29 November 2005


There was no Thanksgiving celebration at my house. I had to be in Houston the next day for chemotherapy. I didn't really care by that time; I'm too far gone the black hole of chemo.

The weird thing about chemo is that I started having an aversion, not to foods consumed the day of or after my treatment, but the day before. Even when I'm not suffering from sores in my mouth and down my throat, I no longer eat barbecue, no cheese and sometimes Olive Garden commercials are a bit much.

My hotel is right across the street from an Olive Garden and a Mexican restaurant. God only knows how the Mexican food has survived the onslaught of chemo.. I live in Texas; I'd have to move to another state if I'd developed some kind of distaste for it. I gave up Starbucks pretty early in the game after having purchased a piece of cinnamon coffee cake the day before one of my treatments. I may never eat coffee cake again. As a matter of fact, I can't even stand to smell it.

I never ever get accustomed to the coldness of the room we have to sit in before they call me back to my little room with its hospital bed, the television and a chair for my mom. Sometimes I spend an hour or ninety minutes in that frigid tundra of a waiting room before they usher me back to where the real pain begins. It always hurts to attach the i.v. to the port in my chest. After that initial pain, everything is fine except for a cold feeling as the drugs flood into my body. On some level below normal consciousness, my body knows what's happening; industrial strength poison is flowing through my veins and internal organs. That knowledge is too frightening for me to allow into my thoughts.. It's really amazing how many carcinogenic chemicals are introduced into your system in order to diagnose, then treat, cancer.

Getting all the chemicals into my body generally takes 45 minutes to an hour. After treatment is over, I sometimes have difficulty making it out of the hospital. The drugs immediately exhaust me and bone pain sets in right away, too. I get out of breath; this person who used to be in such great condition can barely make it down the hallway to get to the escalator that will take me to the valet parking area.

Usually we have breakfast and many appointments leading up to the chemo treatment. Sometimes a full 12 hours elapse before I have anything else to eat. I can't eat at the hospital because the two cafeterias there (really excellent, as far as hospitals go) are so connected to pain that I can't force myself to even pass by them after my treatment is over. The smell nauseates me. Furthermore, they rarely leave me enough time between appointments on chemo days for me to even make it to the cafeteria if I could bring myself to eat something there.

After it's all over (usually around 9:00 p.m.), my mom sometimes has to go pick food up from time to time when I just can't get up and out the hotel door to get something. The restaurant at the hotel is just as noxious as the hospital cafeteria, for exactly the same reason.

The next morning, I don't generally feel nauseated, but I have to eat really bland foods. Comfort foods, except there's really no comfort to be had. I don't generally feel like eating at any time, whether or not it's a chemo day.

I suppose we could have celebrated the holiday in advance, but it would have been a lot of work with very little payoff for me. Hubby doesn't seem to need the ritual of celebration. So there was no turkey at my house for Thanksgiving; just a trip to Houston. Not that I missed it.