Monday, July 27, 2015

No Appetite

My relationship with food has never been the best. My weight has been up/down all around. I have tried countless diets, and have lost and gained countless pounds. 

About a year or two before I was diagnosed, I was walking every day and swimming, and watching what I was eating. But my weight did not seem to budge. 

It was kind of depressing. But I never thought to go to the doctor about it, because that was often a course of last resort. 

The fact is, it is quite possible it was a sign I was dealing with ovarian cancer. My guess now is that the exercise was countering the fluid my body was retaining. I probably would have been heavier, had I not been doing all that I was.

It makes me sad now that I know what I do that I didn't do something back then. As it was, my gynecologist - only months before I was diagnosed by a different doctor -  simply stated at the end of a visit that I had gained 17 pounds from the year before. I told her about my struggles to lose weight previously, and her response was the typical "watch what you eat." But I had been watching what I ate. I wasn't eating that much. I essentially got a shrug from her. Apparently she must have thought I was eating worse, or more, than I thought. 

There were other things going on, too, her response was akin to "it's not her department." But it was her department. They were symptoms of ovarian cancer. 

Thinking of this is making me angry. It is not the first time I have shared this stuff. It likely won't be the last. But it would be nice to be able to share it without getting really pissed off. 

Hindsight is 20/20, or so they say. In hindsight I know things I did not know when it would have been crucial to know at the time. In hindsight, a "cyst" on my ovary might have been the tumor that became 10cm on my ovary. But no doctor, at any time, ever said a damn thing about that cyst - beyond me initially being told about it. No one tells you it is possible that what you think is a cyst can actually be a tumor. Had I known that, I may have been more diligent in how I reacted to it. That "cyst" showed up in 2006, I think. SIX years before I was diagnosed. 

How might things have been had it been diagnosed then? In 2007, I moved to California. Would I still have done that? Would I have been able to?

So much about my life might have been different. Such a big fork in the road. 

Would I have found my artist self sooner? Would I have found her at all? Would I have taken my trip? Written my book? What would it have been about? 

So many questions that can never be answered.

I don't agonize over this stuff, but it is certainly so ething that crosses my mind, especially at times when I wonder how much life I may have left. I also wonder how much of a life I would have had these past 6 years. Would there have been more surgeries? Other things to deal with?

I entertain the idea that things have been the way they were "meant" to be. An earlier diagnosis may have had its own form of hell attached.

So I started out talking about food, and wound up here. I guess I will go with the idea that there was some reason I needed to. As I have been writing, I have enjoyed some homemade brownies. I found a recipe that is Duncan Hines-like, and decided to try it. I could not believe it calls for sooo much sugar. It is only 1/4c of flour and 1/4c of cocoa, and it includes ONE CUP of sugar. 

I thought about making substitutions to make it healthier, but I wanted the "real" thing. I have been craving it, actually. So I did it. And, it was yummy. And there will be more to be had.

I really haven't had much of an appetite with this chemo. It is very easy for me to pass up food. There are times I have to kind of force myself to eat, and that is so not like me. And even those times, if I am really not gonna be able to do it, I don't.

In the last several weeks I have lost about 10 pounds. Given I gained this weight on chemo - and massive amounts of steroids - last summer, I am more than happy to give it back. I also have more I am willing to give up, too. I had lost about 40 pounds after my hysterectomy from the loss of fluid, as well as not eating for several days after surgery. It felt great. I fit into clothes I hadn't in years. 

I had no Intention of gaining it back, but as I began treatments, I started to. Apparently doctors "want" you to.  It wasn't like I was eating a lot, but the weight kept climbing. Looking back, I am fairly sure it was the steroids. 

This chemo is the worst it has been for me as far as appetite - or lack of one - goes. It really is just so unlike me. For someone who generally enjoys cooking and food, this treatment is really hard. Some people couldn't care less what they eat, or even if they do. In a way, I actually think that is pretty awesome. After all, "food is fuel." 

But in a society in which so much revolves around restaurants, food, eating, it is not the easiest mindset to change. On top of that, I tend to think food has been a form of comfort for me over the years. If I can't indulge in it in some way, where is the comfort - even if it is pseudo-comfort going to come from? Is my inability to get "comfort" affecting how I feel about life? I could see how it would have that potential.

No relationship. No kids. No intimacy. Someone said we need several hugs a day to survive. I average none. I have quite a deficit in that regard. Maybe having food as a comfort isn't the worst thing - except when eating is anything but comforting. 

This isn't exactly the easiest thing to talk about. It is making me very emotional. I don't know about you, but I hear how we should love ourselves, comfort ourselves, be all things to ourselves. So I am definitely failing in this regard. At least failing to some degree. 

At the same time, we are here with other beings, and we get told to ask for help. Ask for help. Ask for others to be in our mix for various reasons. I do not know that we can be all things to ourselves at all times. I am not even sure that is how it is "supposed" to be. And yet, if you reach out, and are met with silence, then what? And what if that happens often? And what happens when you can't fulfill what you need on top of that?

I keep wondering if there is some metaphor in having no appetite. But maybe having no appetite is just having no appetite. And regardless if there is another, deeper meaning, or not, the fact that it is not the version of me that somehow finds comfort in eating and food is something that affects me. So much of who I have known myself to be seems to be changing, or falling away. 

Some might say that is a good thing. If you want it, perhaps. But when it is not of your own choosing, and it happens in large chunks, maybe not so much. Plus, as is often is the case, it is so much easier to say - and believe - when it is not immediately happening to you.

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