In many respects, the past 7 months have felt like hell on wheels. Since the November 27th ER visit, appendectomy, LAMN diagnosis, and 6 months of watch and wait, I’ve learned that I’m free and clear. Translation, the tumor was surgically removed in November, and there’s no sign of the mucin that had migrated outside my appendix anywhere in my perinoteal cavity. Watch and wait is over.
When I received the news yesterday, I couldn’t process it. It felt too good to be true. It was also confusing because my body has experienced ongoing pain since 5 days post-surgery. Always on my right side. Usually dull and pulsating, sometimes stabbing so hard it takes my breath away. It’s lessened over time, but is still present. I’d assumed there’d be post-surgical adhesions, or invasive mucin, or something. But, no. My innards look clear and symmetrical and just as they should be. Minus the pain, it’s excellent news.
Yesterday, I felt disbelief. And robotic. Letting everyone know and yet faking my joy to meet theirs. I was numb.
This morning, in my car on the way to work, I wept. I wept with thanksgiving. With joy. With hope for a better coming semester. With relief. True relief.
Later, as I felt the pulsing pain in my side, I realized that there is still something off, but that allopathic medicine hasn’t figured it out. So I have to. I have find a different solution. I’ve already begun seeing a chiropractor who works with a holistic lens, and a nutritional wellness practitioner. With the two of them, I’ve identified that a mostly vegetarian diet replete with whole foods is a beginning nutritional plan. If I eat meat, I should be having organic chicken. I’ve a few supplements to take to help with the depression and fatigue: Ovega-3 (vegan omega-3s), Antronex to help detox my liver, sesame oil as an anti-inflammatory, and my regular Vitamin-D3 (thank you lacking thyroid) and multi-vitamins. The principles of this care are rooted in both Ayurvedic medicine and nutrition response testing. I have to believe they’ll help. On my return home from DC, I’m also going to look for an acupuncturist to join the team. It is time to properly take care of me.
This week I’ve been cooking instead of eating out or skipping meals. I’m reminded of how much I enjoyed making vegetarian meals with my ex-wife. She regularly read the Cooking Light and trawled for recipes; she cooked fresh foods multiple times each week. I became vegetarian after my first cancer, somewhat because H was vegetarian and loved to share leftovers, and also because eating vegetarian made me feel better. More energetic. I remained vegetarian for five years.
I don’t expect I’ll be vegetarian overnight. And, I don’t think I need to be – at least right now. The first priority is introducing and keeping whole foods in my life. Cooking regularly. Eating at normal times. I know it’ll be difficult to keep cooking and eating healthily when I’m living solo, but I want to give me my best chance at living well.
This week I’ve made Korrie rotisserie chicken and rosemary steamed potatoes with green beans. For me, I made an adaptation of one of my favorite vegetarian recipes, Vietnamese lettuce rolls with spicy grilled tofu. I substituted tempeh for tofu, slivered almonds for chopped peanuts, and mixed baby lettuces with pea shoots for the romaine lettuce. In the morning, I’ll have sweet potato hash with eggs and uncured bacon. Tomorrow night, I’m making crispy sesame tofu with green onions, brown rice, and broccoli.
Expect that you’ll see more recipes coming from this page. Likely some kvetching about balancing school and cooking and self-care and time. But this is my life. My post-cancer (x2) PhD life. I’m free and clear, but I know that this healing is not linear. Still, I’m going to help healing along the best I can.
Art by FrizzKid, aka Hana Shafi. Find them on Twitter @hanashafi!