It Might Curry Your Flavor

coffeeshareIf we were having coffee today I’d be skipping the sweet roll. Can’t do it, I’d say.  A1C is too high, the doctor said the last time I was in there and he mentioned the dreaded D-word.  I was ticked off.  I admit it.  No, I wasn’t ticked off at him. I wasn’t ticked off at fate or at life. No, I was ticked off at ME!  I knew better.

I’m being a good boy. My glucose numbers are stellar. I’m dealing with the random sweets part of this much the same way I dealt with drinking when I realized that was a deep dark hole I didn’t want to go farther down. I’m changing.  This is harder.  There are only two liquor stores here, but there are three donut shops.

I’m watching carbs.  I “did” Atkins a number of years ago so I have a good handle on the relative carb counts of food.  That is a big part of this.  I’m also exercising.  Regarding foods, it is easier than Atkins. I can have that occasional biscuit as long as I work it into my overall meal carb count.  Same with tortillas.  That covers at least two of my major food groups.

I’m still playing with a few things.  Like, take spaghetti squash. Some people tout it as a replacement for pasta.  I like it as a vegetable but I never much liked it with Marinara sauce. Ah, but I was hungry for Chicken Curry one day and wondered about making some rice, my usual accompaniment. I can eat rice in small quantities.   But sometimes it doesn’t fit in with other things I might have eaten that day. At the store, I saw some spaghetti squash and I wondered, “what if?”

I’m here to tell you today that curried chicken over spaghetti squash is a revelation! The slight sweetness in the taste is a perfect accompaniment to a spiced curry sauce.  Who knew?  I also found something else.  It seems to actually lower my glucose.  Anecdotal evidence, sure, but I’ve noticed it every time I’ve tried it. This combination is definitely in the mix now, an accident like my sweet potato secret. Ah, but you have to get my cookbook to get that.

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in NC.

For more information:  http://thefensk.com

 

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WeekendCoffee Cancer Fight

pinkribbonIf we were having coffee today I’d apologize for my recent absence. We’ve had a lot going on these past few weeks and it was difficult to find the time to sit down and share a little of what was going on.

What’s the deal?  The BIG “C” is what we’ve been dealing with.
My darling wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and we’ve been completely absorbed with a wild mix of office visits, biopsies, blood draws, mammograms (and more mammograms + ultrasound + more X-Rays),  bad news, and finally surgery.
Worry is the worst of it.  We worried about the diagnosis, about the prospect of surgery and its many possible complications, and we worry about the reality of a lifetime of changes.  Worry alone is enough to wear anyone out.
She had a double mastectomy almost two weeks ago.  Big reality check:  It basically involves not one but two amputations.
Let that sink in for a minute. Amputations.
It has been both physically and psychologically taxing for her.  She feels she has lost part of what makes her a woman. Think about it.  We live in a society that is obsessed with breasts and here she is losing hers in her own private war on cancer.  Me? I am just busy trying to be there for her while at the same time trying to keep the animals fed and the house in some vague resemblance of order.  I also help her keep track of her meds and monitor her symptoms, and of course, I have to manage her drainage tubes.
I try to reassure her that, in my mind, really, what makes her a woman is HER.  She’s still there completely, along with all of her love, her intelligence, and especially that feisty survivor attitude. To me, THAT is what makes her a woman, not those appendages. She’s my other half and she always will be.  Sure, I’m a man.  I love breasts … especially hers.  But I’ve psyched myself to hate the cancer that was in them.  For me, it was a no-brainer.  I’ve still got HER and that is all that matters to me.  I am inspired by her inner strength.
I’d long heard the term “breast cancer survivor”… but now I have a much better understanding of what that means.  I’ve seen these first phases of it first hand.  We were told that the second she was diagnosed she joined the ranks of survivors.  I also know there is a vast sisterhood out there of her fellow survivors.  It is astounding to learn how many lives have been touched by breast cancer.  Survivors are everywhere. My hat is off to all of you.  Every single one of you deserves everyone’s total respect: this is a sisterhood that needs to be heard.  As I sat in the waiting room at the Duke University Medical Center Breast Clinic during her breast biopsies I realized this affects young and old, all races, all sizes, all religions, rich, poor … it can affect anyone, every day, every month, every year.
I also understand now that “breast cancer” is not a singular entity.  That is a highly generic term.  I’ve learned that every single patient has their own version of the disease, with its unique currents and whirlpools in the stream of life. Specific treatments of even similar ‘types’ of cancer cells can take many twists and turns. She’s still in the early stages of treatment.  The pathology of her cancer cells shows a certain promise of optimism for a long-term cure but the jury is definitely still out and we are sitting in a darkened waiting room of an uncertain future. It will likely be weeks before we know the plot of the next chapters of her story.
I told her last night she is a Warrior Woman in her new lifelong battle with cancer.  Her scars are battle scars. Together we are going to beat this and kick this cancer’s ass.
So, dear coffee friends, that is the reason for my absence the last couple of weeks.  Please donate to valid breast cancer research charities, like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  I like them because a very high percentage of the money they receive goes to research.
Please reblog this or tweet and retweet links to this post.  Please share your own stories in the comments.   We have got to win this fight.

WeekendCoffeeShare-Update

img_6284If we were having coffee today I’d have to tell you I am very happy to see you.  Last week I talked about my upcoming eye surgery on my cataracts, so I thought I should give you a little update.

It is nothing short of amazing.  And that’s just one eye.  Of course, my right eye was my dominant eye, it always has been, but I’d been depending more and more on my left eye, although I knew it was rapidly deteriorating too.  The doctor suggested I have the right lens removed from my glasses but I actually think I function better without that … since my left eye, even corrected, is pretty bad.

I was just standing on the front porch.  There is a small store across the street from us.  I can close my left eye and see the small, lit “OPEN” sign clearly.  If I cover my right eye, I CAN’T EVEN SEE THE SIGN.   That’s uncorrected.  I can see that there is a store there, as I can with most other big things.  It is like looking through smoke and haze.  Understand, this eye is about 50% better than my right eye had become.

I had become pretty used to my deteriorated vision.  I was still driving up to two weeks ago, depending on the weather and the light conditions and how my eyes seemed to be functioning at the time — some days I could see better than on other days.  Since the surgery, my wife had been reluctant to let me drive again, but I told her, really, I can see so much better than I could even see two or three months ago.

The new situation is not without its adjustments and pitfalls.  I still have what they call “floaters” … including one I was calling a dragon’s claw, shifting back and forth just out of my central vision, a bit like a hair on an old projector lens at the movies.  It has diminished over the last several days, now more like a spider or fly, dancing around.  The doctor said it is not uncommon and should likely fade over the next couple of weeks.  The nature of my eyes precluded a complete adjustment … although the eye tested at 20/20 for distance, I still need enhancement to read.  Although this seems a minor adjustment, it is actually more than I anticipated.  I’ve worn progressive lenses for almost 20 years … basically trifocals without lines.  I used to joke they were like being young again.  Now, I don’t need glasses for distance but have to relearn what I used to do years ago before the progressives and keep reading glasses handy.  I haven’t had to do that in a while and it is different now with things like tablets and smart phones.  I’ll know more when I have the other eye complete.

But considering I struggled to even see the screen to type last week’s dispatch, I can see the screen clearly now with minimal strength reading glasses, although I think I’ll need to take it easy because even now I can detect eye strain as my left eye struggles to help. Not complaining, mind you, as I know this is temporary.

Eye two scheduled for early December.

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in NC.  Find out about his novels The Fever, and A Curse That Bites Deep at http://thefensk.com
He really needs some sales to help pay for all these related medical expenses!

The Eyes Have It

img_6284If we were having coffee today, you might notice me struggling a bit. “It’s my eyes,” I’d admit.  “Cataracts.”

Then you’d tell me about your experience, or your brother’s, or a co-worker, or your mom …

At my last checkup my eye doctor, an optometrist, told me it was coming.  I first noticed a few changes early last Summer.  It seemed to come and go.  I pushed through the minor inconvenience because of our daughter’s upcoming wedding. Stupid, I know.  This is something that doesn’t go away.  Vitamins or exercise don’t help.  I just didn’t want it to possibly get in the way of the nuptials.  What got me was how fast it started to deteriorate.

In the final month before the wedding, I could tell it was changing pretty quickly.  After the wedding, I finally got an appointment.  Yep, he said, time to head to a specialist.  Of course, I then had to wait.  In my case, although I have cataracts in both eyes, my right eye is significantly worse than my left eye.  Unfortunately, my right eye is my stronger eye, always has been.  And in the last month both have been going downhill fast.  I finally surrendered my car keys to my wife the other day.  Oh, I think I can still drive okay, as long as I know where I’m going, but my depth perception has suffered too and she got tired of me running over curbs and such.  My worry was someone possibly walking in front of me.  I can see big stuff okay, but it is like driving in a misty early morning fog … all the time, everywhere, and bright lights like headlights and street lights are often exaggerated and blinding. That famous painting Starry Night?  Welcome to my world.

I go in for surgery on the right eye this coming week.  It is perhaps the most common surgical procedure these days.  Very routine. That’s why I mentioned the anecdotes earlier.  I’ve heard a lot of them.  I’m both dreading the surgery (as one does) and looking forward to it.  Then I get to do it again, on the other eye.  The doctor told me I’ll really see how bad the left eye is when the right eye comes back on-line.

One of the saddest things for me is the fact that I have to miss National Novel Writing Month this year.  I’ve done it every year since 2011.  My two published novels were NaNoWriMo projects.  I enjoy NaNoWriMo, it is fun and I’ve made some lifelong friendships from the random writing buddies I’ve collected over the years.  But NaNoWriMo takes commitment and with surgical disruptions and … well, hardly being able to see the computer screen (struggling even writing this!), skipping it this year is a no-brainer.  Maybe I’ll write the third book in the series NaNo-style in January.

One of the good things that will come out of this is the fact that they can actually do proactive corrections.  The flip side is that it is almost always out of pocket … insurance should pay for all this stuff but they balk at actually doing something helpful and forward-thinking.  They’ll replace the cloudy lens with a buck basic replacement, sure, but for a few bucks more and what is basically some minor LASIK I can expect some real improvement.  But it is an easy sell for the medical industry … the prospect of better eyesight, not just as good as before with glasses but BETTER … well, that is hard to pass up.  And given what they are already doing, it just makes sense in the long run.  Can I afford it? Not really, but can I afford to NOT do it?  Well … not really.

So think about me this Thursday.  Feel free to comment to me about your experiences.  I know you will anyway, so I might as well invite you.  It helps.  It really does.  Oh, and remember the cost and remember those two books hanging around out there on Amazon (and other popular sites listed on my web page).  Hint, hint … a few more sales might help offset the cost for me, so tell your friends too.
(“Always play for sympathy, my boy,” an actor-mentor once told me).

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Thomas Fenske is= a writer living in NC.  His latest novel, A CURSE THAT BITES DEEP, was published October 1.  More information: http://thefensk.com

Keep Pounding!

img_5478In a blog post a couple of weeks ago I  wrote about Alj — his full name is Albert Jefferies.  He is still in the hospital, waiting for a new heart.  He has been no stranger to hospitals in his short life but this time, the hospital has been his home for the last 78 days.  Well, he did get a chance to go back home once but he had to return almost immediately.  I’ve stayed in the hospital twice, both times for like two days and both times I hated it.  I can not imagine spending almost three months there.

Alj  is inspiring.  This young man has endured so much:  prodding and poking and endless tests … and he continues to do so.  Part of his strength, I’m sure, comes from his mother, Tina Turner.  I’ve only met her online, but I know my wife met her in person, briefly,  before Christmas.  Tina beats the drum about Alj’s illness relentlessly, recruiting “angels” as she calls them … all the time trying to add more prayer voices to those she has already recruited.  In that brief conversation, my wife was moved by Tina’s passion and her love for Albert, and by her force of will.  If the strength of a mother’s love was all Alj needed to be cured, he would be out playing ball with all his friends right now.  Both Albert and Tina are tremendous human beings.  They are my heroes.

I’m writing this update to let you know about a couple of new things.  For one thing, Alj has a new website and he’d love to hear from you.
http://www.teamalj.com/

Just click the contact tab and send him your well-wishes.

Also, he’s made the news!  He’s met more reporters in his young life than most of us will ever meet.  Why?  Because he is an inspiration.  The latest story just aired on a local Raleigh North Carolina TV station WRAL.  Great story.  Please check it out and tell your friends.
http://www.wral.com/teen-awaits-heart-transplant-at-unc-children-s-hospital/15377063/

Their hospital expenses are enormous and there are links on the web page for a gofundme campaign.  Every little bit helps.  There is also a local fundraiser this weekend in Hillsborough, NC … if you are in the area, you might consider participating.  As I said, every little bit helps.  You can find information about it on the web page as well.

TeamAlj has a motto, “Keep Pounding” — Take one moment every day and place a hand on your chest and feel the magic of your own beating heart and think about young Albert and silently repeat that motto —  “KEEP POUNDING!”

God bless you, Albert and Tina.