Many things come to a halt now that the weekend has arrived. The clinic is quieter in some ways as there are very limited treatments offered. For the most part, weekends are designed as respite from the weeks’ congested routine. While I am still expected to monitor my body temperature and pulse, taking of all vitamins and supplements is waived. There is one injection on Saturday morning and a passive round of biofeedback, but the remainder of the weekend is all mine.
Many patients take advantage of this time to entertain family and friends. Parents, children, partners and the like, travel far and wide to steal a day or two of connection. The additional characters change the complexion of the clinic. The dining hall is quieter. Guests are eager to jaunt off to visit cafes and restaurants and take in some of Mergentheim’s local charm… and charming it is!
The city screams medieval. It was once the royal seat of the Masters of the Teutonic Order of Knights (1525-1909). They were founded as military order, crusading for the protection of Christians; their other directive was to establish hospitals. They are credited with discovering the healing mineral springs that flow beneath this ancient town. Since that time, Bad Mergentheim has become renowned for the treatment of metabolic and organic disorders.
While I make every effort to go walking during the week, I am limited by tightly scheduled treatments. The weekend allows for long, luxurious meandering. I have no need of a wrist watch, as the castle carillons sound on the hour from 0600 until 2100. Each stroke of the clapper is audible for miles. Cafes open their doors early, the waft of coffee-incense tempts. Coffee is always served with a baked good-companion, usually a sweet scented cookie-bite, no larger than a filbert. As I am maintaining a sugar free diet, this humble morsel is amplified to rapturous. The coffee is equally a source of ecstatic delight, not having indulged in almost two weeks. I enjoy my morning treat seated at a delightful outside table draped in crisp white cotton. The coffee is served on a petite silver tray lined with a white lace doily. My waiter positions my napkin, teaspoon, and water glass precisely. He offers a smile and a nod and leaves me to the indulgence at hand. Ahhh…joie de vivre!
I don’t speak French (I don’t speak German either, but trust that this sounds better in French). But that phase, “joie de vivre” is really the mantra for my time here at the clinic. Reminding myself of the “whys” that motivate me to pursue this approach to cancer treatment is a necessary, daily practice. It’s first and foremost an exercise in gratefulness. I have cancer, so do a million other people. I am fortunate to have studied naturopathy, nutrition, meditative practice, and other approaches to wellness (Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine), allowing me to embark on this treatment approach informed. I not only have the strength to advocate for myself but also the understanding that I must. I know there is are cures for cancer, there have been for decades. When my oncologist insisted that my condition was inoperable and that radiation was the only option left on the table, I was confident enough to find the words to gracefully decline.
My weekend deferment continues with a stroll through a lovely art gallery. The present installment is called “places&faces”, an impressive offering of black and white photographs. The artist, Von Felix Fernkorn could easily double for Jerry Garcia. I’m the only one in the gallery and am able to linger until the draw of the sun pulls me back outdoors. Bad Merghenteim caters to the plethora of clinics, their clientele and visitors alike. There is always a happening to entertain and delight.
I return to the clinic at lunchtime. I stay just long enough to change my clothes as the afternoon sun is warming things up considerably. This time out, I travel away from the downtown area into Kurpark. The walking trails meander past a few small shops, a lovely hotel, a visitors center, the Amadeus cafe and the music pavilion. There is a jazz trio performing in the cafe today and I secure a ringside seat. They do a sweet job with the classic standards and through in a few tunes I’m unfamiliar with; all in all delightful. The bitter-water (Heilqullen) dispensary is also along the cobblestone path. The jazz concert wraps up right around 3:30, at which time I’m able to have my pre-dinner 250ml from the Wilheilm’s Spring. I extend my walk just a bit longer until the castle’s bell tower peals the 5 o’clock hour. Dinner at the clinic is promptly at 5:45, so I take a deep breath and fix my route back to Huefland.
The weekend served its purpose, a most serene interval. I will spend my time after dinner reviewing the week’s itinerary and moving through my preparatory dance. I look forward to experiencing some new modalities next week as well as my body’s response. But presently, I’m being summoned by the dinner gong.