By: Ilan Hachlili
So my second round of chemotherapy is done. I finished it last week. It is very exhausting being in the hospital for 5 days, and I feel very limited. I feel like I’m stuck, chained to a wall. Sure, I can disconnect the IV machine from the wall, and walk around — after all, the machine has a 5 hour long battery. But still, I feel stuck. Nothing has gone wrong so far, so I feel like there should be a way to get my chemo drugs on the go at a clinic or from home. But the doctors are more cautious.
Maybe it’s because I’m young that I haven’t suffered many side effects. But the ones I have had have not been that pleasant: One side effect I have is constipation which goes away nicely after 2 days at home. That side effect, at least, tells me that I have one thing that is working very well.
Another side effect that I noticed is while I was in the hospital there wasn’t much in the way of food that I felt like eating because my taste buds were hypersensitive. For example, the only avocados that I could eat were the small ones that come in a net bag. Luckily, this side effect get’s better 2-3 days after I finished my chemo round. In fact, since yesterday, I’ve actually been really hungry. I will eat something, and after 3 hours I will start feeling hungry again. It is annoying because I want to watch TV, read a book, work on some art, maybe teach myself something, and it’s hard to concentrate when all I want to do is eat.
Actually, I used to eat a lot. Just 2-3 years ago I would stuff myself, — big steaks, burgers, an appetizer before, finish all the sides, and I’d never say no to a hunk of hot lava cake to top it off. But now I’m eating differently: You could say I eat more meals, but smaller ones. I don’t like getting stuffed, and I don’t like that feeling you get when you shouldn’t have eaten those last extra bites. Today, I know my breaking point, and I just stop when I get there: “I enjoyed half of it, I’m happy, do I really need the other half right now at this moment or am I satisfied?” It becomes almost automatic.
It seems like more often than not, I would take home a box with leftovers. It could be as much as half my dish. I see it also as a good way of saving money. (“Look! I now have lunch for tomorrow. This meal I’m paying for is can actually stretch to two meals!”)
I would even sometimes take a box even though what’s left on my plate is less than 5 bites. Most people would just finish the plate, and then they get stuffed. I see it as a small snack I will have later. Now, with chemotherapy, and me losing weight (I’m at 59kg — less than 130 lbs — which is probably the lowest I have weighed in over 10 years,) I have to go back to that old Ilan. My friends used to say I have a hollow leg. That was after a night we went to San Francisco, and I was eating everything in reach. It is kind of nice though, I HAVE to eat fattening foods with tons of calories.
It’s hard having your life on hold. That’s what it feels like right now. I can’t really work because I need two weeks off every two weeks for treatment and recovery. I can’t go to school for the same reasons. There are things I can do to pass the time, but it isn’t the same. It kind of takes away your energy and motivation to actually start a project when you don’t know if you’ll finish it or not.
Next week I’m having a CT scan. It will show if (and by how much) the chemotherapy has reduced the malignant parts of the tumors. And if it has, then the treatment is worth every single side effect.