#17 Continuum

Amy Rothenberg ND
4 min readOct 24
The Author in her hospital room at Mass General in Boston

I don’t want to be cavalier.

I don’t want to take one tiny bit for granted.

And I don’t want to jinx anything.

That said, I feel damn good. Bounced back from two months of chemo and now am taking in my immunotherapy 24/7, but have no sense of it, except for the ever-present fanny pack. I make every rookie error: forget the pack on the table and get up to walk away; nearly trip over the tubing going down the stairs, catch one of my straps on a drawer handle, almost dip part of the belt into, dare I say, the loo! Hard to keep constant awareness of a new appendage.

I am grateful for these weeks of immunotherapy and hope I remain without side effects. After another cycle of BLINA, we envision zero leukemia cells, when I will be best poised for a successful, enduring, stem cell transplant in the new year. It’s now my time to rebuild, whip myself further into shape, focus on my head game (ongoing project,) get some work done, and enjoy the fall, my people, my home, my community, and myself!

Intermittently, I am listening to the (interminable) Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese.

At 760 pages, it’s not a light read while it weaves three generations, politics, Indian culture and history, love stories, unfathomable loss, and a whole lot of hope. Layered into most every chapter is a smorgasbord of medical detail I imagine is not everyone’s cup of tea: anatomy, physiology, pathology, philosophy, surgery, dissection, trauma. There is a treasure trove of detailed description of pathology, everything from Down Syndrome, to leprosy, to acoustic neuroma, and more. This book starts out in 1900, so Verghese describes many ailments endured that are no longer common threats — I should say, in the developed world — such as diphtheria and typhus. There is also a generous sprinkling of the food, teas, and herbal home remedies passed down mostly through women, which are not far afield from my own line of work.

Verghese’s prodigious ability to write about the human body, and the ways things go wrong from either genetic inheritance, environmental exposure and experience, and plain bad luck and how doctors and healers understand the application of medicine, moves me. I am pulled back to the smell of formaldehyde from anatomy dissection lab; I recall a frequent stiff neck…

Amy Rothenberg ND

American Association of Naturopathic Physician’s 2017 Physician of the Year. Teacher, writer and advocate for healthy living. www.nhcmed.com