Attempting to harness my inner nudist

The other day, I was doing some basic training with Jelly, and she confused Shake a Paw with Down. That is not unusual. When I start firing commands, Jelly goes through random behaviours to garner a treat. Sometimes she hits the correct command and sometimes she doesn’t. Blame it on her trainer (me).

This little mishap led to unfortunate consequences. One of Jelly’s deadly nails scratched my forearm, immediately drawing blood and leaving a gruesome bruise. If I hadn’t been there when it happened, I’d think I had fought off a grizzly.

The incident made me realize how very fragile my skin is, and how prone I am to bleeding with such critically low platelets. There have been other signs, of course. My arms and legs look freckled, although if you look more closely you will notice that the spots are too red to be freckles. J. used to ask where some random bruise was from, but she has become aware that I could have bruised myself simply by knocking one arm against another, or leaning against a wall. Who’d have thought I’d ever become so sensitive?

Because I have become fragile as a flower, finding clothes that will not injure me has become challenging. Anything with elastic or a closer fit is likely to bruise me. The seam of my jeans, the waistband of my yoga pants, and don’t even get me started on bras–snug elastic, metal clasps, adjustable rings–there is no end of potential bodily assaults caused by that oppressive undergarment.

I promised myself that when I my illness progressed, I wouldn’t sit around in my pyjamas all day eating bonbons. First off, bonbons aren’t holding the appeal they once did; I don’t feel like eating much of anything, sweets included. Additionally, what a better reminder that you’re sick than not wearing real clothes ever? Sure I often can’t be bothered and leave the house in (loose) yoga pants, but normally I’m all for getting fully dressed in the morning.

In my current sensitive condition, I’m coming to appreciate the appeal of leisure wear, however. I used to watch my share of Y & R, and I recall the rich wearing all manner of lounge wear. Maybe I should seek out muumuus, or dressing gowns, or some other variation on that loose-clothing theme that will be less likely to injure my fragile skin.

Yet even a muumuu has a seam or two–the fabric has to be sewn together somewhere. Which leads me to my final option: nudity. I could hang out around the house in not much at all, thereby eliminating the opportunity for clothing injuries. Unfortunately I’m not the nudist type, and clothes do serve a function of covering my many bodily imperfections. Also, clothes act as a buffer when I bump into a wall or hit some limb on a cupboard door I have forgotten to close.

For now, do not worry: if you drop by, I promise to be be fully clothed at all times. at least until I can come up with a reasonable alternative. I was considering full coverage in bubble wrap. Do you think it would be see through or could I finally ditch the bra altogether?

Woman wrapped neck to knee in bubble wrap


My Last Suppers, and Lunches, and Breakfasts

I think I clarified in my last post that I will not be consuming any trifle before I die. But dying does open the door for a host of long-neglected culinary indulgences. For an eternity, as you know, sodium has been my nemesis. I have been on a sodium-restricted diet since 2013, with occasional lapses when I venture out for a meal like a normal person.

With my death sentence, all food restrictions have flown out the window. A little sodium isn’t going to kill me now; my failing bone marrow is taking care of that. I dare say that my burgeoning baby bump may be surrounded by a fair bit of fluid due to my recent increase in sodium consumption. It turns out all the foods I want to consume with abandon before I die are all salt bombs. Pizza, dim sum, Thai food, grilled cheese with bacon, anything that actually has some salt flavour. You may have some suggestions for me. I’m listening.

You can recall I recently tackled the Golden Arches, to my deep disappointment–darn that excess special sauce–but I have had many more tasty indulgences since. Why, just yesterday a dear friend treated me to a lovely Thai lunch. I approached the meal cautiously, ordering vegetarian salad rolls and coconut rice, but I thoroughly enjoyed every bite. My friend’s Pad Thai was to die for, but I’m taking small steps.

Forget that; I haven’t time for small steps. I’m going to eat every previously banned food between now and my end. If only my appetite weren’t suppressed by my spleen’s pressing on my stomach, and by the progression of the illness itself. I’m eating, but not enjoying the food as much as I might have in the past. Sadly, eating to my heart’s content gives me heartburn. Hunger pangs are largely absent. I know, I don’t believe it either.

Then it hit me how selfish I am to indulge in relentless sodium-laden meals before I die. There are grave consequences of my doing so, especially to my pallbearers. How much extra weight will they have to lug around because of my overindulgence in long-forbidden foods? My nearest and dearest are getting older. Many of them have back or hip or other joint injuries. Will my excess necessitate orthopedic surgery?

Hopefully not. Pallbearers these days often aren’t tasked with the physical labour they once were. Now there are wheelie carts to move the coffin and suspension systems to lower the casket (and whatever ginormous body lies within) into the ground. (Let’s assume I’m not the only one trying to move through my long list of Last Suppers.)

So I will continue to work through my coveted food list, hoping I reach its end before I reach my end. Truth is, I can only eat so much at a time, and thus far my weight has barely budged. I don’t envision my BMI reaching the obese, or even the overweight, range before I die, although stranger things have happened. Even if I do balloon, I’ll rest assured that advances in graveside services will prevent serious injury to others. If you decline the request to be my pallbearer, I vow no hard feelings. I’ll be dead by then.

Pallbearers pushing coffin on wheelie cart

Some assignments are hard to study for

Empty lectern in sanctuary with microphone

This weekend, at one of my last PALS visits with Jelly–it is time for us to play bow out–a woman I’d visited previously asked if I was taking leave because I was pregnant. From the cradle straight to the grave. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that, in fact, she had mistaken my spleen for a fetus. Please folks, don’t assume you know what’s going on under that tight shirt. Save yourself the embarrassment of being wrong.

I’m telling you this story only to avoid discussing what’s really on my mind. I’ve recently been given the hardest homework assignment of my life death. I envision a big F on my horizon. I’m procrastinating despite my quickly approaching deadline (and I don’t mean “due date” here).

When J. and I met with the rabbi, he suggested I write my own eulogy. Very clever, I thought. This way, he could get to know me and to find out how I’d want him to characterize me. The task seemed so creative and insightful at the time. And I love to write; I was excited to try.

I’m not doing very well. I’ve drafted and redrafted my sendoff to no avail. What I’ve written so far would put you to sleep. What would I want to capture in my eulogy anyway? I could list accomplishments, few that they are, and bore you to tears. I don’t want to be remembered for what I’ve done in my life but for the kind of person I am (I was? But I’m not dead yet!).

If you asked me to write your eulogy, assuming we are close, I’d enjoy trying to capture you to share with others. But characterizing myself? That’s a lot harder.

You know I love to write. Writing my blog has never been a challenge. Absurd ideas come to me and within an hour or two, I’ve dumped them on you. Some posts are better than others because I can’t be at the top of my game every day. No one can. I do the best I can on that day, knowing that on another day, I might be able to do better (or I might do much worse).

But back to the eulogy, which I’ve been writing for 4 years already. I’ve titled it Muddling Through Leukemia, but I’d consider the blog my evolving perspective on life and death. If you want to know who I am, who I’ve aspired to be, and where I’ve failed–oh, how I love to emphasize my failures–read my blog.

I can’t ask the rabbi to read four years of posts to get a flavour of who I am, though; that would be unreasonable. So I will try to draft something for him, if I can find the emotional energy to do so in the midst of all I am dealing with at this time. And if I fail miserably, I trust the rabbi will be able to fill in the blanks. He strikes me as extremely capable, and I imagine he has more experience with eulogies than I do. And he is compassionate, so maybe he’ll cut me a little slack. If I’m lucky, I’ll end up with a D, since I don’t have time to repeat the course.

Blood, spots, and tears

Mark Twain's quote: Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

I think we need to clear one thing up. I’M NOT BRAVE. J. is the brave one. She’s the one who’s facing this loss head on, she’s the one who’s going to be left after I’m gone, and she’s the one holding everything together, except when she’s not, which we can all appreciate. Her plate is much fuller than mine.

Sure, the meetings with the rabbi and the funeral director last week weren’t easy, but they were comforting. This week we’ll talk to a community nurse about what the end-of-life placement options are. Will a hospice be better for me, or a hospital, or do I want to die at home? This too will be a hard discussion, but we both need the information to be able to make informed decisions when the time comes.

If you think I’m handling this well, you’re somehow missing my denial. I don’t really believe my death is imminent. I don’t mistrust my doctor; I just don’t feel like a dying person. In fact, this past week, I’ve felt better than I have in some time. No wonder the optometry assistant didn’t grasp what I told her last week; I don’t look palliative, or at least not to the average Jane.

If you look a little closer, you’ll notice my colour is a bit off, and I sport an ugly bruise on my hand that is getting worse rather than better. The rest of my body’s decline is well hidden, mostly under my clothes. Don’t worry, I won’t show you; I haven’t lost all sense of decorum (yet). I’ll just tell you about it all in vivid detail.

My critically low platelets are leaving their mark. Small children would cry were they to see me in a bathing suit. I am covered in large ugly bruises over my limbs and trunk. Over the past few weeks, I’ve also developed red spots of various sizes and shapes. An unyielding waistband, a shoe that is too tight, the arms of my glasses–all of these minor contact points have the potential to spotify me. If I deign to scratch an itch, the evidence of my negligence is imprinted in my skin.

Blood vessels in my mouth are having a heyday as well. I can wake up with a huge burst vessel on my cheek or my tongue that makes eating a challenge. Don’t worry, nothing stops this gal from eating, and the pain and discomfort pass within the day. What is more troublesome is that this is but one of many constant reminders that my body is ailing.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by all these visible signs of my illness and, yes, I start crying. The tears are close to the surface lately. ((I hate to admit that sometimes denial fails me.) Crying is a huge problem because I am dealing with near-constant nosebleeds as well, and a good cry inevitably gets my nose flowing again.

I’m sure you’ve seen the commercial, “Do you pee a little when you laugh?” Well, it turns out I bleed a little when I cry. So I’m just going to have to turn off the tap already. If I’m feeling well, however marred my body, I must stop weeping and start living. I have no time to waste.


Baby Come Back Thick as a Brick

Hand holding brick

My visits to the cancer centre are full of surprises these days. I never know what I’m going to find out and how it’s going to affect my palliative plan, i.e., that plan my medical team has to keep me feeling as well as I can for as long as I can. I can count on being surprised, elated, frustrated, confused, and overwhelmed over the course of an appointment. My body is so very complicated.

It is three weeks now that I have been injecting myself with EPO, that miraculous hormone intended to help my body produce more red blood cells. The injections were to start taking effect after about 6 weeks. Imagine my surprise when I learned that my hemoglobin had risen over the past 2 weeks. I was elated! I had noticed that my fatigue had been lifting somewhat, despite my nasty cold. My nurse practitioner explained that exhaustion from lack of sleep is qualitatively different than anemia-related exhaustion. Yes, siree.

My elation didn’t last for long. After months of barely noticing the size of my belly, I’d recently felt like I had ballooned to the second-trimester pregnancy of my past. I was confused. What was causing my baby to grow at such a rapid pace? When the body has no space to create blood cells in the marrow, it contracts the spleen to do the work. With more work to do, the spleen expands to manage the production site.

In addition to my ballooning belly, I’d noticed I was short of breath and I wasn’t hungry. (I know, the lack of appetite is hard for you to believe.) This is because my stomach and lungs are being compressed by my humungous spleen. Dr. Blood Lite ordered an urgent ultrasound. Yes, I was overwhelmed.

The ultrasonographer confirmed that the problem was my ginormous spleen. Whereas a normal spleen is the size of a fist, mine is the size of a brick. No wonder I feel like I’m going to explode.

I could accept being thick as a brick but my doctor can’t. When the spleen grows, it also gets hungrier, with a particular appetite for platelets. So while my hemoglobin has risen, my platelet count remains very very very low. While I was awaiting my ultrasound, I underwent a platelet transfusion–maybe my spleen could eat somebody else’s platelets instead of my own. The team also decided I should forgo this week’s EPO injection. The intervention is working but I have to slow it down even before I get to compete in the Olympics? I was confused and frustrated and overwhelmed all at once.

We return next week to see where I’m at. I’ll bring the baby along; I don’t have much choice. If my platelets aren’t any higher, I may have to quit the EPO altogether, let my spleen shrink back to its lesser but still enlarged size and rely solely on red blood cell transfusions, which would not be the end of the world. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep me above ground. You would too, wouldn’t you?

A story without a fairy tale ending

Cover of Hunger by Roxane Gay

As the year nears its end, I become excited about the publication of the Top 100 book lists. One book on every list I’ve seen is Hunger: A memoir of my body by Roxane Gay. When I am a grown-up writer, I want to be Roxane Gay. (Sorry Gabrielle Zevin, you’ve been usurped for now. I still love The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, though.) If you’re interested in reading Hunger, know that it’s not an easy book to get through. The author bares all in her writing.

I hadn’t known of her previously, but Roxane Gay is a respected author of both fiction and nonfiction. She is also morbidly obese in what she justly calls a fat-phobic society. She was gang raped at age 12, after which she gained weight to keep herself physically and sexually safe from others. Dr. Gay views herself as a victim rather than a survivor of her rape, and acknowledges she has not healed from the trauma. She suggests people stop judging the obese without knowing their story, and realize that fat [her word] people have other attributes too.

Dr. Gay, who has a Ph.D. in technical writing and is currently a professor at Purdue University, acknowledges years of self-loathing, challenged relationships, and discomfort in her own body. Her frankness about her life is both uncomfortable and enlightening. She described the profound effects of an emotionally abusive relationship in a way that still haunts me.

She speaks of the all-too-frequent judgement and the difficult situations that she experiences. Strangers censure what she places in her grocery cart and deride her as she walks down the street. Well-meaning friends patronize her by sharing their insights about food, nutrition, and weight loss. Professional colleagues cannot hide their surprise when, after corresponding on line, they first encounter her in her physical glory. Imagine realizing you’ve been provided a chair for a reading that will not comfortably support your body, and worrying the whole time that that chair could break.

This book helped me to imagine what being obese would feel like in a society where thinness equals beauty. Is anyone truly above judging people based on their outward appearances? I know I’m not.

Near the end of the book, Dr. Gay described an ankle break that resulted in a hospital stay, and her community of support’s unexpected rallying around her. Despite all her self-loathing, she realized how many people love her and would miss her if something were to happen to her. I was reminded of how moved I was by my own troops’ tremendous support of both me and J. when I was deathly ill in the ICU. I also recall how much I appreciated the teary hugs I received when I was finally sent home. I too felt that I would have been missed had I not survived.

I can’t say reading this book will be fun, but you too could scratch an insightful read off your Top 100 list. Like me, you may find that Dr. Gay’s insights stay with you. When I’m next on an airplane and the fattest person walking down the aisle takes the seat next to me, I’ll think about this book, and I’ll make as much room as I can. Do unto others and all….

A true Israeli breakfast of champions

Israeli breakfast buffet, eggs, olives, etc.

Lest I leave you with the impression that if you go to Israel, you’ll come back with a high bilirubin count, let’s talk about the food. It’s incredible, every single morsel.

Because Israel is surrounded by countries that are, at best, ambivalent about her existence, Israeli food is largely produced within its borders. In our travels we passed olive trees, date trees, banana trees, grape vines, and pomegranate trees dripping with fruit. The bananas were so tasty, J. refuses to eat another Chiquita.

(By the way, I don’t recommend eating an olive straight from the tree–it’s not a pleasant experience. Squeeze it and watch the oil ooze out, but cure your olives before you take a bite. I learned this lesson the hard way.)

Then there are the milk products, the yogurt and labneh and white cheese, which is a loose facsimile for our cream cheese but smoother and much tastier. Because so many restaurants and hotels in Israel have kosher kitchens to accommodate the religious Israeli residents and the tourists, many kitchens exclude meat from their menus. There isn’t enough space in this small country to produce a lot of meat. Rather, there is a very large sea known as the Mediterranean that is bursting with fish, and since fish can go either way–it can be eaten with milk products or with meat–the fish is aplenty.

Now imagine that all of this food finds its way into the buffets of the typical Israeli breakfast at hotels. This meal is often included in the cost of the hotel. We call it “Israeli breakfast” while Israelis call it “breakfast”. Whatever you call it, it is a perpetual exercise in self-restraint.

Imagine a variety of yogurt and cheeses, granola, dried fruits, and preserves. There’s smoked fish and tuna salad alongside a variety of breads and rolls. Add in eggs in various preparations, perhaps in spicy tomato sauce, or as an omelette to order. Of course there are sliced tomatoes, olives, and a mishmash of salads, including Israeli salad (which Israelis call “salad”). It’s finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Then there’s the stuffed pastry with savoury fillings like mushrooms or cheese.

Finally, there’s breakfast dessert, usually consisting of babka, i.e., chocolate- or cinnamon-swirled heaven, and halvah. Halvah is tahini and sugar, with added flavourings like cocoa powder or pistachios or whatever you can imagine, pressed it into a block. For immediate sugar shock, shave some halvah onto your babka.

If Israelis ate breakfast like this every day, they’d all be morbidly obese. The full Israeli breakfast is purely a tourist phenomenon, not that I’m complaining.

You won’t be surprised to learn I gained 10 lbs over the course of 14 days. But you may be surprised when I tell you that J. gained 0 lbs eating as much or more than me. Then we came home, and within one week on my strict low-sodium diet, I was back to my fighting weight.

I’ll admit it feels crummy to gain 10 lbs in 14 days, but losing 10 lbs in a week more than makes up for it. Best diet ever. You’ll come back with your bilirubin level intact, but if you gain weight, it’s all on you.


My day of awe

Yoga class with overweight woman doing warrior II in forefront

I was in a yoga class the other day, holding my Warrior II pose, when I made the mistake of turning my head to look in the mirror ahead of me. Yes, the front wall of the yoga classroom at the gym is all mirrors.  I like being confronted with the shape of my body on a regular basis, but sometimes the honest feedback is a little much.

Over the years, as my spleen has expanded, I have stopped looking at myself from the side. I can look at my body straight on, but from the side all I notice is how disproportionately large my belly is relative to the rest of my body. When I glanced in the mirror the other day, I was confronted with a painful realization: despite my recent marked weight loss, my spleen has not gone down in size. Turns out my internal organs haven’t shrunk with the rest of me. I may no longer store much junk in my trunk, but I still look kinda pregnant.

Then I came to my senses. My recently transformed body is perfect for me. I have not an ounce left to lose, and still I am critical of myself. I should know better. I’m a psychologist, for God’s sake. I help people accept themselves as they are, and, hypocrite that I am, all I can see is my own room for improvement. Some role model.

Are women ever 100% satisfied with their bodies? Is it any surprise that they’re not? I recently met a young woman who used to skate professionally. Sk8tr grl spoke of the constant pressure on her and her fellow skaters to lose weight. One of her coaches actually insisted on weigh ins every two weeks. One day, as an act of protest, sk8tr grl stepped on the scale holding her bagged McDonald’s lunch. Eventually the skaters’ protests resulted in the end of the weigh ins, but in the meantime, many of sk8tr grl’s friends developed eating disorders, one even suffering a heart attack in her mid-twenties. Sk8tr grl was strong enough to resist these pressures, thank goodness.

After my recent lapse in body acceptance, I knew exactly how to whip myself back into shape, so to speak. I headed to Eddie Bauer. If you are ever questioning your body, especially if you should not be, I suggest a visit with Eddie. Eddie and I have never met, but I believe he must have a distorted body image because his sizing is so absurd. I can count on his clothes’ fitting me in a smaller size than I’d wear in any other clothing line. Might this be a marketing ploy? “You’re a size 10? I think a size 8 would more than suffice,” says the Eddie salesperson.

Eddie or not, here I come. I will stop hiding my body under layer upon layer of oversized clothing. (The worst habits die the hardest.) I will embrace my spleen in all its ginormous glory. I will look directly in the mirror at yoga, even during Warrior II, without wincing in shame. I will love my body as it is. Anyone want to join me?

What goes down must come up

Once upon a time I was a dieter. I lost weight, sometimes too rapidly, for short periods of time, but most often I gained it back. I have come to believe that I cannot sustain restricted eating for any period of time. Eventually I fall far off the perpetually-hungry wagon. As soon as I start forbidding myself certain foods or food groups, I crave them all the more.

Some things I have been advised not to eat for health reasons, and I can live with those few restrictions. Grapefruit is a no-no with many of my medications. Organ meats are one of the worst things a gout-prone person can eat. Although chopped liver is a Jewish staple I consumed frequently in my youth, I’m surviving fine without the delicacy as an adult. I may be on a low-sodium diet, but I still eat the odd sodium-laden restaurant meal and I enjoy the occasional potato chip from J.’s stash.

Cookie Monster in Oscar the Grouch's garbage can saying Right now, I’m losing weight rapidly, but I can assure you I’m not dieting. Six weeks ago now, my hunger switch blew a fuse. I went from eating normally, sometimes excessively, to nary a hunger pang. Normally I’m one of those people who goes from zero to ravenous in seconds. I’m perplexed I haven’t been approached to star in one of those Snickers commercials. My hungry alter ego would be a hybrid of Oscar the Grouch and Cookie Monster. Currently my hungry-grumpy self is on vacation. I eat because I know I have to, but I’m full in no time. I’m oddly fascinated by this turn of events.

When I was discussing this problem with one of my doctors, she said that there is a fine line between lack of appetite and nausea. I have been straddling that line, but remain firmly on the lack-of-appetite side. I’ve told you many times that I am not a puker.

I don’t recommend this extreme approach to weight loss and I can’t tell you how to start your appetite loss. I am not intentionally trying to lose weight; I am having trouble eating. There is a huge difference. It’s been a while since I’ve craved a particular food and felt compelled to satisfy the craving. I miss the old days when I ate with enjoyment.

This experience is not all bad, of course. I can leave the house unconcerned about missing a meal. I no longer need an emergency snack ready for consumption at all times. And I am miraculously slipping into clothes that haven’t fit for some time. Whenever I clear out my closet, J. encourages me to hold on to some smaller-sized clothes just in case. I must be going through a just-in-case phase.

I may sound too cavalier about my shrinkage, but my doctors have reassured me there is no cause for concern. So long as I’m feeling alright (which I am), and my blood work is largely unchanged (which it is), I am not worried. I expect my appetite will come back with a vengeance once I figure out how to replace the fuse. With my renewed appetite, my lost weight will miraculously reappear. In the meantime, let me enjoy a few weeks in my skinny jeans, alright?

Running, or walking, or crawling on empty

Car with hood open getting tune up, hands visible working on car

I didn’t manage to publish a post last Friday, despite my best intentions. I was caught up at the doctor’s office for longer than I had expected. No, nothing was wrong, I had been recalled for regularly scheduled maintenance with Dr. Family. Even we sick people need to ensure we’re not going to get a flat tire on long, hot summer drives.

More often than not, when I go to see my master mechanic, I am seen by one of the many apprentices training under her expert wing. This time, my apprentice was a week from graduating with her ticket, so she handled my tune up with the expertise of a seasoned professional. Still, any apprentice takes longer to get the job done, and has to run everything by the boss before the car is allowed back on the road.

After a thorough review of my hefty file, Dr. Apprentice completed the routine checks from top to bottom. She ensured all my fluids were filled to appropriate levels, that my spark plugs were firing and my motor was functioning, and that my tire pressure was adequate. Then she inspected me all over for any unusual dents or markings.

Before we were done, we discussed the issue of my gas tank, which seems to have shrunk, along with the rest of my body, in recent weeks. If this lower gas consumption continues much longer, I’ll be reclassified from sedan to compact for the first time in years. I confessed I’d been having trouble filling’er up past the half-way mark, which is highly unusual for this Little Miss Piggy. Dr. Apprentice looked at my current weight, which had eked its way into the healthy range, and showed little concern. I imagine I’d have garnered more reaction from her had I stopped filling my tank altogether, or if I’d confessed that parts (or is that “pants”) had started falling off while driving, but since I still seemed to be running fine on half a tank, she barely raised her eyebrows.

I was sent off with the usual blood and body work, and told that the office would contact me with any recall notices. Sounds good to me.

Stalled car with hood up by side of roadThen the weekend came and, for the first time since this lowered gas consumption started, I tanked. I could barely turn over my engine. I virtually stalled by the side of the road. That’s when J. decided to start the force feeding.

In case you were wondering, I haven’t voluntarily adopted a calorie-restriction diet in order to live longer. You’ve heard of those, haven’t you? Crazy people are actually choosing to go hungry in order to extend their lives. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me. I am not them, I can assure you.

This Friday, I will be seeing Dr. Joint, or Dr. Goutfire, or Dr. Uri–so many options, so little time to decide!–and we will discuss the gout-busting pills that seem to be making it hard for me to fill my tank. Hopefully Dr. No Name Yet will support a medication adjustment so I can resume eating again, assuming my gas tank has not shrunk permanently. That leaves me four more days to fit into those favourite jeans….