11.09.2008

more about food!

Every day after work at a job I held one summer, I would dream on the bus ride home of the block of cheese in my refrigerator. As soon as I got in my door, I would pick up into a run to the refrigerator. I would shred of the Saran wrap from the day before, grab a blunt knife, and slam that cheese block onto the cutting board. As I sliced, my jaw would lock and I would salivate like a Pavlov dog. As soon as a slice of cheese was in my mouth, my jaw would function again, my heart rate would slow down again and I would really taste that cheese. Soothing a ravenous appetite is such a joyous sensation. So, what a shame and uncomfort to have to eat without an appetite for what you are eating. Or worse, to have no appetite to eat anything at all.
I love to eat. I love to just think of eating. One of my favorite hobbies has been to read cook books- no need for pictures, just reading the recipes gives me a rush! I borrow cook books from the library and copy the recipes by hand on to recipe cards. As I hand write each recipe, it is like I am actually tasting this or that dish- I taste each ingredient listed one by one. Then I toss those same ingredients together with the olive oil and garlic in a sizzling hot pan and taste those same ingredients all in a different way.
Before I knew I had cancer, I ate considerably well, as I was raised eating a variety of foods, mostly health consciously. But I also didn't have a stopper to eating deliciously "bad" foods, either. In college, when I lived in Canada, I ate a considerable amount of such "bad" delicious food. It was a habit to eat very late, when my appetite flared the most, and alcohol sometimes tended to add to the effect. I lived downtown near a wild, raucous street that served food to the after-bar crowds. Appetites were unstoppable, and the foods were just what we wanted most- ninety-nine cent pizza by the slice, take-out Chinese, swarma and deep-fried samosas, and poutine, which is a Canadian specialty of French fries smothered in gravy. All of this may sound like what you would find in a pig's slop bucket, and it is, but believe me, at the time between two and four AM, there could be nothing better.
That was before cancer. Everything changes when you get cancer. You think of everything differently and you become overtly hyped-out concerned about everything you do. For me, of course, the way I thought about food changed drastically. I strongly believe now, with much common sense, that diet plays huge in health and recovery from disease. How could it not? What we put into our bodies accounts for so much of what we are made of and how the body maintains and repairs it's self day to day. So, naturally, my diet became a huge obsession, and I constantly want to know what is good and what is bad for me to eat.
I turned from reading pleasurable fiction novels to reading books about nutrition and diets. I've read about and tried such diets as the Paleo diet, macrobiotic diet, all vegan diet, and I have even tried the raw food diet, which is just about impossible. The raw vegetable based diet appealed to me because of the miracle stories I kept reading about how people had rid their cancers from the raw vegetable diet alone! People hold great claims on such diets as the Hippocrates diet, of the Gerson therapy. I wanted to believe these stories to be true so badly, especially since none of the twenty or so chemotherapeutic drugs have done a thing for me within the past three years I've had this cancer. But a big part of me can not help but be skeptical about it. All the same, I took on certain elements of these drastic diets- it could only help, right? This meant I would eat fruit in the morning, but nothing else, because you never combine fruit with another food! Vegetable juices throughout the day consisting of kale, spinach, chard, dandelion greens, beet greens, burdock root, parsley and sprouts. Very bitter! NO meat, NO dairy (that means no beloved cheese) and certainly NO sugar- cancer cells thrive on sugar. I was really starting to limit myself, and from the foods I had always enjoyed eating so much. Eating wasn't fun, it was a chore, and I only did it because I had to.
Lately, eating has become very difficult for me, due to the super toxic chemotherapy regimen I am now on, of which one of the drugs has the components of mustard gas! Think mustard gas and try to eat a broccoli stir-fry at the same time. Think of when you had the flu and a well intentioned caregiver was trying to force you to just eat, just eat something! This is how I feel now. I know how important it is to eat, but just thinking of it makes me have strong gag-reflexes. Drinking my all-green vegetable juices at this time is out of the question!
It is strange, then, that there have been a few bouts where I actually could imagine myself eating from a spare menu of choices. These food items have cheese in them. Mac '' cheese spirals, string cheese, or a spaetzle with cheese casserole. The other night, however, after trying to eat a healthful bowl of brown rice with tofu and edemame, all I had a hunger for was a cheeseburger and French fries, and they had to be from McDonalds. I could imagine exactly how the thin cheeseburger would taste, with it's tiny diced onions, thin meat patty, three ripple dill pickle slices, a little mustard, a little ketchup, a rubber slice of cheese, and, if I was lucky, there would be a single greasy thumbprint on top of the bun from whomever wrapped the little burger into it's pale yellow paper wrapper. I thought about how this burger, and it's accompanying French fries, would taste for three hours after attempting to eat my rice bowl dinner. Finally, I revealed my hankering to my mother, who laughed and said she would take me to McDonalds to put an end to it. It was about ten o'clock PM when I finally sat down to eat my dream food, and my mom was just so happy to see me eating like a normal person.

3 comments:

Jess said...

Rubber "FLAT" cheese, no less!!!

Are you still thinking about how the burger tasted now?

Dr Em said...

Hey Snora, great story. Maybe it's OK to listen to your body and if it says "feed me a cheeseburger" it's OK. Your body needs fuel to heal!! And getting excited about a cheeseburger and fries is better than not eating.

Also, that bunny made of rice is the cutest. Where do you get the cute bunny artwork??

Nan said...

You won't know who this is from but I am a long time admirer of yours. I have been so touched by your words and truths of you challenges with cancer. I am sorry I didn't see you last time I was in town but will be there again soon to check on all of the kids. My thoughts and best wishes are with you. Your admirer, Nan (Ben's mama)