A dear friend on the east coast wrote to me in response to yesterday’s “Quinoa Post”. She was concerned that perhaps I was torturing myself with TV food shows and reading books about food. “Do you like to garden?” she asked, suggesting that gardening was a calming, peaceful activity. I do like to garden but as I look out on the barren branches of the tree outside my window on this cold, grey, wet January afternoon it’s hard to get too inspired about gardening.
I want to paint a mental image for you….particularly for those of you who only know my through my blog. Picture a 47-year-old woman rockin’ a 113 pound body that most women her age would love to have. OK…most women might want something more than an A-cup bra but I get up each morning and look in the mirror and think “Girl, you look pretty good after all that you’ve been through!” Two different courses of chemotherapy failed to shrink the tumor in my stomach (non-Hodgkins Lymphoma) so in October 2008, I had a partial gastrectomy with vagotomy and pyloroplasty to remove the tumor. I am now cancer free but my digestive system is forever altered.
I struggle to eat 1300 – 1400 calories/day and if I don’t work at it that total is more like 800 calories/day. The removal of the vagus nerve leaves me with no sensation of hunger. I have no cravings; I have no interest in food. For me to say “I enjoy eating food” would be about the same as me saying “I enjoy pumping gas into my car”. Who enjoys pumping gas into their car??? To be honest, I feel best when I don’t eat….until my blood sugar gets too low and my head reminds me that I’d better eat something. It’s something that I have to do and that I have to think about every single day. As I work now to increase my activity level, it’s easy to get involved in my activities and forget about eating. I don’t have a stomach telling me….”Hey! I’m Hungry”. If my body does send me a message, it’s a message that comes from my head…a message that comes too late when my blood sugar has gotten too low. But if I am going to increase my activity level, I also need to increase my calorie intake and my limited stomach capacity makes that difficult. My inability to tolerate simple carbs and gluten limits my choices, too. On top of that, I’m married to a man who believes that the four basic food groups are fat, sugar, salt and processed foods so there is very little overlap between the foods foods that we will eat. I used to enjoy cooking but now, cooking for one very tiny tummy, often seems like a lot of effort to go through for a small amount of food.
So, with all of that being said, I don’t want to give the impression that I am tortured by food or my current situation. It is a challenge but it’s actually kinda fun to rise to that challenge to find my new normal. What has been difficult has been that my life has not stabilized yet. I’ve had so many ever-changing variables over the last few years that it seems that the moment that I do choose one course to follow, fate steps in, changes the rules, throws another obstacle in my path and once again I find myself rethinking my future. (Carrie smiles to herself as she vaguely makes reference to future blog posts….)
Getting back to food….what I DO miss is the social aspect of food. Sharing a good meal or a GREAT glass of wine with friends, preferably both. I CAN still do that….but not like I did in the past. And there are some things that still remain on my “Bucket List”, come hell or high water……
A Bucket of Mussels in Brussels and a Glass of Sancerre
Green Lipped Mussels in New Zealand with a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
But am I tortured by the baguettes pictured in the photo above, or memories of the caraway rolls that dad used to make just for me….no….
I’m tortured by what I’m going to do with 3.9 pounds of quinoa! 🙂