My blog is called “I Love To Go A Gardening” so I thought I ought to throw in something garden-ish: A month or so ago–a lifetime ago–I dug up a few herbs from my garden and I bought a couple more from the Farm Market. I really hoped to be able to have fresh herbs all winter long. This morning as I opened the curtains, I noticed that several of the plants are yellowing and shriveling up. Oops, bummer, and oh well. I have been neglecting to water them enough, but I’ve had other things to think about.

“Well,” I thought with a bit of humor, “at least I am remembering to feed the pets.” Then I remembered that I was late giving my dog Danny his pill. He hasn’t been feeling well. I took him to the vet about a week ago and the vet said that Danny’s lungs aren’t clear so he gave me antibiotics to give him. I have to give him a pill twice a day and a capsule three times a day. Danny has been taking the pill well enough, but he spits out the capsule so I have been feeding it to him with a little bit of leftover meatloaf. He loves the meatloaf enough that he gobbles it and the capsule down. However, this morning I only had a morsel of meatloaf left, and it apparently wasn’t enough because he spit the capsule out on the floor. So I looked around and saw crackers on the counter and thought, “that will do.” When I turned back around, I saw that Danny must have picked up the capsule again (he eats anything that falls to the ground) and spit it out again, only this time he had spit it out on the cat. The pill was stuck to Little Bear’s fur. LOL. I did finally get Danny to eat the med sandwiched in cracker. That made me laugh.

Last night I felt overwhelmed, stressed, fragile, and panicky. I did not feel panicky about my son’s prospects. (Although sometimes what he is experiencing scares me.) From what I hear, there is a HUGE reason to hope. A lot of people survive this type of cancer. It’s kind of cool that EJ works with this guy who never told anyone that he had had cancer a few years ago but for some reason he suddenly began to pour out his heart to EJ a few days ago. Co-workers tend to pour out their heart to my hubby. At the time, the co-worker didn’t know that our son was just diagnosed with cancer. It turns out that he had the very same type of cancer that JJ has, only much worse, and he survived. He has become a valuable encouragement and resource for EJ. 

No, I didn’t feel  overwhelmed, stressed, fragile, and panicky about JJ, but about what on earth I’m supposed to feed him. 

EJ’s Mom always cooked from scratch when he was growing up, so he loves homemade food. I’ve tried, more and more and as much as possible, to make homemade. Since we’ve married, we’ve never bought many prepackaged meals, although we haven’t eaten as healthy as we could have either. In recent years we have tried to improve our eating habits. We absolutely think food has an affect on our bodies. After reading about pink slime in beef, honey that has all the good stuff filtered out, GMOs and pesticides, we read labels more, buy our meat at a meat market most of the time, and buy organic as much as possible. I grow most of the herbs I use. I even buy cinnamon sticks and ginger and grind them myself.

We also “like” pages on Facebook about healthy and unhealthy foods and processes so that we can learn to eat more healthy. And that’s the problem. There’s a ton of information out there, pouring into our brains. It can be a bit overwhelming. It’s hard to make major changes all at once, so I’ve been trying to take it slower, one step at a time, changing this and tweaking that. But still, we have eliminated a lot of foods and ingredients from our diet. I no longer can mentally think of the recipes I can make with the ingredients I have in my fridge and pantry. I have to think more intentionally about my menu and go searching on-line for things to make. It’s sort of stressful.

Some people love to cook. Cooking is their “warm fuzzy,” their therapy, their artistic expression. Cooking to them is like writing, reading, walking, or gardening is to me. Cooking to me is sort of like mowing the lawn. I can do it well enough, I don’t hate it, I can find pleasure in it, but it’s something on my To Do List, not on my “If I could do anything I wanted, I’d do this” List. In fact, if I were wealthy, one of the first things I’d do is hire a chef. Let him or her worry about what to have for dinner.

But now JJ is sick and there’s all these resources about how to fight cancer naturally, and juicing, and all that. It’s too much. I ranted to EJ in frustration last night that according to all the sources, meat, dairy, bread, sugar, rice, noodles and canned tomatoes are all very bad. That leaves fruits and veggies–but we must be careful about GMOs and toxic pesticides. I used to LOVE fruits and veggies but a lot of them are tasteless to me these days. We speculate that it could be the GMOs or the fact that farmers harvest them before they are ripe so that they don’t rot on the way to where they are being shipped. Whatever, they just don’t taste as well as they used to. I do my best to cook tasty nutritious meals, but I just don’t have all that much to work with anymore. When I do find a usable recipe, JJ doesn’t always like it. I feel as if the only ingredients I have to work with are ground beef, potatoes, and carrots. Not entirely true, of course, but if I have one more meal of ground beef, potatoes, and carrots, I think I’m going to VOMIT.

Cooking is becoming a stress-filled ordeal.

And now my son is sick and he’s scary thin. He needs to have some meat on his bones, especially if he gets sick from chemo. He is deciding to have the treatment the doctors recommend. This is his battle, he must believe in the treatment, and we will support his choices completely.

But “What the *^$!@&# am I supposed to feed him???” I swore in panic last night. Ok, I never swear and I really didn’t swear last night, but I did briefly imagine swear symbols. As EJ sometimes quotes, “Some situations are bad enough to make even a preacher swear”…or think in swear symbols.

So we talked about it. All three of us. With a bit of humor. JJ said that he found a list of foods that cause or feed cancer on the Internet, and really the only thing that he can eat is soy cakes. “Soy is bad for you,” his Dad quipped. I said that there actually were two types of foods that I have heard only good about and nothing bad. What’s that? “Herbs and spices.” “I am freakin’ not going to just eat herbs and spices,” JJ exclaimed dramatically.

EJ and I developed a plan, a plan customized to our situation. We decided that a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. JJ absolutely needs to eat and fatten up. He needs food that appeals to him. What’s the use of trying to find only completely healthy foods if JJ won’t eat them? In the battle to overcome cancer, I don’t want him to starve to death. This morning I told EJ that I didn’t even know what meals to plan for anymore. We should go shopping, but what am I even supposed to buy? “How about ground beef, potatoes, and carrots?” he asked innocently. I gave him a dirty look and we laughed and laughed and laughed.

So while JJ slept this morning, EJ and I drove to the grocery store. We tried to buy the healthiest options that were available–organic if possible–of the foods that would appeal to JJ. Our main consideration is buying foods that will tempt JJ to eat heartily. Our slogan has become WWJE…What Would JJ Eat? We actually had quite a bit of fun shopping today: “Oh, I think he would enjoy this!” or “This looks interesting. Let’s buy it and see if he likes it.”

I actually feel a great sense of relief now. Uncertainty always fills me with vague looming anxiety–similar to the feeling of having a term paper worth half my grade due on Monday, and I hadn’t begun it. It’s like hearing a crunching and rustling in the forest and not knowing what it is. But now I have direction, a plan, a goal. My stress about food is reduced. Whew.

The next uncertainty concerns JJ’s college. I had been in contact with the college, but until our appointment with the doctor I didn’t know if JJ needed further treatment or not so I didn’t know if he should withdraw from his classes. I tried to ask the doctor how chemo will likely affect him and whether he will feel well enough to work and go to school. “Now don’t go doing anything rash, don’t go cancelling everything. We aren’t at that point yet…” Grrrr. I hate a person acting as if every question I ask means I am imagining the worse and falling apart. Maybe I am expressing myself wrong or something, but my questions are valid. We need to have answers so we can prepare ourselves and formulate plans. Thinking things through, preparing ourselves, and developing a plan does NOT lead to MORE stress in our lives, it leads to LESS. Duh. I realize that we don’t have a specific treatment plan yet, but I need to have some general idea of what to expect because I need to deal with the college. If it’s likely that JJ will not feel well enough, we need to withdraw him from his classes now, not later when it’s too late to have any hope of him receiving an incomplete. An Incomplete means he can retake the classes within the next year without paying for them again. THAT’S what I was trying to ask the doctor about.

Since the doctor appointment, I have decided that JJ is not up to college, it will be too stressful for him, so I will withdraw him and go from there.

Thinking of fun
Thinking of fun

Next, I told my guys that we must think of activities that will help us relieve stress. We must have fun in our lives. Something fun for us, that is. We don’t really enjoy visiting tourist places filled with crowds and expensive trinkets.  I, in particular, am introspective and energized by quiet. I love writing, walks with my dog, working in the garden, reading/studying, and my computer. EJ works hard and suffers from severe back pain and other problems, so he often needs time to rest his body. When he’s not in agony, we often have to shop, or do things around the house, or gather firewood, or other such things. JJ loves his computer and the interaction of his friends there. Plus, he will likely not be feeling well if he has chemo. So what do we do for fun? EJ and I discussed that we all love movies, so we are strongly considering buying Amazon Prime, which includes being able to download thousands of movies. Beyond that, we are still thinking. But at least we are formulating a plan.

Addressing the food issues has decreased a lot of my stress. Getting the college issue out of the way will reduce stress even more. And we are working on the issue of stress relievers.

I love it when a plan comes together.

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