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.


marcia barclay said...

Hi David,
Thanks for my laugh for the day! Are those your kitties? What a riot to watch them & then I guess they worked up an appetite & headed off to the kitchen!
Marcia in CA

David Arenson said...

No, they're not my kitties but I got a kick out of it, too. I'm surprised that they were comfortable with the treadmill, didn't see it as some sort of monster like the vacuum cleaner.

Anonymous said...

I took my wife to see 'Tosca'. I told her beforehand that it was a violent (not graphic) opera, and indeed, everyone does die in the end. So, if it's opera, look for lots of bodies on the stage at the conclusion.

I do love the music and the staging, though. My favorite opera is 'Turindot', another one by Puccini. The music is just wonderful. The best recording I have, actually, was recorded over-the-air when the Met played it a few years back. I prefer it to all other versions; I just have the one cassette.

David Arenson said...

We've recently discovered Turandot also and the music is superb as you say. More "grand opera" than La Boheme, which we have also been listening to. And, unlike Boheme, the heroine doesn't die in the end; she has, of course, executed people and tortured someone to death, but she and the prince are set to live happily ever after, so I guess one can overlook the gory details. We hope to see Tosca later this year when it is performed in Phoenix.

Many years ago we saw The Flying Dutchman and most of the Ring Cycle, so we are familiar with Wagner. He, and Puccini, are my favorite opera composers. Isolde's Liebestod from the end of Tristan und Isolde is one of the great moments in music.