Shutterbug's Blog

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


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My Journey through 2018

As I successfully complete 7yrs after my Stem Cell Transplant (In December 2011) for Multiple Myeloma , I feel blessed and would like to summarize my journey through 2018.

One of the best things to happen this year is that I just had one bout of severe cough and cold and that was the only time I took Antibiotics during the whole year. There were a few times when a cough had just begun and thanks to my Ayurvedic Doctor who gave me a powder which instantly controlled the cough. He advised me to never ever take Antibiotics for a cough. Hitherto I was meeting the ENT Specialist once every few months and I was popping Antibiotics each time. Am sure my ENT Doctor is missing me and wondering what happened to me :)). I have also begun using a mask when I venture out , especially Malls, Supermarkets etc . These masks are a boon. I have also written a post about my adventures with the Mask in this Blog :)

A few months ago I had severe pain and swelling in my right knee . I was advised to take pain killers and antibiotics by an orthopedic. When I discussed with my Ayurvedic Doctor , he gave me Wokvel and said this will prevent any further issue in my knees. My knees are doing great now. I do a few exercises and also give a little oil massage to my knees before sleeping. So far so good.

Visited my Grannys Village near Nellore twice this year. I always look forward to visiting this tiny village.

A wish to visit Pondicherry and Kanchipuram was fulfilled. Didn’t expect to visit Chidambaram and also go on a boat ride among the Mangroves in Pichavaram .

My Uric acid levels have been within the limits but are on the higher side. Currently drinking lots of water, eating cucumbers and gave up meat and eggs.

A Biannual visit to my Oncologist is pending . Did a few blood tests recently and my Globulin Serum levels are well within the normal range.

On the advise of some beautiful people I have incorporated a few activities in my daily routine. I now recite the ‘Vishnu Sahasranamam’ every morning . Takes 25 minutes each morning. The vibrations generated by chanting are supposed to help the body and mind.

I also started doing a ‘Colour Meditation’ advised by my Mentor in my MM journey . This 15 minute guided Meditation by Brahma Kumaris (Youtube) has become an important part of my daily routine in the Morning and Evening. Meditation helps in healing .

Pranayama twice a day is a must. Takes 20 minutes each time. I walk for 10 minutes a few times a week. Some popular Yoga Masters claim that a few hours of Bhastrika and Anulom Vilom Pranayama twice a day can stop Cancer as Cancer cells cannot survive in an Oxygen rich environment. I strongly advise all Survivors to do anything and everything to put a check on the cells.

Having a comfortable time at work which keeps me busy for 9 hours everyday. Thanks to my wonderful colleagues.

Met a lot of friends from school and college all through the year. Attended several events hosted by family and friends like Weddings, house warming , Baby Showers etc.

My spiritual journey continues and I am glad to have come across Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, thanks to our recent trip to Pondicherry. I had bought a few books from the library in Aurobindo Ashram on Healing.
Started reading these books and found great insights into how the Mind/Thoughts can heal a person. Very minute details are discussed which are very practical and can be implemented easily so as to get healed. Through these books am able to appreciate the Spiritual teachings  of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.
‘Intergrated Healing’ is one book which I will review once I am done reading.

Nice to see that the hits on my Blog are increasing. I get visitors from small unknown countries too. This motivates me to post more and hopefully the posts motivate more people.

Wishing all the readers of my Blog a Healthy and Peaceful 2019 !!

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Stir-Fry Vegetables with Chickpeas

There are times when I crave for a lot of veggies. I quickly stir fry whatever veggies I have , sprinkle salt, pepper, lime juice , Olive oil and enjoy a hot bowl of veggies. This is one such day and here is what I dished out. Luckily I had soaked Chickpeas in the refrigerator too which I added to the veggies.

Here is the recipe for Stir-Fry Veggies with Chickpeas –

Ingredients :

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Boiled Chickpeas – 1 Cup (soak dry chickpeas overnight and add a little salt while boiling)
Assorted Vegetables – 2 cups of Veggies (3 to 4 colourful varieties)
Salt – As per your taste
Pepper powder – As per your taste
Garlic pods – 3 chopped pods
Extra Virgin Olive Oil : 1 tablespoon
Any other cooking oil : 1 to 2 teaspoons
Lemon juice : 1 spoon

Method :
1. Add oil to the pan .
2. Add the chopped garlic before oil gets very hot. Stir fry for 30 seconds.
3. Add all the chopped veggies and stir till the veggies are partially cooked.

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4. Add the boiled chickpeas and salt . Stir till the veggies are cooked but not soft. The chickpeas too will get slightly roasted and that makes them yummier.

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5. Remove from the stove.

6. Add pepper powder, drizzle lemon juice and Extra virgin Olive oil . Stir all the ingredients well.

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A nice hot bowl of Stir Fry Vegetables with Chickpeas is ready to be served.
A very filling, nutritious and yummy dish which can be had as dinner too.

Choose vegetables that are colorful. Red / Yellow/ Green bell peppers, Purple cabbage , Green Broccoli or Asparagus, White Baby corn / Cabbage , Carrots  etc. Select a few that are in season and to make the dish colorful and appetizing.

Include roasted or Boiled peanuts, roasted sesame seeds if you wish.


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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 🙂

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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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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.

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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.

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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 !!


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Picture story from a recent visit to our Village – Apr 2018

Here are a few Pics from my recent visit to our Village near Nellore.

Free Range hens with their little ones . This is one of the most common sights as soon as you leave a city or town. The moment you see them near you , you would be tempted to rush and catch hold of one of those little ones but would fail miserably 🙂

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Another common sight is the Dry Hay Stack. Once the harvest season is completed , all the Hay is collected and shaped into this form . It is then tied with a rope, made out the hay, to protect the hay stack from the wind. Cows and Buffaloes munch on this Hay when there is no grass during Summers.

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Time to go home after grazing and playing in the fields , the whole day.

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This woman has brought her wares , fresh green leafy veggies and Raw Mangoes . She has come all the way from the neighboring village where these are grown. She carries her stuff in a cloth and an Aluminium vessel. People in the villages get to eat fresh veggies which are harvested in the morning or on the previous day. The veggies that we get in the cities , that are on the shelves of the supermarkets and sold by other friendly neighborhood vegetable vendors are from the cold storage’s and would have been lying there for days / weeks / months.

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Mango Chutney is being made in the traditional way, using a Stone Mortar and Wooden Pestle . The taste of chutneys is doubled when prepared in this way rather than in a Mixer Grinder. Good exercise for the body too as one has to sit on the floor .

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Rice balls (Rice powder + Jaggery water + Ghee ) steamed in a clay pot.

 

Time for the ducks to go home after eating/playing in the adjacent fields.

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Looking forward to my next visit 🙂


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7th year after my Stem Cell Transplant for Multiple Myeloma

The last six years have been the longest years in my life. Extremely grateful for being given a second chance to tread our lovely blue planet .

Been living each day with gratitude and lots of hope. Doing my best to share my experience with Alternative treatment via this blog. Have been able to manage my condition (Multiple Myeloma) successfully. It’s been 2 years since I stopped Chemo. So far so good. Was able to help and guide other patients with MM who came across my blog and got in touch with me . Gives me immense happiness.

Learnt a lot about the importance of diet , fasting etc for preventing and treating Cancer. Most importantly , I have experienced the Miraculous healing properties of Curcumin , for managing my condition. Curcumin has powerful healing properties which can treat several diseases.

Nothing else in this world is more important than being alive. Everything else is a bonus 🙂 . Yes, it does sound like I am selfish 🙂 . Take utmost care of your health and love yourself a lot. Be healthy so you don’t have to trouble your near and dear ones if you fall sick.

I am so thankful to my Doctors , family , friends , colleagues and other well wishers who have been supporting me throughout.

happy