience made me realize how hard I work at attempting to put on a picture perfect facade in my own life. Sometimes I fear what lies beneath the surface, and other times I fear that there's nothing beneath. But during the worst of my recent illness, I was completely stripped of veneer. I looked sick and acted sicker. I had no energy, talking was tiring and I was content to do nothing for hours at a time. I could barely put on my clothing, let alone put up a front.

In short, I was a mess and the worst possible company. I could only take and had nothing to give. But, to my surprise and delight, friends still wanted to spend time with me and care for me. I am still so touched by this fact.

The beautiful flower arrangements on my night stands will soon fade and clutter will no doubt take its place. My energy is returning and I feel myself slipping back into attempting to put on the picture perfect front. When I become overwhelmed with the self-imposed expectations, I'll remember the chaos in our bedroom and remind myself that the most interesting shots are the real (and sometimes messy) ones. And that my friends will be my friends regardless.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Martha Immersion Monday

I ate Martha's fried chicken and baked her daughter's favorite chocolate chip cookies while watching the Martha Stewart Show. That's what I call a Martha Immersion Monday.

See how the cookies came out at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Lazy Woman's Guide to Blogging

Actually, it wasn't laziness that made me decide to repost a blog article I wrote more than a year ago. After reading Ronni's latest post on runnerwrites.blogspot.com, I started thinking again about how cancer survivors are frequently described as "heroic" and "courageous." Weak, cowardly and lazy rarely come up.

I reread the article and relearned a thing or two. I told you I was a slow learner.

Loved Ones Recall Local Man's Cowardly Battle With Cancer

Did you laugh out loud when you read this headline from the satirical newspaper, The Onion? I did.

Why is it that the use of the words "cowardly" and "cancer" in the same sentence tickles our funny bones? Comedy critics would tell us that it's the surprise factor or incongruous pairing that produces the chuckles. We expect cancer battlers to be strong and courageous, not weak and cowardly.

All of this has inspired me to think about why most of us naturally ascribe these adjectives, strong and courageous, to those battling cancer. Over the decades, I've known many friends and acquaintances (several of whom have died from the disease) who battled cancer. Each did it in his or her own way, but in every case I would describe the person and their battle as strong and courageous.

And, yet, most of us who are currently in the trenches feel uncomfortable with these descriptors. Jonathan Alter, in his Newsweek cover story about his battle with mantle cell lymphoma, described it this way. “Friends later said I handled it courageously, but they were wrong. American culture rewards cheerful stoicism, a quality that cancer patients usually display in public but find difficult to sustain in private.”

I often think of Alter's words when I find myself crushed with emotions that are contrary to the "cheerful stoicism" I usually display and genuinely feel. After my last release from the City of Hope, I was required to report back on the following day at 8:30 am. I was exhausted. I was dealing with the loss of my hair. My body was covered with unhealed sores, a cheetah-like rash and bruises. My lower legs looked like they were decorated in dots with a red, fine-point Sharpie. (I later learned that this is a hallmark of a low blood platelet count.) I was hideous. As I burst into tears while walking from the parking lot to the hospital, I thought, "I'm NOT strong and courageous. I'm weak and cowardly."

The truth is that I was a person in need of support, a hug, encouraging words, and I got all of those things as soon as I walked through the doors of Hope. And I got it later when I talked with friends who had experienced a similar ride on the cancer coaster.

One definition of "courageous" is "consciously rising to a specific test by drawing on a reserve of inner strength." I like this definition because the implication is that the corageous person doesn't know the reserve existed prior to the "test." When I admire someone else for being "strong and courageous," my unspoken questions are always, "Could I rise to the occasion if the same thing happened to me?" and "Do I have the necessary reserve of inner strength?"

I find myself asking these questions a lot these days. Whenever I see a mom with a young child with leukemia. After I chat with patients whose primary residences are out of state and they are taking up temporary residence in So. Cal. while undergoing treatment at CoH. When I make contact with someone who has undergone more than one bone marrow or stem cell transplant. When I talk with someone whose disease has come back after being in remission.

I ask myself these questions every time I think of my friend Wayne, a 65-year-old college math professor, who biked daily from Altadena to LA. After a freak cycling accident in February, he is a quadriplegic. This formerly physical and mental athlete is just now beginning to regain feeling and movement in the tips of his fingers. When I spoke with him two weeks ago, he, like Christopher Reeve, was quick to point out, "I'm still Wayne."

There's no doubt that Wayne epitomizes strength and courage. Could I be as courageous under the same circumstances?

Wayne’s life changed dramatically from one moment to the next with no time to mentally or physically prepare. Mine, on the other hand, has been a gradual adjustment. When my ocular surgeon told me that the tumor on my eye was mantle cell lymphoma, he added that I would most likely be treated with radiation therapy. I thought, "I can deal with radiation, but I don't think I can handle chemo." The next thing I knew, my hematologist told me that I would be undergoing chemo and I thought, "Once every three weeks. That's not so bad. I can handle that." In the end, doctors told me, "You must undergo a high-dosage treatment as an in-patient and you will have a stem cell transplant when it's all over."

By the time I heard these words, I was ready to digest them. If I had heard them right after the initial diagnosis, I doubt that I would have been able to "consciously tap into reserves of strength" as quickly.

When we were going through our turbulent years with Cindy, I was active on a listserve for parents whose children attended the same group of "emotional growth" boarding schools. Parents sometimes posted chilling stories about children who ran away from the programs, which were typically located in rural or mountainous areas. At the time, I thought, "I don't think I have the strength to handle it if Cindy ran away." Two years later, she did just that from a program in Utah. And, of course, I did handle it; I had no choice. It was an excruciatingly difficult time, but we all got through that and other crises, thanks in no small part to others who had been on or were traveling similar journeys.

I find myself wondering the same thing about cancer returning after being in remission - that dangling sword of Damocles that threatens every cancer patient and survivor. Naturally, I believe it when I tell myself that I'm gonna' kick this MCL to the ground so that it never comes back up again. But after Elizabeth Edwards' cancer returned, I heard a commentator state that our society puts tremendous pressure on cancer survivors to do just that. The reality is that cancer sometimes returns, regardless of the treatments and the attitude of the patient.

In spite of my fears, I know deep down inside that I will deal with what I have to deal with when I have to deal with it, with the help of my family and friends. Sometimes I think the most courageous thing we can do is to admit that we have no (or a limited supply of) inner strength and seek out others, both professionally and personally, who can help us through these "tests."

And that, my friends, is no laughing matter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Woo Hoo! We've surpassed the $1,500 goal!

Daughter Cynthia holds the banner for the Light the Night event at UCLA.

I just opened up a card from friends in Virginia, and a $25 check made out to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society came tumbling out. That check put us over the $1,500 fund raising goal.

Thank you again so much to all of my generous Cancer Banter friends who contributed to this great organization. The LLS has benefited thousands of blood cancer patients (including me) and their families.

UPDATE: Contributions are continuing to roll in, and we've now raised more than $1,700.

Healthy Cravings

I've been craving roasted cauliflower and finally got my fix.

Find out how at Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Click your way to an Italian brunch

Crostini with home-grown tomatoes and basil. Bruschetta with goat cheese and pesto. Melon and prosciutto. (I know where Pulitzer-prize winning food critic Jonathan Gold goes for the best prosciutto outside of Tuscany.) Italian sausage casserole. Bellinis. Chocolate florentine cookies.

Are we hungry yet?

I'd planned to invite the Cancer Banter walkers to a "thank you" Italian brunch in October, but have decided to open up the guest list to anyone who has donated at least $50 to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We're only about a hundred dollars away from that $1,500 goal.

Those Bellinis and bruschetta are just a click away.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Last Call for Light the Night

In just a few hours, the Cancer Banter team will be joining hundreds of other walkers at UCLA for the Light the Night fund raising event for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. (Will this help make up for UCLA's embarrassing 59-0 loss to BYU?)

We've now raised $1,220, just $280 shy of the $1,500 team goal. WOW! That means generous supporters have donated nearly $700 since I debated "to walk or not to walk" on August 27. Talk about passive income! Well, at least I was passive. Friend Valerie Wass was busy actively raising money and recruiting mutual friends to walk.

If you've been thinking about making a donation, ponder no more. Click on the Light the Night icon to the left and do your part to find a cure for blood cancers (leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma). Give what you can afford, whether it's $5 or $50.

On another note, I feel like I've really arrived because my name was an answer in the LA Times crossword puzzle. The clue was "lazy person," and, of course, the answer was "Susan." I'm beginning to embrace my inner sloth.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bounty Hunting

I was at an all-time low in productivity over the last few weeks, but I did manage to host a Summer Harvest Potluck at our house for COFE-Altadena (Co-op Food Exchange of Altadena) and pitched and wrote about the group for the Home and Garden section of the LA Times.

It will hit the stands tomorrow, but you can read it online by going here:

Trespassers Picnic

I think I may have gained another two pounds from lunch today.

Go to Open Mouth, Insert Fork and check out the decadent, end-of-summer picnic friends and I enjoyed today.

This Old House

I wrote this in January during my 10-day stay at Hotel Hope for chemo-induced lung damage:

"I saw Dr. Dunst, my pulmonologist, yesterday and asked him why my body still feels so ravaged. He said that I'm like a house that's just been on fire. Something clearly created the devastation. The flames are no longer burning, but the evidence - the destruction, charring and ashes - are obvious. It takes time to rebuild. Just call me 'this old house.'"

I forgot.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Testing the Limits

Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!

That's how I feel now that I'm recovering from an illness that crept up in July and became progressively worse until I could barely leave the confines of my bedroom and had to be pushed around in a wheel chair at the City of Hope. During the worst of the nightmare, I was unable to push myself, either physically or metaphorically.

Now that I'm on the mend, I once again have the ability to push. And, believe me, after a month in Limbo Land it's tempting to try to squeeze the maximum from each day like it was a juicy Meyer's lemon. I have things to do and places to go. I haven't even begun to celebrate my Leo birthday. And there's Piper Robert's wedding at our house on September 20. Shouldn't the house and gardens look . . . . perfect? Shouldn't I be digging a pool or, at the very least, a koi pond?

But I'm discovering that I still have my limits. I'm 100% better than two weeks ago, but my remaining hacking cough wears me out, and my left lung is still cloudy. It's difficult to follow Paula's famous "rule of three" (clustering errands in groups of three), because I don't have the energy to do three things in a row (unless it's three consecutive naps like I took yesterday after my quarterly pre-Rituxan Benadryl infusion).

I was wiped out today after a blood test, chest x-ray, EKG and appointment with Dr. Forman that took me all over the CoH campus (without a wheel chair, thank you very much). I didn't have the stamina for a convenient Home Depot run on the way home or a stop to see a friend's new chicken coop in Arcadia. (Instead I had to head to Burbank to exchange a dish washer, but that's another story.)

So now I'm tired. Not just tired, but just-ran-over-by-a-MAC-truck tired. (But, apparently, not-too-tired-to-blog tired)

I just reread Dr. Wendy Harpham's excellent article, No Left Turns, about living with and working around limits. My current limits are temporary, but I still need to work on when to push and when to "sneak around them." I've been through this before, so I'm obviously a slow learner.

And, as tempting as it sounds, I don't think "full speed ahead" is such a good idea after all. At least for now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Light the Night

A few weeks ago, I was in a quandary about what to do about the upcoming Light the Night event on September 14. I wanted to honor my commitment as Captain of the Cancer Banter team, but didn't think that I would be up to doing a 2.8 mile walk.

I'm getting stronger every day and can now stroll a couple of blocks before I start gasping for air. That's a vast improvement over my condition two weeks ago, when I needed to be pushed in a wheel chair, but it's a long way from being able to walk nearly three miles.

But my stellar team of eight walkers is carrying on without me. Together we've raised more than $1,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Thank you to all of my Cancer Banter friends for your generous donations.

It's not too late if you'd like to sign up to walk, and it's not too late to make a donation to an organization that is a powerful force in supporting blood cancer patients and their families through education, connections and research. (Just click on the "Light the Night" icons on the left column.)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bob in a Box

Bob, at 77, sipping our favorite drink, a Manhattan.

I had dinner with my dear friend Bob on Friday night.

He didn't have too much to say because he arrived in a 6x6x6" box. But, as they say, he was there in spirit as his best gal pals toasted him with pomegranate champagne cocktails.

Catching up with Kathy

"Bob's Gals" - Susan, Kathy, Linda and Kiki enjoy dinner with Bob at Phlight Restaurant, a Spanish tapas bar, in Old Town Whittier. Mary Ellen, the other member of our "posse," was celebrating her mother's 90th birthday.

It's ironic, isn't it, that I celebrated my return to the "land of the living" with a dinner that paid tribute to the dead.

I miss you, Bob. I miss you a lot.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Spam-a-Lot: Spam Musubi and Spam Fried Rice

My friend Carol gave me a can of Spam for Christmas.

Yesterday I decided to pull the can of much-maligned meat from the pantry to make Spam Musubi and Spam fried rice.

In the process, I made a surprising discovery: I like Spam-a-lot.

Read all about it on my food blog, Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Happy Birthday, Ann

I feel so happy - the kind of happiness that can send the tears rolling down my cheeks.

My friend Ann, a patient at MD Anderson, just completed her second bone marrow transplant with bone marrow from an international donor. Since Ann is Hapa (mixed race Asian), finding a match is a special challenge, but the registry found a 9 out of 10 match from an international donor. The stem cells arrived this morning and the transplant went off without a hitch.

If you haven't done so already, go to her blog, anngregory.blogspot.com. It's a story of struggle, of frustration with a broken insurance system, of success, of inspiration, of relapse and more struggles. Through it all, Ann and Chris always find the strength to rise up, to keep supporting one another and to do everything possible to save Ann's life. Most of all, it's a love story of epic proportions. Read it and you'll find yourself falling in love too.

So today, I raise my glass to Ann and Chris. May those new stem cells be fruitful and multiply.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Are We Having Fun Yet? (Losing and Finding 25 Pounds)

I just read that Beyonce had a blast packing on 20 extra pounds for a film role as Etta James. (Losing the 20 was not nearly as fun.)

Altadena Hiker, recently fantasized on her blog about how she would go about gaining 25 pounds. (Hilarous!)

I, on the other hand, have not been having fun at all in my quest for fat, or the "Booty or Bust" tour as I like to call it. I count calories and chastise myself at the end of the day if I've fallen short of my 2,500 calorie goal. I research the most calorie-dense foods. I devour 12" Philly cheese steak subs with a side of onion rings because of the weight gain potential, not for a love of the meal . I slurp thick chocolate milkshakes with the same enthusiasm that I use to chug the Berry Barium cocktails in preparation for a CT scan. It's a job.

Food was beginning to bore me. A chocolate milkshake was no longer a treat. It was fun to splurge on a pastrami sandwich once a quarter, but it loses its attraction when it becomes a weekly staple. I felt like those listless "researchers" in the Las Vegas.com commercials. I was consumed by culinary ennui.

Worst of all, in spite of my marathon eating sessions, I was continuing to lose, not gain weight, at an alarming rate.

And then I had a revelation. In my quest for curves, I had completely abandoned the way I like to eat. You see, I had developed the healthy eating habits of a naturally thin person. I like fresh, simply prepared foods, like Tuscan greens and beans. I'm currently craving roasted cauliflower with garlic and Italian parsley. My favorite breakfast is Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, orange zest and a squeeze of honey. The problem is that I can't gain weigh on a diet like this.

Now I've gone back to eating the foods that really excite me and I supplement with lots of my favorite high-calorie treats. I still have my beloved yogurt and berries for breakfast, but I pair the healthy stuff with a toasted bagel and high-fat cream cheese or a bowl of Cracklin' Oat Bran with milk and banana.

I'll eat a huge plate of beans and greens for lunch, but then I'll indulge in my favorite snack - potato chips with Ranch dip. I was just reading some old blog posts when I was struggling to gain weight in February. I wrote that I didn't want to resort to gaining weight by stuffing myself with chips and dip. Now I'm thinking, "Why not?"

Chips and dips and I go way back. When I first started dating George almost 30 years ago, I was hanging out at his apartment before he got home from the firm. I was lying on the bed, comforting myself with a giant bag of chips and a bowl of dip. Then I heard the front door open. Before George could yell out, "Honey, I'm home," I had stashed the evidence under the bed, wiped the dip off my mouth and brushed the chip crumbs off the sheets.

But now, I don't need to be a closet chip and dip eater. I can openly indulge, and I do. I've been ordering my groceries through Vons.com and got these two super-size bags for $5.00. With the tub of dip, you're looking at a potential two pound weight gain.

The secret of my success

For a higher brow indulgence, I head to Julienne's in San Marino. I love their rosemary currant parmesan toasts ($7.50 for a small bag), but only purchase them for guests, never just for myself. Now that's just wrong. I popped in yesterday and ate 3/4 of the bag of decadent, butter-and-parmesan-drenched toasts before I pulled into our driveway. I also picked up a container of their Vidalia onion dip and, in a nod to my healthy half, a fresh corn cilantro salsa.

Why wait for a party to indulge in my favorite foods?

My new strategy is working. I'm in love with food again. I'm purusing food blogs and experimenting in the kitchen. I'm nurturing my body with healthy foods, but I'm enjoying my high-fat indulgences. I've stopped counting calories and started gaining weight.

And I'm channeling the soulful Etta James with every bite of luscious food, imagining that it will eventually lead to a body with her sensuous, womanly curves.

Friday, September 5, 2008

What I Learned from the RNC

Like most "cancer bloggers (Is that what I am)," I try to avoid the political. Just the same, it's no secret that I'm a proud liberal Democrat. I came out with that on my first post in February 2007 when I admitted that it would be easier to make a case for starting a liberal Dem blog than penning yet another "cancer journey" blog.

With that in mind, you may be surprised to learn that this Blue State lib was moved to tears at part of John McCain's nomination acceptance speech. When he described his broken arms, inability to feed himself, and dependence on his fellow prisoners, I lost it. I can't compare my illness to his experience, but I can relate to the feeling of utter helplessness.

And then he spoke the words that I think I've been struggling to find. "I was beginning to learn the limits of my selfish independence." Thank you for those words, Senator McCain. (And I will even refrain from saying anything snarky about the rest of your speech.)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

It's All Relative

I saw Dr. Forman today and received high praise on my appearance. "This is the first time in weeks that I've seen you and not thought that you looked like someone who needs to be hospitalized." I guess that means that now I no longer look like death warmed over. That Dr. Forman really knows how to turn my head.

When I saw Dr. Forman a week ago, my chief complaint was my daily blackout. Attempting to take a few steps was like playing Russian Roulette. Would this trip to the bathroom contain the bullet? Would I pass out and hit the ground and then find myself lying supine on the cold, hard floor, bewildered and confused?

But, miraculously, I've had no dizziness and no blackouts for a week now. I've also been seeing an "alternative practitioner" and wonder if I can chalk up the disappearance of dizziness to the "alt team." I'm still highly skeptical of the therapy, question everything and do not hesitate to tell the practitioner, "That's a bunch of bunk." (Yes, I'm a dream patient.) And yet . . . something has changed.

The best news is that I've gone from 105 to 115 pounds. YES! I've managed to gain 10 pounds in one week. Of course, 115 pounds on a 5' 10" woman is still frightfully skinny, but I feel like I've graduated from emaciated POW to anorexic supermodel. Yes, it's all relative.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Comfort and Joy

I'm bouncing back.

I feel a little better and I do a little more every day. Today I felt good enough to prepare one of my favorite dishes, Italian beans and greens. It's not calorie dense, but it's packed with nutrients and flavor.

I wrote about beans and greens on my food blog, Open Mouth, Insert Fork.