Tuesday, 27 December 2011

A gluten-free Christmas

This time last year we had one foot in the paleo camp and another in the we-eat-anything camp. We indulged in donuts and then vowed that we wouldn't do that again until Christmas 2011. Well, that lasted until the weekend of our fifth wedding anniversary (mid Feb 2011). We had spent a night at the Treasury Casino and found it necessary to walk to the Krispy Kreme three times! Yes, I'd say we had an addiction. The third time we were there the worker gave us a free coffee. Anyway, we made a another vow not do those gluten-filled treats until Christmas 2011.

We have come a long way. The thought of eating donuts now is far too distressing. So, our off-roading this Christmas has been limited to indulgences of sugar, dairy and products that are gluten-free.

On Christmas eve we visited the husband's parents. There we found a full box of chocolates. Wow! The allure of dairy milk was so great. Since paleo, I have stopped eating chocolate. Let's face it, 85% chocolate just doesn't have it. We ate, we enjoyed and then we stopped. That was the beginning of our food mis-adventure.

Christmas day saw us moving from house to house. For breakfast we enjoyed a cooked meal with friends. We were very good.

Lunch was with my mum. She was very accommodating of our family's food needs and went gluten-free for us. This meant that we could have the pudding. Yum! Back in the day, gluten-free products were so second rate. It seems, though that the gluten-free scene is much improved these days. Apart from the pudding being crumbly, it seriously did not lack in taste. I also enjoyed some ice-cream for dessert. Yes, it tasted just as good as I remembered. I ate in moderation and I felt absolutely ok with my less than strict food choices for lunch.

When dinner came around, with the husband's family, I think I had become more conscious of the fact that I wasn't likely to be enjoying such treats for a while. So, I scooped up a handful of chocolates, ate gluten-free pudding with brandy custard and then had a few more scoops of chocolate. Of course, I ate a pretty awesome Christmas meal.

The following day began very well. It was back to good eating. But then, we thought that it was absolutely appropriate to do ice-cream. We stopped at Baskin and Robbins in the evening. Our hand was forced there unfortunately; they were doing a deal. A double scooper earned a free kids ice-cream. Pomegranate and rum raisin for me thanks. Totally enjoyed it! Then, just before we settled in to watch a movie I enjoyed my last treat. A cup of rooibos with a gluten-free mince pie. That was that.

Today is my first paleo day. My deprived life begins. Nah, seriously, it's pretty easy. If I thought not wanting cancer was good motivation for doing this then actually getting cancer (and not wanting it to return) is a sure way to keep me on the right eating track.

I'll have one more bender new year's eve and then I'm going to kick off 2012 doing Whole30. We have some more recipes in our repertoire so I hope to share them too.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

I found a lump today

I have a sore lump in my right arm pit. I had noticed it a few days ago, but I really thought nothing of it. It was only yesterday though, that I realised that the lump could possibly be sinister. So, I decided to make a doctor's appointment. Of course, I googled my symptoms. My five minute search came up with nothing particularly interesting. I already understood that it could be a sign of cancer in the lymph node, but the pain also lead me to believe that it could be an infected lymph node. And then, there was also the chance that it was simply some fluid building up; the heat had certainly brought on a heavy work load for my lymph nodes to cope with.

My GP was not in. But, I secured an appointment with another doctor that I believed would provide good care. He made the usual comment about me being so young to have such a diagnosis, pushed way too hard on the sensitive lump and then decided to refer me to have an ultrasound.

As I drove home, I was thinking about all the stuff that I had decided to do in order to prevent any likely return of cancer. Was it all in vain? Is it really possible to keep this disease from visiting again? If this was cancer, would I continue the lifestyle changes that our family had made? The answer was yes. As if cutting out anything that is unnatural could be a bad thing. So, with that decided, I waited until 9am (the doctor's appointment was at 7am) until I could enquire about a time for my ultrasound.

I rang a few places to make an appointment. I was trying to get in as soon as possible. How lucky was I to get one on the same day at 11.30am? Very. My two cutie pies accompanied me and were quite amused by the whole experience. I was encouraged when the sonographer commented that the ultrasound was showing a build up of fluid. While I was the one who walked out of there with that cold, slimy gel (I thought I had wiped it all off) clinging to my shirt, it was child one and two who got the stickers! They were impressed. But, it was two hours before I would hear what I wanted to hear from the doctor.

Would you believe that child number two (23 months) called out, "Coffee" when they saw a Merlo Coffee sign? I took that as an indication that I needed to have a coffee. After that, the three of us went to the library. We read a funny book, written by a South African (Niki Daly). I found the book so hilarious. It so succinctly captured the South African culture and it even included some funny slang words. Then, it was time to take a slow walk back to the car and get to the second doctor's appointment for the day. I was totally over it all, already.

We waited a half an hour to see the doctor. The appointment only lasted two minutes. As soon as I sat down in the chair the doctor, swung his hands into a clap and, said, "Good news! It's nothing!" I reckon he was as concerned as I was as to what that lump could very well have been. That was it. My little scare was over.

The doctor recommended that I have a break from exercise for a bit, at least to give the lymphatic system a chance to resolve the extra fluid build up. He also said that I needed to give weight training a rest too. Of my own, I have decided to wear the compression stuff in the mornings, just as a precaution.

I was given a script for some antibiotics and next week I will have another appointment to check the lump. But, while it is still tender, I was very happy to hear that it's not one-of-those lumps!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Year That Was

On this day last year, I celebrated my big 3-0. The husband arranged for another two families to join us at Royal Pines Resort for the weekend. Although it rained for most of the weekend, we had a good time. But, I would never have imagined what was in store for me.

In January we did our first, Whole30. We loved it. We became paleo/primal.

February marked our five year anniversary. So, for the first time ever, the husband and I went away, for the night without child one and two, to the Treasury. We had loads of fun. It was such a treat! Any fears I had of being 30 and "so old" were quickly squashed when I was asked for my I.D. as I entered the casino. Bam!

March was the month that I found the lump. It was also the month that I threw my first children's party (for child number one) and it was heaps of fun. I look forward to doing more of them.

You'd think that April 4 would be the day that my world fell apart. Yes, that date is permanently etched in my mind. But, my world didn't fall apart. It certainly changed a great deal. My house was still standing when I returned home from the doctor, my friends and family still loved me and I still woke and went to sleep (although a little less some nights). Life went on. The hospital became my second home as I was there for every test imaginable. Before the month came to a close, the tumour was out.

In May, I celebrated that the cancer hadn't spread. On May 30, I had my first chemo. That was scary.

June, July and August are like a bad dream now. I actually struggle to comprehend what really happened. I'm like a woman who has given birth. I've seen the baby (in my case, good health) and now I can't remember the birth pains (chemo side effects). I am not joking.

By September, I was a week into radiation. That was so easy! I couldn't believe how good I was feeling. And, what was more amazing was that I was getting better and better. I really didn't realise how ill the chemo drugs had actually made me.

When my final radiation came, I was overjoyed. The finish line had always seemed so far away. I was there. It was over. The husband organised a surprise party and I was already able to go public without headgear. Oh yeah. It felt wonderful to be healthy.

In November, I had this urge to shop. It was a strange feeling. Up and until then I hadn't even noticed how I was never interested in going to the shops, walking around and looking at clothes for myself. It really was like I was becoming me again. Does that make sense? For so long, I had been a shell of who I was. I didn't even know it at the time. I couldn't believe that I was still climbing the mountain of good health. Every time I thought I had reached the highest point, I would still find myself feeling even better a week later. I now understand why cancer survivors become so...triumphant? I've experienced the two extremes. Being so so sick just makes healthy absolutely amazing!

Just days before my 31st birthday I lost my big toe nail. Totally gross, I know. And, certainly a topic that would usually make me feel weak. It happened though. Losing fingernails and toe nails are one of the side effects of chemo and I really had imagined that I was well and truly past any of those. Well, my left big toe is without a brightly coloured nail. Great. Around the same time, as the toe nail incident, it occurred to me that I would be returning to work with the short hair do... I must admit that I freaked out a bit. I don't know why, really. Either I just hadn't thought about it or for some reason I had this notion that returning to work would also mean me being all back to "normal". Let's face it, I have a new normal now. And, I've seen some pretty cool, short hairstyles lately so I may try out some on my way to a shoulder length style...

I received a gift each day in the post, for the week of my birthday. Thanks husband. I then had a surprise birthday party with family and friends. That was really cool. Mum even made me a paleo fruit cake (I love fruit cake!). I'll have to post the recipe because it was beautiful!

I don't know what this next year will bring. What challenges will I face? Will I experience failure? Success? I know for sure, like so many have tried to teach me before this year, that I can enjoy every moment. Too much time is carelessly wasted on unnecessary upsets.

It's a little early for a new year resolution, I know, but it's more like a goal for this next year of my life. Here it is: I want to laugh through 2012.