December 8, 2007


What’s up with that?  I thought only pregnant women got cravings.  Well, OK, pregnant women and emotional eaters like myself.  But for the most part, my cravings aren’t based on emotional reactions, although a few times I’ve been craving comfort food (breakfast, tuna casserole, lasagna, Orange Milano cookies).  And I’m quite sure I’m not pregnant!

For the first two chemos, I have craved starchy foods, especially potatoes of any kind, but also bread.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the complex carbs I’ve been wanting – I even turned my nose up at whole grain bread (which is all we normally use).  I had to go out and buy some of those pre-made biscuit dough rolls that open with that satisfying *pop*.  How desperate is that?  And although they smell heavenly as they’re baking, they don’t taste quite right in my mouth – presumably part of the chemo.  But I still wolf them down, sometimes slathered with butter and/or jam, sometimes with melted cheese, but never just the biscuit.

Hash browns also are calling me – honestly, rather than ones that you fry up in the frying pan, the ones that really call to me are the deep-fried McDonalds kind.  Brian asked if maybe it was the deep-fried part that I was craving, but I think it is really both things together, because I haven’t yet wanted a deep-fried Milky Way, and I love Milky Way bars.

But for this last chemo, I find I’ve been craving fruit.  I love fruit, but I never think of having it as a snack – even when I’ve made a special effort to buy fruit to include in lunches and snacks.

Monday night, I made Brian drive me to the store so I could buy all sorts of things like toaster waffles, fruit, bread, etc.  What I really wanted was some fruit crepes, but I couldn’t find any pre-packaged kind, and I don’t know how to make crepes myself.  I bought a box of Satsumas, and have been eating my way steadily through them.  Low-sugar fruit spread on biscuits is up there high on the list, and the last few days I’ve been craving orange juice.  Typically, I don’t drink orange juice because it’s too sweet for me (I know, many of you are going “Yeah, right!  It’s not any sweeter than chocolate!”, but it’s true!); but the other night I just had to have it – it seemed like the tartness was what my body really wanted.  That was Wednesday.

Thursday, I felt as if I was having all sorts of symptoms of anemia – fatigue, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, weakness, shakiness, low appetite, but I was also having increased chest pain in the usual place I have it relating to my lung clot.  I hesitated to call the doctor, because I just knew they were going to send me to the Emergency room; but after driving into work and barely being able to pick up my purse out of the car because I felt so weak and exhausted, I called.  Sure enough, they said that my hematocrit was at 39% on the last ChemoFriday, so I’d better hie me on over to St. V’s to have another chest CT scan to look for new clots.  I said “but I think it’s just anemia”, but they insisted.  So on I hied, and spent around 4 hours being told that they couldn’t find any clots, but look, my hematocrit is only 33%.  Plus my white blood cell count was extremely low (1.1), which means that I am immune-compromised.  They made me wear a mask when they wheeled me through the hospital back and forth for the scan.  And yet another radioactive agent got injected.  Ah well.

Talked to the doctor’s triage nurse on Friday, and she said, yeah, it’s just anemia, but we can’t give you anything until you drop below 33%.  Not only that, I shouldn’t take more iron supplements than I already do, because it’s not my iron reserves that are low and causing the anemia, it is the chemo attacking the bone marrow and interrupting the creation of red blood cells.  So all I can do is wait it out, but this is fairly normal with chemo, and typically the marrow starts producing again in a week to ten days – so I should start feeling better around Monday or Tuesday (nearly in time for my next chemo on Friday ;-} ).  As well, she said that I shouldn’t go out in public until at least Monday, because of the low WBC count.  Sigh.

And last night, I started craving red meat.  I rarely eat meat anyway, but I just needed to have a big piece of prime rib.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t go out to a restaurant to have it.  In despair, I considered trying to eat while wearing a mask, but then I remembered that we had a gift card for Applebee’s.  They don’t have prime rib, but they do have a to-go service, so Brian went out to pick up dinner.  Mmm, that rib-eye was delicious, and so was the creamed spinach!  But for this particular craving, I don’t know if it was truly related to the anemia, since my iron levels aren’t the problem, or if it was just suggestability on my part.  Vitamin C helps you absorb iron, so it could be that any anemia triggers a reaction that causes cravings for iron-related food products, such as the orange juice and the red meat; even if the anemia is caused by something else, perhaps your body just reacts in a certain way because the most common cause of anemia is low iron levels, so it has a good chance of solving the problem if it creates that craving.

Anyway, I’m still feeling anemic, and think I’m going to go take a nap soon.  This morning, we tried to duct-tape out the stubble on my head, and while it pulled out plenty of hair, there was so much left that we decided we didn’t want to use that much duct tape.  So I’m still sticking to pillows unless I wear a hat to bed, and hoping that sooner or later, something will prompt the remaining hairs to fall out.  Scrubbing with a rough cloth doesn’t help – short of waxing it, I guess I’m stuck (literally!).  I did buy a very cool wig on Wednesday, thanks to Shi-Yi for helping me pick it out!  I’ll post a picture soon.  Several of the hospital staff complemented me on it, and at least a couple professed to being surprised that it’s a wig.

Plenty of other stuff going on, but the best news is that Brian’s mom, who was in the hospital last weekend for internal bleeding, is home and feeling great after getting 3 units of blood added.  Apparently she was bleeding in her stomach, but it had been going on for a while for her to be so low.  I guess anemia is running in the family these days!  The doctors think it is a one-off thing, but will be keeping an eye on her RBC in the future.

Guess that’s all for now,



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