Friday, March 23, 2012

One Year Anniversary

Greetings everyone.  I hope this post finds you all well and happy. Today is an anniversary of sorts.  It was one year ago today, March 23, that I had surgery, 4 ½ hours worth, that probably saved my life.  A kind and sweet text from my dear sister Sarah last night brought the point home.  What a year it’s been.  I shudder to remember how sick I was before the surgery, and how weak I was afterword.  The week in the hospital may have been the hardest thing I have ever been through.  Being so completely helpless and reliant on the help of everyone around me opened my heart in unforeseen ways. When I was diagnosed, I had no real clear prognosis; only that it was grave.  The survival rate for pancreatic cancer is only 23%.  That was the reality I was up against.  It wasn’t so much that I feared dying, it was that whatever time I had left might be spent in pain and illness.  That is what I really feared.  
                The amazing care of the nurses in the hospital made me cry.   It is noted in the medical literature that the Whipple procedure leaves one very emotional. When I came home with surgical drains and a feeding tube, my dear Amy was the best nurse ever, gently starting my digestion up again, and encouraging me to eat when it was the last thing I wanted to do. I weaned from the painkillers while still in the hospital, so it was a painful month or so of recovery at home.  I became far too intimate with the living room couch, and it was such a joy when I could finally lie on my side.  There is a stand of giant Torrey Pines about  4 blocks away and I remember it took me three tries to finally reach them, and it seem like such a victory that I could walk that far.  But little by little, some of my strength returned, and I started to feel better.
      Better enough, that is, for the horrible experience of chemotherapy.  Never have I felt so awful.  It turns out I had a sort of allergic reaction to the chemo drug and it made me very, very sick, in fact my reaction was so intense that for the second time in the year I was near death.  We must find a better way to treat this terrible disease.
On top of all this, and around the same time was the passing of my dear father. He was a giant among men, and Amy and I still feel his loss most every day.  What can I say, it was a tough year. But here I am, still alive and kicking!

     As I look back over this year, I am compelled to share what I have learned.

I have learned that sugar is evil.  At least in the quantities that most Americans eat it.  It leads to inflammation, heart disease, diabetes and is a contributing factor to all the degenerative diseases, including cancer.  People, do yourselves a favor and embrace a diet that is “low glycemic”.  Avoid foods with added sugar at all costs.  Trust me on this.
I now know that skilled surgeons are modern day heroes.  The talent and care of my surgeon, Dr. Sunil Bhoyrul is a very big part of why I am here today.
I have learned that there are two kinds of dietary fats- the kinds that decrease inflammation and the kinds that increase it.  Indulge in the former and avoid the latter.  Trust me on this.
I have learned that naps rock.  Anywhere, anytime, but especially in the afternoon.  Trust me on this.
I now wash my hands and floss my teeth more and wash my hair and jeans less. Go figure.
I have learned that green tea is a very healthful beverage, and should not be brewed with boiling water.  
Trust me on this.
I have learned that life’s little pleasures can loom large when they are taken away from you.  Trust me on this.
I have learned that a good acupuncturist is worth his weight in gold.  Many thanks to Mr. Alan Toyofuku, L.Ac,  who has helped me get through this year. I encourage you all to try Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Trust me on this.
And I again found that poets are awesome!  My first venture out (excepting doctor appointments) was to the Poetry Ruckus at Ducky Waddle’s Emporium.  My poetry tribe was so warm and supportive, but they really just wanted me to read some poems!  It was so very healing.
I have learned that if you work to heal the planet, the planet will work to heal you.  When I was recovering, the only thing that made sense, and the one thing that really made me want to get up off that couch was to tend to the garden and compost.  It helped me and healed me and continues to do so. Trust me on this.
I have learned to speak the truths that are in my heart, not holding it in or waiting for some imaginary “perfect” time in the future to bring them forth.  There is no such time; in fact the very idea that we have time is an illusion.  Some things come into sharp focus when we confront mortal realities. Clarity is a great gift to try to share among us humans. Interestingly, this has brought me closer to some and estranged me from others.  Go figure.
My kids are wonderfully amazing.  And amazingly wonderful. Go figure.
I have learned that the value of human relationships is bigger than the value of anything else in this world.  To all my kin, colleagues, friends and clients who have been so incredibly generous and supportive over this ordeal, I humbly offer my deepest gratitude.  Couldn’t have done it without you.  I will never be able to repay the debt of love and caring that came my way.  But lets hope I can try for many years to come.
I get the results of the latest blood tests on Monday. 
 Fingers crossed.
I have learned that every day is a gift.  Trust me on this.
With love,
Swami bruce

1 comment:

  1. Today is a good day to acknowledge the miracle of your journey. I celebrate with you. With much love, Sarah