Surviving In This Very Moment…

My Personal Battle with Prostate Cancer … And Life!

Archive for the tag “healthy diet”

Challenges

Meditation

Meditation (Photo credit: Moyan Brenn BE BACK on 10th OCT)

These days I find myself facing unexpected challenges. The apprehension accompanying a diagnosis of cancer is, to say the very least, something I am unaccustomed to. The biggest challenge I face with regard to the waiting for surgery is one of waiting, of sitting quietly and simply listening to the silence. I find that my mind wanders away from the clarity of focus, from the silence of the universe that I am more or less accustomed to.

In addition, there are challenges that accompany my almost daily dealing with my medical team and the sense that one hand doesn’t actually know what the other is doing. Contradictory directions, pharmacy rules and the overall apprehension that accompanies the run-up to surgery interferes with my otherwise calm, rational demeanor.

I’ve written this before but I think it stands repetition; I am no stranger to surgery! I have two titanium hips, a titanium back and now a titanium left knee. In each of these cases, however, I was in desperate pain prior to surgery creating a condition in which surgery was actually anticipated. I expected a “cure” from the pain that was a constant reminder that I had no cartilage in my hips and knee and a spinal column that was shrinking due to calcium deposits causing a severe stenosis. After the first hip surgery, I could anticipate a recovery that would leave me pain free.

Not so with this surgical procedure. I have absolutely no pain, no symptoms at all. I will enter the hospital feeling just fine and will wake up with some degree of discomfort, how much pain I have no way of anticipating. There are also two potential side effects of this procedure that I must admit scare me. While robotic surgery is less invasive than other potential procedures, it still comes with risks of erectile dysfunction and incontinence. But with a Gleason score of 4+4, a PSA of 23 and no metastasis I have little choice but to get holes poked in my belly and get the cancer removed.  But I’ll go into the hospital feeling fine and wake up in pain.

My solution to these and other challenges is to do what I know how to do. I meditate for longer periods of time, just sitting quietly and listening to the silence of the universe. I have taken to measuring my blood pressure before and after meditation and I record a ten point dip in pressures post meditation. I am not surprised. Sitting quietly helps clear my mind of the hamsters running through my head that want me to expect the worst possible outcome. After 45 minutes to an hour my mind is clear and I am better able to face the real challenges of the day. Just doing the next right thing, that which is right before me at this very moment, that which must be done right now. I am also better prepared to understand and, thereby, separate that which is urgent and that which is not.

At this very moment I am headed to the gym in my basement to strengthen my knee, ride the stationary bike and see if I can’t drop around 12 to 20 pounds.

Making Right Sized Decisions Ain’t Always Easy

Sitting down with my urologist after hearing the diagnosis of adenocarcinoma of the prostate to discuss the options for additional screening and possible courses of treatment, one of the things he advised was to change my eating habits; “Eat healthy,” he observed.  That was about two weeks ago, maybe three, and I have yet to change my diet.  While I know that it is best to eat more veggies, less red meat and so on, I am having trouble making the commitment to doing so.

So what is up with that?  Here I am, making arguments for the ethical relationship with the other and I am avoiding the ethical relationship with myself.  So here is what I have decided to do…and it won’t be easy.  I decided to limit my consumption of red meat and eggs to once a week.  I figured I would start with a basic commitment rather than make an entire plunge into something I am pretty sure I won’t be able to maintain.  It would make my wife quite happy if I added fish to my diet, but I can’t stand the stench in the house after most fish is cooked so that is hardly a legitimate option unless I add fish while eating out.  In place of the protein from the red meat and eggs, I can easily substitute dairy protein in the form of cheese, yogurt and milk.  In addition, the vegetarian staple of beans and rice along with the addition of tofu in stir fried veggies seems to be a reasonable option as well.

The plan is to follow this plan of eating for the next month while committing to blog about how I am holding out.  About four weeks from today I will have my surgery which may screw up my plans a bit but who is to say.  In the long run, I am certain that this change in lifestyle will be good for me and for my family as well, if I can maintain it.

All that being said, as I write this I am cooking a mushroom barley soup with lima beans and lentils.  Now there is a marrow bone with a bit of red meat attached and two short ribs for flavor, but the meat per serving will be less than one ounce.  The soup along with a small salad should prove to be a hearty fall meal, one that fits within the bounds of this new approach to eating a bit more healthy.

Here’s the thing, I am looking to focus on eating healthier in order to positively effect the outcome of my prostate cancer.  At the same time, I know I have absolutely no control over the outcome in any real way and that if I thought I did I would be ready to become obsessive over the outcome itself rather than to focus on the moment that surrounds the actions I take in this very moment.  For me this is less about results than it is about acting appropriately, of becoming present for myself in order to be more present for others; it is an ethical responsibility that I cannot pass off to any other person; there are no substitutes.  So here I go, ready to jump off the cliff and see just what might happen if I stay focused on this moment, the one that will never be repeated, never be reenacted.  It is in this very moment that I make a decision to act or not act, to do what is next before me or to shirk.  It is a choice, an ethical choice that I am placing at my own doorstep.  Only time will tell how successful this will be.

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