Brain freeze

Can I trust my brain to make the right decision? Or, does it beat a path to least resistance? I think I’ve made good decisions over the past few years. I’ve tried to make the proper ethical, moral choices. In emergency situations, I did act and react with good speed and choice of treatment.

It’s amazing what one can learn when we start to educate ourselves and do not allow for pre-chewed ideas and opinions to cloud our minds.

Although I respect the genius of the cancer cell; it’s clever deception to sneak past the vigilant immune system, I do not want to get comfortable with it. Certain sources suggest that one should make peace with various, chronic illnesses. I feel that if I do this, I’ll become complacent. What with all this respect and mutual admiration, feelings of peace and light I am a complice and co-dependent in my own cell problem. Like a snake charmer who concentrates soley on the snake.

I shook myself free of this warm, fuzzy peace with cancer feeling and declared a serious Tumor Hunt. I have a few sneaky tricks up my sleeve as well to circumvent that tough, little outer wall of the C cell and obliterate it.  So there. This includes different measures at the time being. Holistic measures until I have assimilated all information, main stream medicine as well. It also includes very different culinary tastes.

Starting in the morning, upon rising, I take 3 enzyme tablets. For breakfast, 1 cup cottage cheese with 5 Tbsp Flax seed oil (from Johanna Budwig, German bio chemist who states that this will carry vital oxygen to the cells.) Add 1 tsp ground flax seeds and whip it into a frenzy to combine. To hide the oily-cheesy taste, I add frozen blueberries or other berries and this makes it tolerable and looks like a nice smoothie. It is very, very filling and I have to work to get it all down.

Then, I continue with the ‘Hufeland Clinic’ protocol, plus Tumeric, Curcumin, Vitamins: C-E-and B12, followed by the metals: iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, etc. More recently, added visits to Hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

After 1 hour I continue with juicing. Mostly carrot with apple and add ‘Green Pro’. Foul tasting and looking but filled with important chlorophyllic properties. I take fermented wheat germ which looks like dirt and when you add water/juice, it tastes like sweet mud. Yuk. Have to try hard not to get nauseous. But… this is not business as usual. I am working with everything I have to help myself so as not having to be ‘filet’ and filled with Toxins and poision.

Radiation Oncology Sydney Cancer Center studied 5 year survival rates of 22 types of cancer in the U.S.A and Australia. They studied 154,971 Americans with cancer, age 20 and older that were treated with chemo therapy. Only 3,306 lived to the 5 year mark. Study results: The overall contribution and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5 yr survival in adults was estimated to be 2.3% in Australia and 2.1 % in the U.S.A.

Cancer is a message. It wants to show you that something is running off the tracks in your life. ‘You go ahead”, said the soul to the body “because it’s not listening to me.’ “Alright’, replied the body, I will become ill, then he will have time for me.’  Although how this translates into children, even babies having cancer, I don’t know.

Another study, in Germany: Group A- 389  patients who underwent conventional therapy . (41.38 %)

Group B-patients who denied conventional therapy, including patients that could not be helped w conventional therapy methods. 312 patients (26.7%)

Group C: patients who did not even appear to consult and who’s fate could not be followed: 312 patients (33.0%

After 8 years, group A -only 102 (26.22% patients were alive with conventional therapy.

Group B- after 8 years, 183 were alive (85.11%) these were treated ONLY with Biological Conflict Therapy.

This is part of a treatment used in Germany. Brain scan is used to identify the spot, which highlights where those signals come from ad being sent and then this exact spot is treated with above mentioned thearpy. They also use a whole battery of holistic ingredients. ( Dr. Andreas Puttich, Darmststadt.)

Prof. Dr. Charles Mathe, leading Oncologist and Specialist for Oncology, in Paris, France stated openly: If I were to have cancer, I would not allow myself to be treated in  conventional cancer centers.  Only those cancer patients will have a chance to survive, if they stay away as far as possible. (Scientific Medicines Nouvelles, Paris.)

NOW, can you appreciate my dilemma??

Futile questions

Yesterday, as I was walking, I reflected on the past 3 years. I was wondering, had my symptoms been recognized and not so easily dismissed, would it have made a difference? Instead of scrambling to find a treatment now and looking at so many difficult choices, not to mention extreme financial hardship, could I have had just a nice, peaceful, healthy life?

Three years ago, I had a backache. I ignored it for awhile, then it became worse. I finally went to doc. Told him my right kidney hurt. He couldn’t find anything. Went to another, who diagnosed some calcification in my “tailbone”. Still same pain.  Went to doc again and was referred to surgical center to have a series of shots into my spine. I’ve never felt such pain. But, after one ($1800) shot I did not return. Did not help. I said, my right kidney hurts. I felt I was being passed around like an old shoe.

This went on for 18 mos. Then I had additional bladder pains and frequent bathroom visits. As many as 15x a day. My doc sent me to Urologist. He did a test, inserting the scope without local anesthesia. It hurt so bad I came off the table. His diagnosis was “Interstitial Cystitis”. A chronic disease where bladder membrane is “eaten” away. Medicine cost, per month, $450.00. It was a good thing I could not afford that. Pain persisted. Made my own appointment with a urologist in Grand Junction. They said my bladder was fine and healthy and after (finally) an x-ray, it turned out I had kidney stones. Removed by Lithotripsy as an Outpatient and still $16.000.00

Next. Many different symptoms. Hair falling out, grainy eyes, swallowing difficulty, heart palpitation just to name a few. Doc said, nothing the matter except “old age”. My daughter worked for an oncologist in Alabama who diagnosed a thyroid problem just from these symptoms. I insisted on a test. The doc did agree and then called and said “It’s Normal.” I  said so was my cancer test. (Ovarian, 10 yrs ago. No one listened then either.) Base number is different than what is still used by many doctors. That’s why it shows normal; when it is not. All symptoms disappeared with a small dose.

Next: While in Seattle visiting my son for Christmas, I had a severe cough and spit blood. I thought, it was due to climate change and  harsh cough. Ignored it for the time I was there. Came home and it continued. Upon rising I had so much mucus I was afraid it would strangle me. Scared me.

Back to doc, who listened to my lungs, knocked on the back a few times and said, they sound clear, but did send me across the street, to Ear, Nose and Throat doc to check. He did put a scope down my throat and said I had an increased mucus production. I questioned that, since this had never happened before. I told them that I did not agree with this.  ( I believe this is when my lung tumor started. The cellular change.) When there’s cancer in ones background, would not a test be a good idea? We rely on the medical professionals to advice us.

Meanwhile, I was dealing with Plantars’ Fasciitis, which was hell in itself.

I was dealing with very stressful family issues. My whole body was falling apart.

Next. I was sitting on the couch, watching T.V. when I absentmindedly scratched my armpit. I noticed my lymphnodes were swollen. Well. I didn’t want to run to doc again, since I had the feeling I was thought of as hypochondriac. After a few days though, of increased swelling, I did make appointment. He looked and touched and said it was “barely” noticeable. Sent me to another doc, who said the same. Sent me home.  My CA 125 (cancer blood test) was steadily creeping up.

I FELT that something was wrong and would not be quiet. It was on one of those appointments, when I asked the doc if he ever had someone say that their blood was singing, that he paid attention. Immediate blood test which result was such that he told me to rush to the hospital for another test. Scared the beejeezus out of me, as they were saying that it could be a blood clot, which could kill me. (Thanks for the nice way of telling a patient.) It wasn’t. Then he said, “Well, we’ll just go ahead and do a P.E.T scan so we know once and for all.”  Just to appease me.

I did and that was the beginning of this present nightmare. P.E.T showed 3 tumors. One in abdomen (gone with lifestyle changes, never re-appeared.) Lung tumor, since removed with VATS, and now dealing with this last one.

Now I have Lymphoma stage IV. (is this a Roman 4?) Although I have not have had any of those symptoms. (Swelling has not re-appeared , except once or twice, since I’ve changed lifestyle.)

O.K. I got that off my chest and now I deal with whatever I must but I will have a say in my treatment of it.

Moonwater

I went about my business yesterday while the back of my mind was listening to the ringing of the phone. Somehow I knew it would be ‘Hiob’s’ news. That’s what we call bad news in German. Hiob’s Botschaft. Then, there it was and I knew who it was before I picked up.

In a clinical voice, devoid of emotion my Doc told me that the tumor was still there and grown to the size of a golf ball. (Cruz del Ferro did not fullfil obligation.) Julio had written a very nice card in which he stated that cruz del Ferro must fullfil obligation and future must be encouraging. Maybe would be a good idea long term pact requesting luck for a couple of decades. This is what I was thinking about, all the way to Grand Junction to have my P.E.T scan.

Doctor also said he would get me in touch with a noted Oncologist, here, so I could ask him questions. I’d wanted to know about metronomic chemo, or RCT regional cancer treatment/chemo. He had not heard of this as he’s not treating cancer patients anymore. Well, that was new to me, too. I told him I would meet and listen. I do want to know all my options.

Forget about the ‘New Hope Forever Center’ in Scottsdale, AZ. They called back with lightening speed and whooed me with soothing voice, to come.  I was mesmerized until I heard the cost.  A 12 day stay would cost $19000.00 dollars. Hard cash. (Although there are Financing companies available.) I have become a HOT commodity. It’s almost like ‘Moonwater.’ Going to the moon to harvest rare, healing water. They did, however offer to look at my scans, ect and advice what they would recommend, free of charge.

What to do? What to do. So many choices, still. I know I’ve stated that I had given up the idea of Cyberknife treatment but that was before. 

Now that it is cold, scary reality once more, I am really chicken to the idea of pain. I’m going back to my original question: Why would I NOT want this? Non-invasive treatment?

Conflicting thoughts are still clamoring to be heard about natural, holistic treatments. Not to have my body polluted with poision.  Of course, in all of this there are the costs to consider.

Doc said, that the Board would meet and review my case. This board is set up of Oncologist, Radiologist, Gynecologist (from ovarian cancer time) himself and some others. They will let me know their recommendations. I’m already thinking, how would I or could I argue against so many, learned men? However, I have to stay true to myself and not be brow beat into a quick decision.  Doc said, not to wait too long now. Not to miss this golden time, or to wait until I had painful symptoms.

So. Now comes my next Camino. Steep, mental hills I have to climb. No one can help with final decison. I can weigh, I can throw ideas back and forth and still won’t know to 100% certainty, if the one I choose is the RIGHT ONE.

If there are any out there with opinions or ideas, that do not take up a lot of precious time. I am more than willing to listen.

Meanwhile, I will take advantage of a promised, beautiful day and drive to Ouray where I will hike up to a waterfall and gorgeous scenery. To sit and to think.

 

 

On Auschwitz and Cancer

For at least two weeks I have had in mind a post that addresses Mom’s PET scan and the expectations that so many people have about what will happen to her cancer now that she has been on the Camino.  I discern these expectations in what people say to Mom, in her telling me, a week ago, that she felt “pressure”, and in our tribe’s utter inability to stop telling ourselves stories . . .

But for at least two weeks, I have not found myself writing anything.  Why that has been so could justify its own essay.  It wasn’t until I read Mom’s “Cheers and Kindness” post of this morning (about her experience with her friendly townspeople and her wait for the results of the PET scan), and found myself crying at the end, that I began to write this post.  I don’t know where it’s going, but I begin anyway.  “I can’t go on, I’ll go on,” as my master and hero Samuel Beckett once had a nameless character say.

Humans see patterns in everything.  Hypnotize a person (as researchers did in a now famous set of experiments) and tell him to get up from his chair and walk to stand by a window, and when you wake him up and ask him why he is standing by the window, he will say, for example, “There was a cold draft, and I was shutting the window.”  Of course this is not true, but we now know that the brain searches relentlessly for explanations of everything it does not understand or does not wish to grapple with.

Not so long ago, we prayed to the sun to intervene

Just today I opened The New Yorker to read “It was an article of faith among the [Libyan] rebels that Qaddafi had regularly used magic to prop up his long reign.  What other explanation could there be?”  Lacking explanation, man often turns to the supernatural.

Stories are easiest to see in beliefs about politics and religion — two areas that, not coincidentally, wise people know it’s best not to argue about.  That’s because such beliefs are usually not arrived at by reason but by responses to emotion, and it’s pointless to argue with conclusions reached by emotion.  Today I saw one writer’s interpretation of New York City’s shutdown of Occupy Wall Street, as he looked at the site that once housed the 5000 books of the Occupy Wall Street Library:

What a picture it would be . . . of police in riot gear gathering boxes of donated books and loading them into garbage trucks. A perfect metaphor for what appears to be the intention of last night’s raid: destroying the body of knowledge that had been collected by a movement just two months old . . .

If you want to spot tendentious, made-up belief systems, look for words like “appears to be,” as in “the contents of another person’s mind appear to be an intention to destroy knowledge.”  A great many marriages founder on this one powerful impulse, that of imagining we know the meaning in another person’s mind.  All storytelling arises from man’s wrestling with painful sensations of ignorance and uncertainty — which is fear.  The results of this wrestling, this agon, we call myth, religion, fiction, cinema, psychology, ideology, doctrine, dogma.

So we see a woman walk across Spain on (and in) a dream and we

Mom displays good food on the Camino

continue the story.  She has cancer, right?  She wants it to go away, right?  And look at all that bravery, all that effort!  Look what a story so far, with all the blog posts illustrating the triumph of the human spirit!  Why, we’ve even got her in high-definition video!

It’s a story fit for the movies!

What is left behind

Except for one thing, we think:  we don’t have our ending yet.  As the writer of the Gospel of Matthew well knew, adding, as he did, the all-important Resurrection to Mark’s far more abrupt ending*, there can be no meaning without a proper ending.  And the only acceptable ending to this fairytale is, of course, that somehow, in magical ways we don’t need to understand but need to believe in, the walk across Spain – the exercise, the sun, the intention, the bravery, the purpose, God – cured the cancer.  I would guess that nearly every reader of this blog will acknowledge in herself this secret hope, this small buried voice whose sister whispered in my mother’s head as she approached the Cruz de Ferro with the earlier PET scan, with the cancer, she hoped somehow to leave behind.

I don’t need to understand how it can happen, we think, but I would love to see a fairytale ending.  I’d love to see God choose to play a role in this drama and give a woman her just dessert.

This is a way of thinking pilgrims were familiar with a thousand years ago:  surely if I go to all this effort, God will reward me.  The medieval Catholic Church validated this thinking, handing out “indulgences”, in its role as God’s mouthpiece on earth, to people who made some kind of effort – the Camino pilgrims, say, or the people, both wealthy and poor, who got karma credits with God for handing over their money to the Church.

Setting aside the Church’s confusion of money with divine will (and itself with divinity), all of this relies on belief in an intercessionary God — that is, a God who will intercede, or intervene, in human affairs, if we simply do something noticeable enough to catch “His” attention (a God who intervenes in human affairs is nothing if not person-like).

I would like to believe such a God exists, but then if such a God did exist, and either set in motion or stood by and did nothing for the shot, gassed, and hung-by-their-tongues Jews of the Shoah, or the Rwandans, or the victims of Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot, I would find Him unworthy of the barest worship.  Either he is weak beyond imagining, or he is capable of ending unbearable suffering but lacks all compassion.

It is this God who is said to have died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz, and for people who study history and its lessons there is no resurrecting him.  Can there be a kind of divinity who intervenes in the cancers of mothers who do pilgrimages but ignores the cries of children in gas chambers?  I do not think so.  Not that kind, by that definition.

This is not to say divinity, or a consciousness that pervades the universe, does not exist.  It is only to say that I’m not able to believe there is a person-like entity who intervenes in human affairs.

If Mom’s cancer does not reappear on her PET scan, there are a number of possible reasons for it, from what science now tells us of the power of the human mind (in science’s belated validation of prayer and meditation) to what we know love and purpose can do for the human immune system.

I create meaning and emotion just by inserting an image in a particular place

Love and purpose.  Immune system.  For those who don’t credit an intercessionary God, these are the building blocks of their hope, vague as it may be:  Inge did that amazing walk, such great purpose, we all love her, we hope her cancer goes away now.

I do too.  And I too don’t care how it happens or whether I could ever explain it.  My mind bends toward the romantic and the idealistic as much as the next person’s.

But I have worried since the first moment Mom mentioned doing this trip that it would begin to work on her mind, whispering to her of salvation, giving her a hope — so powerful in the agon with dis-ease — that might turn on her if the outcome to which she had inevitably grown attached did not come about.  I have worried for many months about us measuring the success of the trip, or Mom’s chances of survival, by the same meaningless yardstick, the PET scan of November 14.  (See the end of my post a day before we reached the Cruz de Ferro, when Mom voiced aloud what until then had only been the whispers of going to the cross and leaving her cancer behind).

But the PET scan is meaningless, in the sense that it neither signals an objective truth — someone will or will not die — nor has within it a pre-fabricated storyline of what must happen next — of what it means.  We create the storyline.  Yesterday’s PET scan is just

Another Day on the Camino

another day on the camino, and just as there were days before it that did not speak of life or death, there will now come days after it that are silent on the matter.  The PET scan is just data; we supply the meaning of it.

Mom is powerful precisely because she gets to choose what meaning to assign the PET scan.  Doctors and others will look at a certain scan and say, “This is great!”  They will look at different results and say, “Oh, oh, my, this is unfortunate.”  They are, however, simply speaking from their own, inevitably blinkered, system of belief.

Mom can decide what storyline she will believe in, and as one of my favorite Taoist stories shows, her storyline doesn’t have to grasping for meaning prematurely.

Sometimes a horse is just a horse, of course

There was an old farmer who had worked his land for many years.  One day his horse ran away.  His neighbors heard the news and ran to see him.

“Such bad luck!” they said.

“We’ll see,” said the farmer.

The next day, the horse came back, bringing with it three wild horses.

“How wonderful!” the neighbors said.

“We’ll see,” said the farmer.

The next day, the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the wild horses, was thrown, and broke his leg.

Here came the neighbors.

“What a disaster!” they said, patting the farmer on the back.  “Your fields will rot if he can’t work the farm.”

“We’ll see,” said the farmer.

A day later, the emperor’s army recruiters passed through the village to draft young men into the army.  They saw that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, and they passed him by.

The neighbors, again.

“Such good fortune!” they said.

“We’ll see,” said the farmer.

All this is to say that the Lord moves in ways mysterious, not ways we can divine in our desperate interpretations of this event and that . . . In the absence of knowing, then, what we’ll see, we can

Give it a try -- supply your own caption

only let go of the need to know, which sometimes comes in the form of patience and other times forgiveness, and cultivate those states of mind — love, compassion, positivity — that lead to healing.

The “unfortunate” PET scan of May has unfolded into some of the greatest experiences of Mom’s life, not to mention mine, Carrie’s, and many others’.  Who, then, will claim to know that yesterday’s PET scan can be “bad news”?

That camino continues, and we’ll all be walking with Mom as she walks it.

 

* The original Mark ends with the women fleeing from the empty tomb, and saying “nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”  (How the writer of Mark knew what they saw when they said nothing to anyone is another story.)  In Mark, there is no Resurrection, and without the decades-later additions of Matthew, Luke, and John, Christianity as we know it would not exist.

Cheers and Kindness..

Yesterday, I had quite a few errands to do. First on the list, hospital billing dept. Just to finish up previous agreements. I had just finished cooking a pumpkin, potatoe soup with dry roasted pumpkin seeds and I thought, well, might as well take some to that office.  Then I packed up my pumpkin, hazelnut, cranberry and raisin cookies to drop off at Surgical Team.

I needed a bank statement, so that was first. Everyone smiled, waved and said  a friendly ‘good morning.’

As I walked to the billing office and knocked, I said “Meals on Wheels, for the shut-in’. They have such small cubicles. One has to really work at not getting claustrophobia. The receptionist wanted to know about my lifestyle diet and that took up a bit more time. (Have some good leads for cooking classes.)

That business done and it was quite pleasant, I left for my next visit. At the Black Canyon Surgical Center, I parked and took my cookies. When I came in, I said ‘Good Morning. I’m Inge’. They smiled and said ‘we know who you are. We saw you in the paper about the camino.’  Another lady said, ‘we are so proud of you. I hope I would be in this shape when I get to be that age.’ Another chimed in with ‘what a teriffic accomplishment’.

I told them that I was absolutely thrilled and touched by their card. It was better than a shot of Vitamins. They said that Dr. Jay was the one who suggested it. I told them, I’d be by visiting but didn’t want to come for an appoinment. (Did anything like that ever happened in a big city?)

Next, Natrual Grocers and more people coming up to shake my hand and congratulate me. Then I saw Steffi  (daughter in law of my good friend, Carla ) and she was just filled with praise. She said everything would be alright, she just ‘knew’ it.  In the check out line, one lady whispered she would pray for me upon hearing about P.E.T scan appointment.

As I left the store, I reflected what a very nice and friendly place I’m living in. I think, that in all those years, there’ve only a couple of unfriendly or rude people. From the Post Office to Grocery stores and other businesses, everyone is nice and welcoming. I especially notice the difference when I go to another city or country. We live in a very nice place and people come together to help when needed.

I’d send my good friend, Shirley, an e-mail asking if I could stay with her, if Holistic clinic in Scottsdale accepts Outpatients. Shirley was my boss back in the days of Judicial employment. We’ve been very good friends since.

She replied with love and kindness that she would absolutely be there for me, take me there, etc. If she couldn’t, then her daughter (and my special friend) Garci, would. So, if things have to go that way, there are movements in place. It’s being pro-active that helps. Not just standing still and bemoaning ones circumstances.

I’ve had a few shaky moments this morning, wondering about the result. Wishing with all my might that I do not have to utilize all these plan ‘B’ preparations. ( a.k.a Let this cup pass.) But, I know I can’t change the outcome. Only my reactions and how I’ll deal with it. I only have 30 min left on my allowed time to eat. So I will make some oatmeal with grated apple.

Originally, my friend Monika would’ve been coming with me this mornig but she had an emergency operation. So it’s just Inge and Inge. (Yes. There are two of us in this town.)

I will let everyone know what the result is as soon as I get them. Either way.

Two days to go..

As I am waiting on P.E.T scan appointment I’ve been very busy researching my options.

Time is  somewhat of essence now and no more playing with it, nor running away. There’s a wealth of information to wade through.  Family and friends have been helping to find possible solutions. So many different approaches and everyone claiming theirs is best. Cancer, especially Lymphoma stage 4 as they claim,  does not leave a lot of room for erroneous trials. I still do not have any of those symptoms.

I have had an offer for a holistic treatment, handed down by many generations from Shaman’s. Even for free. A most touching and generous offer. This person would even come to my home., or have me at theirs, or even go to Shaman.

In the end I must decide. That is a very scary thing to do. What if it’s the wrong decision? Should I have done anything different?  I feel very much alone in this. Uncharted waters. So far, I’ve not had a strong feeling that I would be on the wrong track. So far, I’ve not freaked out. I am not trembling with fear as I have at previous times when results had increased. I am peaceful. Maybe this is what I brought back from the camino?

I have started on a new supplement, recommended by a trusted friend as well as the others I’m taking.

In yesterday’s mail, arrived an envelope from the Surgical Team. At first glance, I thought it was another bill and so it was with delight and joyful laughter that I read the card, which showed 3  letters on front -‘WOW’. Opening it, there was congratulatory sentiments over my accomplished camino miles and bravo’s to keep it up. ( I will bring them my wonderful Pumpkin- raisin- hazelnut-cranberry, low fat/low sugar, cookies.)  Also, a lovely card from Julio and Marianne.

Going back to my research this morning, I’ve found a place in Scottsdale, AZ., called New Hope Unlimited. A different approach. A holistic approach under controlled circumstances with a huge medical team at one’s disposal. Combining traditional medicine with holistic but one is give a choice. This feels like a good decision. Tailor made for what I would like to have happen while my body is still ‘pristine’ without chemo/radiation and thus can respond readily. I am already on lifestyle ‘diet’. Now, we just have to find out if Medicare will pay?

 

 

 

Twilight Zone

Over the last few days, since my CA-125 bloodtest, I’ve been wondering about the result. Not stressing, more like being very curious.

Yesterday was doctor’s appointment. He wanted to know about my camino hike and said what a tremendous accomplishment that was. Then he showed me the paper with result, which was high. Another few points added to the fear scale.

I said, “Oh this just shows that there is more sugar in my blood.”  

He just smiled but didn’t reply. Checked my lungs, which were clear. He noticed my weight and said I’d lost 8 pounds since May. I said I would hope so as I’d just walked nearly 500 miles. But, back to discussion as to what treatment.

I told him I did not want chemo. Should be the very last choice. He said that in his opinion I should have surgery. When I reminded him that the Denver specialist we consulted did not want to touch me without chemo, he assured me that we could find someone else. He was concerned about possible “seed pods” in the abdomen. He explained that P.E.T can’t “see” those and if they’d turned cancerous, I would be in a difficult place. Only through surgery could they look around and see other areas. Of course, this surgery would not be without dangers. The same is true, though, with Cyberknife or any other.

I asked if he would go “outside the box” with me and help me with alternate treatments. I still have about $500 worth of Iscador and other holistic meds I’d brought from Germany, and which have to be injected but ONLY by a Physician. He said he knew of 2 holistic docs in Ridgway. I said O.K. we’ll wait until P.E.T results and then I need to do something quickly. He said:  “Inge, you really need to. This is cancer we’re dealing with.”

I told him that chemo had not done too well for my friend Phyllis, who died while I was on the camino. Different cancer but same effect, as for so many.

My blood pressure was up but I’d imagine it was due to anxiety. After my walk, it had dropped 10 points.

I’m scared but want to have ONE more chance before pumping poision or radiation inside and kill off half my cells and then experience those side effects. Once this is done, any holistic approach would be extremely difficult to remedy the situation. Of course, holistic means also very expensive.

I am still researching for places which have a different approach. There are quite a few choices.

I needed to breath and I needed to walk. I made a quick salad, a small sandwich, took a bottle of water, grabbed my poles, and drove up to the Black Canyon.

We’d had a week of rain, snow, gray and I couldn’t walk a lot. I drove in and parked my car. Snow-covered brush and canyon walls. Beautiful view, sun, and only a gentle breeze. I was the only person. I took my day pack, which was astoundingly light, my poles, and walked. I noticed soon that where I would’ve been slowing down or was out of breath, previously, after all, this is 10,000 feet. I just plowed through. It felt so good to just walk. Then, the familiar click-clack of my poles. Stillness, peace.  I saw tracks in the snow from all sorts of wildlife. Rabbits and large tracks, probably elk.

I thought back to just a couple of months ago, when I walked and wondered what the camino would be like. Now, I was back looking around and noticing how similar the view and the absence of noise. I’d also noticed that I clipped that 1.3 miles in under 25 minutes.

I stopped at the picnic bench, brushed off the snow and had my lunch , I looked around  and enjoyed the peacefulness. I walked up to the edge of the cliff and looked down. The Gunnison river was like a small glittering ribbon. The walls of the canyon looked like they had been dusted with powedered sugar. It is so very beautiful there.

I didn’t come home with any answers to the decision I have to make but it sure made me more peaceful. I won’t be able to go up there when it snows again as I won’t have the proper boots and the terrain will be too difficult to walk. But, there are plenty of nice trails close to town.

Now, meanwhile, waiting for P.E.T scan and those results. That’s the BIGGIE.

 

Ode to feet

During our daily camino walk and climbing as well as blisters and other foot related maladies that I observed in other people, I was thinking about feet.

How unappreciative we usually are of our feet and the miracle they perform without us giving it a second thought. We spend a lot of money on hair, make up, nails. O.K. Some people have pedicures. I had my first one only a couple of months ago.

Usually, we just put on socks, shoes and run off. The first time I thought how very grateful I was for my feet was 2 years ago. One morning, while walking into the kitchen, I felt a sudden, sharp pain. I cried out and looked down what I’d stepped on. There was nothing. Puzzled, I looked at my right heel, sure that there would be a glass shard embedded. Nothing. The pain continued with each step and was so bad that I tried walking on tip toe.

I figured I probably pulled some muscle or small ligament and it would disappear after a few days. Well, it didn’t. I hobbled around doing my chores. I went on errands with the car and then hobbled into the store. I really have a high pain tolerance but this was getting worse. I had to stop walking. I had to stop volunteering at the soup kitchen, where I’d been chef once a week for 3+ months.

I took Ibuprofen, Tylenol, the usual. I was stuck in the house and getting depressed. I kept saying to my friends, ‘If I can’t walk anymore, they may as well shoot me.’ No one could tell me what the matter was. I gained weight for lack of walking. One day, I put the symptoms on Web MD. There was this odd name: Plantar’s Fasciitis. Now, I had a name but the prognosis was not very encouraging. I asked around and found a very capable therapist. For a month I went there and had electro-therapy.

While laying there, with nothing to do, for an hour, I talked. Poor guy had no choice . I’m glad to say that he and his wife became dear friends. Shortly after that, I changed my lifestyle due to cancer.

If someone would’ve said to me, a few years ago that what I was putting my mouth was wrong, I would’ve scoffed at them. I mean, I selected my vegetables carefully, I did not eat fast food, had no cokes or sweet tea, I didn’t even eat a lot but still had gained weight.

Well. Then when I did all that research on cancer and other immune illnesses, a light bulb came on. (Ten years prior, when I had cancer, I had eaten better and healthier but after my chemo and tests I thought ‘now, it’s gone’ and went back to my meat, sauces and oil/butter cooked foods.

It wasn’t long after I converted to Vegan, that a host of problems disappeared. Plantar’s Fasciitis has not returned.

I was absolutely certain that once people saw what it did for me, they’d be just so happy. They’d immediately copy it. (Some did.) Others were so full of resistance that I had to shut up about it.  Others tried it for a little while and because it’s not easy, in the beginning, they stopped, or, they changed it without the getting the great results. That was huge surprise and it continues to amaze me how people just want to have their crap (and eat it too.)

But, when I think of what my FEET accomplished I feel so very happy and grateful that something made me listen and change. I am in awe, that they carried me these hundreds of miles without a whimper. (The blisters don’t count.) I treat my feet much better now. I don’t need expensive pedicures.

Days on the Camino, What I Miss (Part II), and a Secret to Happiness

Typical Second Breakfast, greatest time of day ever

I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and probably what I have missed most upon my re-entry into the so-called Real World are two keys of the good life:  the simplicity of my days unfolding one day at a time, and a clear sense of purpose.  We are meaning-seeking creatures, and we don’t live by bread alone. We also live by purpose, which is another way of saying meaning.

It had been a long time since my mind was not continually gnawing over the future (or, just as unhappily, the past), but that is how I lived for a month while in Spain.  On the Camino, my mind was rarely occupied by anything farther into the future, or more complicated, than the next meal (prepared by others) and rest break (I was able to handle these on my own).  I had a very clear sense of what I was doing, and why, and I looked forward to each unfolding stage of it.

Days on the Camino

When I woke up in the mornings on the Camino, I didn’t have to sort through options about what to do – one of many types of decision-making tasks that researchers tell us are mentally and physically exhausting.  I also didn’t have to wonder what would happen that day.  I thought, if anything, about First Breakfast.

A croissant or drinkable yogurt, coffee, perhaps jam, fruit.

After First Breakfast, we would begin walking.  Where?  Easy:  just follow the yellow arrows.  As we walked, I would begin slowly to entertain fantasies about Second Breakfast.  The food was often similar to First Breakfast, or at least there was more of it (once, at 9:15a.m. I ate an entire medium pizza).  And about two hours after Second Breakfast, I was pining for First Lunch.  It sounds like a dog’s life, no?  Or a child’s.  This simplicity and living in the moment is part of what Jesus, a famous lover of food and drink and the common table, meant when he exhorted us to be like children.

Marie Anne's wonderful First Dinner in Cizur Menor. Me, Julio, Marie Anne, Carrie

During some of these walking breaks and even while walking, I would whip out my (paper) notebook and take notes, or, if we were in a café or near a boulder with good seating, I might even open my MacBook Air and start writing up notes (one of the reasons I chose my Air was that its Flash drive makes it turn on as fast as a paper notebook, or a cell phone – I just open it up and start using it – with none of the endless waiting and wailing and churning of Windows or of computers with hard drives).

Almost always after my shower in the early afternoon, I would lie on my back on whichever of the 30 beds I slept in while in France, Spain, and Portugal, my MacBook Air on my thighs, the purring of other pilgrims napping all around me, and I would begin transcribing notes from my notebook, then adding other thoughts and uploading the latest photos from our cameras to Facebook, and voila!  A blog post.

But “a blog post” doesn’t really capture what I was doing.  In fact, by writing and sharing my thoughts and adventures for an audience, however small (you know who you are!), I think I was living quite close to my purpose.  I am still refining that; I welcome your ideas.

I have missed that sense of purpose.  It was a slight purpose, getting up every morning to walk, walking, eating, observing, taking notes, reporting what I saw, but it was a very clear purpose, and it seemed, at the time, to be enough.

I miss expressing even my most mundane thoughts on a regular basis, and knowing someone is likely to read it, and almost as likely to be grateful for something in it.  I miss, that is, what people in certain circles might call a “practice”.  Flower-arranging is a practice.  Karate is a practice.  Yoga and meditation are practices.  Prayer and good works are practices.  Anything done mindfully, or with love, or both, puts us in practice of being fully human.

For me, writing must be one of my practices.  If I skip it, it’s like skipping exercise:  I can’t be fully happy.

Movement

I have missed the sense of freedom that comes with moving my body in healthy ways – freedom, say, from worries about gaining weight because I can eat as much or as little as I want to.  (My Camino pants are still quite big on me).  I’ve felt this liberation before, and I want to keep exercising so as to hold onto it.  Now:  how to do that in this urban wilderness that surrounds me?

Yesterday, I sort of stumbled on creating a day that felt a bit like the Camino:  it began when I walked over a mile to yoga.  Did yoga.  I then walked over three miles on trips to the bank, to Karma Café for an Indian lunch, and along the Jersey City waterfront walkway, reminding myself now and then to look up and appreciate that a short distance away, over the Hudson River on which Captain Sully crash-landed his plane, rose the concrete mountains of one of the greatest cities the world has ever known.  Then I stopped in a Starbucks to take notes and drink my first cold chai in six weeks, and continued to a federal building to pay the last of my 2009 and 2010 taxes.

Perceptions of Time 

After the sobbing at the tax office had subsided and I had gotten hold of myself, I saw that the next light-rail to Jersey City’s Heights left Pavonia-Newport in 24 minutes, and I did something absurd:  I decided instead to walk nearly three miles back to the apartment.  I remember Julio saying that his impression of Americans was that we would drive from the living room to the bathroom.  (Julio walks 250-300 days a year, sometimes across entire countries, or in Himalayas, and so on).  This 5K was for you, Julio!

Julio and I at, or after, First Dinner

I’m not disinclined to walk places anymore, because I’m not afraid of the discomfort of spending time so inefficiently.  That’s a big change.  It’s only partly a physical laziness that makes us drive.  Much of the reason we drive is because we are uncomfortable with the feeling we get when we do something inefficient, like walking, and then tell ourselves the following story:  I’m wasting my time.

This one story is a cause of much misery in modern life.

I was looking at Manhattan from Jersey City’s Heights the other

Under an hour, right, Julio?

morning and sized up the actual distance.  Based on my newfound experience in assessing how far away a village is and how long it will take to get there, I figured I could walk to Manhattan in under an hour, if there were a walking bridge.  It’s a shame there isn’t.  New Jerseyites are entirely denied the pleasure of walking into one of the world’s great cities.  They must either drive through a serpentine urban jungle, including underground, or dive underground with hundreds of other people in public transportation.

What I Miss, Part II

In a proof of the mathematical equation that says the grass is always greener, I offer the essay below as contrasted with what I said I missed just a few weeks ago while in rural Spain…

I miss other things.  Both of my cars are in Oregon.  One, the Land Rover, the World’s Most Expensive Ski Accessory, I want to sell.  Or to detonate, after first putting my HTC My Touch Android phone inside it.  The other, my BMW M3, I miss like my own child. I am reduced to public transportation here, or driving Adam’s Volvo, which is like driving an iceberg, or a continental shelf.

I miss a world in which a guilt-free nap is actually plausible.  Not that much has changed for me . . .  Of course, I don’t really need them anymore, since no one dares wake me up at oh-god-thirty.

I miss having feeling on two (or is it three?) of my right toes.  They still feel kind of tingly, if not entirely numb, just as they often did while walking in the Five Fingers.  And that was before I — “stubbed” doesn’t quite capture the crushing impact they made with a rock — on the trail.

I miss that on the Camino there was nothing more that could be done, with the result that I didn’t worry any part of the day about whether I could be doing more – a hallmark of the over-achiever, of the unhappy person.  Instead, for the first time in a very long time, I was doing all I could do – or all I was choosing to believe I needed to do.

In the Pyrenees

I know there is a secret recipe for happiness in that.

Root of Celery ‘Steak’

When I went shopping, day after I returned, I was so excited when I got to Natural Grocers, that I didn’t know which isle to go to first. All that lovely green, orange, red, purple. All those wonderful, fresh apples and other fruits. I really appreciate what we can have immediately. I saw a nice, big Root of Celery and made a wonderful lunch.

Ingredients:

1 root of celery (a.k.a Celeriac)

1 half lemon

1/4 cup coconut milk (for vegans)

(1 egg for none vegan)

1/4 cup of Panko bread crumbs

1 Tbsp coconut oil (no substitution)

Peel root of celery and cut out dark root spaces. Cut into 1/4 inch thick slices (or thicker if you like.) Boil and add 1/2 juice of lemon, cook approx. 15 min until semi-soft. Then pat dry with paper towel and place into coconut milk (or egg) season with just a little salt and pepper, press onto Panko crumbs and place into sizzling coconut oil until golden brown on each side. Serve with salad and/or sweet potatoe fries (baked in oven).

 

November, 2011 | Camino Not Chemo!

Brain freeze

Can I trust my brain to make the right decision? Or, does it beat a path to least resistance? I think I’ve made good decisions over the past few years. I’ve tried to make the proper ethical, moral choices. In emergency situations, I did act and react with good speed and choice of treatment.

It’s amazing what one can learn when we start to educate ourselves and do not allow for pre-chewed ideas and opinions to cloud our minds.

Although I respect the genius of the cancer cell; it’s clever deception to sneak past the vigilant immune system, I do not want to get comfortable with it. Certain sources suggest that one should make peace with various, chronic illnesses. I feel that if I do this, I’ll become complacent. What with all this respect and mutual admiration, feelings of peace and light I am a complice and co-dependent in my own cell problem. Like a snake charmer who concentrates soley on the snake.

I shook myself free of this warm, fuzzy peace with cancer feeling and declared a serious Tumor Hunt. I have a few sneaky tricks up my sleeve as well to circumvent that tough, little outer wall of the C cell and obliterate it.  So there. This includes different measures at the time being. Holistic measures until I have assimilated all information, main stream medicine as well. It also includes very different culinary tastes.

Starting in the morning, upon rising, I take 3 enzyme tablets. For breakfast, 1 cup cottage cheese with 5 Tbsp Flax seed oil (from Johanna Budwig, German bio chemist who states that this will carry vital oxygen to the cells.) Add 1 tsp ground flax seeds and whip it into a frenzy to combine. To hide the oily-cheesy taste, I add frozen blueberries or other berries and this makes it tolerable and looks like a nice smoothie. It is very, very filling and I have to work to get it all down.

Then, I continue with the ‘Hufeland Clinic’ protocol, plus Tumeric, Curcumin, Vitamins: C-E-and B12, followed by the metals: iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, etc. More recently, added visits to Hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

After 1 hour I continue with juicing. Mostly carrot with apple and add ‘Green Pro’. Foul tasting and looking but filled with important chlorophyllic properties. I take fermented wheat germ which looks like dirt and when you add water/juice, it tastes like sweet mud. Yuk. Have to try hard not to get nauseous. But… this is not business as usual. I am working with everything I have to help myself so as not having to be ‘filet’ and filled with Toxins and poision.

Radiation Oncology Sydney Cancer Center studied 5 year survival rates of 22 types of cancer in the U.S.A and Australia. They studied 154,971 Americans with cancer, age 20 and older that were treated with chemo therapy. Only 3,306 lived to the 5 year mark. Study results: The overall contribution and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5 yr survival in adults was estimated to be 2.3% in Australia and 2.1 % in the U.S.A.

Cancer is a message. It wants to show you that something is running off the tracks in your life. ‘You go ahead”, said the soul to the body “because it’s not listening to me.’ “Alright’, replied the body, I will become ill, then he will have time for me.’  Although how this translates into children, even babies having cancer, I don’t know.

Another study, in Germany: Group A- 389  patients who underwent conventional therapy . (41.38 %)

Group B-patients who denied conventional therapy, including patients that could not be helped w conventional therapy methods. 312 patients (26.7%)

Group C: patients who did not even appear to consult and who’s fate could not be followed: 312 patients (33.0%

After 8 years, group A -only 102 (26.22% patients were alive with conventional therapy.

Group B- after 8 years, 183 were alive (85.11%) these were treated ONLY with Biological Conflict Therapy.

This is part of a treatment used in Germany. Brain scan is used to identify the spot, which highlights where those signals come from ad being sent and then this exact spot is treated with above mentioned thearpy. They also use a whole battery of holistic ingredients. ( Dr. Andreas Puttich, Darmststadt.)

Prof. Dr. Charles Mathe, leading Oncologist and Specialist for Oncology, in Paris, France stated openly: If I were to have cancer, I would not allow myself to be treated in  conventional cancer centers.  Only those cancer patients will have a chance to survive, if they stay away as far as possible. (Scientific Medicines Nouvelles, Paris.)

NOW, can you appreciate my dilemma??

Futile questions

Yesterday, as I was walking, I reflected on the past 3 years. I was wondering, had my symptoms been recognized and not so easily dismissed, would it have made a difference? Instead of scrambling to find a treatment now and looking at so many difficult choices, not to mention extreme financial hardship, could I have had just a nice, peaceful, healthy life?

Three years ago, I had a backache. I ignored it for awhile, then it became worse. I finally went to doc. Told him my right kidney hurt. He couldn’t find anything. Went to another, who diagnosed some calcification in my “tailbone”. Still same pain.  Went to doc again and was referred to surgical center to have a series of shots into my spine. I’ve never felt such pain. But, after one ($1800) shot I did not return. Did not help. I said, my right kidney hurts. I felt I was being passed around like an old shoe.

This went on for 18 mos. Then I had additional bladder pains and frequent bathroom visits. As many as 15x a day. My doc sent me to Urologist. He did a test, inserting the scope without local anesthesia. It hurt so bad I came off the table. His diagnosis was “Interstitial Cystitis”. A chronic disease where bladder membrane is “eaten” away. Medicine cost, per month, $450.00. It was a good thing I could not afford that. Pain persisted. Made my own appointment with a urologist in Grand Junction. They said my bladder was fine and healthy and after (finally) an x-ray, it turned out I had kidney stones. Removed by Lithotripsy as an Outpatient and still $16.000.00

Next. Many different symptoms. Hair falling out, grainy eyes, swallowing difficulty, heart palpitation just to name a few. Doc said, nothing the matter except “old age”. My daughter worked for an oncologist in Alabama who diagnosed a thyroid problem just from these symptoms. I insisted on a test. The doc did agree and then called and said “It’s Normal.” I  said so was my cancer test. (Ovarian, 10 yrs ago. No one listened then either.) Base number is different than what is still used by many doctors. That’s why it shows normal; when it is not. All symptoms disappeared with a small dose.

Next: While in Seattle visiting my son for Christmas, I had a severe cough and spit blood. I thought, it was due to climate change and  harsh cough. Ignored it for the time I was there. Came home and it continued. Upon rising I had so much mucus I was afraid it would strangle me. Scared me.

Back to doc, who listened to my lungs, knocked on the back a few times and said, they sound clear, but did send me across the street, to Ear, Nose and Throat doc to check. He did put a scope down my throat and said I had an increased mucus production. I questioned that, since this had never happened before. I told them that I did not agree with this.  ( I believe this is when my lung tumor started. The cellular change.) When there’s cancer in ones background, would not a test be a good idea? We rely on the medical professionals to advice us.

Meanwhile, I was dealing with Plantars’ Fasciitis, which was hell in itself.

I was dealing with very stressful family issues. My whole body was falling apart.

Next. I was sitting on the couch, watching T.V. when I absentmindedly scratched my armpit. I noticed my lymphnodes were swollen. Well. I didn’t want to run to doc again, since I had the feeling I was thought of as hypochondriac. After a few days though, of increased swelling, I did make appointment. He looked and touched and said it was “barely” noticeable. Sent me to another doc, who said the same. Sent me home.  My CA 125 (cancer blood test) was steadily creeping up.

I FELT that something was wrong and would not be quiet. It was on one of those appointments, when I asked the doc if he ever had someone say that their blood was singing, that he paid attention. Immediate blood test which result was such that he told me to rush to the hospital for another test. Scared the beejeezus out of me, as they were saying that it could be a blood clot, which could kill me. (Thanks for the nice way of telling a patient.) It wasn’t. Then he said, “Well, we’ll just go ahead and do a P.E.T scan so we know once and for all.”  Just to appease me.

I did and that was the beginning of this present nightmare. P.E.T showed 3 tumors. One in abdomen (gone with lifestyle changes, never re-appeared.) Lung tumor, since removed with VATS, and now dealing with this last one.

Now I have Lymphoma stage IV. (is this a Roman 4?) Although I have not have had any of those symptoms. (Swelling has not re-appeared , except once or twice, since I’ve changed lifestyle.)

O.K. I got that off my chest and now I deal with whatever I must but I will have a say in my treatment of it.

Moonwater

I went about my business yesterday while the back of my mind was listening to the ringing of the phone. Somehow I knew it would be ‘Hiob’s’ news. That’s what we call bad news in German. Hiob’s Botschaft. Then, there it was and I knew who it was before I picked up.

In a clinical voice, devoid of emotion my Doc told me that the tumor was still there and grown to the size of a golf ball. (Cruz del Ferro did not fullfil obligation.) Julio had written a very nice card in which he stated that cruz del Ferro must fullfil obligation and future must be encouraging. Maybe would be a good idea long term pact requesting luck for a couple of decades. This is what I was thinking about, all the way to Grand Junction to have my P.E.T scan.

Doctor also said he would get me in touch with a noted Oncologist, here, so I could ask him questions. I’d wanted to know about metronomic chemo, or RCT regional cancer treatment/chemo. He had not heard of this as he’s not treating cancer patients anymore. Well, that was new to me, too. I told him I would meet and listen. I do want to know all my options.

Forget about the ‘New Hope Forever Center’ in Scottsdale, AZ. They called back with lightening speed and whooed me with soothing voice, to come.  I was mesmerized until I heard the cost.  A 12 day stay would cost $19000.00 dollars. Hard cash. (Although there are Financing companies available.) I have become a HOT commodity. It’s almost like ‘Moonwater.’ Going to the moon to harvest rare, healing water. They did, however offer to look at my scans, ect and advice what they would recommend, free of charge.

What to do? What to do. So many choices, still. I know I’ve stated that I had given up the idea of Cyberknife treatment but that was before. 

Now that it is cold, scary reality once more, I am really chicken to the idea of pain. I’m going back to my original question: Why would I NOT want this? Non-invasive treatment?

Conflicting thoughts are still clamoring to be heard about natural, holistic treatments. Not to have my body polluted with poision.  Of course, in all of this there are the costs to consider.

Doc said, that the Board would meet and review my case. This board is set up of Oncologist, Radiologist, Gynecologist (from ovarian cancer time) himself and some others. They will let me know their recommendations. I’m already thinking, how would I or could I argue against so many, learned men? However, I have to stay true to myself and not be brow beat into a quick decision.  Doc said, not to wait too long now. Not to miss this golden time, or to wait until I had painful symptoms.

So. Now comes my next Camino. Steep, mental hills I have to climb. No one can help with final decison. I can weigh, I can throw ideas back and forth and still won’t know to 100% certainty, if the one I choose is the RIGHT ONE.

If there are any out there with opinions or ideas, that do not take up a lot of precious time. I am more than willing to listen.

Meanwhile, I will take advantage of a promised, beautiful day and drive to Ouray where I will hike up to a waterfall and gorgeous scenery. To sit and to think.

 

 

On Auschwitz and Cancer

For at least two weeks I have had in mind a post that addresses Mom’s PET scan and the expectations that so many people have about what will happen to her cancer now that she has been on the Camino.  I discern these expectations in what people say to Mom, in her telling me, a week ago, that she felt “pressure”, and in our tribe’s utter inability to stop telling ourselves stories . . .

But for at least two weeks, I have not found myself writing anything.  Why that has been so could justify its own essay.  It wasn’t until I read Mom’s “Cheers and Kindness” post of this morning (about her experience with her friendly townspeople and her wait for the results of the PET scan), and found myself crying at the end, that I began to write this post.  I don’t know where it’s going, but I begin anyway.  “I can’t go on, I’ll go on,” as my master and hero Samuel Beckett once had a nameless character say.

Humans see patterns in everything.  Hypnotize a person (as researchers did in a now famous set of experiments) and tell him to get up from his chair and walk to stand by a window, and when you wake him up and ask him why he is standing by the window, he will say, for example, “There was a cold draft, and I was shutting the window.”  Of course this is not true, but we now know that the brain searches relentlessly for explanations of everything it does not understand or does not wish to grapple with.

Not so long ago, we prayed to the sun to intervene

Just today I opened The New Yorker to read “It was an article of faith among the [Libyan] rebels that Qaddafi had regularly used magic to prop up his long reign.  What other explanation could there be?”  Lacking explanation, man often turns to the supernatural.

Stories are easiest to see in beliefs about politics and religion — two areas that, not coincidentally, wise people know it’s best not to argue about.  That’s because such beliefs are usually not arrived at by reason but by responses to emotion, and it’s pointless to argue with conclusions reached by emotion.  Today I saw one writer’s interpretation of New York City’s shutdown of Occupy Wall Street, as he looked at the site that once housed the 5000 books of the Occupy Wall Street Library:

What a picture it would be . . . of police in riot gear gathering boxes of donated books and loading them into garbage trucks. A perfect metaphor for what appears to be the intention of last night’s raid: destroying the body of knowledge that had been collected by a movement just two months old . . .

If you want to spot tendentious, made-up belief systems, look for words like “appears to be,” as in “the contents of another person’s mind appear to be an intention to destroy knowledge.”  A great many marriages founder on this one powerful impulse, that of imagining we know the meaning in another person’s mind.  All storytelling arises from man’s wrestling with painful sensations of ignorance and uncertainty — which is fear.  The results of this wrestling, this agon, we call myth, religion, fiction, cinema, psychology, ideology, doctrine, dogma.

So we see a woman walk across Spain on (and in) a dream and we

Mom displays good food on the Camino

continue the story.  She has cancer, right?  She wants it to go away, right?  And look at all that bravery, all that effort!  Look what a story so far, with all the blog posts illustrating the triumph of the human spirit!  Why, we’ve even got her in high-definition video!

It’s a story fit for the movies!

What is left behind

Except for one thing, we think:  we don’t have our ending yet.  As the writer of the Gospel of Matthew well knew, adding, as he did, the all-important Resurrection to Mark’s far more abrupt ending*, there can be no meaning without a proper ending.  And the only acceptable ending to this fairytale is, of course, that somehow, in magical ways we don’t need to understand but need to believe in, the walk across Spain – the exercise, the sun, the intention, the bravery, the purpose, God – cured the cancer.  I would guess that nearly every reader of this blog will acknowledge in herself this secret hope, this small buried voice whose sister whispered in my mother’s head as she approached the Cruz de Ferro with the earlier PET scan, with the cancer, she hoped somehow to leave behind.

I don’t need to understand how it can happen, we think, but I would love to see a fairytale ending.  I’d love to see God choose to play a role in this drama and give a woman her just dessert.

This is a way of thinking pilgrims were familiar with a thousand years ago:  surely if I go to all this effort, God will reward me.  The medieval Catholic Church validated this thinking, handing out “indulgences”, in its role as God’s mouthpiece on earth, to people who made some kind of effort – the Camino pilgrims, say, or the people, both wealthy and poor, who got karma credits with God for handing over their money to the Church.

Setting aside the Church’s confusion of money with divine will (and itself with divinity), all of this relies on belief in an intercessionary God — that is, a God who will intercede, or intervene, in human affairs, if we simply do something noticeable enough to catch “His” attention (a God who intervenes in human affairs is nothing if not person-like).

I would like to believe such a God exists, but then if such a God did exist, and either set in motion or stood by and did nothing for the shot, gassed, and hung-by-their-tongues Jews of the Shoah, or the Rwandans, or the victims of Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot, I would find Him unworthy of the barest worship.  Either he is weak beyond imagining, or he is capable of ending unbearable suffering but lacks all compassion.

It is this God who is said to have died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz, and for people who study history and its lessons there is no resurrecting him.  Can there be a kind of divinity who intervenes in the cancers of mothers who do pilgrimages but ignores the cries of children in gas chambers?  I do not think so.  Not that kind, by that definition.

This is not to say divinity, or a consciousness that pervades the universe, does not exist.  It is only to say that I’m not able to believe there is a person-like entity who intervenes in human affairs.

If Mom’s cancer does not reappear on her PET scan, there are a number of possible reasons for it, from what science now tells us of the power of the human mind (in science’s belated validation of prayer and meditation) to what we know love and purpose can do for the human immune system.

I create meaning and emotion just by inserting an image in a particular place

Love and purpose.  Immune system.  For those who don’t credit an intercessionary God, these are the building blocks of their hope, vague as it may be:  Inge did that amazing walk, such great purpose, we all love her, we hope her cancer goes away now.

I do too.  And I too don’t care how it happens or whether I could ever explain it.  My mind bends toward the romantic and the idealistic as much as the next person’s.

But I have worried since the first moment Mom mentioned doing this trip that it would begin to work on her mind, whispering to her of salvation, giving her a hope — so powerful in the agon with dis-ease — that might turn on her if the outcome to which she had inevitably grown attached did not come about.  I have worried for many months about us measuring the success of the trip, or Mom’s chances of survival, by the same meaningless yardstick, the PET scan of November 14.  (See the end of my post a day before we reached the Cruz de Ferro, when Mom voiced aloud what until then had only been the whispers of going to the cross and leaving her cancer behind).

But the PET scan is meaningless, in the sense that it neither signals an objective truth — someone will or will not die — nor has within it a pre-fabricated storyline of what must happen next — of what it means.  We create the storyline.  Yesterday’s PET scan is just

Another Day on the Camino

another day on the camino, and just as there were days before it that did not speak of life or death, there will now come days after it that are silent on the matter.  The PET scan is just data; we supply the meaning of it.

Mom is powerful precisely because she gets to choose what meaning to assign the PET scan.  Doctors and others will look at a certain scan and say, “This is great!”  They will look at different results and say, “Oh, oh, my, this is unfortunate.”  They are, however, simply speaking from their own, inevitably blinkered, system of belief.

Mom can decide what storyline she will believe in, and as one of my favorite Taoist stories shows, her storyline doesn’t have to grasping for meaning prematurely.

Sometimes a horse is just a horse, of course

There was an old farmer who had worked his land for many years.  One day his horse ran away.  His neighbors heard the news and ran to see him.

“Such bad luck!” they said.

“We’ll see,” said the farmer.

The next day, the horse came back, bringing with it three wild horses.

“How wonderful!” the neighbors said.

“We’ll see,” said the farmer.

The next day, the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the wild horses, was thrown, and broke his leg.

Here came the neighbors.

“What a disaster!” they said, patting the farmer on the back.  “Your fields will rot if he can’t work the farm.”

“We’ll see,” said the farmer.

A day later, the emperor’s army recruiters passed through the village to draft young men into the army.  They saw that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, and they passed him by.

The neighbors, again.

“Such good fortune!” they said.

“We’ll see,” said the farmer.

All this is to say that the Lord moves in ways mysterious, not ways we can divine in our desperate interpretations of this event and that . . . In the absence of knowing, then, what we’ll see, we can

Give it a try -- supply your own caption

only let go of the need to know, which sometimes comes in the form of patience and other times forgiveness, and cultivate those states of mind — love, compassion, positivity — that lead to healing.

The “unfortunate” PET scan of May has unfolded into some of the greatest experiences of Mom’s life, not to mention mine, Carrie’s, and many others’.  Who, then, will claim to know that yesterday’s PET scan can be “bad news”?

That camino continues, and we’ll all be walking with Mom as she walks it.

 

* The original Mark ends with the women fleeing from the empty tomb, and saying “nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”  (How the writer of Mark knew what they saw when they said nothing to anyone is another story.)  In Mark, there is no Resurrection, and without the decades-later additions of Matthew, Luke, and John, Christianity as we know it would not exist.

Cheers and Kindness..

Yesterday, I had quite a few errands to do. First on the list, hospital billing dept. Just to finish up previous agreements. I had just finished cooking a pumpkin, potatoe soup with dry roasted pumpkin seeds and I thought, well, might as well take some to that office.  Then I packed up my pumpkin, hazelnut, cranberry and raisin cookies to drop off at Surgical Team.

I needed a bank statement, so that was first. Everyone smiled, waved and said  a friendly ‘good morning.’

As I walked to the billing office and knocked, I said “Meals on Wheels, for the shut-in’. They have such small cubicles. One has to really work at not getting claustrophobia. The receptionist wanted to know about my lifestyle diet and that took up a bit more time. (Have some good leads for cooking classes.)

That business done and it was quite pleasant, I left for my next visit. At the Black Canyon Surgical Center, I parked and took my cookies. When I came in, I said ‘Good Morning. I’m Inge’. They smiled and said ‘we know who you are. We saw you in the paper about the camino.’  Another lady said, ‘we are so proud of you. I hope I would be in this shape when I get to be that age.’ Another chimed in with ‘what a teriffic accomplishment’.

I told them that I was absolutely thrilled and touched by their card. It was better than a shot of Vitamins. They said that Dr. Jay was the one who suggested it. I told them, I’d be by visiting but didn’t want to come for an appoinment. (Did anything like that ever happened in a big city?)

Next, Natrual Grocers and more people coming up to shake my hand and congratulate me. Then I saw Steffi  (daughter in law of my good friend, Carla ) and she was just filled with praise. She said everything would be alright, she just ‘knew’ it.  In the check out line, one lady whispered she would pray for me upon hearing about P.E.T scan appointment.

As I left the store, I reflected what a very nice and friendly place I’m living in. I think, that in all those years, there’ve only a couple of unfriendly or rude people. From the Post Office to Grocery stores and other businesses, everyone is nice and welcoming. I especially notice the difference when I go to another city or country. We live in a very nice place and people come together to help when needed.

I’d send my good friend, Shirley, an e-mail asking if I could stay with her, if Holistic clinic in Scottsdale accepts Outpatients. Shirley was my boss back in the days of Judicial employment. We’ve been very good friends since.

She replied with love and kindness that she would absolutely be there for me, take me there, etc. If she couldn’t, then her daughter (and my special friend) Garci, would. So, if things have to go that way, there are movements in place. It’s being pro-active that helps. Not just standing still and bemoaning ones circumstances.

I’ve had a few shaky moments this morning, wondering about the result. Wishing with all my might that I do not have to utilize all these plan ‘B’ preparations. ( a.k.a Let this cup pass.) But, I know I can’t change the outcome. Only my reactions and how I’ll deal with it. I only have 30 min left on my allowed time to eat. So I will make some oatmeal with grated apple.

Originally, my friend Monika would’ve been coming with me this mornig but she had an emergency operation. So it’s just Inge and Inge. (Yes. There are two of us in this town.)

I will let everyone know what the result is as soon as I get them. Either way.

Two days to go..

As I am waiting on P.E.T scan appointment I’ve been very busy researching my options.

Time is  somewhat of essence now and no more playing with it, nor running away. There’s a wealth of information to wade through.  Family and friends have been helping to find possible solutions. So many different approaches and everyone claiming theirs is best. Cancer, especially Lymphoma stage 4 as they claim,  does not leave a lot of room for erroneous trials. I still do not have any of those symptoms.

I have had an offer for a holistic treatment, handed down by many generations from Shaman’s. Even for free. A most touching and generous offer. This person would even come to my home., or have me at theirs, or even go to Shaman.

In the end I must decide. That is a very scary thing to do. What if it’s the wrong decision? Should I have done anything different?  I feel very much alone in this. Uncharted waters. So far, I’ve not had a strong feeling that I would be on the wrong track. So far, I’ve not freaked out. I am not trembling with fear as I have at previous times when results had increased. I am peaceful. Maybe this is what I brought back from the camino?

I have started on a new supplement, recommended by a trusted friend as well as the others I’m taking.

In yesterday’s mail, arrived an envelope from the Surgical Team. At first glance, I thought it was another bill and so it was with delight and joyful laughter that I read the card, which showed 3  letters on front -‘WOW’. Opening it, there was congratulatory sentiments over my accomplished camino miles and bravo’s to keep it up. ( I will bring them my wonderful Pumpkin- raisin- hazelnut-cranberry, low fat/low sugar, cookies.)  Also, a lovely card from Julio and Marianne.

Going back to my research this morning, I’ve found a place in Scottsdale, AZ., called New Hope Unlimited. A different approach. A holistic approach under controlled circumstances with a huge medical team at one’s disposal. Combining traditional medicine with holistic but one is give a choice. This feels like a good decision. Tailor made for what I would like to have happen while my body is still ‘pristine’ without chemo/radiation and thus can respond readily. I am already on lifestyle ‘diet’. Now, we just have to find out if Medicare will pay?

 

 

 

Twilight Zone

Over the last few days, since my CA-125 bloodtest, I’ve been wondering about the result. Not stressing, more like being very curious.

Yesterday was doctor’s appointment. He wanted to know about my camino hike and said what a tremendous accomplishment that was. Then he showed me the paper with result, which was high. Another few points added to the fear scale.

I said, “Oh this just shows that there is more sugar in my blood.”  

He just smiled but didn’t reply. Checked my lungs, which were clear. He noticed my weight and said I’d lost 8 pounds since May. I said I would hope so as I’d just walked nearly 500 miles. But, back to discussion as to what treatment.

I told him I did not want chemo. Should be the very last choice. He said that in his opinion I should have surgery. When I reminded him that the Denver specialist we consulted did not want to touch me without chemo, he assured me that we could find someone else. He was concerned about possible “seed pods” in the abdomen. He explained that P.E.T can’t “see” those and if they’d turned cancerous, I would be in a difficult place. Only through surgery could they look around and see other areas. Of course, this surgery would not be without dangers. The same is true, though, with Cyberknife or any other.

I asked if he would go “outside the box” with me and help me with alternate treatments. I still have about $500 worth of Iscador and other holistic meds I’d brought from Germany, and which have to be injected but ONLY by a Physician. He said he knew of 2 holistic docs in Ridgway. I said O.K. we’ll wait until P.E.T results and then I need to do something quickly. He said:  “Inge, you really need to. This is cancer we’re dealing with.”

I told him that chemo had not done too well for my friend Phyllis, who died while I was on the camino. Different cancer but same effect, as for so many.

My blood pressure was up but I’d imagine it was due to anxiety. After my walk, it had dropped 10 points.

I’m scared but want to have ONE more chance before pumping poision or radiation inside and kill off half my cells and then experience those side effects. Once this is done, any holistic approach would be extremely difficult to remedy the situation. Of course, holistic means also very expensive.

I am still researching for places which have a different approach. There are quite a few choices.

I needed to breath and I needed to walk. I made a quick salad, a small sandwich, took a bottle of water, grabbed my poles, and drove up to the Black Canyon.

We’d had a week of rain, snow, gray and I couldn’t walk a lot. I drove in and parked my car. Snow-covered brush and canyon walls. Beautiful view, sun, and only a gentle breeze. I was the only person. I took my day pack, which was astoundingly light, my poles, and walked. I noticed soon that where I would’ve been slowing down or was out of breath, previously, after all, this is 10,000 feet. I just plowed through. It felt so good to just walk. Then, the familiar click-clack of my poles. Stillness, peace.  I saw tracks in the snow from all sorts of wildlife. Rabbits and large tracks, probably elk.

I thought back to just a couple of months ago, when I walked and wondered what the camino would be like. Now, I was back looking around and noticing how similar the view and the absence of noise. I’d also noticed that I clipped that 1.3 miles in under 25 minutes.

I stopped at the picnic bench, brushed off the snow and had my lunch , I looked around  and enjoyed the peacefulness. I walked up to the edge of the cliff and looked down. The Gunnison river was like a small glittering ribbon. The walls of the canyon looked like they had been dusted with powedered sugar. It is so very beautiful there.

I didn’t come home with any answers to the decision I have to make but it sure made me more peaceful. I won’t be able to go up there when it snows again as I won’t have the proper boots and the terrain will be too difficult to walk. But, there are plenty of nice trails close to town.

Now, meanwhile, waiting for P.E.T scan and those results. That’s the BIGGIE.

 

Ode to feet

During our daily camino walk and climbing as well as blisters and other foot related maladies that I observed in other people, I was thinking about feet.

How unappreciative we usually are of our feet and the miracle they perform without us giving it a second thought. We spend a lot of money on hair, make up, nails. O.K. Some people have pedicures. I had my first one only a couple of months ago.

Usually, we just put on socks, shoes and run off. The first time I thought how very grateful I was for my feet was 2 years ago. One morning, while walking into the kitchen, I felt a sudden, sharp pain. I cried out and looked down what I’d stepped on. There was nothing. Puzzled, I looked at my right heel, sure that there would be a glass shard embedded. Nothing. The pain continued with each step and was so bad that I tried walking on tip toe.

I figured I probably pulled some muscle or small ligament and it would disappear after a few days. Well, it didn’t. I hobbled around doing my chores. I went on errands with the car and then hobbled into the store. I really have a high pain tolerance but this was getting worse. I had to stop walking. I had to stop volunteering at the soup kitchen, where I’d been chef once a week for 3+ months.

I took Ibuprofen, Tylenol, the usual. I was stuck in the house and getting depressed. I kept saying to my friends, ‘If I can’t walk anymore, they may as well shoot me.’ No one could tell me what the matter was. I gained weight for lack of walking. One day, I put the symptoms on Web MD. There was this odd name: Plantar’s Fasciitis. Now, I had a name but the prognosis was not very encouraging. I asked around and found a very capable therapist. For a month I went there and had electro-therapy.

While laying there, with nothing to do, for an hour, I talked. Poor guy had no choice . I’m glad to say that he and his wife became dear friends. Shortly after that, I changed my lifestyle due to cancer.

If someone would’ve said to me, a few years ago that what I was putting my mouth was wrong, I would’ve scoffed at them. I mean, I selected my vegetables carefully, I did not eat fast food, had no cokes or sweet tea, I didn’t even eat a lot but still had gained weight.

Well. Then when I did all that research on cancer and other immune illnesses, a light bulb came on. (Ten years prior, when I had cancer, I had eaten better and healthier but after my chemo and tests I thought ‘now, it’s gone’ and went back to my meat, sauces and oil/butter cooked foods.

It wasn’t long after I converted to Vegan, that a host of problems disappeared. Plantar’s Fasciitis has not returned.

I was absolutely certain that once people saw what it did for me, they’d be just so happy. They’d immediately copy it. (Some did.) Others were so full of resistance that I had to shut up about it.  Others tried it for a little while and because it’s not easy, in the beginning, they stopped, or, they changed it without the getting the great results. That was huge surprise and it continues to amaze me how people just want to have their crap (and eat it too.)

But, when I think of what my FEET accomplished I feel so very happy and grateful that something made me listen and change. I am in awe, that they carried me these hundreds of miles without a whimper. (The blisters don’t count.) I treat my feet much better now. I don’t need expensive pedicures.

Days on the Camino, What I Miss (Part II), and a Secret to Happiness

Typical Second Breakfast, greatest time of day ever

I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and probably what I have missed most upon my re-entry into the so-called Real World are two keys of the good life:  the simplicity of my days unfolding one day at a time, and a clear sense of purpose.  We are meaning-seeking creatures, and we don’t live by bread alone. We also live by purpose, which is another way of saying meaning.

It had been a long time since my mind was not continually gnawing over the future (or, just as unhappily, the past), but that is how I lived for a month while in Spain.  On the Camino, my mind was rarely occupied by anything farther into the future, or more complicated, than the next meal (prepared by others) and rest break (I was able to handle these on my own).  I had a very clear sense of what I was doing, and why, and I looked forward to each unfolding stage of it.

Days on the Camino

When I woke up in the mornings on the Camino, I didn’t have to sort through options about what to do – one of many types of decision-making tasks that researchers tell us are mentally and physically exhausting.  I also didn’t have to wonder what would happen that day.  I thought, if anything, about First Breakfast.

A croissant or drinkable yogurt, coffee, perhaps jam, fruit.

After First Breakfast, we would begin walking.  Where?  Easy:  just follow the yellow arrows.  As we walked, I would begin slowly to entertain fantasies about Second Breakfast.  The food was often similar to First Breakfast, or at least there was more of it (once, at 9:15a.m. I ate an entire medium pizza).  And about two hours after Second Breakfast, I was pining for First Lunch.  It sounds like a dog’s life, no?  Or a child’s.  This simplicity and living in the moment is part of what Jesus, a famous lover of food and drink and the common table, meant when he exhorted us to be like children.

Marie Anne's wonderful First Dinner in Cizur Menor. Me, Julio, Marie Anne, Carrie

During some of these walking breaks and even while walking, I would whip out my (paper) notebook and take notes, or, if we were in a café or near a boulder with good seating, I might even open my MacBook Air and start writing up notes (one of the reasons I chose my Air was that its Flash drive makes it turn on as fast as a paper notebook, or a cell phone – I just open it up and start using it – with none of the endless waiting and wailing and churning of Windows or of computers with hard drives).

Almost always after my shower in the early afternoon, I would lie on my back on whichever of the 30 beds I slept in while in France, Spain, and Portugal, my MacBook Air on my thighs, the purring of other pilgrims napping all around me, and I would begin transcribing notes from my notebook, then adding other thoughts and uploading the latest photos from our cameras to Facebook, and voila!  A blog post.

But “a blog post” doesn’t really capture what I was doing.  In fact, by writing and sharing my thoughts and adventures for an audience, however small (you know who you are!), I think I was living quite close to my purpose.  I am still refining that; I welcome your ideas.

I have missed that sense of purpose.  It was a slight purpose, getting up every morning to walk, walking, eating, observing, taking notes, reporting what I saw, but it was a very clear purpose, and it seemed, at the time, to be enough.

I miss expressing even my most mundane thoughts on a regular basis, and knowing someone is likely to read it, and almost as likely to be grateful for something in it.  I miss, that is, what people in certain circles might call a “practice”.  Flower-arranging is a practice.  Karate is a practice.  Yoga and meditation are practices.  Prayer and good works are practices.  Anything done mindfully, or with love, or both, puts us in practice of being fully human.

For me, writing must be one of my practices.  If I skip it, it’s like skipping exercise:  I can’t be fully happy.

Movement

I have missed the sense of freedom that comes with moving my body in healthy ways – freedom, say, from worries about gaining weight because I can eat as much or as little as I want to.  (My Camino pants are still quite big on me).  I’ve felt this liberation before, and I want to keep exercising so as to hold onto it.  Now:  how to do that in this urban wilderness that surrounds me?

Yesterday, I sort of stumbled on creating a day that felt a bit like the Camino:  it began when I walked over a mile to yoga.  Did yoga.  I then walked over three miles on trips to the bank, to Karma Café for an Indian lunch, and along the Jersey City waterfront walkway, reminding myself now and then to look up and appreciate that a short distance away, over the Hudson River on which Captain Sully crash-landed his plane, rose the concrete mountains of one of the greatest cities the world has ever known.  Then I stopped in a Starbucks to take notes and drink my first cold chai in six weeks, and continued to a federal building to pay the last of my 2009 and 2010 taxes.

Perceptions of Time 

After the sobbing at the tax office had subsided and I had gotten hold of myself, I saw that the next light-rail to Jersey City’s Heights left Pavonia-Newport in 24 minutes, and I did something absurd:  I decided instead to walk nearly three miles back to the apartment.  I remember Julio saying that his impression of Americans was that we would drive from the living room to the bathroom.  (Julio walks 250-300 days a year, sometimes across entire countries, or in Himalayas, and so on).  This 5K was for you, Julio!

Julio and I at, or after, First Dinner

I’m not disinclined to walk places anymore, because I’m not afraid of the discomfort of spending time so inefficiently.  That’s a big change.  It’s only partly a physical laziness that makes us drive.  Much of the reason we drive is because we are uncomfortable with the feeling we get when we do something inefficient, like walking, and then tell ourselves the following story:  I’m wasting my time.

This one story is a cause of much misery in modern life.

I was looking at Manhattan from Jersey City’s Heights the other

Under an hour, right, Julio?

morning and sized up the actual distance.  Based on my newfound experience in assessing how far away a village is and how long it will take to get there, I figured I could walk to Manhattan in under an hour, if there were a walking bridge.  It’s a shame there isn’t.  New Jerseyites are entirely denied the pleasure of walking into one of the world’s great cities.  They must either drive through a serpentine urban jungle, including underground, or dive underground with hundreds of other people in public transportation.

What I Miss, Part II

In a proof of the mathematical equation that says the grass is always greener, I offer the essay below as contrasted with what I said I missed just a few weeks ago while in rural Spain…

I miss other things.  Both of my cars are in Oregon.  One, the Land Rover, the World’s Most Expensive Ski Accessory, I want to sell.  Or to detonate, after first putting my HTC My Touch Android phone inside it.  The other, my BMW M3, I miss like my own child. I am reduced to public transportation here, or driving Adam’s Volvo, which is like driving an iceberg, or a continental shelf.

I miss a world in which a guilt-free nap is actually plausible.  Not that much has changed for me . . .  Of course, I don’t really need them anymore, since no one dares wake me up at oh-god-thirty.

I miss having feeling on two (or is it three?) of my right toes.  They still feel kind of tingly, if not entirely numb, just as they often did while walking in the Five Fingers.  And that was before I — “stubbed” doesn’t quite capture the crushing impact they made with a rock — on the trail.

I miss that on the Camino there was nothing more that could be done, with the result that I didn’t worry any part of the day about whether I could be doing more – a hallmark of the over-achiever, of the unhappy person.  Instead, for the first time in a very long time, I was doing all I could do – or all I was choosing to believe I needed to do.

In the Pyrenees

I know there is a secret recipe for happiness in that.

Root of Celery ‘Steak’

When I went shopping, day after I returned, I was so excited when I got to Natural Grocers, that I didn’t know which isle to go to first. All that lovely green, orange, red, purple. All those wonderful, fresh apples and other fruits. I really appreciate what we can have immediately. I saw a nice, big Root of Celery and made a wonderful lunch.

Ingredients:

1 root of celery (a.k.a Celeriac)

1 half lemon

1/4 cup coconut milk (for vegans)

(1 egg for none vegan)

1/4 cup of Panko bread crumbs

1 Tbsp coconut oil (no substitution)

Peel root of celery and cut out dark root spaces. Cut into 1/4 inch thick slices (or thicker if you like.) Boil and add 1/2 juice of lemon, cook approx. 15 min until semi-soft. Then pat dry with paper towel and place into coconut milk (or egg) season with just a little salt and pepper, press onto Panko crumbs and place into sizzling coconut oil until golden brown on each side. Serve with salad and/or sweet potatoe fries (baked in oven).