Monday, March 29, 2010

Vegan Week 3, Tumor Shrinkage, and Life in Motion (by Susan)

We have stuck it out being vegan for three weeks now (well, actually, three and a half weeks).  Next Wednesday our trial month will be up.  How is it going?  On the plus side, we have found lots of interesting things to eat and have had some really great meals.  We have now embraced the new four food groups:  fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains.  Even the milk we drink is "plant milk" - either soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk.    With the bread maker and the rice cooker we have been able to try lots of interesting grains - barley, brown rice, bulgur, whole wheat, corn, etc.  We think we smell better (no kidding!) and our sense of smell has definitely improved.  Don't ask me why - I mentioned this earlier and I have no idea why it should be, but I can definitely smell things from really far away (like people's laundry detergent on their clothes).  We have found out about lots of vegan celebrities and athletes who will tell you how great it is.  George and I have both noticed how we can really taste the deliciousness of fresh vegetables and fruits - no joke!    Also we both feel lighter.  On the negative side, we have had some meat and dairy cravings ( I broke down and had a bite of salmon that they were grilling in Whole Foods on Saturday.  It tasted WONDERFUL but by stomach did not like it later.)   I have heard that these will go away after about 3 months.  Also, I have had to do a lot more planning about what we will eat, and eating out can be difficult.  Some times both of us have been stuck with nothing to eat but french fries (not so good for you) and some insipid, flavorless iceberg lettuce salad.    As far as actual health benefits, it's still too early to tell.  I now have some really good vegan recipes I can share if anyone is interested.

The really great news this week is that, even after one chemo session, George has been able to feel the tumors in his neck shrinking!  This is what it's all about, and it's so exciting to see it happening so fast.  He even thought he could breathe a little better without the tumor pressing on his windpipe so much.   George has still been able to exercise every day so far - going on some pretty long bike rides, running on the treadmill, and swimming.  The main effect we've noticed is that he needs more sleep - he is conking out earlier at night and sleeping later in the mornings.   I've been more tired, too, and I have absolutely no excuse (George usually puts me to shame with his energy and fitness level) except that maybe I am having sympathy tiredness.  

George and I went for a fairly long bike ride on Sunday - up Left Hand Canyon to Jamestown.  I had been feeling very stiff and sore on Sunday morning - I had a backache, a stomach ache, a headache, etc., etc., etc., and had to just make myself get on the bike and have faith that my mood would improve (as I said, George generally puts me to shame in this area).  I pulled myself together, then the two of us got out and rode our bikes up Left Hand Canyon  - it's a steady climb for about six miles.  I just did it and didn't think about anything else and my mood began to improve.   In Jamestown we stopped at the little coffee shop there and had the world's worst muffins - I swear, they messed up the recipe.  The muffins  had a bitter taste of baking soda - just horrible.  We were laughing and ended up exchanging the muffin for another one, which was better. We loaded up on more water and began the descent back down the canyon.  The ride down is really exhilerating  - just like a big long cruising ski run all the way down, with the smell of the pine trees and Left Hand Creek tumbling between boulders and the still snow-covered banks. 

Well, the point of this long ramble is that, by the time we got back to the car, I was feeling joyful, my back no longer hurt, and the headache and stomach ache were gone.  I asked myself why this should be, and I came up with this philosophy:  we are meant to be beings in motion.  When you sit around the house, when you just veg out on the couch, you are shutting down your senses and you become depressed.  Outside, with the landscape coming at you and the feeling of wind on your skin, your senses are stimulated and you feel alive.  You have to take everything in - look at the scenes around you, really notice what is going on - you have to get outside yourself.   And I am convinced that this is the way we are meant to be.  We are built to process all kinds of stimuli and make quick decisions.  When we are sedentary these processors turn inward and go bad.  To live is to be in motion - nothing ever stays the same.    We are each like a river that never really stops but keeps flowing to stay healthy and clean.

Back to the chemo - Don the chemo nurse told George that if he could keep exercising throughout chemo he would feel better.  George had that same experience this week when he was feeling bad from the chemo and then went swimming and felt worlds better.  So, we will both work on getting out of the house and doing as many activities as we can without getting too tired.  Even if it's just a walk on down days - we'll be out there!


  1. I love the theory of beings in motion! I find that even when I let motion come to a stop in my emotional and spiritual self bad things happen. I agree that it is a good model to try to be mobile, physically and also in more ephemeral ways. Our perception of time is always moving, and I think you are right that we are designed to be in motion. Even rest and sleep and stillness can have motion in them, if you are intentional about them.

    Good for you guys for taking care of one another and letting the wind whip your faces! I am VERY excited for you to come to Bozeman...there will be lots of motion for you to be part of and observe here!!! Mtn biking, jaws dropping over the uncanny ability for a place to be so like Boulder and yet so cowboy at the same time....etc. Love you both!

  2. yeah, the sunday right was pretty magical. It was WAY beautiful cruising up left hand canyon and everyone was so psyched to be out on their bikes. I always feel so lucky to live in such a great place, where we have such beautiful places just outside our door.

    I'm also really looking forward to getting up to Bozeman to hang out there and get a sense for Caitlyn's vibe in that area. Should be great fun!