The Man Who Couldn’t Eat Book Club

 Having learned about Jon Reiner’s The Man Who Couldn’t Eat through St. Louis’ Feast Magazine, I was intrigued about a book choice selected by a food culture magazine and regarding a topic close to home, chrone’s disease.  My uncle-in-law suffers from this condition, so I thought after reading I would send it to my aunt and uncle-in-law for reading.  Besides the fact, I am a sucker for memoirs;  learning about other peoples’ lives is intriguing and comforting all in one.
Reiner’s raw storytelling is certainly not “sugar coated.”  Chrone’s disease wreaks havoc not only on the victim’s health, but also his/her way of lifestyle and the lifestyle of those around him/her.  A scene where Reiner longingly looks at the salt-coated crinkles of a french fry and eventually licks despite his NPO (nil per os/nothing by mouth) status mirrors unrequited love.
When reflecting on his numerous stays at the hospital, Reiner writes, ” . . . hospitals have a way of breeding confessions,” (189).  Adept at description, Reiner includes the reader in every page, paragraph, and sentence.  Having recently been hospitalized, I recounted learning of a nurse’s dysfunctional ex as well as the organic eating requirements of another nurse and wondering what truths I revealed while under the influence of pain killers and lying vulnerable in a hospital bed.
For book club purposes, an evening of appetizers at Nosh was offered to the Feast Book Club at independent bookseller Left Bank Books in the Central West End in St. Louis.

Ta Ta to the Ta Tas with Eileen Sutherland’s "Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo Boo"

So, I’ve been MIA lately, but it hasn’t been due to a lack of interest in reading.  It turns out that my “nothing but routine” breast excision evolved into a lumpectomy which has inevitably resulted in the need for a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction tomorrow.  [deep breathing . . . more deep breathing]  Since I feel like an immature adolescent inside, it’s hard for me to come to the realization that my body is anything but adolescent, but rather it is adult dealing with adult medical issues.  The fact is that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.  Yes, 1 in 8!  The odds that a woman will develop breast cancer are staggering.  Yet, women are not the only victims.  For every 100 women diagnosed, 1 male will be diagnosed.  Why is there no cure?
As reported in my last blog, I was virtually without symptoms prior to my first mammogram.  A couple of weeks before the screening, I had spontaneous discharge from my right nipple, but no lumps.  No lumps!!!  I thought you had to have lumps!!!  My father passed away after losing a gruesome battle with cancer of the lining of the lung.  Thus, I figured I, too, would meet cancer one day, but I didn’t think it would be only five years after his death and in the form of breast cancer.
With a three and five-year-old, there is not much opportunity to come to terms with the diagnosis or wallow in any self-pity.  Instead, my “game face” must be on for them because I don’t want them to be frightened or worry about their momma.  This does not mean that tears do not flow, so I feel truly blessed to have a loving support system which includes friends who know just what to do, when to do it, and won’t take “no” for an answer.  Hearing “no clear margins . . . mastectomy” over the phone, I was in no shape to care for my three-year-old.  My BFFs without hesitation took turns watching my girls that day and keeping them occupied.  Just what the doctor ordered . . .  time to cry, time to think, time to research.

While researching, I came across a book which deals with breast cancer suitable for my young children.  Eileen Sutherland’s Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo Boo perfectly explains breast cancer at the child’s level.  Together, my girls and I have read this book several times, and I have referred back to this text whenever questions arise.  My favorite literacy device used in Sutherland’s writing is the use of the simile when she compares the release of the boo boos from Mommy’s chest to the flight of a butterfly.  The girls enjoyed the imagery and understood this explanation.
Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo Boo is a thoughtful gift for any breast cancer warrior . . .  If you do nothing else, though, please check your ta tas!