Look Out Below

Look Out Below

I think I know what a rampaging bull feels like; and I don’t mean one on Wall Street, either. I mean one in the figurative sense: when one has a need, an overwhelming, unstoppable-type urge, to scratch that itch, to gratify that which has been delayed. What am I talking about? (You sound like my wife, Dina.) I am talking about food. More specifically, I am talking about a side effect I’ve been experiencing of late from the chemotherapy drug Alimta, with which I’ve been infused every three weeks since late September, 2013 (successfully I may add, given the shrinkage noted in my most recent CT Scan).

I would say that sometime within the last three months, for seven to 10 days immediately after my Friday infusion, food doesn’t taste right; it doesn’t feel right (its texture in my mouth), it doesn’t digest right, its aftertaste is not right; it doesn’t do anything right. In fact, it’s downright wrong. Oh, I still have an appetite, but the idea of actually eating doesn’t appeal to me, almost instinctively, if that makes any sense. And when I do think about eating now/eating later, it’s way less than thrilling and way more than simply distressing. You see, I’m an "oral-fixator" and not being able to gain any pleasure from eating is making me feel null and void.

Apparently, according to my oncologist, (If I understand him correctly, and there’s a huge chance that I don’t), my taste buds are being adversely affected by the Alimta, doing the same kind of damage to them that chemotherapy, generally speaking, does to hair: eliminating it/slowing its growth/changing its properties. Consequently, my taste sensation is not sensational. It’s quite the opposite. Throw in some lingering post-chemotherapy nausea and related burping, and another side effect: hiccuping, and you have a recipe not for food/eating. Not that I’m thin as a result; hardly, but I am not exactly bursting at my seams, either. Certainly I could stand to lose a pound or two, but I’d rather pick my own battles, if you know what I mean.

Fortunately, (so far) my taste issues seem to resolve themselves within the time frame I’ve mentioned. And oddly, therein lies a problem. After not eating much – or deriving any pleasure from eating during the previous week or so, once food regains its appeal and I can eat "normally" – for me, it’s Katie bar the door. I might as well be Dan Aykroyd as Beldar from the Saturday Night Live Conehead sketches eating "mass quantities." It’s not merely a slippery slope I’m on, it’s more like an avalanche threat with "falling rocks." Once I start eating, I’m not stopping – until I hit bottom; of the bag, the box, the plastic container, the carton, anything. I’ll admit, it’s not a pretty sight, but as yet, it’s a sight unseen by either man or beast. (At present I’m eating my way through a bag of Starburst Fruit Chews; I’m not proud, just hungry.)

At least I’m smiling again, and feeling more positive, which of course is a must as a cancer patient. However, that pent-up demand from a week of not eating is a killer. I wish I could stop it, but being interested in eating again feels so good – for which I’m exceedingly grateful – and so far, there’s seems to be very little I can do to slow down the train. (I imagine Nabisco and M&M/MARS are grateful, too. At least now they won’t have to declare bankruptcy.)