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Column: “Meagulpa”

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Kenneth B. Lourie

As a veteran of the chemo wars, I should have been better prepared mentally for the food/taste challenges often caused by the infusion of such cancer-fighting chemicals, but I wasn’t. Oh, I was ready for the hair loss, the fatigue, the diabetic-type neuropathy, the overall aches and pains (general feeling of discomfort/feeling out of sorts), but for some inexplicable reason, I wasn’t ready for the food issue. Specifically, I refer to its lack of taste, and a directly-related effect: minimal interest in eating. Whether the effect/cause was in my head or in my taste buds, it was most definitely an effect from a cause.

Not that I appear, at present, to be the least bit undernourished (disheveled, maybe), or not in need of a modest reduction in weight; nevertheless, not being able to enjoy my daily bread, as but one example, was/is disappointing. Moreover, being one of the many individuals who uses food as a stress-reducer and oral-fixator, not being satisfied by any of my staples has made for a very dull boy. Not cranky. Not irritable. More like miserable. And this misery doesn’t like company, and has made this four-time infusion much less palatable than I had anticipated. I had anticipated: been there done that; no problem. However, as experienced as I thought I was; having survived/endured six infusions (round one) three years ago, my overconfidence for this second round seems to have led me to a bit of an emotional thud. I thought I was going to slide through this treatment unscathed. Unfortu-nately, I have been scathed.

What upsets me most about my circumstances is that I think I should have known better, especially since I take such pride in trying to know better/be prepared (I’m not exactly a Boy Scout, but I am usually more on the ball). Yet I wasn’t. And when the food began to taste bad a week or two after my second infusion (as if it were a surprise), emotionally I went south. Not only was I “disappointed” in the taste of food, I was more disappointed in my lack of awareness of a fairly likely/predictable occurrence when chemotherapy is infused. If Hostess Brands, the makers of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Cupcakes, etc., had not already filed for bankruptcy protection back in January, 2012; given my modest – and uncharacteristic – first quarter consumption of such delicacies, they likely would have been forced to file for bankruptcy in April of 2012. I wouldn’t say however, that as an adult I’ve maintained the pace of my indulgent adolescence (almost a box a day); who could? But I have eaten my share (and a few others’ shares, no doubt) and am proud of the hours I’ve spent satiated and of the product knowledge I’ve gained as a direct result. This second round of chemotherapy ended all of that. No taste, no pleasure. No pleasure, no patience. No patience, no happiness. And it’s all my fault. I have been down this road before, bumpy as it was, and I should have been better prepared, mentally.

If there’s one thing I believe I’ve learned during this whole cancer trip, and some wisdom I feel I can impart, it would be: managing expectations, both good and bad. Control what you can, don’t worry about what you can’t. Remember what you know and be mindful of what you don’t. Expect the unexpected and don’t take anything for granted. And though this food/lack of taste thing will pass soon enough, my arrogance in not preparing for/anticipating it will linger. I’ll get over it, I suppose, but not before I’ve told you readers about it first.

Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers