Enough

Do we ever have enough? Enough information, enough money, enough stuff. It seems to me that we are ambushed with too much information, at least I know I am. Everybody has an opinion. On my journey towards healing I am overwhelmed with all the different and opposing information. I think I am ready to take on some challenges but its hard to know which way to go. So I guess I have to follow my intuition and do what feels right to me.

First of all I am a strong believer in good nutrition. It is the basis for all health. I am a cook. I eat whole, real, not processed food and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I buy organic and local whenever I can.  I try to not eat too much sugar, that is my weakness, some say sugar feeds cancer, my oncologist says no. I almost never eat fast food. I don’t drink sodas. I try to drink plenty of filtered water. I have done lots of research on nutrition. I have been on every diet under the sun. I was even a vegetarian for awhile. And until I got my cancer diagnosis I was healthy and fit despite being overweight. I easily did 10,000 steps a day and was always active. Low blood pressure and no signs of diabetes or anything like that. I have some friends that are very strict with their diets and they seem to be sickly. Their skin doesn’t look good and they seem frail. They are always having stomach and digestive issues. They just don’t seem happy.

One of my friends told me the other day they are not going to eat out anymore because it causes them too much digestive trouble. What a shame, you can make good choices at restaurants and it is part of going out and socializing, part of the human experience. If your body is kicking back clear broth maybe you need to do something different. I have another friend who was a little crazy about what she ate, all organic, glass bottled water, no meat, etc.etc. until I found her wolfing down a hamburger one day. And another that did the whole gluten free thing for a year. She described it as the worst year of her life. Too much stress! I think we have put so much stress and emotional guilt around eating that it is almost impossible to relax, eat,  and enjoy a good meal. I don’t think it’s worth it. The information changes all the time. I think we all start out with good intentions but I think you can take anything too far. Too much of a good thing. An example is some people that do animal rescue, a wonderful thing, until they get too many and become animal hoarders that can’t possibly take care of all they have taken on.

I am a foodie and food and eating and entertaining is such a huge part of our life. I want to enjoy my life. I want to experience delicious food. I want to embrace health. I just can’t imagine restricting myself to the point of misery. So I am going to eat real food, in small amounts and move around more. For now, that’s all I can do. It will have to be enough.

Just a little update

Yesterday I had to go to get my blood work done and have my port flushed. It is always a yucky reminder of my illness, this cancer thing hanging over my head, ugh! I really try to focus on the positive and how lucky I am. My blood work looked great! Gets better every time I have it checked. But every month there is a little apprehension leading up to my appointment. I am feeling better but, I hope everything is ok, I hope the tumor markers are staying low, etc. I think this will all get easier as time goes by. Everything was good yesterday!

I am feeling stronger all the time, mentally as well as physically. Sometimes I am amazed at how far I have come and other times I am disappointed that I am not 100% yet. I know these things take time. Cancer is rough. Chemotherapy is tough. It is all very hard on your body. I am having trouble with entire body aches and pains in my muscles and bones. And the hot flashes and night sweats SUCK, especially in this heat of Florida that I live in. These are side effects from the medication I have to take. I could go on and on about how all this sucks. I could sit back and whine and complain all the time. I could accept this as my new normal. I could get on disability. NOPE!!! Not me! I will never give in. I think you create your own reality and I am not going down without a fight!

Somedays its hard to get out of bed, but I find that I get better with movement. As always I am taking it upon myself to make the best of my situation. So I am trying to exercise every day. I am back to my mile long walks with the dogs, yay! And on days I don’t get to do that, I am practicing Tai Chi. I can go a little further all the time! Soon I think I will be adding some weight lifting back in to regain some muscle that I have lost. And I am hoping that by the fall, when it cools down a little outside,  to get back in the saddle again. So I know I am getting better. I am trying to support my body in any way that I can to help with my healing process. First and foremost I try to have a good positive attitude. Somedays this is easier said than done! Second I try to eat healthy nutritious food. Don’t get me wrong I indulge sometimes, thats just part of enjoying life, which is very important! I do take supplements.  A good whole food multivitamin, just because. Iron to help support my blood, I still can’t believe how anemic I was. Vitamin K

to help support calcium absorption. Calcium to counteract the Xgeeva injections. Vitamin E to help with this painful burning neuropathy in my thigh. I am also taking Turkey Tail mushroom, there are lots of studies being done on this right now for fighting cancer. And I just found out about Lions Mane mushroom for nerve pain, I just ordered some! I will let you know how it works out.

Here’s to a healing journey! Listen to your body, support it and help it heal!

Reminisce

Hope you don’t mind, but today I feel like looking back. As progressive and free thinking as I like to think of myself, I love tradition and nostalgia. I think its important to remember the past as we move forward. As I was walking the other morning (walking is the best thinking time for me) I was thinking about, of all things, Martha Stewart. I remember my mother watching the Martha Stewart show and then subscribing to those beautiful glossy magazines, Martha Stewart Living. The photography was amazing, the content and layout were always tastefully done. Martha could make folding laundry look good! I loved the calendars and the “do you know?” pages. Even the advertisements were beautiful. Oh and don’t get me started on the Halloween issues, I think I have collected every single one! I felt like I could just fall into one of those magazines and live there forever! She seemed so organized and well put together. Was there anything Martha couldn’t do? Martha came across as a stern and no nonsense kinda lady, so I think she got a bad wrap. But no matter what you think about Martha, snobby, classy, bitchy,  or scandalous. She kinda made being a housewife cool, maybe she made it a little more glamorous.

I have never liked that term, housewife. I am not married to my house. I don’t want to be thought of as so and so’s wife. The word made me cringe. It implies that you stay home toiling away at chores or sit on the couch eating bon bons and watching soap operas all day! Neither one sounds very good. It sounds like, “Oh so you don’t work?” Now a days everyone should be working, right? I am beginning to believe that spending time taking care of your family is one of the most important jobs you can have. My Mom was a housewife and she loved it. She enjoyed baking and cooking and creating marvelous holidays for us. I am a strong independent woman, I have always made my own way. I have always worked unconventional jobs, training horses, running a riding school, cooking, and painting, all heavily steeped in tradition. I am very passionate about the things that I do. As I am recovering from my cancer I am embracing being a bit of a housewife. I enjoy doing all those amazing things I saw Martha and my mother do. I love cooking and baking and gardening. I enjoy taking care of my pets and making sure everyone is happy and healthy. I like

making my house comfortable and welcoming to my family and all who may visit. I love sharing good food and creating wonderful memories. I am so grateful that I am allowed this time to stop and smell the roses, to really connect with nature. I am on a healing journey right now and I am enjoying my peaceful little place.  I’m pretty sure I will never be the home diva that Martha Stewart is but I am working on creating a little haven of my own!  So maybe, just maybe…it’s a good thing!

Underground to Outer Space cont.

After lunch with Juan B. Santiago we head to Arecibo. Arecibo is located in the northern coastal plain region extending inland into the Karst region. Crazy little winding roads, cows and countryside. We see lots of strange little hills, called haystacks. We drive through colorful little neighborhoods. Up and down hills. We are headed to the Arecibo Observatory.

This is one time I let Jerry pull the cancer card for me. He tells the guy at the gate that I have some trouble walking, it was a super steep walk up the side of a hill. A car comes around and drives us up. I’m grateful, that would have been a tough walk! The Arecibo telescope is the second largest radio telescope in the world. It is located on 20 acres. It was built in the 1960’s by William Gordon. This radio wave antenna studies the properties of planets, comets, and asteroids. The reflector dish is 1000ft in diameter and 167ft deep. The receiving antenna is supported by large cables attached to three gigantic towers. It weighs 900 tons! Needless to say, it is huge! It looks like something from outer space. It was in the 007 movie, Golden Eye and more recently in the movie, Contact.

While we are here the sky looks ominous. It is the perfect back drop for pictures. And the receiver starts to move, it slowly rotates around! I don’t think everyone gets to actually see it move! Scott is amazed, he says,” It is an unbelievable feat of engineering!” I agree. I’m not that much into engineering but to think this thing was dreamt up in the 1950’s and is still the most sensitive radio telescope in the world, still being used today is amazing to me.

Another absolutely great day in the books! I will sleep well tonight! Unfortunatly, tomorrow we are heading home. Thank you Puerto Rico for the rich and wonderful adventures.

“If you dream, have big dreams and have talented supporters to help you.” William Gordon

Underground to Outerspace

This morning I wake up pretty sore and achey but after yesterdays adventures I am feeling confident. Yesterday was quiet a challenge! Today we are headed for more. Our first stop is the Camuy Caves. A huge limestone cave system carved out by the Rio Camuy, the worlds third largest subterranean river. As we head through the park gates a few people give us some flyers for a couple of nearby restaurants, interesting but effective marketing! Since I’m sure we will be hungry when we are finished exploring these caves.

Thankfully, a tram takes us down to the opening of the cave. It’s huge! Again we are walking on a very slippery damp cement path. There are some rails which you really don’t want to touch because they have guano (bat poo) on them. Just as our guide says, “Be very careful, the path can be slippery.” Jerry goes down, oh no! He was my support, the person I grab onto if I feel unsteady! Apparently the sneakers he wore do not like the cave floor at all, he is slipping and sliding everywhere! My boots seem to be ok. When it gets steep I grab Scott for a little support. We navigate pretty well. Although Jerry is slipping, he doesn’t go down again. The caves are beautiful. Large stalactites (hang down from the ceiling) and stalagmites (grow up from the floor) they are everywhere. There is a gigantic stalagmite 17 feet tall and 27 feet in diameter. Strange shapes and shadows are around every corner, an indian, a witch. Looking ahead out of one of the cave openings I see what looks like gold shimmering or maybe fireflies floating to the ground. It is beautiful, mesmerizing. Our guide says it is leaves falling from the top of a sinkhole and the sunlight is catching them just right. It is amazing. I wonder what life for the Taino Indians, the first Puerto Rican inhabitants, must have been like? We see bats, there are thirteen species of bats in this cave. They are much larger than our Florida bats, about a 12″ wingspan. They are sleeping now. I can’t imagine what this place looks like when they are all flying out for the evening!

We finish our tour and I am feeling strong. I had no problems with the slippery, treacherous walk. As I anticipated, we are hungry. I grab the restaurant flyers and we start driving. We pass on the first one and pull into the next, El Taino Restaurante. A handsome white haired gentleman greets us at the door. “Hello, welcome!” he warmly shakes our hands. He introduces himself as Juan B. Santiago. He shows us his biceps and we realize he is in very good shape for a 77 year old man. He tells us he goes to the gym everyday and he only eats when he is hungry. He reminds me of Jack La Lane. He owns the restaurant, his family works there. He is quiet a character, he seats us and sits down with us. He tells us all about his life and shows us pictures of him at all different ages, that are hung around the restaurant. We order our food. I have a seafood salad with fried plantains, Jerry had a crusted grouper, and Scott had a shrimp stew or something. It was all delicious but the entertainment was better! Mr. Santiago was a pleasure. He sang us old american classics from the 1950’s. He was very well spoken and said he loved words. We enjoyed talking with him very much. As we were about to leave he gave us a warm embrace and a lovely napkin holder portraying a scene from Old Puerto Rico. It was pouring down rain outside, he grabbed an umbrella and walked Scott to the car so he could drive around and pick Jerry and I up from the door. What a lovely gentleman! To be continued…

I Did It!

Today we are headed to the rain forest. I am so excited! We are hiking Big Tree Trail through a rain forest to a waterfall. The drive is amazing. There is beauty everywhere you look. At home I have been walking more, started taking my dogs on hikes down the road again and doing some Tai Chi to build some muscle strength. Trying to get back in shape, it is an excruciatingly slow process, but I am getting stronger everyday! I feel confident. On the way to the trail there is a truck on the side of the road selling coco frio! I have been wanting to taste one of these coconut drinks. We stop and get one. They chop this coconut with a machete right there in front of you. Stick a straw in it and hand it to you, can’t get any fresher than that! It is delicious cold and refreshing!

So here we are, in the El Yunque rainforest, at the top of Big Tree Trail! The trail is a narrow winding cement path. It is considered a moderately difficult trail. There is a 160 foot drop in elevation on this hike. I feel good! I am hiking in a magnificent rainforest! I couldn’t have done this at all a few short months ago! We march on. There are no large animals because everything thats here had to swim or fly in. Thankfully, for Scott, there are no poisonous snakes either! We see amazing trees and bamboo. There are orchids, ferns, big snails, and large rocks everywhere. The vegetation on this island is amazing. It kinda looks like nature is in a battle with civilization and nature is winning! I’m surprised that we don’t see more birds? The path is steep in some parts. My legs start to burn. It feels ok, I can do this! The path meanders around trees and small waterfalls and creeks. We take our time. Going down the steep wet inclines I hang on to Jerry, just in case.

I start thinking about my oncologist and how crazy she already thinks I am. I can’t wait to show her pictures of me hiking! I am really starting to get tired, my legs are getting weak. I am starting to worry. People are coming back up and telling us that it’s not much further, they must see the distress on my face. I think I can make it? I am worried that I won’t make it all the way there and back out! Up ahead is a bench. We sit down for a few minutes and I figure that I have come this far, I am not turning back now. I am gonna see this waterfall if it kills me! About 10 minutes more and we are there! LaMena waterfall! It is beautiful! Unfortunately, there are tons of people. The ground is so rocky there is no where to sit down and rest for a minute.  My legs are so weak at this point that there is no way I can navigate all these rocks to get into the actual waterfall. I find a place to prop my butt and rest my legs a little. It is beautiful, despite all the people. I am so happy I made it. I feel empowered that I didn’t give up. It is the most physically challenging thing I have done since I have been sick, and my body didn’t let me down!

We are amazed at how rocky this area is. Jerry wades into the water which is pretty cold and refreshing and Scott heads further up the trail to see the view from the top. I am pleased to just rest on this rock, relish in the fact that I was able to do this, and take in all the beauty around me. It was a test alright and I almost gave up. But, I did it! Four and a half months post chemo. We take some pictures, gather our things and head back out. The hike out, that had me worried, seems easy, I can do this! I am just so proud of myself that nothing can stop me!

We head back out of the forest. On the way is this little restaurant/ souvenir shop. Right in front is a huge hole in the asphalt. I have to wonder if they don’t leave it there on purpose, so you have to slow down? We sample the offerings, shish kabobs, fish tacos, chicken tacos, fried plantains, and tamarind. The shish kabobs where delish, I really liked the fish tacos too. They didn’t look like tacos at all, more like a bread stick stuffed with fish. And the tamarind drink was sweet and smooth, yummy.

After our late lunch and exhausting hike we headed to Playa Fortuna beach. It was almost sunset the ocean was a perfect temperature. A wonderful and relaxing way to finish our wonderful day. Live while you live!

 

 

Just Wandering

Today Scott and I are on our own, Jerry has to work. We have no car so we wander around checking things out withinin walking distance. We are looking for a nearby beach. We find a beautiful little marina, we find a little park. Remember I still have a lot of weakness in my legs so we can’t walk too far. The sky is looking ominous. We better head back, never find the beach.

We head back to the Metro and play some penny slots at the casino. I was playing with a $10 voucher the hotel gave me. At one point I was up $16! Then I quickly lost it all. I don’t think I’m cut out for gambling! It’s lunch time now so we head back to the Metro. We found our friend Linda there. She talks us into trying the croquetas, delicious little ham filled pastries(not really a pastry) more of a doughy fried treat. I have mofongo de pollo with mushroom sauce, it is like mashed plantains and cassava stuffed with chicken, very good indeed. Scott had the can can pork, this is a huge pork chop, the fat is left on and cooked to a crispy deliciousness! This food is very good but I am surprised that with all the abundant vegetation here, the cuisine is not bursting full of fresh tropical fruits and vegetables. Linda orders spaghetti, what!? Why would you order spaghetti in Puerto Rico? Interestingly enough Linda travels quite a bit and explains how she likes to order spaghetti in different places because you can get it just about anywhere and it always has a local twist and flavor to it. Turns out she was right, her spaghetti came with a light brown sauce and it had potatoes in it. More like a stew on pasta than the traditional Spaghetti and meatballs I grew up with. In the future I might have to try this. As for now I enjoy finding Puerto Rican foods that I am unfamiliar with.

We are still pretty tired so we spend the rest of the day hanging out by the pool, swimming and relaxing. The next few days are jam packed with adventure. So we better rest up!