I love going to my in-laws in the French Loire Valley for Christmas, which is a sacred familial time for them.
This year getting out of Nashville was a bit exhausting due to all the normal get-out-of-town craziness and preparations for my last Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT) which is scheduled for this week (January 9-12). I’ve been feeling good, but I was definitely burning the candle at both ends. Even so, I was a little surprised that my therapy clearance blood work showed my red blood cells and platelets plummeted. Sure, it’s not unusual for this to happen and there’s a good chance I even sabotaged myself.
I’d been hearing so much hoopla around the ketogenic diet, including that it is good for cancer patients since it starves cancer cells of the glucose they need to grow. BUT, as it turns out, guess what red blood cells need to reproduce? If you guessed glucose, then you are correct. Oopsy!
Fortunately, the counts were still well above the therapy minimums and gave me a self signed permission slip to reinstated carbs, which would’ve been an epic failure (and just all together wrong) in France and Italy anyways.
Flying to Paris and arriving was a shit show but no more than usual. Travel in Europe is a physical work out, but I was happy to arrive to my beloved village of St. Cyr en Val to be greeted by droves of family. Also, it was extra fun this year since my friend from Nashville joined to experience a French Christmas.
We spent the first few days getting adjusted to the time, visiting Chateau de Chambord and locating a few Camino shells throughout Orleans, a potential stop for those walking to Santiago from Paris.
Christmas Eve was the big event! This is when 50 of my crazy french in-laws drink oodles of champagne, sing, dance and eat platters of oysters. This year the chaos was amplified by a photo booth, introducing them to white elephant/dirty santa and CLR….until 4am. It was really fun and I can officially say that I am completely acclimated (it only took nine years). We even ventured off to midnight mass where Father Jean-Baptiste called me to the pew for a little interview. I was throughly embarrassed, but also touched since I know he prays for my health often. Last year he blessed me and this year he expressed excitement about my trip to Rome to see his boss, Pope Francis.
The following days after Christmas Eve shenanigans were filled with gifts and visits and food and drinks and naps. I was tired and my brain hurt from french but I think it was my favorite Christmas in a long time.
On the 27th, we were off to Paris for a couple of days. Day one was spent walking around Galerie Lafayette, seeing the sights on a Bateaux Mouche, a comedy show and a long, late dinner at a tapas restaurant. My Nashville friend also had a great time with the exception of the last night where she was hit with food poisoning and spent the whole night sick. With her night reminding me of the months I spent laying on the bathroom floor I felt so bad for her having to travel all day feeling like that. Fortunately, I don’t leave home without a couple Zofran, which helped her make it home after a looooooong hard day.
As she soldiered through, my husband and I got to experience something really special at the Paris Zoo. His cousin is the giraffe keeper and invited us for a private visit with her 15 giraffes. We got to feed and pet them and take pictures. It was incredible and it took everything I had not to steal one. With the day spent fawning over giraffes, we walked around the Champs Elysées and met an old friend for dinner. We haven’t seen him in seven years and wow a lot has happened and changed. Satisfied with a wonderful time in France, we went back to our friends tiny apartment for a long sleep before jetting off to Italy in the morning.
Cheers to many more Christmas celebrations in the Loire Valley!