Sunday, May 24, 2015
A Fire in My Belly
According to the Free Dictionary, "if you have fire in your belly, you are ready to fight with energy and determination for what you believe is right." He will approach the committee with plenty of fire in his belly.
My fire is much different. The fire in my belly starts at the tip of my tongue and reaches down my throat until it engulfs my belly. It is not quite sore, maybe raw is a better way of describing it. It starts soon after chemo, and lasts until sometime later the following week, but I have the sneaking suspicion it is going to lengthen it's endurance as my treatments continue. It rages on like a forest fire out of control, unpredictable, calm one moment, flaring up with ferocity the next. Sometimes it is accompanied by nausea, other times it simmers on alone.
Contrary to what you would think, my body at this times craves a solution to this soreness. It thinks that there is some food that will make it calmer, make it go away. I go in search of what that could possibly be. At times it is simply food it needs, and it is not particular: a bowl of cereal, a piece of fruit, and at once I am fine. Other times, it is angrier, like a volcano waiting to errupt, growing worse, until I make the proper offering.
Water may be the thing it needs, I am supposed to drink much more than I can in one day. It doesn't feel good going down though. Ice cream is wonderful, but it is not something that should be consumed all day, and very difficult to sneak eat when there are several small children about. Milk can work, peppermint patties are soothing too. Ginger can work, but the flavor is too strong some days, I can't stomach it.
Having this feeling is eye opening. In the past, I have eaten or not eaten when I was hungry. The feeling would pass, I would be fine. This is a hunger that demands attention. If it isn't addressed asap, it grows worse, it won't go away. After spending so much time sleeping, I spend too much time trying to figure out what the next offering to my belly will be. This of course has it's consequences.
Since my colon was reconnected, my belly shape is very different than it was before. Once it was a smooth, soft, gently rounded shape. Now it is that of a muffin top, even sans pants. This may even out in the future, but for now, it is the shape of me.
When my throat is raw, my digestion is sloe. This makes my gut protrude. The top of my muffin pushs out from my clothing with gusto. Some days I think I have gained so much weight because my belly sticks out so much, but the scale tells me it's not so. It seems like everything is stuck in the upper part of my gut, just hanging out for a while. Within a few days the bulge will subside, but in the meantime there is little I can do. It seems to be one of the side effects of my situation.
By Tuesday evening, I am tired of this. By most Tuesday evenings after my treatment, I find I am tired of many things. This folfuri seems to fulfill it's name on Tuesdays. I feel grouchy and mean. This week I decide I do not want to do chemo anymore. I want to tell Dr. Safran that I am through, that this seems to have worked just fine and I want to stop. I had enough of feeling tired and feeling bad. Steven asks me if I really think this is a good idea and I tell him yes. He asks me if I really want to tell Dr. Safran this, and I say I do. I know this is not true, that I want to do the thing that will have the best results, but on Tuesday, I just need to complain.
On Wednesday, I tell my daughters the same thing.
I have taken a nap after work, from five thirty until almost seven, so I can go out and do a trivia night with them. This is my one night out this week. When I wake up, I have that fire in my belly even though I have eaten dinner. There is little to eat at the bar we are at, except for chips. I order a cranberry juice and decide I need to have corn chips. Not the healthiest choice, but they calm the fire.
As I eat my snack seeking comfort, I realize how hard it must be for people who want to stop eating but can't. I wonder what fires they might have in their bellies. My eyes have been opened to how your body can keep asking for more, trying to quench some unrelenting, insatiable fire that rages on. In your mind, you know the corn chips are not the answer, but your belly doesn't care, because the temporary solution is what it needs. The chips are the answer to it's nagging prayer.
When we are fully engage in our trivia game, I feel fine. It is a great night. Our team consists of my daughters, their partners, Steven and me. We are team Toaster Strudel. It is the rare trivia night where I feel like I have made a real contribution to the team. Note here: I am terrible at trivia. We manage to take a lead early, but end up taking second place. It's okay though, we have had a great time. The host asks us to come back because we were so much fun.
The team we lose to is called Hitchcock's Ass Cancer. What a coincidence that I should lose to a team with this name. Maybe I should reconsider my Tuesday night declaration.
By the time we get home, my stomach is raw again. This time I give it sleep.
Thursday, I wake up and look at my tongue. It's nice and pink. No nausea, no fire, it's going to be a good day.
As if Dr. Safran has been hearing my thoughts, I get a message on my phone later in the day. He will be away next Friday, I will see Megan instead. I will need to make another appointment for a different day if I want to complain at the doctor. I realize this is all I really want to do, so I decide against it. I will go and get my treatment. I will do what is recommended to keep my cancer from coming back. I've made it through six treatments, I can make it through six more.
I will approach my treatment with a fire in my belly. Hmm... but no pb&j sandwiches.