why?…the big C

When you least expect it, life can turn on a dime.

I currently know 2 people who are battling cancer. One, a friend’s father who is losing his fight with recurring melanoma. The other, a dear brother-in-law who learned he has follicular lymphoma…an incurable cancer.

LYMPH NODES-SPLEEN: SPLENIC INVOLVEMENT BY FOL...

LYMPH NODES-SPLEEN: SPLENIC INVOLVEMENT BY FOLLICULAR LYMPHOMA This illustration depicts the classic appearance of spleen involved by follicular lymphoma, namely the presence of discrete, miliary, small, white “pearly” nodules throughout the whole parenchyma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m having difficulty wrapping my brain around both cases. In fact, I feel mentally claustrophobic unable to break away from the constant flow of negative thoughts.

How? A recurring question…with no answer.

There’s no definitive reason why someone is stricken with cancer.

Yes, one’s lifestyle can be scrutinized.

Do you smoke? Or do you live with smokers? You know…second-hand smoke.

Do you inhale red meat? Or feast on fast foods 24/7?

Have you harvested the minimum amount of fruits and veggies? Or are you anti-vegetarian to the point of gagging at the mere mention of…rabbit food?

Exercise? Not your cup of tea? Couch potato more your style?

Alcoholic? Drug Addict? Sex addict?

Do you believe…in God? Or do you thumb your nose every chance you get?

Are you sleep-deprived? Or stressed out all the time?

Are you selfish? Or selfless. Volunteering and getting high on altruism?

Smiley faces? Or frowney faces? What’s your reset button?

Is depression dragging you down?

And in our hysterical, political climate being a bluebird or a cardinal might infect the healthiest body with cancerous cells.

My brother-in-law is an admirable specimen. Everything in moderation…except when it comes to compassion…and hope.

He eats well, drinks in moderation, surfs and takes walks, is religious where it counts…in everyday life, has never smoked, and doesn’t hesitate to help others. I’ve no idea his political persuasion because he’s not one to grandstand.

He makes me laugh. Gigantic belly laughs. From the moment we embrace hello…the jokes fly. We are so in sync that we could be a comedic act. My daughter has often remarked how her uncle and I don’t even pause to think about our comebacks. And those who are with us can’t help but be swept along in our insane garble. Our mother-in-law was one of our biggest fans. God bless her soul…we were both huge fans of hers as well.

One look at my sister-in-law, his wife of many years..confirms their deep and abiding love.

So how does it happen? Cancer.

I’ve no idea. But I’m involving myself in my brother-in-law’s fight without being asked. I’m hanging out my shingle…“hugmamma, m.d.” I’ve already done some Googling on follicular lymphoma and texted my sister-in-law the information I found.

As I await instructions…I send my love and prayers and mountains of laughs…to a brother-in-law…

…who’s always been…like my brother…

………hugmamma.

round and round we go…

Linguine dish

Linguine dish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever since my physician diagnosed me as being pre-diabetic, hubby and I have been exorcising “white” carbs from our diet…pastas, rice, breads. For the most part, that is. We did have linguine when we dined out the other night. I had asked if the restaurant served whole grain. As expected, the answer was a resounding…no. Well, I tried.

We are making progress at home, however. Neither white rice nor white bread passes our lips.

Tonight begins the third week we’ve been walking laps at the local community center. Within 30-40 minutes we’ve been able to walk 2 miles. Although I attend morning exercise class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I still accompany my husband in the evenings so that he gets a workout as well.

If we maintain our diet and exercise regimen for a month, according to experts, we’ll be on our way to changing our lifestyle permanently. I guess that’s the minimum amount of time needed to rewire our brains.

We’re determined to stick with the program in order to combat genetics and aging. It’s now or never…sooner rather than later…and doing nothing is not an option. 

Tonight there was a sweet moment in our sugar-free, kick-butt program…

…we held hands…as we walked 23 laps around the track…

………hugmamma.   😉

on a mission to clean up the “mess”

Straying from a somewhat healthy regimen the last couple of months had me ending up a mess, literally. While my daughter retained some semblance of her usual diet, I threw caution to the wind and gorged. It didn’t happen overnight; it never does. And it didn’t sneak up on me, not really. My hand and my mouth became best buds. My hand kept shoveling tasty morsels into my open mouth, which just couldn’t seem to get enough. I think Halloween, with its usual tempting delights, got me started, and I never looked back. Beware that first delectable bite! Needless to say, I’m on a mission! 

“Cervical thoracic strain” (doctor’s words), combined with heartburn, had me laying awake a couple of nights several weeks ago wondering if I was in the throes of a heart attack. After spending a restless night analyzing my symptoms, I got the first available appointment with a doctor the following afternoon. Suspecting I might be experiencing muscle pain, I saw my chiropractor first. Her adjustment provided some relief, so that when I saw the internist I had already surmised  that chronic pain was the real culprit. An EKG,  performed just to be sure, corroborated my diagnosis. A much-needed massage a few days later, brought almost complete relief. It loosened up all the tight muscles in my neck, shoulders and back, that had probably been creeping upwards for months, as a reaction to internalized stress over my daughter’s situation, and the holiday crush. I’ve a physical therapy appointment next week. I’m hoping it’ll work out the few remaining aches and pains.

Prilosec works well to resolve my intermittent heartburn. I’ve a few days left of that regimen. But just when one set of issues was minimized, another came calling. Let’s just say it had to do with my “plumbing.” Seniors will know what I’m talking about. Younger folk, like my daughter, would say “TMI! TMI!” All I’ll say is it’s no fun seeking medical help from an ER doctor. Been there, done that, don’t ever want to do that again. Uh, uh, no way.

So while I was recovering from that bad experience, I caught my husband’s cold, and couldn’t stop hacking my head off, coughing and coughing, relentlessly. More sleepless nights until yesterday, when I finally drove myself to a walk-in clinic. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic for a sinus infection, an ailment I suffered annually in the past, but which I’ve not had for a couple of years. Because drugs are hard on the liver, I prefer not to take antibiotics. But it already seems to be working its magic, for my coughing has lessened considerably. As with all things, moderation is the key, and everything has its time and place. Although, the drug I’m taking has also done a number on my “plumbing,” in the other direction. Okay, okay. TMI! TMI!

I’m reading several books concurrently, one of which is “Healthy Aging – A Lifelong Guide to Your Well-Being,” by Andrew Weil, M.D. On page 1 of its introduction, Dr. Weil says something with which I fully agree. 

 In 2002, I turned sixty. To help celebrate the occasion, friends organized a surprise party for me. After the festivities, there came a time to reflect, and when I did I came to an uncomfortable conclusion: I am closer to a time when my energy and powers will diminish, when I will lose my independence. Sixty is about the time that organs of the body begin gradually to fail, when the first hints of age-related disease begin to appear.

I hardly notice my aging on a day-to-day basis. When I look in the mirror in the morning, my face and white beard seem the same as the day before. But in photographs of myself from the 1970s, my beard is completely black. Looking at old photographs, I can’t help but notice the physical change that has taken place in the course of thirty years. If I pay attention, I can notice other changes in my body: more aches and pains, less resilience in meeting the challenges of traveling, less vigor on occasion. And my memory may not be quite what it used to be. At the same time, despite the evidence, some part of me feels unchanged, in fact feels the same as when I was six. Almost everyone I talk to about aging reports similar experiences.

It’s true, all true. You’re invited to continue journeying with me through the aging process. Perhaps it’ll give you a heads up when your time comes, or maybe you’ll nod your head in recognition of an experience or two that “rings a bell.”

for aging gracefully, huge hugs…and a mountain of effort…hugmamma.