Friday, January 11, 2013

Today's Special Guest....Water

Water. H2O.  One oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. It can exist in a solid state, ice or gas.  It covers 71% of the earth's surface.  Nothing ground breaking here.

It's been said that drinking water is as important to our bodies as is putting oil in our car. Our parts must keep running friction free.   I drink a lot of water. A lot. Before my diagnosis I didn't. I drank a lot of diet soda. A lot. I drank coffee. Not a lot, but when I did I'd load it up with equal. A lot. 7 or 8 packets per cup. Studies are starting to show that aspartame, the main component of equal and many diet products, can be carcinogenic. I have three theories of why I might have come down with myeloma. The first theory has to do with bone surgery on my left foot that unleashed a torrent of toxins. Theory two is that I had way too much aspartame in my lifetime. Theory three is simply that shit happens. Well,when diagnosed, I cut out diet soda and coffee and equal. But for several months I'd still have an occasional sprite, 7 up, or lemonade, It was hard to go cold turkey on non water beverages. But those drinks have sugar. Cancer feeds off of sugar.  Nowadays I am almost purely a water drinker. I love it now. Water is pretty darn tasty. I'll have caffeine free tea or a beer on occasion. But I'm a water drinker.

For me drinking water is doubly important because I need to keep my kidneys flushed. Let's keep that water flowing to ensure toxins in my body are released.

I'm thinking about water because I swam today. About 30 minutes in the pool. A few months back, I was trying to swim regularly for exercise. It's a good overall body workout. I wanted to swim because it's non jarring and wouldn't strain my bones.  But then we did the bone scan and bone density tests. The results showed that I have mild osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis I'm kind of young for that. But I was told that in all likelihood the high doses of steroids were impacting my bones. A lot of folks with myeloma have bone involvement and are prescribed drugs to help strengthen the bones. But since I have kidney involvement, Berenson nixed these drugs. The kidney doctor thought he might have a solution that wouldn't impact  the kidneys. I can't remember the name of the drug, but Dr B also nixed that. He said that specific drug had been shown to feed  myeloma and could increase chances of dying. Fuck that. So my solution for keeping my bones strong is to do weight bearing exercise. Swimming is not weight bearing. Cycling is not weight bearing. Walking, running, weight lifting are weight bearing.  So I cut out swimming. I'm sort of an all or nothing person.

However, the thing is that since my diagnosis, I really want to be around water. Being in a pool is like heaven to me. I always liked playing a pool. But now I love it. In Mexico recently, I went in the freezing pool because I wanted to feel that liberating sensation. Before jumping in, I thought of Felix Baumgarten and his sky dive from the edge of space..the most amazing thing I've ever seen. If he can jump out of a capsule 24,000 feet in the sky, I could jump into a cold pool.

Like I said, water is massively important to me. I've gone stand up paddle boarding. In the spring I want go snorkeling and kayaking. I'd love to get a two person kayak for me and Leslie or for me and Gracie. I have a friend who teaches sailing. I want her to teach me how to sail. I've never ever wanted to learn to sail. But I do now. I go on a daily walk with co workers at lunch and we cross a bridge over the water. It's beautiful. They are talking about moving our office closer to the airport. I love airports, but I'd rather stay down by the water.

I've always been a fairly active person. I used to run a lot. I loved running. But then I started to get older and running caused pain in my hips, knees and ankles. No more running. That's simply a function of me getting older and me being not too light on my feet. Don't mistake me being active with me being athletic. I'm generally fairly clumsy. I'm Ashkenazi Jew after all. We're not athletes. Berenson is actually studying if Ashkenazi Jews are more genetically predisposed for myeloma. He took a blood sample from me to be included in the study. Thus, I like to move and do stuff, but I'm not super athletic. Swimming, therefore, is almost a perfect exercise for me. It doesn't jar my hips, knees or ankles.  All I have to do is think about my form and count laps. I can do that. Swimming gives me all kinds of time to do math in my head. The only thing missing is music. Someone needs to invent an underwater ipod type device.

I want go back to my question about myeloma numbers for a second, I was sitting in a long ass meeting yesterday. Folks occassionally like to get into the technical details of things. It's not for me though. I kind of gloss over when that line of discussion starts. It's not that I can't understand it. I think I'm sufficiently smart to get it, although sometimes I think I've over estimated my intelligence. I think chemo has also impacted my ability to think and focus. The point is, with work as with myeloma, I don't care to know details. Just give me the results. Just tell me what I need to do. I'm impatient, with perhaps a touch of a.d.d. Detail, smetails. I'm not too handy because I move too quickly.  In summary, I see overlap between my understanding of my myeloma numbers and my approach to work. Results, results, results.

Back to water. It's just interesting to me how important it's become to me. I think the takeaway from all of the above is that I swam for 30 minutes today, I'm back down under 200 pounds and getting back in shape. Oops, one more aside, Phan loves for his patients to gain weight and eat. That's a good sign for cancer patients. I need to find balance between weight being good and me being sensitive about my weight and fitness level. We're getting there.


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Berenson Oncology Success Rate

 Some reading about my myeloma specialist's success rate. A press release and an article from Targeted Oncology.