Monday, December 27, 2010

darkness and light

"Once in Royal David's City, Stood a lowly cattle shed…."

I shared in my Centering Prayer group last night that I felt I'd "failed" Advent. I had begun it with earnest intention to go inwardly in preparation for the celebration of the coming of Christ. In the shorter days I began to allow a more interior beingness take place. I had even booked a 2-day Silent Advent Retreat at the nearby Bishop's Ranch outside of Healdsburg.

By the time our little Chancel Choir was dress rehearsing for the Really BIG Christmas Eve service, I had allowed myself to fall headlong into the seasonal frenzy. I could feel it the weeks before Christmas. I couldn't seem to insulate my spirit from the incessant DO DO DO! GO GO GO! Buy this, plan that, make SURE of THIS! I was full-tilt ADD, knee-trigger WHAT'S NEXT? girl. It's not surprising that my blood counts were slightly worse for the wear this month, after I had crowed about their Meaningful Increase just weeks prior. Platelets: MOVE IT!

By the Christmas Eve caroling and 11 pm Eucharist service I felt like a wobbly cardboard cutout. Where was my experience of magical wonder and spiritual emergence? "I know I'm pushing it," I told myself. "I know this isn't really the best for my health on any counts." And while I continued to praise my disciplined Advent chocolate avoidance (now enthusiastically relinquished) plus read Morning and Evening Prayer most days from this wondrous publication called Magnificat, I found myself tango'ing with the old dynamic that I thought I'd dropped…. playing a Red Shoes kind of drama with "never enough."

It's Monday, December 27th. There's a lovely pale fog in my Novato front yard. My work with the markets, which consists primarily of trying to make sense of the diabolically senseless, may be easier this week. The BIG CRASH!! I've been poised for since this past SUMMER! remains a distant rumor yet continued possibility. I'm locked in a very stressful battle with Alta Bates Summit Hospital, who are justifying charging me over a thousand dollars in co-pays just to walk through their doors twice to have seen my oncologist Dr. Krijanovsky. He's been paid! The labs have been paid! The hospital wants more blood. Guess who's taking them to the local media and possibly an attorney? Sigh. Breathe. Pray! Can I fight the good fight without getting my knickers in a knot? Just when I tell myself that I'll have a quiet day, along comes some avoidance or outrage and like the quintessential Pavlovian, I'm off to the races, drooling.

I am still a work in progress.

Above is a photo of our choir. Even though my choir director chewed me out for asking someone to take photos (dude! I had asked him not to use the flash! Don't yell at ME!)…. even though I was bleary-eyed dreading singing the really way too hard Poulenc without another six months of rehearsal….even though I thought, "Lord, I love you… but it's awful late to be in Church….), I was present and GRATEFUL. Two years ago I spent Christmas in a leukemia ward. (Alta Bates has already extracted their pounds of flesh for THAT). I didn't cry, although I almost did during a few rehearsals. I am less triggered and more grateful, less terrified and more soberly aware.

Still. It's not easy to know that death could come knocking when I have not invited it. I have no cheese and crackers for you; go away! I thought I'd be saving these musings for 30 years hence. I am shifting from really quite afraid to slightly more accepting. And in fact, in very rare moments, I feel an eagerness to leap into the Lord's arms… and see again those I love who have already left this planet. I guess when I'm tired I think more about death.

I'll get more CBC's this week as I feel guided. The requisition form is ready to download and print out. I have to watch my blood counts even though I am not my lab values.

It's a little later. The fog is beginning to clear here in Novato.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

take two, they're small....

Behind every capsule I take is a fairly significant body of research, either my own or that of my healing team. In the past nearly two years since I stepped away from my last hospitalized chemo treatments, I have melded

and shaped this list from "anything I could get my hands on that might help me not have leukemia come back!" to supplementation that is more intelligently pointed towards rebuilding the me that was vulnerable to come down with this thing in the first place.

In lieu of spending the next two hours assiduously adding hyperlinks, I'll let any curious minds use Google to further their own investigation. You are also welcome to email me - I am happy to share my experience.

The ever-present caveat applies: There are no guarantees - except, for me, in God's love in His Son Christ Jesus. I have nothing to prove here. Each day is a gift! I have wanted to share in the spirit of "this is what I'm doing" rather than considering that I could offer advice - save for prayer! - to anyone else.

So! I pray and worship; I work; I exercise; I cherish my friendships; I nourish myself; and I take this stuff!

On an empty stomach 2x/day: Marrow Plus (Ji Xue Teng) by Health Concerns (2 tablets each time), then separated by about 20 minutes, Wobenzym-N by Garden of Life (2-3 each time). Earlier this year (April-Sept.) I took Vitalzym instead of Wobenzym.

The remainder I take with meals 1-2x/day:

Pine Street Clinic AML customized Chinese Herbal Formula*– 1-2 caps - and that IS

Ba Ji Tian

Bai He

Bai Hua She She Cao

Ban Zhi Lian

Chen Pi

Dang Shen

Dong Chong Xia Cao

Du Zhong

Gou Qi Zi

Hai Zao

Huang Qi

Tien Men Dong

Yi Yi Ren

MULTI: I vary them, zeroing in on whole food types. For example, Raw One for Women by Vitamin Code OR 2/2x daily Nutri-Essentials Plus by North Shore Nutriceuticals (developed by integrative oncologist Dr. Keith Block).

Super Omega-3 EPA/DHA by Life Extension, 2/day OR Parent Essential Oil- 2 caps / 2 times daily (has Evening Primrose Oil in it).

ImmPower by American Biosciences - 2-5x/week

Mega Green Tea Extract (98% polyphenols) by LifeExtension

Resveratrol (various brands) alternated and combined with Grape Seed Extract

Methylselenocysteine 200 mcg. - 1-5x/week

Vitamin C - 1000 mg. with bioflavonoids

Curcumin (various brands)

Digestive enzymes with meals: Betaine HCL 648 mg. and/or Maxi-Zyme Caps by Country Life.

Probiotics, e.g. Udo's Choice Super 8 Hi-Potency or Ultimate Flora Advanced Immunity.

Calcium - 3A Calcium Formula – 3 caps daily.

Vitamin D3-5 by Bio-Tech (5000 I.U.) - upping my dose to 2-3x/day for the winter.

Beta-Carotene (25,000 i.u.)

Hepatrophin PMG (liver pills!) by Standard Process, 1-2x/day

"Recovery" and "Bone-Stem" Aura Therapy Patches (Bio-Magnetic Systems Ltd.). Don't laugh; that and the liver pills saw the most improvement in my stable but very low blood counts for the 1st time in 18 months.

Several times a week I make a Green Smoothie (e.g. organic greens with fresh/frozen fruit, Tbsp. maple syrup and water) OR a custom "Power Drink" with Emergen-C, 1 T. Emerald Energy Defense green powder , Trace Mineral Drops (by Liqui-Mins), fruit juice, 2 oz. aloe vera juice, 1T. maca, soaked chia seed "gel," a few pieces of soft fruit. Also fresh carrot-beet-apple-ginger juice 2-4x/week.

Pure water! I have an AquaSpace Aquarius Triple Plus with AQUATOMIC® : AQ-435F/AT (AQ-435F/AT) (recommended by Jon Barron). Before that I got reverse osmosis refills from Whole Foods. For a year I've used a RainShow'r filter (with fresh filters, of course). I drink 5-8 glasses of pure water a day between meals.

Quite a list, eh? I try not to make idols of what I'm doing, simply to have a grateful discipline in it all. In everything I give thanks to God (1 Thessalonians 5:18), blessing my food, my water, my handfuls of herbs… breathing in deeply the gift of each new day.

May this be a blessed Advent for everyone reading this.