However, we're going to do a slightly parred down next week, as I don't go home to L.A. until a week from Monday (February 7th).
So it's not REALLY the end...quite yet.
I feel like those that are actually still reading this want the whole dish (pun intended), so let's go day by day through the last two weeks, as a lot has happened that I want to document.
Day 78 = L and I did our usual Monday thing: catching up and talking about the weekend, thumbing through the cookbooks, putting a recipe for the week together, shopping, and then that night they went to a Blazer's game, and had box seats which were catered to, so dinner prep wasn't on the agenda.
Day 79 = L's daughter, S, has an infant daughter (I think I've referenced L's adorable grand-daughter/G's adorable niece before, but just in case I haven't, she is Z, and just about the cutest thing you can imagine at around 9 months old) and is really trying to cook healthier for herself and her family. She wanted to learn my Tofu Scramble, and so did L, so we all gathered in the kitchen that afternoon and I showed them how to make it happen. [All the recipes I reference in this post I will actually give in the next post - Part II - The Cuisine Part.]
Day 80 = L has really missed baking, and since the pantry and all the gluten-free flours are super organized now, we thought we'd try our luck at some scones. The recipe was just a Currant Scone, so we juiced it up a bit and made Currant Cranberry Orange Scones. Super tasty. Totally gluten and dairy free. We were impressed with ourselves. And for dinner, we made Spaghetti Squash with Veggie Ragout. That's a recipe you don't want to miss, and if you are eager to try squashes, but intimidated - Spaghetti Squash couldn't be any easier, and if you bake it whole and then open it in half, the inside flesh is separated and noodley (perfect gluten-free, whole food/unprocessed pasta noodle substitute). Another side project we've been working on is going through her Lyme "file", and I've been looking at all the various diagnostic tests that were run, etc. to see if I don't see anything interesting through fresh eyes and the perspective I bring. One thing that stands out is that L, when she was tested for food allergies, showed a possible intolerance or sensitivity to dairy. I pointed that out, and hopefully it will help add extra incentive for her, as to my mind at this point, I really think dairy is the biggest part of her diet historically that was causing increased inflammation. I feel this way because she ate a lot of dairy, this test say she may be intolerant, and on the days/occurences of dairy "cheats" that I know of, she experienced increased pain that night or the night following. The other times I've noticed she experiences increased pain (with regards to looking for patterns related to food) are the days when she doesn't eat breakfast/eat enough throughout the day. Between nerve regeneration, constant flow of oral antibiotics, assimilating all the medications and supplements she's currently on, chronic pain, new lighter braces that require her to use muscles that have atrophied and are rebuilding, etc....L's body is using A LOT of energy, and therefore needs A LOT of the nutritional building blocks that all of the above processes hinge upon. When she hasn't eaten enough, and what she has eaten has been sugary or processed, she hurts that night. I see that as no coincidence, and have really communicated these kinds of patterns to her and encouraged her to journal and document even more than she already does so she can really narrow in on identifying these kinds of patterns for herself.
Days 81-84 = L had Physical Therapy, where she is continuing to make strides. She is on her lighter braces most of the time now, a HUGE victory. L and V took her to see her neurologist for a check in, and he was pleasantly surprised at her progress, and thinks there's no reason why she can't drive again soon. !!!!! This represents L's chance to reclaim her independence, and is a big deal. In P.T., she is now using bands to build her ankle strength. Let's be clear here - there was a time when L was dealing with two "drop foot" scenarios, so the fact that she can independently demonstrate ankle resistance is a huge optimistic indicator for the future of her physical rehabilitation process. For dinner that night, I made a Mexican-Style Filling comprised mostly of red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, and black beans, and we used some hearts of romaine as wraps and made lettuce wraps, and the filling was also used during the weekend that followed as burritos, and L liked it so much she made another batch for when they had friends over that weekend, as well. L also had art and acupuncture, as usual, and when I picked her up from acupuncture, her acupuncturist commented on how well L is doing, and turned to me and said, "Must be all that juicy food you've been preparing!". It's so nice to be acknowledged. L and V had a relaxing weekend.
Day 85 = We did our Monday routine in the morning, L had Trager in the afternoon, and then we shopped for our week's menu, and ate some more of the Yam/Black Bean Burrito leftovers for dinner, which I enjoyed with them as I spent the night. Did we watch Food Inc.? Are you ready for this.....NO! At this point, I just have to laugh. Either they are TOTALLY supposed to see this movie, or they TOTALLY are NOT supposed to see this movie, I can't decide which. I'm leaning on the side of YES, as even though we still had technical difficulties (at this point, I'm blaming the DVD itself...isn't that funny? No audio vocal track. Sounds and music were there, but no human voices. Picture was fine.), we talked about the film, and I re-handed V "The China Study", which he read a few chapters of while working out that night and seemed really compelled so far. On Monday, I'm going to spend the night again, and we'll see if we can't, on our last opportunity to, see this movie and discuss it! L also really wants to watch "What the Bleep Do We Know?", as her acupuncturist has also suggested she see it, and she's quite curious.
Day 86 = An interesting and exciting day. L and I went out to Damascus (outside of Portland) to visit her naturopath, whom she hadn't seen since last summer. The naturopath was also quite happy and optimistic regarding the gains that L has made in the last three months, and was supportive of the gluten-free, dairy-free, anti-inflammatory diet. The place the naturopath was concerned was L's hands. She wants to really focus on reversing the entropy that has already happenned so L doesn't lose her hands anymore than she already has. She recommended a different perspective on acupuncture, and gave L a mini treatment on the spot focusing on points in her head that correspond to the peripheral extremities, to make sure the movement centers in the brain are being stimulated even though the hands are mobile due to the nerve degeneration (nerves stimulate muscles - when nerves die, muscles atrophy), and then showed us how to massage L's hands daily with frankincense (borrelia) and sandalwood oils, which have been proven to stimulate circulation, neural capacity and communication, and even stimulate myelination. After even a few moments of the massage technique with the oils, L's hands were considerably freer, less fixed, and she could even FEEL a huge difference. Since then, we have been keeping up on this every day. I think I've even derived some therapeutic benefits from doing this for her, as my hands feel alive and tingly afterward and the fragrance of these oils is something out of this world. If you've never smelled super pure frankincense oil from the east, you must. This naturopath is really a wise woman to be trusted, as not only is she really respected in the local community (and she is who referred L to her acupuncturist - who is the one I trust the most out of all these myriad practitioners L sees), but above that had Lyme herself, to the point of even complete blindness for a time, and has made a 100% recovery. L had biblestudy that night and V worked late (as he is 3 nights a week this school term), so it was a leftover night, dinner-wise.
Day 87 = Beauty day! Haha, it wasn't planned that way, but L has a friend that comes and does a pedicure every so often, which really helps her edema and circulation in her feet and calves, and then had a hair appointment. I encouraged her to go a bit shorter than usual, switch it up a bit - I think as she loses weight, increases strength and mobility, and makes all these changes, she's feeling good about herself and what girl doesn't feel even better after a little trip to the salon? L wanted to keep it simple for dinner that night, so I did something we've done so little of....and handed her pre-made/processed ideas: Dr. Pragger's Gluten-Free Veggie Burgers, Food for Life Gluten-Free Sandwich Rounds/Buns, and Frozen Garlic & Rosemary Potato Fries. Everyone deserves easy burgers and fries sometimes. And with fresh lettuce, avocado, tomato, etc. it wasn't a meal devoid of any whole food nutrition, so there.
Day 88 = P.T. at 9:00 a.m. made for an early start to a great day. When we got home, I plunged head-first into another project that I was re-inspired toward after the trip to the naturopath: organizing her supplements! L is very good about her med regimen, and has her routine down to a science daily, but she had given up on supplements along the way. Early in the process (like, week one), I had made myself (and L) a COMPLETE list of all her medications and supplements, but when it came to supplements, I noticed MANY of them were just vitamin-based, and I felt that L was going from an extremely processed diet to an extremely whole-food -based diet, and would therefore be EATING most of those vitamins, and in such a way that her body could easily assimilate them, so those types of supplements seem futile to me. Since her acupuncturist made such a point to me about focusing on the liver/spleen/pancreas system (because of stagnance and toxicity, in part due to Lyme and in part due to the quantity and duration of intense pharmacological intervention), I also didn't want to just be encouraging more things that L's liver was going to have to work on, especially pills that just contained things she is now EATING. I feel that the vitamin industry is a bit of a racket. You can't really assimilate all nutrients in pill form. So, this was placed on the backburner until I had this chance to meet L's naturopath, talk to her about which supplements were most important, see what L eats mostly and reaches for on her own (indicative of what she'll reach for when I'm not here), and then dial in her daily supplement ingestion plan. And I took my OCD pantry approach to the supplement basket - it is now color-coded, labeled, designated, timed/scheduled, and makes perfect sense to L, and she went from about 20 supplements to about 9 - the ones that are specific to Lyme/pathogenic illness, nerves/neural healing, and things like B12 since she isn't eating much fish or poultry/beef at this point, and leafy greens and sea vegetables are not her favorite. Other fun supplements include Ox Bile (to help her body digest essential fatty acids/good fats, since these are the important neural cellular building blocks, and the gallbladder's function, which L had removed), and an enzyme from ground up earthworms (contain minerals and phytonutrients that attack the Lyme pathogen - as one of L's naturopath's students described it to me - think of earthworms - they get into nooks and crannies, underneath and inbetween, that other things can't go - that is how to think of their medicine in the Chinese system - the really get in there and root out the toxin). I know these things aren't vegan, but medicine from the animals, consciously and gratefully taken for intentional healing, seems a far cry from mindless consumption for a full belly. All animals have a medicine they bring/represent - archetypically/spiritually and naturally/physically. Chinese and Native (American) traditions have long held this to be true - it's time we start to think in these terms again, and not just in terms of what tastes good. This deck/book changed my life, the way I thought of animals, and the way I interpreted dreams and noetic inclinations with/toward animals, so I'll just throw it out there: http://www.amazon.com/Medicine-Cards-Discovery-Through-Animals/dp/0312204914
For dinner, L and I made a Corn Chowder, one of her favorites! I helped chop and set up and we talked through it, and then I left and heard later that night that it turned out wonderful. It's still important to me that she be making things, or at least helping me. We both need to know that she can keep this up. The family needs to know that she can keep this up.
Day 89/90 = L had art class all morning, acupuncture (which V was around to take her to and from), and then a dinner at their golf club last night. I've yet to hear, but let's hope she made good choices! I'm stronger in my trust that she is making choices that honor her healing path at the moment when I'm not around than I ever have been. L, you've made the changes, woman. I know you have, and I know they'll stick in as far as you can commit right now. This weekend, they have some outings planned with friends, and then we're back in it Monday morning first thing, for our very last (slightly bonus, post-90-day) week.
Next post: The recipes from this post.
And then I'll be sure to post thoughts and recipes from the upcoming week.
And then I'll be sure to post some closing thoughts and a summative encapsulation of my feelings and L's feelings (and maybe even a bit about G/J and the family) as we seek our closure and prepare to say bye for now...probably toward the end of next week.
I am, at this moment, pretty proud of L.
And of myself.
Dining for Healing Means Mining for Revealing,