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I’m In Love and I Can’t Cheat

It’s official:  I’m in love with fat.  Nothing satisfies, nothing creates that warm and fuzzy feeling we get after a particularly fine meal better than saturated fat.  For the next two and a half weeks I have to follow the fruit bat low-iodine diet in preparation for my one-year post thyroid cancer body scan.  Even though I’ve been ultra-sounded and blood-monitored for the last twelve months with “no detectable markers, ” I still have to complete the protocol and be scanned again after downing a small dose of radioactive iodine.

So my story this week is one of lost love and conflict.  My lost loves are creamy, dreamy Greek yogurt, omelets made with whole eggs’ bright yolks, oatmeal with a dribble of half & half bisecting the rivulets of honey, a fat pat of butter squatting on my toast.  My conflict is my nuclear medicine doc telling me that I can cheat!  And since doctors ALWAYS assume their patients are non-compliant, what EXACTLY does “cheating ” mean?  Can I eat one “bad” meal a day or a week?  Can I cheat intermittently for the next two weeks but be totally compliant the last week?  Can I add just a splash of milk to my coffee three times a week?  With all these questions and scenarios the cheating feels like more work than complying.

I reason with myself that the first three days are really the hardest. If I can get past this week then the meal planning will just become a new routine.  And I’m not exactly hungry – I’m just not satisfied.  I can eat as much fresh fruit and salad as I want, and this includes adding monounsaturated fat-laden avocados, which should increase my feelings of satiety.   I prefer my own homemade vinaigrette dressing to the bottle so that’s not a hardship.  I can bake my own bread and muffins courtesy of recipes from a terrific resource, The ThyCa Low-Iodine Cookbook All of the recipes are submissions from folks who had to follow this crazy diet, and all of the ones I’ve tried have turned out well…..considering the only agents of moisture are applesauce and vegetable oils.

Although fresh meat is allowed on this diet, I’m not a big red meat-eater.  I’m more the “large herbivore” type – which means I employ a grazing/browsing strategy to consume a lot of food to maintain my metabolism (insert image of your favorite large herbivore here).  This in turn means I’m thinking about food all the time while nibbling on raisins and shredded wheat biscuits (because I can’t eat a bowl of cereal drenched in cold milk, dammit).  As I write this I’m fantasizing about a black bean and pasta dish that I might try to jazz up with some roasted butternut squash for my dinner. That must be why deer have evolved to be so thin and to have such small brains.  They have to eat your flowers constantly, but they blessedly have little to think about.

I try to look on the bright side:  when I’m released from these restrictions I can tuck into a cheesy burro and follow it up with a nice bowl of Ben & Jerry’s Liz Lemon FroYo.  On the brighter side, that meal just might be too much love to handle at one sitting, but I’m confident I can swing back to sweet moderation after the heady afterglow of fat-love dissipates.

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Where’d You Go, Nap?

Like the cicadas that sleep for up to eighteen years at a time, Can I Take A Nap? enjoyed a little hiatus, but it was no hibernation.   Since May,  I watched one of my spawn walk as a doctor (and into tax-paying employment), and I walked my first half marathon.  Let the record proudly show:  my time for thirteen miles was four hours and thirty-five minutes, without a potty break (a surprising stat, but in retrospect maybe not a good one).  I also became an unwitting tester of mosquito-repelling soap, when I received (unsolicited) a few bars in the post.  To this day, nobody can explain how or why.  The whole Napping Family took a little jaunt up to Maine and ate succulent lobster for every meal.  In between,  I performed all the other routine tasks that pay the bills and make civilized life possible at Casa de Nap.  Now it’s freakin’ August, with the long-shadowed, Back-To-School shopping, dog days of Summer ahead.

It’s good to let the top down and take a breath from time to time.  Looking in the rear-view mirror, this time last summer I was recovering from the surprise of a thyroid cancer diagnosis and preparing myself for RI treatment. Recently I read about the National Cancer Institute’s push to reclassify some tumors/nodules as “indolent lesions of epithelial origin,” or the more nap-friendly acronym, IDLE.    I’m not one who likes to second guess the decisions of the past, but this new position makes me wonder if my nodules and surgery were both over-diagnosis and over-treatment?  Or was I proactively heading off cancer at the pass?   Is it better to over-treat when the odds of a good outcome are high or watch and wait over time with increasing anxiety?  I’ll never empirically know the answer, but I do know I feel good and grateful for every day.

So thanks for checking in these last fallow months, my plans are to bring some short fiction to the blog along with the random ramblings.   Now turn over so you don’t get sunburn and re-apply your sunscreen.

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The Post That Refreshes

Well, dear elite Nappers, September 2012 means you’ve been visiting Can I Take a Nap First? for a whole year  (pause to reflect/gather thoughts/ get a snack/take a bathroom break).   I can’t thank you enough for stopping by and leaving your comments.  It’s been a blast, and I look forward to another year of mining popular culture and my family gatherings for blog fodder.

If you follow the academic or Jewish calendars you know that September (usually) brings the new year.   Whether you are gathering the harvest or gathering new pencils you can feel change in the air.  You can see the subtle changes in the light, and you can smell that new car smell as the 2013 models roll onto the lots. I hope all of you had delightful summers chock full of fresh local farm stand produce.  It’s a deliberate act of faith in your community to buy locally grown goods, and it’s just a nice way to meet your friends and neighbors before we get boxed in by over-booked schedules, partisan politics and bad weather.

Looking in the rear-view mirror for a bit:  we had the Olympics as a diversion.  And if you didn’t enjoy watching the events, there was plenty of opinion to go around about the coverage.  And speaking of coverage (or lack thereof) the Paralympics   are happening in London right now.  These extraordinary athletes are just as deserving of media coverage and fan support so do check them out.

I’m trying out a new look for the Nap.  Feels like the right time, but I’m a little rusty on the widgets so please bear with me.   I’ll have plenty of time to fine-turn later this month as I’ll be under house quarantine glowing with radioactivity from RI  therapy to ablate whatever thyroid is left from my little dance with thyroid cancer last May.  No biggie.  The bigger inconvenience is the “fruit bat” low-iodine diet I have to follow for the next 2 weeks.  But a woman can live without dairy and chocolate for 2 weeks, right?    It’s a little more complicated than that:  you have to assume that any product you don’t craft yourself could have iodized salt in it.  Kosher salt is OK, but on the “NO” list are any commercially prepared foods (breads/salad dressings/marinades) and anything with red dye #3.  I quote a wise Bunny who says, “it’s best to eat food made out of food.”   So this week I’ve been surprising myself with baking and cooking low-iodine recipes, and eating fruit at every meal.  And you know what?  I’m not hungry.  Sure, I could go for a nice iced coffee with milk on a warm afternoon, but on the flip side I’ve been experimenting with different eye-opening teas.

I’m technically working from home during my house arrest,  but since I can’t go out among the living in my off hours, I’ll need to catch up on my reading and TV watching.  Any recommendations, kids?

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Necking With Cancer

This is going to be an intimate post, my friends.  Intimate being defined as “a warm pronouncement  of a personal nature uttered free from fear.”  You see, today I found out that I had thyroid cancer.   Loyal Nappy followers may have noticed I’ve been on hiatus for over a week.  I was having a little ambulatory surgery and gave up 18 grams of thyroid about a week ago.  Along with the little organ was a gnarly nodule or 2 — please note my surgeon is professional enough to point out that “gnarly” is not a precise medical term, but in a bit of literary license it will be allowed here.

There is a subset of folks who will tell you that thyroid cancer is the BEST cancer it have.  I won’t debate anybody who’s a member of the cancer survivors’ club — I just count myself as the luckiest woman on the planet right now, because “Who knew?”  Credit goes to the wise and warm Dr. D., the nicest endocrine surgeon in all the land (I hear he also does a mean hernia).  I’ll also give a shout-out to Dr. Lone Ranger  — the anesthesiologist who found a primo vein via the Ray Charles method and left no bruises on my delicate flower arms.  More importantly, I woke up after the procedure not remembering a thing (but hoping I didn’t embarrass myself before I went under).

Now here’s the weird part…. When I was a child of maybe 9 -11 years of age I had a severe case of hypochondria centered around my throat.  I was abnormally afraid of choking and worried about throat cancer — to an almost morbid degree.  I’m sure I drove my parents absolutely nuts with my behavior during this time.  I don’t know what happened to snap me out of it, but just recently I remembered this weirdness.   Could it have been some sort of foreshadowing?  Or just coincidence?  What made me go to the doctor last January with just a vague feeling that there was something “odd and thick” about my neck?

The best news of all is that it looks like the cancer was confined to just a nodule within the thyroid.  And I’m feeling pretty good…. back to work and my family is on to the fact that I should be able to lift 10 pounds by now.  And who could miss the most obvious cliché(s) that time is fleeting, so you’d better wake up and pay attention or you’ll miss something.  Or, don’t squander time — yours or anyone else’s.  Or my new personal favorite:  stop piddlin’ around and start writin’ that book.

So raise a glass my faithful friends and say l’chaim!  Kiss your loved ones tenderly and watch your neck from time to time.