Monday, September 29, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- This Tree

I love all trees, don't get me wrong.
But every so often one stands out from its brothers and sisters.
It gives off a special vibe. It can be a warm invitation, a feeling of fellowship, or security, or kindness.
It truth it can impart a feeling of almost anything and it's that feeling which draws me to it.
Yes, I hug trees. I do it with their permission and yes, they hug back.

We found this spruce in the forest during a walk around Fish Lake yesterday.
It has a magnificent and kindly feel to it.  I stepped away a few times, but it drew me back. I spent a few minutes with it and I am grateful for it, and to it.
I hope to again some day.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

If You Must Be Sick, Be Healthy or How To Scare Your Surgeon

That is, be as healthy as you can muster given your condition.
I'm not going to presume to offer a list of advice. I know nothing except what I have in my own experience, but it was my experience that making myself healthy as possible before my cancer surgery made a huge difference.

One of the first things I did was decide to try smoothies. A Facebook friend's posts made me aware of them and I'd been curious. Having cancer gave me great cause to give them a try.
I was diagnosed on Friday, June 13, and whirred my first smoothie on Sunday, June 15. I decided that carrot, celery, cucumber, garlic and tomato would form the smoothie's base. I based this on assorted Internet sites about cancer fighting foods as well as some personal anecdotes I found online.
I had a smoothie almost every day from June 15 to July 22. I missed one or two days while camping.
I added in sauerkraut, watermelon, other melons, strawberries, blueberries, lettuce, kale, and probably a few other fruits and veggies. Not all at once, but on various days I'd throw in some of these depending on my mood. The base stayed the same.
I felt really good.
I had plenty of energy.
We eat healthy in general here, but this really kicked things up a few levels.

As for exercise, I'd added squats in March. By the time I went into the hospital I was up to 16 each morning. I also do Tibetan Rites and had started bike riding in June. The first thing I noticed when I went for my first ride of the season was how much stronger my legs were from the squats. I used the higher gears I don't normally get to for a few weeks.

On Thursday, the day after my surgery, I was walking alone, often, and for a long way. I went outside a few times. If stretched out the distance from my room to outside and back it would be about two blocks.
I had really good balance, too, despite lack of food and plenty of painkillers.
I credit the squats.
Also, I was accidentally given solid food on Thursday. My surgeon told me that morning he was going to start me on a soft diet, cream soups, porridge, and the like.
Imagine my surprise when I pulled the lid off the noon offering to find roast beef, mashed potatoes, and french style green beans.
I hadn't had solid food since Tuesday. I ate every bite and told my roommate, "It's really good. I must be hungrier than I thought."
This added to my strength and my recovery.

The normal range for a hospital stay after colorectal cancer surgery is 4-10 days. I'd told my friend a few weeks earlier that I thought four days was a bit much and that I intended to be out in three.

On Friday morning the resident who'd assisted in the operation said something about releasing me that day or the next.
I went home Saturday.

When we met with my surgeon earlier this month he said he's been using my stay as an example when he answers patients' questions about the length of  hospital stays after this kind of surgery,
"The usual length is 4-10 days, but I had one patient who was ready to be released after two-and-a half days. She scared me."

How you live your life is your business. How you react to the diagnosis of a serious ailment is entirely your call.
But for me the squats and smoothies are what made my hospital stay as brief as it was, and if I were to offer any advice it is this: If you must be sick, be as healthy as you can be.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Afternoon at the Feeder

Evening grosbeaks at our kitchen feeder.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy First Day Of Fall

The baby maples along our driveway are proud to show off their new fall colours. Husband collected the seeds from B.C. a few years ago. They are doing fairly well here.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- No Chemo

I do not require chemotherapy.
It's a good thing, but it is also academic as I'd already decided to refuse it.
That aside, the point is the operation got all the colorectal cancer. Tests showed it hadn't wandered off in search of organs or bones or anywhere else it could get a toe hold.
For this I am very grateful.

Cancer stages are determined by the TNM score: Tumour, Node, Metastasis.
This refers to the size or reach of the primary tumour, the amount it has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and if there are secondary tumours because it has spread to other places.
I scored zero for nodes, and zero for metastasis, but managed a three for tumour as it was nearly through my colon wall. That averages out to Stage Two.

I have to see my surgeon every three months for a year and have a blood test beforehand. It's to determine CEA levels, an increase of which suggest a return of the cancer.
In a year I get to have a colonscopy.
Doctors don't tempt the Universe by declaring a patient cancer free until five years of being cancer free has elapsed.
I, on the other hand, enjoy no such caution.
I am currently cancer free and I am grateful.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday -- Pika Boo

PikaDay 025
This happy little lagomorph is a pika. 
We found it and another on Rock Glacier, Kananaskis, Ab. on our day trip last Sunday.
Pikas are very hard to see against the rocks as they blend right in.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gratitude Monday --16/24 Edition

Today is our wedding anniversary. We've been married for 16 years and together for 24 years.
I am grateful for every moment.
At the Pyramids.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fabulous Friday -- The Limburger Turnaround

We bought some limburger cheese the other day. It promised to be flavourful and stinky.
It wasn't really. To us, the reputation it enjoys was more PR than reality.
Oh, it has an unfortunate pong, but I had to get close to it to tell.
The flavour was mild. That's fine in its own right, but we wanted sharp.
It's okay alone, but it needs something to set it off.

We melted it over baked potatoes paired with homemade coconut and tahini sour cream.
It was okay, though pale when compared with blue cheese served this way.

Then we tried it on gluten-free pasta served with caramelized onions. Better, but not quite.

We had about one-third of the package remaining and wanted to give it a fair trial. It went on gluten-free pizza with portobello mushroom, onion, jalapeno pepperoni and some lovely goat mozzarella.

Limburger cheese on pizza is fabulous.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Gratitude Monday - Because This Is Close

I get to live here.

CrescentSept2014 004

Not there exactly, but close enough.
This is at Crescent Falls. It's about an hour's drive from my house.
How could I not be grateful?

Please click over to Flickr for a bigger, better view.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Photo-Finish Friday --Dammed

FireWoodsDay 006Abraham Lake from Windy Point This is one of my favourite spots along The David Thompson Highway (Highway 11). The lake is man made. The North Saskatchewan River was dammed in the early 1970s.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Gratitude Monday -- Big Out Day

I am so happy and grateful to have gotten out for a long drive on the weekend.
This is for a variety of reasons, chief among them I was able to sit for long periods of time.
It's been difficult since the operation as I can feel my tailbone is not quite right. Certain sitting positions remain out of the question, but at least I can sit.

We went west out to the Icefields Parkway and then south to about five minutes shy of the Trans-Canada Highway and perhaps 10 minutes from Lake Louise. Much as I enjoy Lake Louise I won't go on a long weekend unless I have to.
 I am grateful my strength and stamina are returning and that I did all the outbound driving. It was about three hours behind the wheel, but we stopped here and there.

I got to see the ravages of a fire near that is still burning the Banff Park Boundary with Clearwater County (Rocky Mountain House is in said county)  the new growth in a controlled burn across the road from the aforementioned fire,  I got to see the mountains up close again, and I got to get out of the house and extend my world.
I am grateful for all of it.

FireWoodsDay 016
New growth in the controlled burn. Notice the fireweed.