Cooking With Myra: Family, food helps heal after surgery

Feb. 28, 2011 at midnight
Updated Feb. 28, 2011 at 9:01 p.m.

Wheatberry Salad with Black Beans, Edamame and Red Onions

Wheatberry Salad with Black Beans, Edamame and Red Onions

By Myra Starkey

What would possess me to do such a thing? I am in pain. Various people keep looking at me and asking me how I am feeling and whether they can they do anything for me. I am halfway helpless and immobilized.

I am sitting at home recovering from "scratch and dent" surgery. Ten years ago, I had breast cancer, which involved a biopsy then a lumpectomy and lymph node biopsy, and then, finally, radiation. That can cause some major body damage to the affected part.

I promised myself that if I survived for 10 years, then I would get repaired. I figured that if I made it a whole decade, I was as good as cured. My cancer doctor never has told me I was cured, even though all the tests are still negative. He only says I am in remission. I know there are no guarantees, so for now I am considering myself totally cured.

I went to the plastic surgeon. He was kind and patient and told me that he couldn't make me perfect, that radiation takes a heavy toll. I wasn't perfect even before my cancer surgery, and at age 50, even though I have tried to stay in shape, I still am half a century old.

Gosh, that sounds bad. Anyway, he explained that he would move some fat from one area and put it in other places and revise my scars. I encouraged him to take all the fat he wanted. In fact, one of my friends, wanting to follow the example of my sister who recently donated a kidney, asked if they could unselfishly donate some of their fat for my procedure. I assured them that I felt I would have enough of my own.

Last Thursday morning, I checked into the hospital. Taylor reminded me that I didn't have to go through with the procedure, that he thought I was fine just as I was. That was sweet, and I know he was sincere, but I was ready to do it.

The nurses were all so comforting, professional and attentive. The doctor reassured me and after my IV was started, they ran something into my veins, which rolled into my brain like a blinding, hypnotizing fog. More than two hours later, it was all done, and I began to regain consciousness in the recovery room. I felt nauseated and was still in a haze for several hours.

The nursing staff did their very best to comfort me, and I don't recall ever having such good care. After an overnight stay in the hospital, the doctor discharged me to the care of family and friends.

My personal physician (not the surgeon) even offered to spend the night in my room for as long as I needed. Actually, that is my husband, so he always sleeps in the same room that I do.

As I write this, it has been three days since my surgery. I am beginning to feel good again. I am not having to take the pain pills so frequently, am moving around fairly well, and my darn appetite is beginning to come back to life.

Various friends have made meals for me, and for that I am very grateful. I have progressed from the bed to the couch in front of the TV. It is not that I am so interested in watching television all day, but it helps the healing time pass.

And now, I am looking out the window wishing I could go garden and dig in the dirt. I don't think the surgeon would approve of that just yet.

My mom and dad came to town to help me with my recovery. Since I couldn't do much, we had lots of time to visit and watch Fox news together. We usually eat like the Louisiana folks that we are when they come to visit, but this time it was mainly recovery food such as soup and salad.

Before the surgery, I made a special bean salad for everyone to enjoy. My mom loved the edamame and black beans paired with fresh tomatoes and red onions. Add boiled shrimp or grilled chicken and you have a healthy meal.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or e-mail



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