Saturday, 30 August 2014


It happened suddenly. One day I was slim and lithe, the next day I caught myself in the bathroom mirror and realised I was looking not slim, but malnourished. Strong words to self. Too Scrawny! Too Wrinkly! Too Flappy! Far too Old Lady!

And it was because of the feeding tube, ironically. That dangling appendage has finally come out, but the procedure for having it removed wasn't much fun. I had a gastroscopy, which involves having a pipe put down your throat so a camera can go down into the gut to check that the end of the tube hasn't got embedded or anything. I think the doctor was hoping to cut the tube and remove the button that holds it inside the stomach by pulling it up and out the same way that his camera went in. I strongly suspect he hadn't accounted for the effects of seven weeks of radiation to the throat, which meant that a) my mouth doesn't open very far these days and b) my throat is now about as wide as a panadol capsule for a significant distance. I opted for sedation during the procedure. I remember clearly they tried to put a thing into my mouth to hold it open, and had to hunt for the pediatric version because I couldn't open wide enough. Enough said re what came next, but the last thing I can remember is fighting frantically to get that stuff out of my mouth, while they tried to hold my hands still.

When I woke up he came around to tell me the button got left inside. He said it would pass through in a few days and hopefully it has. As pleased as I am to be free of the tube, for whatever reason the whole procedure knocked me back and I spent most of the next few days dozing on the sofa, scoffing cherry-flavoured pamol (baby panadol) every few hours for a sore throat and not caring for food at all. Plus every time my jaw moved, there was this crunchy noise in one ear - most annoying.

My energy is picking up again now and the crunch has disappeared. Adventures with Food is pretty well back on track. Cottage pie last night was a great success. Yoghurt is still a failure. It tastes awful and goes claggy. Pear and pistachio choclolate cake with whipped cream - hell yes. Ice cream, mmmwh, not really. But goes down in a milkshake or an iced coffee when there are not many other options. Bring it on.

Word of the day is trissmus. That's what it called when you hold three fingers together and try to put them in your mouth and they don't fit. Though that does seem like it would be a bit of stretch under the best of circumstances. My trissmus thing is much better than it was, so I expect it will continue to improve. Foot in mouth again in no time.

This should be pretty much the end of my cancer story, apart from ongoing adventures with food. I got let off lightly. Hope you all wore your daffodils on Friday.

And it is also the end of my life in Rotorua. I'm all packed up and on the move again.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

More about food

What to eat? I need to plan ahead and make an effort, though lately I'll admit I have gone back to topping up with good old bottles of hospital Ensure. I'm on a countdown now for a move back to Australia and trying to empty the store cupboards rather than spending money at the supermarket. I have significant stocks of the prescription food supplies and seeing as I have to wait another couple of weeks to get the feeding tube removed, I might as well use them.

Yes, selling up and moving on. Again. This time I am being really ruthless with what I'm getting rid of. Loads of stuff is going to the local hospice shop. Anyone want to buy a lovely little house with all-day sun and lake views? I'm sad to be leaving the house, but looking forward to getting back into a well-paid job. And that is not going to happen in Rotorua.

Back to the food adventures. I made a lentil and tomato soup and found the tomatoes too acidic. Stingy on throat and tongue. A bit of googling and experimenting saved it all from going to the birds - I added some baking soda, some roasted pumpkin and lots of coconut milk, and it ended up quite edible.

Helen suggested homemade baked beans with a poached egg on top, and that was another success. Red kidney beans with added carrots and celery. Flavoured with mustard, worchester sauce and maple syrup.

My carrot and cashew soup was actually quite nice too. In addition to using cashew cream to thicken, I roasted some extra cashews for extra flavour.

Your suggestions are welcome. The trick is getting enough protein, although my green smoothies help with that because of the added protein powder. I need the energy to help with this sorting, clearing and cleaning. Hard work!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Adventures with food

Some food adventures are happy ones, but many end up with a trip to the compost bin or casting morsels to the birds. My weight is at an all time low so I have widened the vegan diet to get more calories. An omelette ended up in the bin, it was too dry to get down. A bit like (I imagine) trying to eat the bill, remembering those days at restaurants when there was such a thing as a bill. Likewise the bowl of mashed potatoes with sardines - a good idea thanks Di, but it didn't work. Ice cream was a real failure. It makes my mouth slimy and my teeth furry, and if you can imagine both happening at once you can guess it it's just not nice. And I don't like sweet things any more.

But when I have a success it is a cause for great excitement. Yesterday I made a chinese dropped egg soup, and not only finished it but enjoyed the experience. And I have rediscovered tomatoes. The first time I tried, they stung my throat, but now I find I can eat them comfortably, yay. Maybe chopped tomatoes in an omelette would work. French onion soup is good. Mild dahl has become my regular evening meal.

Old habits stick around, and I often have the urge to just snack on something, not because I'm hungry necessarily. The only thing that I have found so far that works is chia pudding. Just chia seeds soaked in whatever nut milk I have on the go with a bit of vanilla or cinnamon.

Hopefully new habits are forming.

Green smoothies fill me up. Fresh silverbeet leaves, kiwi fruit, banana, protein powder, coconut water, spirulina, flax seed oil and a few frozen berries.

Life without saliva is hard, but I'm sure I'll adjust to it. Sips of water with food doesn't come naturally but over time I guess it just becomes the new normal. Likewise with tastes and mouth feel - it is what it is.

Down in the garden the japonica is flowering. It is a welcome reminder that spring is not far off.