Living Alone

So, I now live on my own.  Entirely.  Well, me and the cat.  Its a different existence for sure.  I have found that I need to be somewhat disciplined to make it work.  Seems contrary to what one would expect.  Really, the notion of living alone could suggest utter independence, self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom.  It can be all those things for sure, but it can also be lonely, isolated, and frustrating.  Frustrating in that I am it, just me.  There is no sharing of chores, no in-house second opinion or sounding board, no voice of reason. Isolated in that once I am inside my little house, it’s on me to reach out and engage my friends if I am feeling low.  Lonely obviously because the cat, charming as he may be, is not the most stimulating of company.

As a result I have learned some coping mechanisms that work for me.  I have learned to be more structured in my activities.  It’s easy to zone out in front of the television, but it’s not healthy.  So I ensure I work out before the tv goes on.  My go-to for dinner for the first year or so after Kev died was a cup of tea and about 8 Ritz crackers (god I love those things), but that’s not very healthy.  So now it’s a planned meal, always a little prep involved because that uses up some time too.

I tend to plan my weekends well in advance.  Have someone over, or go out some place.  There are a lot of people just like me, on their own, not in a relationship, and just looking for stuff to do.  It takes a bit to get used to arriving places solo, or going someplace on your own, and I am not quite to the point where I will go to a movie on my own, but I’m getting there.  Oh and then there’s on line dating…. lol that’s a story for another time.  I never would have ever expected to be where I am, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, isn’t it?

Out With The Girls

Tonight was dinner out with a couple of close friends.  It’s something that I have done a few times now.  It should be such a normal, undemanding, satisfying thing to do, but in reality for me, it’s hard.  When my husband, Kevin, was alive I seldom went out for dinner without him.  It would be like a betrayal to go out for a meal and not have him with me.  Eating out really and truly was his thing.  He would joke (but he was actually quite serious) that he hadn’t taken a lunch to work with him for 15 years.  Truly, every day he and his buddies at the school where he taught would go out for lunch.  Every day.  If that wasn’t enough, he’d sometimes call me before he left at the end of the school day and arrange to meet me for a coffee at a little café we have in town.  Sitting there having our coffee we’d figure out what to do about dinner a couple of hours later.

On the weekend Kevin would usually try to have something planned for Saturday night, at our house or someone else’s.  He had a unique skill as a dinner party planner; he’d invite everyone, assign preparation of courses (appetizers, mains, desserts) and then figure out where the dinner would be.  Sometimes there would be a bit of notice, but not always.  He loved the food and he loved socializing.  He loved our circle of friends.  Then Sundays were breakfast out, usually at the same restaurant, where invariably we’d meet people we knew.

I had been caught up in Kevin’s current and swirled along with him for so long that his death has meant a tremendous adjustment.  That lifestyle is now gone.  Not in the sense that I can’t do those things, but in the obvious way that they will never be the same.  Tonight, sitting there in the restaurant with my friends was so safe but at the same time it pulled at my heart.  Kevin would have had no problem crashing a dinner out with the girls; he had no problem crashing anyone’s party.  I could imagine him there with me tonight, trying to wheedle all the gossip out of my friends, laughing and telling stories.  I suspect that the conversation tonight at the dinner table wouldn’t have satisfied him, it just wasn’t juicy enough; although for a few minutes I think we did him proud.

It’s the simple honest moments that trip me up the most.  I know it, and there is nothing I can do about it.

It’s Been One Week

A week ago we met with the Oncologist to discuss options.  We left the hospital that day with the picc line removed and the knowledge that there would be no more chemotherapy treatments for two months.

First – the removal of the picc line.  When the picc line was inserted back in July, it was done behind a screen.  My husband’s arm was extended and two individuals (not sure whether this was a nurse and technician or doctor) worked behind the screen to prep and insert the picc line.  It was inserted using local freezing and consequently pretty painless.  The first couple of weeks he was really aware of having the line in, but things became pretty routine afterwards.  Showering was no issue as we would wrap his arm in a press and seal type of cling wrap which made the whole area waterproof.  He found it a bit uncomfortable to sleep on that side (left) and so he tended to sleep more on his back.  For appointments where they needed easy access to the picc line he wore short sleeved, button up shirts.  The nurse routinely flushed the line once a week and it was not problematic in any way.  Last week they removed the line.  It surprised my husband to see how long it actually was, right up his arm into his chest.  It was a little uncomfortable coming out as it was removed without any sort of freezing – not painful, just uncomfortable.  The incision point was remarkably small.  He came away with a fairly dense area bandage which we were to remove the next day.  The incision has since healed completely with no issues.  He’s back to a full range of sleeping positions without needing to be mindful of the external hardware that had been taped to his arm.  All is good on that front.

Second – No chemotherapy for two months.  We have had a week to assimilate this information and what it can mean.  It doesn’t mean that we have lost our resources.  Certainly we can contact Oncology at any point to get some assistance.  It does mean that we can take a strong run at diet modification.  During chemo the intake of high protein meals is essential to rebuild and repair blood cells, consequently it was easy to include a lot of meat in our daily diet.  While researching an alkaline diet the focus is on reducing the amount of acidic foods in the diet and meat falls in this category.  So with the luxury of a little time we are now looking at a diet that ticks all the nourishment needs for health and wellbeing but not through reliance on meat.  It’s a learning process which we have just started.  One of the most helpful sites I have found in this regard is which provides lots of information supported by a wealth of research.  We’ve also found a cookbook that has some pretty decent recipes, Eating the Alkaline Way (Corrett and Edgson).  We made the mini pizzas last night, mine was artichoke and basil with mozzarella, my husband’s was fennel, sweet potato and goat’s cheese.  We did cheat and use premade shells – it is still baby steps for us. They turned out awesome. There is so much more to learn and try.  There are so many articles written on real life experiences of people who have successfully beaten the odds using an alkaline diet.  As my hubby says – he has no choice but to try this.

Interestingly, I spoke to the pharmacist and obtained a litmus paper sample which measures pH (acidity or alkalinity) and when he tested, my husband was at 7.0  which is a good reading since anything above 7.0 is considered alkaline.  This reading is not overly surprising; since he was diagnosed with cancer my husband has started every day with a warm glass of lemon water, and throughout the day drank a homeopathic remedy of ginger/lemon/maple syrup as well as a nice Kefir/kale smoothie, and just generally added more fruit and veg to his diet.  When he was suffering from chemo effects meat had no appeal for him – it was too heavy and dense – makes you wonder.  This journey really impresses on me how forgiving the human body is.  We cut ourselves – we heal, we break a bone – it mends, we nourish our bodies appropriately – we can send some diseases packing.  There’s everything to be gained in feeding ourselves properly.