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Round Three: Feeding the Beast

I think I’ve settled into a routine here. I’m all cyborged up for the next 46 hours, have work to do at home, naps to take, tasty things to eat. The cold sensitivity is getting progressively worse, as expected, but otherwise I feel not-so-bad.

I even got a photo of the brown sludge (IV iron, called Venofer). Isn’t it lovely? Better yet, I can taste it while it’s being infused, like a mouthful of nails.

IV iron sludge

Just because I’m bored with chemo already doesn’t mean I need to bore you (unduly), so instead I’m going to offer up a public service announcement. Sometimes the very best thing you can do is STOP TALKING. Here’s one of those times. (Weight issues, in case you want to stop reading now.)

So then, a true story with a definite moral…

Setting: Office breakroom. I’m heating my 48th snack of the day, even though everything tastes like poison.

Enter female coworker.

C: You’ve lost weight, you look great.

Me: Thank you. (continuing to focus on what I’m doing)

C: Have you been working hard at it? I have a friend who started running, and that’s really worked for her, but it’s so hard to find something that you like and can stick with. But whatever you’ve been doing yammer yammer yammer.

Me: (sighs) Before you end up terribly embarrassed, it’s the chemotherapy.

C: But you look so healthy! You really look good yammer yammer.

Me: (walks out)

Coworker, that’s the point where you STOP TALKING.

I mused snarkily later as to whether I should shave my head so I looked like a proper cancer patient. (My hair is thinning a bit, and I may cut it short, but I don’t expect to lose it all.)

A friend sent me a relevant cartoon.

I actually managed to gain a little bit of weight since last infusion, by trying really hard to eat the energy-densest things in sight. And donuts too, but hey. These things happen. It’s utterly foreign to me, this approach to food. I think it must be like what a serious athlete does, trying to balance energy and nutrients and protein to fuel intense workouts. I’ve always been too lazy for that kind of athleticism, preferring yoga and lots of walking. And even though I can’t do much of the latter (or always much of the former), I’m fueling the chemo and related metabolic processes.

During chemo I’ve been tired and not that interested in food, and for a day or so after I’m off the pump everything tastes of poison. Not so much while I’m on it, so I’m guessing it’s chemo breakdown products. A bit of lemon juice in my water glass helps, as do citrus candies; thank you to those who suggested that. (It’s much worse than the nail flavor from the iron, and that’s pretty much gone already anyway.)

Left entirely to my own devices, I’d be eating a lot of toast. Even buttered that’s not calorie-dense, and rather lacking in vitamins and protein. So I’ve been trying harder, and eating things like full-fat yogurt, oatmeal with dried fruit and protein powder, vegetable soup, pudding. And because of the cold sensitivity, everything has to be warm, even the yogurt. Almond butter, nuts, avocados, stuff like that. Fruit and veggies too. I wish I could make smoothies, but they’re too cold. (Tap water is too cold.) Anyone have a warm substitute for smoothies?

I’m trying to focus on protein and unsaturated fat, but not fussing at all about saturated fat or anything like that. Successful cancer treatment is an enormously higher priority right now than cholesterol levels. We made bread pudding with dried fruit, and that was awesome: starchy comfort food with protein (eggs) and fruit. Ditto sugar, though I’m trying to keep that to reasonable levels despite the donuts. (Before anyone comments, read this. I have no patience for cancer-related nonscience.)

After losing a pound or so a week for the first few weeks on chemo, I’m pleased to have reversed that trend, even though I feel like I’m eating ALL THE TIME. My digestive system is happier with frequent smaller meals, compounding the feeling that I’m always eating. The anti-nausea drugs continue to do their thing. As long as I pay attention, I should be able to keep my weight and nutrition in line.