I can all ready hear it from the one or two of my three regular readers, one of whom is me (in fact, it may just be the voices in my head that I’m hearing)…
“Not more gibberish from this self-infatuated dork about what he eats! Enough all ready!”
I know, I know. Believe me, I know.
But, in my defense, since I am firmly of the mind that what we choose to feed, and, perhaps for some over-indulgers, infest our bodies with is so completely fundamental and matters so much to who we are and how we are able to live our lives, that I feel compelled, obligated even, to write another “What I Eat” article since I have recently radically changed what and how I now eat.
Outside of not knowing what caused my cancer, one of the things that has boggled and blown my mind the most during this entire cancer and lung disease journey of mine is the complete lack of concern or knowledge about what I eat or should be eating by just about any medical professional my family and I have questioned during this past two years.
I can still remember the conversation between my eldest son and one of my doctors during my initial hospital stay for the first protocol of my leukemia treatment:
Doctor: So Kurt, once we release you from the hospital, you can resume your normal diet.
Son: What do you mean by normal diet? Won’t he have any restrictions on what he eats?
Son: So, you’re saying that if his normal diet is McDonald’s every day, then that is okay?
Doctor: What I am saying is that he needs to keep his strength up so it probably is best for him to continue eating how he would normally eat. If he enjoys McDonald’s, then let him eat it.
Son: Indignant silence.
Lack of dietary concern or knowledge is the typical reaction we get from oncologists whenever we question them about an appropriate diet for my illness(es).
Of course, that wouldn’t do for my family. For one, as I discuss in my other What I Eat writings, my normal diet has always been pretty healthy since my wife is a genius in the kitchen who normally serves healthy meals to begin with; but, once I was diagnosed with cancer, she and my children mobilized in research and in culinary effort to prepare meals that were known to be cancer fighters and preventers, as is evident by the pictures of some of those meals.
And, for the most part, after my bone marrow transplant everything was going along just fine regarding what I was eating.
But then, along came an attack of acute and chronic lung Graft Versus Host Disease.
And then, in a counter attack, along came the prednisone regiment.
And with the regiment, along came a raving and pillaging barbaric appetite.
And it wasn’t long before we were left with an unhealthy, swollen blob of a battlefield known as Kurt.
Not a pretty sight.
I had to do something. I couldn’t continue letting the prednisone, which I non-affectionately call the “Killer Cure” because of all its nasty side effects, have such hold on my appetite.
Fortunately, I have always been one who embraces change.
Embracing change, of course, is just a nice way of saying that I am a fickled and short-minded individual who jumps from one uncompleted interest to the next.
But, as an individual who embraces change, one of the changes I embraced back in the Nineties was a radical change to my eating habits.
I will blame this radical change I went through all on cigarettes.
Unfortunately, I started smoking during my eight weeks of navy boot camp back in 1983.
I wasn’t able to quit smoking for good until New Year’s Day, 1990.
It took me a lot of mind conditioning to psychologically prepare myself to quit, so once I had quit, I had all this excess psycho-babble energy floating around in my head with nothing to focus itself on.
Shortly thereafter, in February 1990, the ship I was assigned to went on a six-month deployment. There’s not a lot to do on a ship out in the middle of the ocean other than work, eat, watch TV, read, or exercise. Not being much of a TV guy, I did a lot of reading and exercising. One day, while perusing the tattered tomes in the ship’s tattered library, I found a tattered “self-help” book by that untattered and plasticy-looking infomercialing mass marketer of psycho-babbley BS, Anthony Robbins.
My excess psycho-babble energy met his psycho-babble BS, and the rest is the ridiculous history of how I became a hippy-wannabe in the military that I am now about to recount to you.
Most of Robbins’ book was hogwash to me, but there was one section in it that caught my eye, and stomach. That section was about food combining…something to do with not mixing your carbs and proteins when eating. It doesn’t really matter what it was about—what does matter is that because of that one short section out of that psycho-babble self=help book of Robbins’, I delved into further research about diet and healthy living and I was eventually led down a path that, by the time the deployment ended, radically changed me as a person.
I read all the tattered books that the ship’s tattered library had about the subject and whenever we hit a port of call, I tried to find a bookstore that had books in English so I could read even more about it.
I quickly became obsessed, possessed perhaps, with what I put in my body.
All I can say is: good thing the internet wasn’t around on ships back then because who knows what I would have become if it had been.
I went from combining my foods to vegetarianism, from vegetarianism to veganism, and from veganism to a mucousless diet and fasting and to such a radical alteration of my lifestyle that I pretty much drove everyone around me crazy.
Essentially, I became one of those annoying hippy-wannabes who also happened to be in the United States navy.
Closely confined hippy-wannabes and trained navy warriors do not a pleasant relationship make.
Still, the up and down arc of that whole goofy radical lifestyle of mine lasted for nearly six long years.
Try to imagine me as a six feet five-inch 170-pounder when my normal weight back then was right around 215-220 pounds.
Yeah, I was something to behold, that’s for sure.
I remember when my sister came to visit once and after she saw how skinny I looked she said that she was afraid my eyes were going to roll out of my head.
I certainly did look ridiculous.
But I felt so damn good.
I believe I felt so good back then because I never ate any animal products or junk food; in fact, I barely ate anything at all but raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts so I never felt slowed down or bloated from overeating.
My mind was clear and seemed to always be firing on all its cylinders.
Damn, I felt good back then.
But I certainly did look ridiculous.
It’s ironic how, back then when I probably was at the most healthy point of my life, I was considered by society’s standards as looking the unhealthiest I ever looked. (That is not counting all the damage the cancer later did to me, of course, when I once again, unwillingly this time, got whittled down to 170 pounds.)
Eventually vanity and ego won out over health and I slowly returned to a “normal” American diet with all its dangerously delectable delights.
Thinking back on it now, that “me” of the Nineties seems like so long ago.
A lot can happen in fifteen years, that’s for sure.
Like Graft Versus Host Disease.
So one morning, sometime in early May 2011, after a recent follow-up appointment at the National Institute of Health as part of the study I volunteered for and where I heard, once again, how out of control my liver counts were, and while looking in the mirror at the swollen blob of a battlefield known as Kurt, I suddenly realized that maybe there was a reason I went through that crazy period back in the Nineties.
Maybe I went through…and put my family through…all that craziness back then solely to prepare me for what I am going through now.
Maybe I all ready knew how to deal with the insane hold prednisone had on my appetite.
Maybe I all ready knew how to manage my high liver counts.
Maybe it was time to get radical with my eating habits again.
And so, after that “Coming to Jesus” moment in the mirror, I decided to give it all a whirl again.
But I also decided to do it without all the hippy-wannabe baggage that I carried along with me back in the Nineties.
No fasting. Period.
No rigid adherence to veganism, or any other kind of ism as it relates to my diet. I would try to stick as closely to veganism as I could, mind you, but I would not make myself a nuisance when it came to a situation where what I preferred did not jibe with what was being offered.
And while I would stay away from animal products and all kinds of refined, processed, and junk foods as best as possible, I would still eat fish, a lot of it, especially sardines and tuna, and I would indulge outside my flimsy boundaries as appropriate.
But I did set some rigid guidelines for myself:
No more out of control raving and pillaging the refrigerator and barbarically eating whatever fits inside my enlarged pie hole.
No more overindulging of anything.
And now that I am three months into my Nineties flashback, I find that I am down about ten pounds (though weight loss wasn’t my goal) and my liver counts have dropped almost 100 points (my goal for my liver is to get the counts to normal so I can start drinking a little wine and beer again. Oh, how I miss them so…).
But most importantly, I do not have that prednisone overindulging bloat and heaviness that I always seemed to have. I do still have the prednisone moon face, and the prednisone hump back, but at least they are not quite so pronounced.
I don’t know how long I will continue to eat this way. It could be until I get distracted by a new interest. Who knows when that will be.
But I hope it is until and even after my body and mind are as fine tuned and as healthy as they ever can be, considering the condition I am in.
And I do ask that you do do some considering:
Consider the condition that I am in.
Consider the eating habits that you maintain.
And then consider if you think that there is a chance the eating habits that you maintain might be leading you down a path that will have you end up in the condition I am in.
Something worth your consideration don’t you think, considering all that is at steak…I mean, stake?!
If you’re wondering why my pictures look so crappy, read this.