Not Much, You?

It has been about four weeks since my last post. After Cynthia left for the States, I decided to take two weeks off because my body was tired, sore, fat and arthritic. I hung around, sat in the sun on the roof deck, and generally goofed off. At the end of the two weeks, like Forest Gump said when he stopped running, I told Armando, “I think I’ll go back to work tomorrow.”

But when tomorrow rolled around, I told Armando, “I think I’m getting sick. I don’t feel so good.” And thus began two weeks of the flu. I had the typical fevers, chills, and the sweats and lost ten pounds, which I am happy about. During these two weeks I ate only fruit smoothies in the morning and vegetable broth at night. Kind of a modified fast.

So I’ve accomplished a grand total of not much. One day it rained early so I pulled Armando, who was weeding the gardens, inside. He and I sanded and prepped the container wall in the living room/dining room. The sweat from being sick poured off of me. The crane operator put a big gash in the container wall and I welded and patched it with some Bondo. This forty-plus-foot-long wall is now ready for paint:


One day when I was feeling better I ran some wires for the light fixtures in the beams in the kitchen ceiling. You can see some of the wires hanging down in the next photo:


Of course it has been raining a lot, evidenced by the water running off the roof by the back door:


Although there are currently no flowers, the new hibiscus bushes (on the other side of the gravel walkway) are taking hold. Armando fertilized them last week.

And all this rain has been good for the gardens, too. Here are some big flower pods just beginning to bloom:


My real reason for writing is to give an update on Cynthia who has been in San Antonio, Texas, for the past month. She has been having a very difficult time breathing for some time now, so it was time for a battery of tests. She had her first follow up visit with her cardiologist a couple days ago. Here is a “press release” that she just wrote:

Dear friends,

Thank you so very much for your concern and support while I’ve been in TX for medical testing. Knowing there were so many people who’ve cared so much has been a tremendous support to me.

There has been some good news! The nodule on my lung has been diagnosed as benign and that worry has been eliminated.

The blood work testing was extremely thorough. I do have some “issues” with my heart, but we’re going to adjust my blood pressure med dosage to bring that back under control. The artificial valve and pulmonary artery, which we had wondered about, have been cleared as culprits for the breathing problems, and I consider that to be very good news (no open heart surgery!).
Instead of suggesting statin drugs (for high cholesterol) (happy news since I’m opposed to their use in women), we are going to treat some of the other conditions with niacin and supplements of D3, B12 and methyl folate. This female cardiologist is recognized nationally and is very highly regarded, especially in women’s (cardiac) health. I feel very confident in her capabilities. She even recommended several books. Contact me privately if you’re interested in the titles/authors.
To combat my cardiac issues and arthritis pains, Dr. Bogaev suggested going low-carbs and gluten-free. She did it herself six months ago and confirms that it was helpful to her personally. Thankfully the Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc. which is the company who analyzed the blood/urine, provides a dietitian to help make this transition and life style adjustment.
A very special note of appreciation and thanks  to my cousin Greg and his wonderful wife Susie, without who’s cheerful support I’d have been a basket case. They’ve very graciously allowed me to stay with them in their gorgeous home in San Antonio and have chauffeured me from one test to another to another. I am extremely grateful to the unflagging support of my wonderful husband Fred with our multiple phone conversations daily. He’s even agreed to try the low carb, gluten free diet that’s been recommended.
Glad to be able to report good news to “y’all”!
She is still working with a pulmonologist and needs to do a sleep study, but it looks like a lot of her problems can be resolved or greatly reduced by making minor medicine and major lifestyle changes.
We have a lot to learn and to put into practice. I’ve been a vegetarian for about thirty-five years, but I need to reassess my diet. I eat a lot of grains and beans and on a low-carb, gluten-free diet it will be difficult impossible. We’ll need to eat a lot more protein and fats (coconut and olive oils primarily) and a ton more vegetables.
I’m happy to go along with Cyn on this journey because it is all too easy for me to put on an extra ten+ pounds of abdominal, um, fat, and this is the worst thing for a man heart-health-wise. And the grains really aren’t all that good for my arthritic constitution.
Eggs of course will be on the “good food” list. But what about chicken? I still want to limit dairy (the exception being an organic, lactoce-free yogurt that I regularly eat) and Cynthia hates the stuff. So with cheese and milk off the protein list, there isn’t much left. I mean, how many almonds does a low-carb, gluten-free vegetarian have to eat to feel like he/she has eaten a meal? And if Cynthia and I can get on the same page, meal preparation will be a whole lot easier for the chef.
With this in mind, I challenged myself to try some chicken. After thirty-five years it was a daunting, alien, repulsive thought. I pulled a pre-grilled chicken breast (that I had grilled for Cynthia) out of the freezer, let it thaw, and heated it in a frying pan.
I waited until I was good and hungry with no remnants of my fruit smoothie breakfast on board to compete gastricly. I sliced the chicken into thin slices. I thought I would try a small piece and see what my reaction was. I screwed up my courage, slipped the charred beast into my mouth, chewed the strange texture and swallowed. Odd. Truly odd. It didn’t repulse me as it had in the past. It was kind of neutral, not delicious, but not so bad or vile that I couldn’t take another bite. This is really uncharted territory for me (or anyone who has reverted to eating meat after some time as a vegetarian).
But after a half hour nothing awful had happened in my stomach. In fact it felt pretty good. So slowly, piece by piece, I demolished the entire chicken breast. Three hours later, I’m still good. Blow my mind, I never expected that I could do this without a lot of gastric distress or revolting machinations. Go figure! Maybe it is because I’ve basically been fasting for the past two weeks. I don’t know.
So it looks like Cynthia and I will be testing out a new low-carb, gluten-free, Mediterranean, Paleo diet. I hope that this helps her regain her health. She’s a great gal and I’m behind her 100 percent.
Now the only question is, what is she going to do with the many pounds of high-quality King Arthur flour products that she bought and was planning to bring back here to Panama? Will they make the journey?
That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.
(Something seems to have gone goofy with the formatting in this post. I can’t seem to get the paragraphs spaced properly. Sorry about that.)

10 thoughts on “Not Much, You?

  1. hi cynthia and fred…we are relieved to hear about cynthia’s medical test results – and share in your hope that with some diet and lifestyle changes, much of her distress can be relieved and possibly even eliminated…rob and i have been gluten free, dairy free and sugar free for a few months now and feel so so much better…no doubt you will get many posts like this, but there is a great recipe book Clean Eats (also with a great website) that has been very helpful to us as we make these major changes in our diets. Wishing you both well. sarah and rob

    • Hi Sarah and Rob,

      Thanks very much for the moral support! When I became a vegetarian back in 1980, there was very little information and almost no natural food stores. I remember going to a neighbor’s 50th anniversary party at a swank hotel. I talked to the chef a couple days before and told him I was a vegetarian. He said he would take good care of me and make a special dish. Well, his special dish was precooked to death broccoli and cauliflower, stored in the refrigerator in the water it was boiled in. Gray but artfully served on a plate, I’ve never had so much gas in my life! Now there is no end to the information on the Internet, you just have to sort out what is right for you at the time. I can’t help but feel like a deserter to my vegetarian friends, but hey, live, learn, adjust, rinse and repeat.

      Thanks for the tip on the cook book. Fred


  2. Oh, good news, Cyn.
    You guys are flexible enough to work it out.

    I love my “clean” meat raised by people I know, lucky North Fork Valley.
    Is fish a local abundant food for you?

    Be well. Love to you both.
    Lynn M

    • Hi Lynn,

      Yes, I think our diet can be more compatible than it has been so far. Clean meat is more difficult to come by here, but it is possible if you can connect with locals who raise their own chickens. Men selling fresh fish drive up the mountain every morning. You can hear them coming from their patter over the loudspeaker. “Bueno,” followed by a list of what they are selling. But alas, Cynthia says fish are her friends and she won’t eat it.

      Thanks for the comment, good to hear from you. Fred

  3. glad to hear health problems getting resolved , cold wet here in perth (aust) at the moment but need the rain . was getting a little concerned about lack of blogs but considering what you are going through can understand and glad both on way to recovering , enjoy the time off and take care , regards Mike , ps great pic of rain coming off the roof and contrast of the garden and across the fence secondary forest growth , no doupt the frogs are making a racket , pps , that wall painted is going to look terrific and pretty well finish that room apart from whatever you have planned for the floor , cheers once again .

    • Hi Mike,

      Yes, the frogs are singing up a storm outside. We have some that shout, “Shreveport, Shreveport, Shreveport,” (a city in Louisiana), and some big bulls that sound like machine gun fire. I just found a big old toad in the kitchen. Jabo knows to leave them alone as they are toxic.

      Yes, the big room is all but done. The tile floor will be time consuming but will transform the space big time. We already have the tile. I’m thinking of laying the tiles on the angle of the front wall, laying blocks of nine tiles and then bordering them with a contrasting color. We’ll see.

      Thanks for the comment Mike. Fred

  4. Hi Guys!
    I write a blog about shipping containers and would love to feature you two in an article. I recently wrote an article on a North Carolina couple working towards building there own dream home as well. You can read that post at:

    Please let me know if you are interested by emailing me directly and I will respond with a list of questions! Keep up the great work!

    • Hi Diana,

      I visited your blog and I can see that you are passionate about the idea of transforming a box into a home (or other useful space). There is something funky, unique, cozy but spacious, inventive, and possibly straight forward about making and living in a container home. We’ve been at ours for about four years now and are more and more excited as the spaces and exterior form into our vision. I’ll email you off post about the interview. Fred

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *