First, regarding Jeff, I continue to learn yet more medical trivia through this process. Since his dose escalated again during the last round of treatment, he felt worse last week and on into earlier this week than after previous chemo administrations. One side effect was tachycardia (again). This caused me some degree of concern because of (1) the tumor in his chest and because (2) the symptom of heart racing had abated almost immediately upon starting chemo.
As it turns out, my Google wizardry combined with a most basic analysis of lab results, revealed that chemo often impacts not only white blood cell counts but also red blood cells, and, consequently, hemoglobin levels. Jeff's hemoglobin was low. Since red blood cells carry oxygen, apparently when you are anemic your heart has to work a bit harder to circulate it through your body. So, medical research, for once, made me feel more calm and at ease and, best of all, Jeff is feeling better again now. Yesterday afternoon we went for a walk up and over Potrero Hill and back again with Uncle Tom and Jeff felt good. To my credit, I was walking with Lydia in the trusty Ergo carrier, but I felt his pace was zippy.
If you've read it already, this warning will come too late. But this article, about a summertime lunch delivery bus to kids living in impoverished parts of Tennessee definitely made my eyes water. I also found myself clenching my jaw and straining to not start shaking my fists in rage. There are kids in Tennessee - and of course here in San Francisco and throughout this country - who aren't eating much at all in the summer because school is not in session and "there ain't no such thing as a free (school) lunch" when there's no school. This ingenious, yet depressing, bus is delivering food to some such children in Tennessee and I know there are similar programs in place at libraries, Boys and Girls clubs, etc that are funneling some much needed nutrition to needy kids in my neck of the woods.
But it makes my heart ache to know that there are babies getting fed sips of Mountain Dew when their formula runs out. That young kids are taking care of their even younger siblings with no resources while their parents are at work in jobs that cannot even provide enough food.
This vision of a summer - stuck in a trailer watching DVDs on repeat and eating whatever food can be scrounged up - is so very contrary to how I was blessed to be raised. My summer memories are of playing baseball with my dad and Uncle Stevie in the backyard. Picking homegrown tomatoes. Taking Chinese cooking, fishing, and French classes at the high school summer education program. Swimming at the neighborhood wading pool. Scooping vanilla ice cream into fresh-cut cantaloupe for dessert.
Of course, my privileges, dietary and otherwise, did not stop as a kid. This morning, I had fancy schmancy "quinoa oat cranberry millet blah blah blah" hot cereal for breakfast with a dollop of raw coconut butter. The cereal is - I swear - made from artisan grains or some crap. I just picked it up at Whole Foods on a whim. Because I can.
After dropping Stella off at preschool, Jeff and I got coffee and I had an aforementioned four dollar (well, $3.50) latte. And for lunch - though this was probably good for Jeff's hemoglobin levels - we had ridiculously delicious, and pricey, cheeseburgers at Serpentine. Here in our (demographic) part of San Francisco, we don't have USDA-sponsored food delivery buses. People in our income bracket shell out top dollar to eat at fancy food trucks. I love food trucks, don't get me wrong, but it is quite the contrast to think about events like "Off the Grid" here in the Bay as compared to the "bread truck" making the rounds in Appalachia.
I hate that I sometimes have to read articles like this to feel so damn fortunate to have received a top-notch education and to have a great job with excellent benefits which gives me the ability to care so well for myself, Jeff, and our daughters. In the several days since I first read this article, every time I nurse Lydia, even during middle of the night feedings, I have remembered that I am lucky to be nursing her. Lucky to be on maternity leave. So lucky to be nourished enough to feed her so well that she is affectionately called "Thunder Thighs" and "Chunk-a-Lunk."
I will refrain - mostly from lack of time - from delving into politics and harping on this topic any longer. But I hope I can hold on to this feeling of gratefulness, at least for a little longer than usual.