There were lots of odious things about Wallis Simpson, the late Duchess of Windsor, but one of the most odious was her most famous quotation, that you can "never be too rich or too thin." We can argue about being rich, but she was wrong as hell about being thin. This year I've once again become too thin, far too thin.
After my most recent chemo treatment last week, my bathroom scale weighed me in at 163 pounds (about 74 kg). That's not the least I've ever weighed—check me out at a skeletal 145 pounds back in July 2007, after a few weeks in hospital following bowel-cancer surgery, and being unable to eat or even drink for several days at a time—but it is far too little.
For most of my adult life, I've weighed about 200 pounds (90 kg), give or take. I never worried about my weight one way or the other. I made it as high as 215 when I was really trying to pack it on in 2008. My ideal healthy weight is probably around 190, so right now I'm close to 30 pounds too light, and 12 pounds lighter than I was when I went in for that surgery in '07. I'm on the verge of what happened back in the post-hospital days later that month, when I found it hard to recognize the skinny bastard in the mirror.
The problem is threefold: First, I'm finding this current bout of chemotherapy especially brutal. I have very little interest or ability to eat in the three or four days after I get my treatment every two weeks, with nausea, fatigue, and general relentless blecch-ness. What I do eat, I might very well puke up. Second, even after I feel a bit better towards the end of the week, my appetite and the quantity of food I can consume are quite reduced from what used to be pretty normal voracious Derek levels—and I'm still likely to barf up a meal at nearly any time, out of the blue. Finally, I suspect my digestive system is working less efficiently than it used to, so I'm not absorbing nutrients as well as before.
My diabetes, which I've had for almost 20 years, doesn't help, since I can't just suck back banana splits at a whim. I still have to manage my blood glucose and eat carefully when I do feel up to it. I sometimes have to force myself to eat more than I really want—definitely a new experience for me—and that can backfire. Last night I had a few too many delicious perogies with sausage at dinner, and ended up heaving about a third of them back up later in the evening. But earlier in the same afternoon, I had eaten a big truck-stop sandwich with hash browns and a milkshake, and digested it without trouble. I want to eat and food is still delicious, but my body's reaction is hard to predict.
I have a couple of packs of Boost diabetic dietary supplement drinks in the fridge, and those help somewhat, though they're not the tastiest (the strawberry is okay, especially blended with crushed ice), and so are no good during my actual chemo-sick days. Strangely, sometimes I get cravings at the most peculiar times, and am happy to give into them: the very day I had my last chemo treatment a week ago Monday, I wanted a White Spot clubhouse sandwich at dinnertime. My wife Air got me one while out for supper with the kids, and I ate the whole thing. Shockingly, it stayed down. But I hardly ate again for the next two days.
I don't know if this is mostly a consequence of the chemotherapy, or whether it's more that my cancer is now, after four years, directly affecting my ability to eat and metabolize food. Likely it's some of each. Right now, in bed, I can feel the vertebrae at the nape of my neck. I have to buy men's size small T-shirts and sweaters, and even some of those are loose. Most of my jeans would fall down without a belt that's had extra holes punched in it. I'm really noticing our recent Vancouver cold snap, since I lack body-fat insulation, and sitting on hard surfaces can hurt because of my MPAL (Male Pattern Ass Loss).
Can I gain back some weight, or at least stabilize it? I don't know that either. I'll keep trying, one Boost and clubhouse and plate of perogies at a time.