Saturday, May 17, 2008

Life on the treadmill

I've lost 10 pounds so far and sometimes I feel like the guys in the video below.

I've also trained myself to eat less -- "they" say it takes about a month to do -- and life is easier because I'm spending less time digesting. As they say in Okinawa, "
hara hachi bu," or "eat until you are eight parts full (out of ten)." One thing I have noticed is that my energy level is more constant, more even, with fewer peaks and valleys. This is also in part because I am eating healthfully and have pretty much stayed away from sugar except in the form of an occasional orange. My blood glucose level, which was a little high while I was on big doses of steroids, is now well within normal. (I am currently down to one methylprednisolone pill -- 4 mg a day -- to guard against AIHA.)

There is a life-affirming element to all this, a decision to get my physical temple in order, and by extension my spiritual one. I think most of us are probably affected by CLL in a lot of subtle ways we don't consciously recognize. For me, a sense of abandon when it came to eating was one way of coping. When I was a kid and had a rough day in school, I would buy three or four candy bars on the way home and settle in for a little stress reduction, much like adults enjoy a martini after work.

With CLL this sort of thing returned at times. Marilyn and I are both pretty good cooks; we did, in fact, write a cookbook, or most of one. It was pulled by the publisher at the last minute because of a dispute with the California Milk Advisory Board over photo rights but it is apparently still "available" in Canada. We also know a fair amount about wine and are capable of whipping up a pretty decent meal to go with a bottle, with an utter obliviousness to the amount of butter and fat involved.

Good eating has its place, of course, but too much of a good thing is not so good. It is often the case that any method of escape -- be it food, alcohol, drugs, smoking, what-have-you -- only works so much before it becomes self-defeating. For me, the world of food, compounded by lack of exercise, became both a release and a trap.

So now Marilyn and I are exploring opera. It's not fattening and it's not ultimately depressing, even though the heroine always seems to die in the final act.