Shutterbug's Blog

Living with Multiple Myeloma in Hyderabad , India . Random musings .


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The Mask

mask cartoon

Nothing shady about the title 🙂 . Nothing to hide 🙂

Am sure I reminded you of ‘The Mask’ and Jim Carrey 🙂

This post is all about how the ‘Mask’ has become one of the most important accessories  during the last 9 months.

My ‘Mask’ is now a constant companion from the moment I step out of the house.

Having struggled with frequent Sore throat problems and dust allergies followed by Antibiotics all these years, I wanted to check if  a Mask would help me stay away from these issues. I invariably end up with a Sore throat if I inhale any kind of dust .

Before I went ahead and bought a mask, I did some research on the internet on the varieties of masks that are available.

Long ago I had read about how an N95 mask can protect the wearer from viruses .

I also learnt the difference between a Respirator and a Surgical Mask.

A Respirator protects the wearer from the environment. Learnt that the N95 Mask is a Respirator.

A Surgical Mask protects the Environment from the wearer of the Mask, so that the wearer of the mask doesn’t transfer any unwanted viruses/bacteria to others.

Bought one N95 Mask that appeared simple , lightweight and comfortable to wear and not too expensive , on Amazon. There are several varieties that one can easily buy online.

Unfortunately I was unable to wear this beyond 5 minutes. Felt suffocated and it was too tight on my face.

simple respirator

The above image is a simple N95 Respirator that I tried.

With the bad experience of wearing an N95 mask , I wanted to try the surgical Mask . If a Surgical Mask can stop letting viruses go out while we breathe/talk then obviously it can stop viruses from getting in too 🙂 . With this conclusion I bought a few normal surgical masks. These are very light and so comfortable to wear. Hardly any suffocation. I liked wearing these even if it meant that I appeared like hospital staff who forgot to remove the mask after leaving the Hospital 🙂

mask.jpg

I now keep a bunch of these in the car seat back pocket.

I began using these when visiting public places like Supermarkets, farmers markets, Malls and Movie theatres . Initially I did feel a little awkward and tried covering my Masked face with my Dupatta/chunni.

A Dupatta/Chunni is like a long scarf worn over the shoulders.

Very soon I felt the Dupatta was restricting my head/facial movements. Stopped using the Dupatta and felt relieved and free. It is not my problem if people are uncomfortable looking at my masked face 🙂 🙂

There are times when I travel through dusty roads and in spite of sitting in a car I felt I should be using a Mask . All the vehicular pollution was making me depressed. I was sure that some of the polluted air was entering the car too. I didn’t want to take any risk of being exposed to any kind of dust.

Very soon I was wearing the Mask everyday on my way to work and back home even while seated in the car :).

I soon started noticing the benefits of wearing a Mask. I haven’t experienced a Sore Throat and Bronchitis issues ever since. It’s been 8 months since I started using a Mask.

I always carry a few Masks in my handbag too. These are disposable Masks which I discard every 2-3 days. Initially I was buying Masks in 10s from the local Pharmacy. Very soon I bought a big box of Disposable ones online and now I don’t have to worry about running out of them. They are very affordable and effective.

I wish more and more people begin using these Masks thereby protecting themselves and also  not transmitting viruses to the environment and those around us.

A lot of men and women in all the cities in India are using Handkerchiefs , Dupattas/ Chunnis to protect themselves from pollution. I sincerely wish that those to see me will be inspired to use these disposable masks  🙂


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Feeling as Cool as a Cucumber !

Most are aware of the benefits of eating Cucumber. Knowing is one part of the story , whereas actually consuming them is the important part. A lot of Indians especially in the North of India , include cucumber , carrot , beets , radish , onions etc in their daily diet , as a salad.

I was eating one chopped cucumber everyday as a snack . My intention was to reduce body heat due to consumption of Curcumin. I would eat at random times during the day and was not very regular too.

I have begun drinking Cucumber juice since one month. On the advice of my Ayurvedic Doctor , I now juice two cucumbers first thing in the morning . Takes just a few minutes to prepare a nice big glass of frothy cucumber juice. I peel the cucumbers as I am not sure that they are organic. I do not add any other ingredients and drink the lovely pale green liquid in one go 🙂 . It is neither tasty nor does it have any flavour.

Supposed to do a whole lot of good to the body. It alkalizes the body , reduces cholesterol, reduces Blood pressure, reduces Uric acid levels in the blood, keeps the kidneys healthy, reduces water retention in the body , good for the skin, reduces inflammation, prevents arthritis, has several Vitamins, is very low in calories, keeps the body hydrated etc.

Basically a great detox for the body.

I always had this warm feeling in my body . Since I started drinking this juice , my body feels cooler and my mind seems to be at peace and much calmer.

My ESR levels have always been on the higher side and I hope and wish that the cucumber detox will help in reducing this level.

Higher level of ESR is an indicator of inflammation in the body. Will get a test done after a week.

Inflammation is the leading cause of numerous diseases in the body.

Try this simple detox and see how it helps you. Cucumbers can be eaten throughout the year and are available throughout the year.

Take care !


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Appetizer : Cucumber bites

This sunday I wanted to make a quick snack using readymade Canapes. I had bought Monita canapes from the supermarket a few days ago.

I remember my Mom making a yummy recipe using the same Monita canapes when I was a kid. Mom had learnt the recipe from a cookery class that she attended about 30 yrs ago . I did not want to ask Mom right away.

I started checking out some youtube videos for Canapes. I did not find any recipe that appeared similar to what Mom used to make.

Meanwhile I ended up watching canapes made with salted biscuits , toast, crackers , cucumber etc.

I liked one simple recipe and I had all the ingredients at home.

However, this recipe is more of an appetizer rather than a snack.

Here it is –

Ingredients :-

-Cucumber peeled and sliced into half centimeter thick pieces.

-Greek yogurt

-Salt

-Pepper

-Tomatoes sliced

-Cut cheese slices into squares or use grated cheese

-Mint / coriander leaves / parsley for garnish

 

Procedure :-

Curd/Yoghurt is usually watery and hence cannot be used , it has to be thick.

Place the regular curd in a strainer and let all the excess water drain.

Add salt n pepper to the thick curd.

Slice the tomatoes.

Place a little Yoghurt on top of each of the cucumber slices.

Place a slice of tomato and a couple of pieces of cheese on the yoghurt.

You can also use grated cheese instead of cheese slices.

Garnish with a mint leaf or coriander leaf .

 

You can also add chopped jalapenos and olives to the yogurt mixture .

A bright , colorful and healthy appetizer is ready.

This is my first canape recipe and I am definitely fascinated by Canapes. There are loads of recipes on the Internet. Numerous varieties of canapes can be made in a jiffy to treat your near and dear ones 🙂 .

Get creative !


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My Kitchen Garden

Rains are finally here and I am excited to do some serious gardening. I do not have a lot of space for plants ,but I hope to make maximum use of the available space and will be using containers too. I will also be using home made compost and pesticides. Basically trying to grow the organic way 🙂 .

I got a few Chilli saplings from an Organic Store that I visit often. I was surprised to see a few chilli saplings sprouting on their own in my little patch. A few dried/ripe chillies from my chilli plants in the previous season must have got into the soil and were hiding there till the right moment 🙂

Removed the whole Mint patch that I had and planted fresh stems from a bunch of Mint that I got from the store. The previous patch was getting sparse and started drying up. I harvested the leaves several times during Summer.

My Malabar Spinach is growing well. I grew them from the seeds of a lone plant that I had. I have already harvested the leaves twice and is ready for harvesting again.

I successfully made my first batch of Organic Compost during the recent summer months. I have started using this compost for my plants. Feeling good .

Thankfully my plants are not infected with any pests as of now.

I also put a few pieces of ginger and Turmeric in the soil. Got to wait and see how well they do.

I am also experimenting with Coriander cuttings. Replanted a few root cuttings from a coriander bunch that I got from the store. Growing coriander from seeds is a long and slow process. Hope this trick works though I am not confident it will work. Will probably sow the seeds directly in a couple of days.

I sowed seeds of Bitter gourd , Ridge gourd , Snake gourd and cluster beans . I see that a few seeds of cluster beans have sprouted , the rest haven’t . Don’t really know the reason. Either the seeds are not good or I watered a lot. Will continue to sow them again and again until I succeed.

Also sowed a few seeds of Khatta palak (Hindi) or Chukka Koora (Telugu) .

Will also sow Fenugreek/Methi seeds in a day or two . These seeds sprout real fast.

Watching a seed sprout,  the first leaves , the budding , the flowering , the fruits/veggies growing bigger and finally the harvesting , all the activity makes me more energetic . I feel like I am absorbing Energy from nature. I look forward to the next morning to see how they are growing. There is an underlying hope when you are into Gardening . No wonder my Doctor told me to do some Gardening way back in 2012 🙂 . 

That’s it for now. Will post pics of how these babies are doing , in a few weeks.

 


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Become Rich , as in Abundance

Poets have a special place in my heart. I believe they belong to a different planet 🙂 . Their perspective on life and the way they mix and match words and phrases ,to express their feelings, always amazes me . I always had this wish of writing one too.

Here is my first attempt at writing a poem 🙂 . This may not even qualify as poetry , but there is always a beginning isn’t it …so here it is 🙂

 

Shower forgiveness , a great Medicine for your Soul              
             and be Rich in Peace. 

Help the less privileged , 
             be Rich with Blessings that you would receive.

Be Compassionate and Understanding , 
            and get Rich with the realization of Oneness of all beings.

Share your knowledge , a sure way to be Immortal
            and become Rich with all the Respect you will be receiving.

Accept people as they are,
            and become Rich with Empathy.

Introspect more often , rather than complain ,
            become Rich in ethics, values and morals.

Love yourself fiercely, as you cannot serve from an empty bowl,     
            and get Rich in serving mankind. 

Take only the good in others , ignore the bad,
            be Rich in being good to all. 

Do not suffocate those you Love, set them free,
            in turn be Rich with freedom , the Oxygen for your Soul.

Be full of Gratitude ,  great for your health ,
            and be the Richest one in the world.

 

 


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To Reveal or not to Reveal

Having been diagnosed with MM in Oct 2011 and come a long way ,  a thought often arises in my mind as to whether I should reveal/discuss my condition with whom I spend a considerable amount of time.

A lot of people around me , at work , friends and relatives already know to some extent. They may not know exactly what I have been through. However my observation is that no one ever asks me any direct questions. Many of them come to know through various channels but prefer not to talk about it. 

Either they dread talking about this topic or they feel they shouldn’t cross a certain limit as health is supposed be a private matter or they don’t start the topic because I don’t encourage such a discussion or people are engrossed with their own stuff.

Whatever be the reason , I am quite comfortable with the way things are happening around me….ignorance is bliss 🙂

I myself have been through similar situations in the past , much before I was diagnosed, when I came across people who were diagnosed with Cancer and I would be terrified to even look at them. So , here I am , having survived Multiple Myeloma and writing from the other side :).

hmmm , what goes around comes around !!  

When someone asks me how I am doing , I give a big smile and tell them ‘I am doing well, thank you’. There are a few confidantes at work, with whom I share information about my tests, my medications etc . I also update my Boss who has a lot of interest in matters related to health / Alternative treatments and gives me some advise too.

There are a few online friends from school and college with whom I feel happy to share the status of my health.

Apart from my parents, brother and sister I do not discuss with any others in the extended family. Of course , hubby is a constant support 🙂

There are times when I feel tempted to share the link to my Blog with everyone at work, extended family and with all my classmates  from school and college. I guess I am not yet ready to openly declare…maybe some other time. I can already sense that a few are staying away from me and it is ok. 

I shouldn’t be thinking too much about who knows and who doesn’t and concentrate more on enjoying the present moment. 

The best part of this blog is I can let out all my feelings and share my MM journey and other random events in my life.

So glad I am finally stable. 

A few readers (MM patients/caregivers) of my Blog get in touch with me and I am more than willing to listen and encourage them. Gives me immense happiness to know that I have made a difference to them. I hope to get more opportunities to do my bit to humanity.

 

Life seems much more meaningful now.

 


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Update on my Bone Marrow Biopsy – M Band not seen !! 23 June 2018

It is one year since I got a Bone Marrow test done.

————-

I was diagnosed with MM in Oct 2011 and underwent Stem Cell Transplant in Jan 2012. Since then I have been doing the  Bone Marrow Test every six months. In June last year ie June 2017 ,  my Oncologist told me to come back for the test after a year !!. Once a patient crosses five years after a Stem Cell Transplant , the Bone Marrow Test is done once a year. That was the second best thing that happened to me. The best thing to have happened was in Feb 2016 when my Oncologist said I could stop taking Chemo Medications 🙂 .

I have been taking Ayurvedic medications since more than three years and the results are good.

—————

The Bone marrow sample was taken last week. Reports usually take around 5-6 days . I had been a little nervous while I was waiting for the Reports , though I was confident that all will be fine.

While I was in touch with the Hospital to check if the BMA Reports were ready , I was surprised to see a whatsapp message from my Oncologist after 5 days.

He sent me the Report via whatsapp !! There was no comment from him.

I opened the pdf document and quickly scanned for the words ” M Band ” or ” M Spike”, while my heart was racing. I did find the words ” M Band not seen ” .

Yayyy !!

There was a BIG smile on my face and I immediately called Dr Suresh.

He said ‘Everything is OK’ .

I said ‘Thank You Doctor , when can I meet you’.

He said ” what for ?”

I said ‘I would like to meet you’ 🙂

I then shared the Report via whatsapp with Dr Nitin , Ayurveda . He immediately called me.

He was very happy with what the Reports said.

Met Dr Suresh this morning .

He said ‘we don’t need to do the Bone Marrow Test from now on’. 

That is the greatest thing anyone like me would love to hear 🙂

I blurted ‘What Doctor, how can we stop?!!’

He said ‘just do the Electrophoresis test once every six months. As long as there is no M Band , there is no need to do a Bone Marrow Test’

I was happy with that advise.

Wow , no more piercing of my Sternum. 🙂

He then asked me if I had any other problems.

I asked him if Neuropathy is permanent and was happy to hear that it is reversible and no where it is written that it is permanent.

Sounds good but there has not been any improvement in my condition in all these years.

To alleviate my Neuropathy he recommended Pregabalin instead of Renerve which was advised by a Physician. Renerve does help but my B12 levels are exceeding the limits which not good either. Will try the Pregabalin tablets.

He then told me there are four new drugs for managing MM , with lesser side effects , one of them being Neuropathy. He also said that Bortizomib , the drug that I used , causes Neuropathy. This is good news . 

Its more than three years since I started taking Ayurvedic Medication from Dr Nitin and almost two and half years since I stopped taking Chemo medications. Dr Nitin now wants to reduce my curcumin dosage . However I don’t wish to hurry and plan to reduce gradually.

I also sent my report to Dr Gayatri, who was diagnosed with MM way back in 2002 . She has been a guiding and inspirational force for me since last three years. She had introduced Dr Nitin , Ayurveda to me. She hasn’t been taking Allopathy nor Ayurvedic medications since last several years and is doing well.

When I asked her how she Manages , she tells me that regular Pranayama , Yoga and Meditation do help in healing.

Felt so good talking to the Brave lady who oozes a lot of Energy. She is a God send.

Dr Nitin too had reiterated that Exercise, Pranayama, Yoga and Meditation can correct DNA problems. He insisted that I should be consistent with these practices.

Right now my highest priority is Pranayama, Yoga and Meditation along with Ayurvedic medication , proper diet and regular fasting.

Time to celebrate !!