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JOURNAL: 1 week check-up and a few of my favorite things

Randy Billings: Pub Fiction

JOURNAL: 1 week check-up and a few of my favorite things

Yesterday (May 24) was my one week check-up following my first session of chemotherapy to treat my Stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

After drawing yet more blood, the doctor wanted to see what side effects I was having and how my body was reacting to the toxic chemicals they had infused into my veins over the course of three hours that previous Monday.

After recounting my difficult days following chemo, I told the doctor that the stronger anti-nausea medications were quite effective and that I had returned to work on a part-time basis.

I still have my hair, which isn't scheduled to depart for another week or so. Regardless, I grab a small clump several times a day and give her a gentle tug, just to make sure.

The doctor said everything seemed par for the course and I was "on the road." Then, he asked about my weight and fatigue.

While the latter has not been a problem (even though I must avoid coffee), I can see that the former will be. In the last week, I have shed about 4 lbs. That may not seem like much, but it is when you start out weighing only 155 lbs. and have a high metabolism.

My diet is going to be a major challenge for me, since I must avoid the foods I love the most. I cannot eat fatty or fried food, as they are difficult to digest, and chemo — coupled with growing list of medications — can slow down the digestive process.

Speaking of process, I cannot eat processed foods. Adios to hot dogs, hot Italian sausage, pepperoni and most all fast food.

The food I will miss most – and it pains me even to write this sentence – is sushi. What I thought was delicious, fresh-from-the-ocean fish is apparently not fresh enough to enter my body. The bacteria could compromise my immune system, which – like the cancer itself – is under attack and susceptible to infections. 

Goodbye, Spicy Tuna roll. Adieu, Wasabi Tobiko. Hasta luego, Hamachi. Fare thee well, Maguro and Sake. A thousand goodbyes to all.

Ditto the black coffee, which I can no longer gulp down by the pot. One cup of green tea in the morning and a cup of chamomile at night will suit me just fine. As will liters upon liters of water throughout the day.

And no more Guinness – that rich, black nectar of the gods, that elevates the spirit of man to irrepressible highs, and inspires poets and musicians alike to unravel the greatest mysteries of the ....

Sorry, I can't go on. It's just too painful.

Leading up to chemo, I ate as much as I could, including sushi and tubs and tubs of ice cream. My appetite changed, however. After treatment, toast, crackers, soups and tea were dietary staples.

I was only able to eat my first real meal on Friday, May 21, when my wife went out to Espo's with my brother- and sister-in-law. Like most people, I struggled to get through their super-human portions, but ate I did. And enjoyed it. Both that night and the following day.

Luckily, pasta is one of the few things I can eat.

But not the wine. That is off limits.