THURSDAY, MAY 10, 2012

Living the first year with cancer

It’s been over a year since I was diagnosed with stage four carcinoid cancer. So far the lesions in my liver have been stable. By that I mean that no new growths have been detected nor have the existing lesions changed. All my doctors tell me to keep doing what I have been doing, with one exception.

I still need to lose fifty pounds. For one day, not too long ago, I was almost under 200 pounds. I swear that I saw 199.9 on the laundry room scale. But the next day that 200 mark was there — again. Sigh … . I probably rejoiced in my old fashioned way by celebrating with food. I’m not sure what happened, but the next day I was back to 200. That depressed me and before I knew it I was back up to 210. Sigh … . Now I’m back to 200. One day at a time.

I do remember feeling like I was losing myself by being thinner. I was losing myself. Even though I have fifty pounds to go, thirty-eight pounds have already disappeared.. My clothes are way too big, they’re baggy and I’m constantly pulling them up. Yet I refuse to go buy new ones. After all, I still work in my beloved barns. Suspenders  for my barn jeans would be just fine. And I enjoy wearing slightly loose clothing when we go out.

Other than losing weight, life pretty much goes on as before. Well except for the massive eating changes. My husband and I no longer eat processed foods. Gone are the hamburgers, frozen dinners, frozen pizza, processed meats, and bottled dressings. Yep, he’s still losing weight, too. He won’t tell me how much (He’d better not.) but his clothes are loose, too. Gone are the carbonated drinks and I don’t miss them one bit. Filtered ice water is delicious, as is Gatorade, 100 percent fruit juice, Ensure and green teas. Nope, lost my taste for coffee during my hospital stay. What they serve was not coffee; not the way I make it anyway. Then when I got home, I just didn’t want it any more. Sigh … .

I did start a garden. By starting a garden, I mean I am building it. The location is on a slight hill so I decided to build raised gardens. So far I have four 4 x 8 plots. Each one of those four had to be leveled, front-to-back and side-to-side. My handy cultivator helped me dig out some areas while building up other corners. Neighboring rocks and a few bricks helped level some spaces.. Getting those hummers level was a job but they look terrific and will forever get full sun.

I used a compass to make sure they were dead-on facing north and south; and, a level to make sure they were level in all directions. Being anally-retentive in some areas is OK. It was kind of fun. But I drew the line when it came to leveling the aisles. They’re four feet wide but have a slight slope to them. Perfect. As long as a wheelbarrow fits between them, I’m happy.

Speaking of compasses, the bees are facing south-east — perfectly. They get the morning sun to help them wake up and get beeeeeeezy. We should have honey in the fall and beeswax for making candles.

So, when I say I’ve built a garden, that’s really just the beginning. Now I’m studying more about the seasons, the stars and when to plant or weed, and companion planting; learning which plants do well next to each other. There is so much to learn. And while reading about those topics I learned something else new — row hedging. As I understand it, row hedging is collection of plants that attracts beneficial bugs. No, there is no end to learning. Perfect.

Bob and I eat more fresh lettuce than ever before. I just walk to the garden and harvest a head of lettuce around supper time. Any non-beneficial worms I find on the plants go to the chickens on the way to the house. Naturally, the weeds go to the goats. They watch every move I make when in the garden. Expecting morsels that I pull from the vegetable plots.

Bob and I will be glad when the broccoli is ready and a few tomatoes are starting to grow.Speaking of which, that reminds me. The two tomato plants in containers near the front door that aren’t doing so well so I’ll plant some garlic with them by the end of this day. It rained yesterday so the soil will be nice and soft.

Did I mention that I used five-year-old compost as the foundation for my garden beds. Aged complete with hundreds of worms is magic soil that comes from our Poop Mountain. Thanks to our goats and horses, we will have an endless supply of this black gold.

Keep Smiling.