A sight for sore eyes

So coincidence or not, it has been exactly a year since I last blogged. That is almost like a lifetime when it comes to the blogging community. In fact I am sure that some of my followers will struggle to recognise me when I sneakily show up in their email list with a new entry. After all, they subscribed a year ago to receive my updates and then…..nothing.

A year! 12 months, 52 weeks and what a ride. I don’t really know where to start so I am going to sum it up in a few sentences and then elaborate later.

I had a baby boy, my husband got cancer, my husband beat cancer, I got fat….and unhealthy….again!

Around the time of my last blog my husband started getting sick. It happened suddenly and ran alongside my pregnancy thus plunging us into this spiral of illness and doctors and surgeries and appointments and I do apologise but seriously, blogging was the very last thing on my mind.

So long story short and I will tell you the full version another day when I have more time, everything culminated in ” the week from hell” in September when my husband was hospitalised on a Friday, diagnosed and rushed to surgery on the Monday and I had a c-section without him and delivered our second baby, in a different hospital over the other side of town four days later.

There is a funny thing about cancer, or should I say the weird thing about cancer because let’s face it, there is nothing funny about it. I have seen it time and time again in people I know. I am not entirely sure what it is but it is that thing that makes a wife keep smoking even after she loses her husband to lung cancer. It’s that thing that makes you go out and have a scotch and coke after you find out someone you love has been diagnosed with liver cancer.

I guess what I am saying is that you would think that a loved one getting cancer would be this magical wake up call that forces you to immediately give up all of your unhealthy vices and convert to a religion of super foods, antioxidants and early morning workouts. Well dear friends, I can now tell you from personal experience that it does not work like that.

My husband got bowel cancer. At the ripe old age of 37, after a lifetime of not smoking, rarely drinking and a fair amount of healthy activity, he got bowel cancer anyway. Was it the weet-bix
every morning? Too much coffee? Not enough coffee? One too many Big Macs? Trans fats, processed food, environmental factors, genetics? Who knows and trust me, if you think about it for more than a few seconds at a time you risk becoming a super-paranoid hypochondriac cancer-phobic hermit who never leaves the house for fear of breathing in carcinogenic pollutants in your own front yard. It really can do your head in that much!

For the first 12 weeks after his surgery and my c-section, we both hobbled around the house like an arthritic old couple, groaning and moaning at every slight movement. We both ate what we wanted and did no exercise. Exercise was forbidden for the time being so that was that. After husband having lost 30 kilos of body weight including most of his muscle mass, he looked like, well….for lack of a better description…a cancer patient. He was hollow and sickly thin and sunken. So he pretty much got a ” get out of jail free card” when it came to eating what he wanted. As for me? My post baby hormones were in full swing, I ate anything and everything in sight. My mission was to get husband to put some weight back on but in the process I did too, only I really couldn’t afford to!

Six months later, we are back to the old drawing board. Both of us overweight …..again. Both of us feeling old and unhealthy……again. Not even the big C could deter us from that Big Mac, that block of chocolate, that bowl of pasta, that packet of tim tams! Can I just take a moment to say ” WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH US!” It’s like every time we reached for something unhealthy we would have the same dialogue.

“Oh we really shouldn’t”
” Probably not, but you only live once right! I had cancer so I am going have that tim tam if I want to!”
” I had a baby so I deserve that massive piece of chocolate cherry mud cake!”

And now, we are six months post cancer and post baby and we feel worse than ever. I am not even going to focus on the weight part of it but more just the overall feeling of being unwell. Joints ache, nerves twinge and pinch, head pounds. There is an undeniable feeling of overall inflammation. Nausea pays a visit from time to time and I just have the overwhelming feeling of standing precariously on the edge of a serious health problem. I can’t explain it but it is just a strong feeling that if I don’t get this under control now then things are going to happen that I cannot reverse. I am on the fence between reclaiming my health and sliding into a life of chronic illness. It is up to me which side of the fence I choose.

I read a quote the other day, I can’t remember where, most likely facebook. It said that every time we eat food, we are either fighting disease or feeding it. It made sense to me. Enough sense for me to get out my old paleo cook books and download a few new ones. I am going to choose to fight disease. My life and that of my two kids depends on it.

Today I start day 1 of my whole 30 paleo challenge. 30 days to reclaim my health, slay the sugar dragon and reset my brain. I will no longer be an incubator for inflammation and illness. Those of you wondering what the hell a whole30 is can visit Whole30 and find out the nitty gritty. Basically for 30 days I am cutting out all inflammation causing foods and eating only whole, natural foods that our paleo ancestors would have eaten. No dairy means my gall bladder will be most pleased and no grains means my waistline will be Downright delighted. Probably most importantly, no sugar ………

Now I just have to figure out what I am going to do with this?

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You Don’t Really Expect Me to Drink That?…The Benefits of Pond Scum in a Healthy Diet

Just a little over a year ago, on a day like any other, my family were the recipients of some bad news. After suffering from a seizure, it was discovered that my Dad had a brain tumour. And not just some little peanut tumour but a rather large, insidious, inoperable tumour. It is a day that none of us will ever forget.

Dad was flown from his country Victoria town to Adelaide, Mum and I followed by car. We stayed in Adelaide for 3 weeks. Dad had a brain biopsy and we were just taking each day as it came awaiting the results. We knew something was there that shouldn’t be but had no idea just what it was. On this particular day, it just so happened to be my Mum’s birthday. During the mandatory, no visitor, patient rest period, I went madly running about the city shopping for birthday presents for Mum. I felt it important that everyone present had something to give her and that she should not go forgotten. I guess in hindsight I was really shopping for a little bit of normality in a very tumultuous time.

I bought the gifts, ran back to my hotel room, wrapped each one carefully and returned to the hospital. My Brother arrived, followed by my Mum and we had just enough time to give her the gifts before the oncologist walked into the room. That year she got a swarovski crystal squirrel from me, a couple of books from Dad, some body shop products from my Brother and a diagnoses from the doctor. It was really a birthday to remember but not for the right reasons.

As I left the hospital that night, my head was churning. The words “inoperable tumour” and “16 months to 2 years” running over and over like the soundtrack to some horror movie. Then it switched…”i’m gonna lose my Dad…I’m gonna lose my Dad…I’m gonna lose my Dad….Hell No! I’m NOT ready to lose my Dad!

That night I started to recall all of the stories I had read and seen on TV of people who had terminal cancer who beat the odds. Using the power of food, it seemed that people could help their bodies along with the help of allopathic medicine to fight off the cancer. I became a woman obsessed. The next day, it was off to the bookstore. I bought every conceivable text on foods that fight cancer. I trawled the internet until all hours of the morning looking for medical and scientific journals to back up the information I had found. It seemed plausible. We all know that certain foods have certain benefits for our bodies, I just needed to be specific. Find the foods and extracts that attacked brain tumours. I didn’t know if it would work, but it couldn’t hurt to try.

Dad was on board,at 56 years old, he wasnt ready to quit. He knew he had the fight of his life on his hands and I must say, he was an absolute trooper. I told him he would be taking quite a few tablets every day but he had no idea what I was going to put in front of him. Dad was scheduled for a lengthy treatment of radiation. He never blinked an eye. Went to his appointments everyday, never complained. Lost his trademark long hair, barely a grumble. Side effects from the radiation, and there were many, took it in his stride. I would even come home from work to find that he had done all of my gardening just to keep himself busy while he was unable to work.

Every day he would dish out his supplements. Vitamin E, Garlic, Reservatrol, Omegas, Multi’s, Folate, Green tea extract, shiitake mushroom extract. If it had even a hint of theory of its efficacy against tumours, he was on it. Apart from the specific foods to kill the tumour, I knew that his immune system would need support and general health and well-being were paramount. This is how I discovered pond scum.

Pond Scum, otherwise known as Spirulina, is well-known for being one of the most nutritionally dense foods on earth. Usually taken in powder form as a drink or added to smoothies, it is too easy to add it into your diet every day. The research tells us that it will be well worth the effort. Except….it tastes god awful! It tastes even worse than it looks, if that is possible.

I thought that I would set a good example and also partake in my daily dose of pond scum with Dad. One tiny sip sent me off into a fit of gagging and I never touched it again. All the health benefits in the world could not redeem the foulness of it. My Dad…drank it down. There was a fair bit of grimacing involved, but he did it. Every day. What a champion. If there was ever a measure of how serious someone was about saving their own life….put the pond scum in front of them. You will discover just how strong the will to live can be!

The marketing for the powdered form of these plants never ceases to amaze me. Testimonials from faceless people claiming that ” even my kids love it” Yeah right. Maybe if your husband is Aqua man and your offspring are fish!

Now, all the foulness aside. The health benefits of Spirulina and other plants such as wheat grass and chlorella speak volumes. They really should be a part of the daily diet of anyone serious about their health. But how do we get them down and then more importantly get them to stay down when one glass of Spirulina will have you running to the nearest polluted, blue-green algae infested water source to rinse it out of your mouth.

Luckily there are some fantastic new multivitamins available that contain all of the usual suspects and the added benefits of whole food extracts in a one a day tablet. I am sure Dad breathed a sigh of relief when the daily ritual of pond scum and breakky was no longer necessary. I for one am most pleased that I can include the wonderful health benefits of these plants into my diet without having to cauterise my taste buds permanently in order to make it more palatable.

And if you do decide to test your resolve and drink your Spirulina instead of taking it in tablet form? Be sure to brush your teeth immediately afterwards and for the love of all things healthy, DO NOT smile at anyone on the way to bathroom. The next time you see someone with horrible mouldy teeth…wait a moment before you judge them…they may just be on a health kick and had just taken their Spirulina for the day.

As for Dad, one year on, the tumour that was supposed to take him out has now shrunk to almost nothing. This was a result we were told we could never hope for. Was it the supplements? The radiation? I would like to think a combination of both. Either way, he still takes his supplements and will do every day for the rest of his life. Ironically, turns out in all of my research, I never realised that the tablets were available all along. So I subjected my poor Father to the pond scum un-necessarily.

So I would just like to publicly apologise to you Dad…. above all else you will always be a hero in my eyes for being able to drink that scum and keep it down every day for 3 months. You are a stronger person than I! Forgive me for the assault on your taste buds…..After all, it was for a good cause 🙂