Sunday, December 6, 2009

Encouraging progress!

Dear Family and Friends,
Francis and I spent over two hours this afternoon at Meg and Tom Wolff's home in Cape Elizabeth. The purpose of our visit was to discuss Meg's incredibly generous offer to teach volunteers how to make one macrobiotic meal (or more if they wish) to assist me in cooking for Francis. It's a plan she saw work with one of her friends.

So while Francis lay on the couch facing the windows overlooking the ocean, -- all the while with "Cuddly" their darling white poodle snuggled in the crook of his arm, -- Meg and I sat in the kitchen where we talked as she prepared a dish with some locally grown navy (or pea) beans.

I'm often enough warned that the macrobiotic diet can be rigid. Though Meg knows how to do the diet in its strict healing version too, I'm happy to learn her approach is also "wide." Meg explained that macrobiotic cooking originated in Japan after World War II. It was there they discovered the diet that healed victims of radiation from the bomb. The diet then spread worldwide to heal other "victims" of cancer and radiation using Japanese foods. But, the foods they ate were indigenous -- local foods for them. So Meg reasons that our indigenous local beans are as good for us as their local beans are for them! We like hearing this "wide" approach since that's how we're doing this anyway.

In spite of a challenging second swing of the pendulum on the GI front this week, and a new kind of swelling in his ankles, -- Francis is making good progress!

1) Dr. Inhorn advised him to use "Miralax" since unlike most other laxatives this one is simply an inert substance that gets things moving. I must warn you about Smooth Move Tea. Even though it didn't make a dent in Francis' GI armor, a friend emailed to say she had had a "violent reaction" to it after surgery some years ago. AND, after I innocently but unwisely tried it out of curiosity last Sunday, my own stomach was queasy for 5 days! It's not as harmless as it looks!

2) Dr. Inhorn also diagnosed "low protein" and nutritional deficiency as culprits for Francis' swollen ankles. So I gave him a high energy protein drink as soon as we got home, and he's been eating fish with every meal. We also realized that Francis' reluctance to take his vitamins on top of all the other meds has consequences! So now he's taking the full dose of 4 tabs a day, not just the 1 he used to take when he didn't put it aside. And we're relieved to see the beginning of a change for the better!

3) The most encouraging thing is Dr. Inhorn's telling Francis he's ready now (Nausea hasn't been too bad lately) to decrease the pain med dose! So when we got home I immediately unpealed one of the 25 mcg Fentanyl pain patches on his chest which has to be changed every three days. So the dose is now 100 mcg instead of 125.

To give a little glimpse of what cancer survivors have to go through, even in little ways, on the road to recovery, -- besides the patches, Francis is also wearing two other vehicles of pain control, -- the subcutaneous infusion pump whose needle is inserted in his thigh, and the TENS Unit whose sticky electrodes adhere to either side of his lower spine. The tubing for the first and the wires for the second can easily get tangled or pulled out even by "the device" for the TENS Unit which is hooked in front. (I devised a belt just for that device to prevent this.) All in all, it's no small thing for him to maneuver these in normal daily living!

4) But yet another encouraging sign is the new skin that has shed the crusty scabs of his radiation burn on his back. We see this as a sign that slowly but surely the healing is taking place within the intestines too.

Lynn, Lee and Rowan came over today to help and visit. It was heart warming for me to see Francis talking things over with Lee as I was returning from the chicken coop. Our "family" also sampled some of the delicious macrobiotic leftovers Meg and Tom have been delivering to our door all week. A few Fridays ago a friend told me she hadn't tasted one good macrobiotic dessert yet! But Meg's Amasake & Tangerine Pudding makes a scruptious dessert! Even though, e.g. last night he lost his supper (and that hasn't happened for 5 days!) it's encouraging to see Francis eating bigger portions now!

Francis and I don't feel (yet?) we can celebrate the cancer that has changed his life and mine. But it has revealed the inestimable blessing of friendships, old and new!


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