Friday, January 2, 2009

My Daily Doses

I subscribe to a daily inspirational email that offers. The following came to my inbox a couple of days ago:

Daily Dose

Tevet 4, 5769 · December 31, 2008

By Tzvi Freeman

Beginnings are hard. For good reason. If they were easy, we would prowl into each new venture like a snug fat cat.

When you begin pent up in an iron cage, a tiger comes out. A tiger that breaks through the door of its cage and pounces with a vengeance.

Bless those cages, those impossible brick walls, those rivers of fire that lie at the outset of each worthwhile journey. Without them we would be only as powerful as we appear.

So of course I thought of my beginning with this chemo journey...and how it has made me even more powerful than I thought I could be. The river of fire I had to walk through was that first round of chemo and the hospital visit and then the 2nd round's neutrapenia. The continual diet challenges were strengthening too and have forced me to figure out a diet I've never been on before.

With my migraine challenges over the past 18 years, I've tried lots of diets that eliminated lots of things. But never have I eliminated meat, fish and chicken. But since the hospital, my colon does best with beans and rice and tofu. So I figured that out. No dairy, eggs, raw veggies, sugar, wheat...

Last night's brown rice, lentils, zucchini and carrots with a tiny bit of curry powder left my colon silent. My regular condiments are bragg and tamari. I found a tofu made of sprouted soy beans. My snacks are edamame and rice cakes. My treat is rice macaroni, tofu and zucchini with butter and a bit of salt. My other treats are papaya and pears. I've got a rice and millet cereal I eat with a bit of banana and unsweetened vanilla soymilk. I've smashed up white beans and added tamari and bragg and sometimes defrosted frozen spinach or artichoke and used that as a dip with rice crackers.

When I was 30 and working for a psychiatrist who specialized in eating disorders, I got my first migraine on the 405 driving from home in Hermosa Beach to the hospital where I led a group on the eating disorders unit. That was the beginning of my decision to open up my own office closer to home in the hopes that one day I'd have children and not have to commute. Unfortunately, not having a commute didn't stop the migraines.

Why am I writing about this? Because I've been on so many healing journeys before this one due to the migraines. My dad has them and so does my sister. At first I used caffergot which stopped them but made me depressed. Then when I had a miscarriage before my first child was born, I went into a big depression and resorted to Zoloft which I discovered actually took a migraine away! But I wanted to get pregnant again and heaven forbid taking any toxic chemicals while pregnant or breastfeeding.

So that led me to a strict natural search for migraine elimination. I tried many diets through the years, lots of chiropractors, acupuncturists, homeopaths, supplements, meditation, prayer, psychotherapy. They all helped a little bit, but left me mostly suffering. I would get them on a weekly basis if not more often and would suffer using "natural" means and get in bed sometimes for a day or three.

It's kind of tragic that much later when I began researching post partum depression, I discovered that zoloft was totally compatible with breast-feeding and prozac has been ok during pregnancy. That's not to say that I would have risked it, knowing where my mind was at at the time, (and they hadn't validated it's safety back then) but it was sort of meaningful to me when I discovered this remembering that zoloft helped my migraines. Especially since I was adamantly and righteously against anything toxic and chemical for so long and allowed myself to suffer needlessly (along with my family). Luckily about 5 years ago I finally got myself some Immitrex and about 2 years ago I finally started trying out different SSRI's for help with migraine prevention. Celexa has been working well and also helps me with sleep.

So here I am today, a reformed Holistic Nazi, taking daily meds and allowing the most toxic of all chemicals to be inserted through my port (which I think leads to a vein going directly to my heart-yikes!) and have had to endure so much radiation to let the docs diagnose me. I have to continually remind myself that as my good friend who's a cancer survivor told me over and over: chemo is my friend. It may be that when I stopped taking my (favorite natural supplements) Ambrotose and Plus a few years ago that these bad cells did proliferate. But I also continually remind myself that my answer right now is in complementary medicine and not in alternatives.

So please don't offer me any alternatives. I've been down the alternative road so many times before with my migraines that I know that it is a road of suffering for me. I am happily now combining the two: natural and toxic to good result and am happy I went through the hell I did in the beginning of both of my major healing journeys in this lifetime because it has helped me to know that the balance between natural and toxic is where I need to be. I can't let go of either. I need both of my daily doses right now.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Immune System Recovering

I got a blood test today to check on my neutrapenia. Here are my results for the important counts by date - before chemo, a week after, and today:

White Blood Cell(K/uL)
Standard Range 4.0-11.0 K/uL
12/16-before 6.5
12/23-after 0.9
12/29-today 2.4

Standard Range 150-400 K/uL
12/16-before: 266
12/23-after 102
12/29-today 181

Standard Range 2.0-8.0 K/uL
12/16-before 4.1
12/23-after 0.5
12/29-today 0.9

So according to my oncologist, I'm out of the danger zone and he expects my counts to be normal by my next chemo date next week (Wednesday). I will get a blood test the day before the next chemo as well. But even though they're still low, my doc says, "If you have any New Year's plans, don't stop yourself..." (Oh sure.)

My tummy's still telling me my immune system is low, so I'm still on the antibiotics. Luckily the dietitian I went to see told me about these probiotics that don't get wiped out by the antibiotics. They are called, "Florastor" and can be found over the counter at the SC Medical pharmacies. I know that they work because I've stopped being nauseous from the antibiotics.

Any other probiotics I tried from the health food stores would work for me only sporadically since I am taking these antibiotics throughout the day. So let's hope that in the next week or so before I get chemo-d again, my tummy finally heals.

I want to write about my diet sometime later when I feel the energy for it. I have a very limited diet right now but am figuring out slowly what I can and can't eat and maybe one of these days I'll be able to hand off some recipes to all those of you who've been dying to cook for me. As it is, I can only figure out easy to make dishes anyway so I can make them myself. Plus, I am so finicky that I can't really plan anything ahead of time and have to wait for the hour before I'm ready to eat. If I don't, I usually end up chucking whatever I've made. I read a cancer recovery cookbook that reassures the support people that this is a normal thing and that they shouldn't be offended!