Friday, January 28, 2011

Third Time's a Charm: Chemo #3

Halfway there!  There is something to be said for having some experience, not that I am recommending you earn a chemotherapy notch in your belt unless truly necessary.  Rounds one and two were dramatically different in how I felt afterward, but being the bald (mostly, I still have some fine baby hairs and a few funky tufts in the back that look like a bad day at the Hair Club for Men experiment) optimist I am, I figured I'd weather round #3 without a hitch.

The week before this treatment I ate like I was going to the electric chair.  Seriously.  When the funky period passed I craved cheeseburgers: Skyway Drive-In - Jimmy Buffet's favorite, plus B-Spot, Michael Symon's joint, and I went to a Red Robin for the first (and possibly last) time.  Refrigerated ready to bake chocolate chip cookies, whole batch just for me, check.  Wine tasted normal (yeah!) If it sounded good, I ate it (or drank it).

I capped it off with the 6 course feast at Dinner in the Dark on Monday.  I would have been terrified to eat that dinner before round one, but that's where experience comes in handy.  I knew I could live off the memory of that meal for at least a week.  Which sadly, I have.

The day of  (Tues), and day after chemo (Wed), I ate this this detox soup  from the Guten-Free Goddess.  Despite it's terrifying color, it was actually pretty tasty, and probably the last thing resembling anything green and healthy I've eaten since.

Thursday, I was starting to feel a little wobbly, but decided to go to my strength training class.  My usually small class has had a few male additions, plus a visitor, and I barely lasted through the warm-up before the overly crowded room combined with claustrophobia and growing vertigo, sent me to the bikes instead.  I managed to eat a bowl of soup with a friend at Panera afterwards.  I think I had a Lean Cuisine Mac and Cheese for dinner.

Friday the fatigue was really setting in and my stomach was an unhappy, sour, knotted mess.  I decided to try and sleep it off and spent most of the day in bed.  After hours of mental debate - because at this point every possible thing resembling food sounds disgusting, tastes disgusting, and smells disgusting. Even opening the refrigerator to get to my filtered water dispenser gave me a little wave of nausea. I settled on a small cup of organic applesauce and a small cup of tapioca for dinner.  And a handful of Tums for dessert.

Saturday I'd hoped to go to the monthly indoor winter farmers markets, but despite the sunny, but bitterly cold day, I was still more than a little wobbly.  I managed a mini-rally to attend to the mounting cat hair on the carpet, dishes collecting in the sink, garbage that needed taken out, and sheets that needed changed.  I can go about 4 days maximum in a semi-comatose state before it looks like there has been a party I missed around here that really needs cleaned up.

Sunday I went out for a mediocre breakfast because I was craving pancakes but didn't feel like making them myself.  This town could really use a decent weekend breakfast place that uses organic, local ingredients and puts a little thought into the menu.  Even better if if it doubled as a commercial kitchen incubator where local food artisans could crank out their wares during the week.  I've had high hopes for a couple of restaurants that have opened nearby that serve breakfast (and aren't the ever popular Bob Evans or Cracker Barrel), but the food has been insipid, and the service pretty awful. I'm not naming names because this isn't a restaurant review blog, but check out my friend Tom's blog for the local low down on restaurant eats, good and bad.

I went early to beat the hordes of seniors who favor the place I usually go, where if I'm lucky I'm not seated near the nearly deaf ones who alternately complain about the weather, then describe their medical issues in detail, but the near zero temperatures kept most of them at home.  By the time I got home I was back to feeling pretty much like crap, and decided to go back to bed.

There's a few days that are a blur as far as what I ate.  I think over the weekend the Wendy's burger and baked potato craving hit.  Why Wendy's over the superior Skyway Drive-In?  Because squishy white buns are preferred at this stage to buttered and grilled buns. I got a couple of potatoes (I've baked them myself the last few rounds, but the smell of them baking made me queasy), the burger (which was dried out and basically sucked), and a large chili.  At one item a meal, this covered me for three days.  I didn't realize the chili had green peppers in it until now.  Chili wasn't the best idea, but I could only manage a few bites anyway, so it wasn't a deal breaker.  And I detest their new fries.  Not that I was a huge consumer of fast food ever, but I didn't mind a jr. burger and small fries every once in awhile.

I keep getting up each day expecting to feel better.  The best way I can think to describe it is that it's like in the Wizard of Oz when it turns to color from black and white.  Halfway through the cycle, and it's still black and white.

My stomach is a mess.  It feels like there is a handful of sour apple Jolly Rancher candies melting in there with some Atomic Fireballs thrown in like the ball bearing in a can of spray paint.  Not being able to eat is only the tip of the iceberg.  It also makes watching TV challenging, particularly cooking shows and gory medical dramas, and it's difficult to read, which basically leaves lying around covered in happily snoozing cats as about all I'm good for. 

Early in the week I woke up craving turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy, which I took as a good sign.  A friend was kind enough to pick up the family size feast I ordered from Bob Evans that I thought would last for days.  I warmed a big plate for lunch, but after a few bites, the craving passed.  I couldn't stomach anything that night for dinner.

I was pretty much living on my two scrambled eggs for breakfast and a piece of toast.  One night I thought, a couple of over easy eggs for dinner would work.  Except I didn't quite get the whites fully cooked, which I discovered after the first bite, and resulted in a piece of toast for dinner, and the eggs in the trash.  So there's no danger of me becoming the Forest Gump of eggs; I'll stick to scrambled.  On the really bad days I can't even stomach the thought of ketchup on them.  On the good days, I consider the condiment a vegetable.

My ten day oncology check-up was yesterday, and I was still feeling less than spectacular.  But my bloodwork was good, I even got a full copy of my post results side by side from all three rounds, and she went over them with me.  Appointment for round four made.

I was almost out of eggs (!) and headed straight to Brunty Farms to stock up, and hit the market for a few things.  I finally started feeling better in the afternoon, but after a solid week of struggling to eat anything it wasn't like all the sudden I was starving and couldn't wait to shovel in food. 

I'm not proud of my Lean Cuisine, Wendy's, Bob Evans craving ways, but despite the best laid organic, free ranging chicken soup plans (I've got a freezer full of it), the reality is that when you are rocking in that little post chemo boat trying to keep your eyes on the horizon, you do what you have to do to get to the shore.


  1. I also craved cheeseburgers during chemo. I ate like a teenage boy most of the time. And our mutual friend Laureen made me a fabulous man 'n cheese that was wonderful too. I never had the nausea though, I'm sorry to hear that. But congrats on the halfway mark! Hang in there (like you have a choice, right?!). All the best.

  2. ha! I like that Teresa had "man and cheese". Maybe that's what you need, Tami. Ask your friend to make you one, too. No one is going to send you to the politically correct principal's office for your food choices. a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

  3. Tami, thanks for the link ... most appreciated.

    And as for your choice of foods while you are going through chemo, you are right to listen to your body. There will be plenty of time for those organic chickens once you have weathered this particular storm.

  4. Oh, and might I suggest Flury's Cafe in Cuyahoga Falls for that kind of quaint little place with delicious homemade food and LOTS of charm.


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