Tag Archives: cold sensitivity

Finding the Calories

I promised a bit ago I would share the calorie finds.  As a brief refresher, when on chemo, you are supposed to eat, eat, drink, eat, drink… etc.  The surprising thing is, those are the two things you want to do least on chemo.  However, if you do follow instructions (consume enough calories and fluids), I personally have found that the side effects are a lot less daunting.

As this is the 7th of my 12 treatments, I have started to understand the warning signs of when I need to do either of the two above.  At first, finding the calories was tough.  It was amazing how much of a struggle it was to eat 2500 calories in a day.  So, to help those who might be starting this path, let me give you what I have found to work well to ingest calories in abundance.  (Please note, this is list is specifically geared to those of us with cold sensitivity as a side effect.  Otherwise, milkshakes and ice cream would top the list!)

1.  Starbucks.  So I love my coffee, but let’s admit it, the syrup drenched goodness that is a late from Starbucks is a crazy amount of calories.  However, for the next 2-3 months I do not need to feel guilty.  So enjoy the syrup and fun without any guilt!

2. Poptarts.  Yes they are a “kids” treat, but at 500 calories for a pack of two pastries, they are an easy quick fix.  And you can throw them into the microwave for 10 seconds to heat them up for days when room temperature is just too cold to consume.

3. Instant meals.  I have been stocking up on the single serving containers of instant mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, etc.  There are even some that have something posing as meat or eggs in them.  But, hey they are easy and fast for when the body suddenly screams for food.  The benefit also with these, is that they don’t have to be in the fridge, so my gloves do not have to come out to handle them.

4.  Soft pretzels.  I have never really been a big fan of the big soft doughy pretzels, but for some reason, chemo has made me love them.  Maybe it is the fact that salt is one of the few things I can actually “taste”.  Maybe it is the easy to digest carbs.  But I love me some soft pretzels now!  (By the way, feel free to drop some off to me whenever anyone wants to.  You will see a happy dance from me!)

5. Dried Fruit.  They are loaded with natural sugars plus I can kinda taste them.  Plus, hey I can eat some natural food occasionally, really, I swear I can.

6.  Chinese Food.  It probably has to do with the sodium content in Chinese food, but it tastes something like what it is supposed to.  Give me some Emperor’s Chicken and I will happily consume.  Heck, I will take some Sweet and Sour Chicken.  Yum and more yum!

So those are my big hitters for the current time.  The surprising thing for me is that candy is not on that list.  Candy kicks my heartburn up to an unbearable level and thus not worth it.  Others might be lucky enough to be able to enjoy it, and if you are one of the lucky ones, WOOHOO for you!  Eat candy without guilt!  Dance and sing as you eat as much as you want.  For let’s admit it, there are not all that many perks to chemo, but eating calories without one ounce of guilt is a really nice one.  Just, don’t fight it, rather, enjoy it!  Eat all the pancakes and waffles you want!  Put some extra syrup on it!

waffles and strawberries

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Sometimes 20% Really Matters

These are representation of platelets, but they look like they are doing a happy dance to me!
These are representation of platelets, but they look like they are doing a happy dance to me!

My recent Oncology appointment discovered a slight problem.  My platelets were low, almost too low for treatment this week.  What a startling thing to hear that yet another thing is not going well.  So here is the run down my RN explained (because the dr who was covering for my normal dr didn’t help that much, grumble grumble):

Chemo attacks rapidly growing cells and this can include the bone marrow.  And the bone marrow produces the platelets in the blood.  The platelets allow for clotting, and thus are important. In addition to testing my platelet numbers before every treatment, they also test for white blood cells and plasma. The problem with the low platelets is that I can not get a transfusion for it, as would be possible for the other two items. 

In addition to that, she indicated, that sometimes the lab can’t do an accurate count because of how the platelets can hide behind one-another.  Consequently she was skeptical of the results since my platelets dropped in half between last treatment and Monday.  That seems odd to everyone.

So the next question from me is: “What can I do to get them back up?  Is there anything special I can eat, anything special I can do?”  Her response initially is that there really isn’t any proven method to get the body to make more platelets.  That being said, more iron wouldn’t hurt, it won’t necessarily make the platelet number increase, but iron is needed to create platelets.  So more iron being available isn’t a bad thing right now. Also I have to be careful to not cut myself, as my blood is already thinner then normal, so clotting could be an issue. Also no alcohol for me as it also thins the blodd. (pouty face) The other thing was to rest and take it easy.  However “taking it easy” seems to be all that I have done since surgery in May.  I think I have that one mastered, even if I still grumble now and then about it. 

So this week, I got to have a reduced dose of chemo by 20%.  And know what?  I am LOVING it!  The side-effects are almost non-existent.  I do not have severe cold sensitivity like during past treatments! Metal utensils are not pain inducing objects.  Metal door nobs don’t make me cringe.  My saliva isn’t too cold to swallow with out the sensitivity triggering and causing pain.  Walking barefoot in my bathroom and kitchen doesn’t make me look like a chicken on a hot tin roof.  My energy level is so much better.  I can sleep better.  Just overall I am feeling more “Human” than I was expecting.

So low platelets, for this week are a wonderful blessing. Plus the fact that my AWESOME boyfriend brought me down a huge amount of steak and lamb for me to consume this week.  Woohoo!

Let’s just pray that my platelet numbers do jump back up so I do not need to push my next treament a week or two, which would be a bad thing on many personal levels. 

But for today…. and tomorrow… and yesterday… I am rejoicing at the easy treatment week!  HAPPY DANCE!

The Calorie Canundrum

My life currently seems to revolve around calories.  In previous years, calories were to be minimized.  Low fat, low calories.  Eat just enough so that hopefully my body will become smaller.  Now I am faced with the opposite issue.

My nutritionist informed me that a lot of my side effects were a direct result of me not eating enough calories.  I was shaking, my hands were cramping, and the other side effects were hitting stronger than expected.  Her advice for me with my present weight and what I am going through was to consume 2500 calories in a day.

To me, that is an insane amount of food.  My typical food intake was around 1500 (at least that was my goal).  Most people would rejoice at being able to have an extra 1000 calories a day. For me it is a constant struggle and annoyance.  When I do not consume those extra 1000, I am fatigued and plagued with other problems.  However, when I do eat that 1000, my need to nap is greatly reduce and I feel so much better.

I have friends that are constantly trying to keep under a calorie limit, like I used to be.  And now I would do anything to hand over a few extra calories to others.  Eating has now become a chore, a job.  I am trying to invent new and crazy ways to force extra calories into my body.

The nutritionist told me to eat butter, cook in oil, have peanut butter.  Basically do all those things that nutritionists have told us for years to avoid. Milkshakes were her biggest suggestion, granted with the cold sensitivity, it isn’t an option for me.  But it shows how drastic a change my diet is looking at.

My kitchen is now stocked with easy, bad calories for the days when eating is the most annoying thing I have to do.  Poptarts, puddings, instant meals.  All are things that I have avoided like they contain the plague for years. Now they are ways to give my body energy to heal.

The amazing thing is that I am still losing weight, granted it is slowly, but it is still happening.  So I will go get myself a bagel with cream cheese, enjoy my Starbucks late with extra syrup, and hope when all this is done, I can go back to a normal diet without my body expanding.

Time for a snack….

trail mix

In The Beginning

Hello! Greeting!  Salutations!  Welcome to this place of hope and honesty.  Welcome to where I hope to help others going through the same thing as me, while also being honest about the struggles involved.  Mainly though, I hope to provide what I have found useful along the path of chemotherapy.

Let me introduce myself.  I am a single mom of a darling little angel of 8. I am also the person who  got the unfortunate news in April of 2014 that I have colon cancer.  And from there the world went upside down, inside out, and curiously alien.  All sense of immortality left in a 30 second sentence from my colonoscopy doctor.  At 34, this was the last senstence I was expecting to hear.  And that is when I started the horrible path of research.  What did colon resectioning mean?  What are the different stages?  What do the stages mean?

Then I wanted to find advice from those that have been down this path.   The world is full of blogs: happy, sad, angry at the world, on a specific topic.  But when I first got diagnosed with colon cancer, there didn’t seem to be anything helpful.  And as I continue down this path, I find even less helpful information.  I can find statistics on survival rates, expected side effects, encouraging little slogins.  But absolutely nothing that helped me with my next step.  And that is discouraging!  I want to know what others are doing to make things more manageable.  I want to know what little tricks help with the day to day struggles.

So…. I am venturing into the world of blogging.  Hopefully my struggles to find working options for this disease will help someone else with even one thing.  Any little bit of help that I can provide to others will make this worth it in one way or another.

That being said, I am not a doctor.  I provide this disclaimer so that you remember to ALWAYS listen to your doctor and their specific recommendations.  My suggestions are just based on what I have found to work for me.  Each person’s path through chemo is unique to them.  So what works for one, will not work for all.

Now with that disclaimer done with, I hope this provides hope and some good ideas for those going down a similar path.  Remember, there is always hope, no matter what life gives you.

Love and Peace!  And May you have a great day!

Autumn forest sunrise - red, rays, green, colors, forest, trees, gold, sunrise, autumn

Sun Tea.. Maybe My New Best Friend.

Oh Cold Sensitivity.  Oh world where anything cold or room temperature can cause pain.  But there has to be ways around this.  Part of my mission on here is to provide recipes that I have found success with.

So how many times have I been told to stay hydrated?  How many times have I looked at my doctors like they have five horns growing out of their heads?  Yes, hydration moves the meds out faster.  Yes it helps the body heal faster.  But when you can’t drink anything cool or at room temperature, it gets difficult.  So my new answer is Sun Tea!

If it sits on your deck all day in the nice summer sun, then it is warm enough to drink comfortably.  It is easy to access.  It can taste different each day with a few tweaks to a simple recipe.  Also, you can judge how much you have drank very easily.  Problem solved!

My simple recipe is a gallon of water,

One Gallon Of Water

15-20 tea bags of your preferred tea.  I prefer decaf tea, thus my selection.

Tea bags of choice

Time for Patience

And then sun for a few hours.  Hey, even sun isn’t required. Cloudy days can be just as wonderful.  Pour and drink.  And if it isn’t quite warm enough still, heat it in a mug for 10-20 seconds.  And celebrate your drink for the day!

Enjoy

Things to take into consideration:

1.  Make sure your tea vessel is clean as we do not want to challenge our immune system any more then it currently is being.

2.  Add fruits of your choice to make a new flavor.  Lemon, Apples, Peaches, Berries.  Play with the recipe to make each day a nice new variation.

I know this has given me new hope for the hydration issue!  So simple, so yummy!  And what more can I ask for?