A Changed Man

Cancerland changes your habits, even (and perhaps especially) the ones so antique and ingrained that you really didn’t know you had them.  I didn’t know, for instance, that I was a wolfer and a guzzler, downing a beer at one go, with my eyes closed,  and barely chewing my meals.  But I must have been a very great wolfer and a guzzler, because I am certainly a changed man in both those areas.  Listen, all I want to say about this is that my trouble is in the esophagus,  and the esophagus is the swallowing tube.  You do the math.

Anyway, I am now a careful chewer, a slow sipper, and very mindful of the friction coefficient of whatever I put in my mouth.  Clams on the half shell=good; peanut britttle=bad.

What’s a little marvelous about this (marvelous in the archaic sense of making one marvel) is that I find myself drawn to the very same foods I had a hankering for as a kid.  I am eating appallingly bad things these days,  of the kind my mother, who was a good cook, balked at making for my brother and me.  No, really: Appallingly bad.  Canned spaghetti and meatballs.  Hotdogs cut up and mixed with mustard.  Bread soaked in store-bought gravy.  And I am drinking grape juice.  Not the white grape juice of sophisticates.  Purple grape juice, the stuff that leaves a Dennis the Menace mustache on your upper lip.

To appreciate the irony of this you have to know that I still am something of a feinschmecker.  That’s the German equivalent of gourmet, but I like feinschmecker (“fine taster”) better because it retains more of the fussiness of the breed than the by now entirely neutral gourmet does.  I’ve never been an extreme foodie, but, well, I’ve had my pretensions.  Heck, I’ve eaten at Cibreo, the great restaurant in Florence, though I passed up the proud and excited offer of upright rooster head on a plate, because I believe that diners should study their food and not the other way around.

Please understand that I am not complaining.  Moreover, if Mephistopheles were to appear before me right now,  offering to get me out of the hot water I’m in by moving my spirit and mind into some unidentified and unnamed other of his choice, I swear to you I would decline the bargain, on the very good assumption that the average situation on this poor earth is much worse than mine.  Imagine being a stick-thin child squatting on a mound of trash somewhere in the Third World, poking about for scraps that might be exchanged for pennies, and then for food.  That such an urchin is cancer-free does not make him or her enviable, or any less doomed than I am.

I really only wanted to say how funny it is that I am returning to the sloppy, slurpy, cheap off-the-shelf dishes of my childhood.

And then, of course, if things get worse, I may have to move still further back in time,  to baby food:  strained beef, pureed carrots, apple sauce.

After which, I suppose, if I can find a wet-nurse with a sense of humor….

Benjamin Button, move over.

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Published in: on March 15, 2010 at 3:33 am  Comments (3)  

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  1. Here is another one of those items they left out of the “Welcome to Cancerland” bag.

    Attention: Foods and beverages 101, will not be taught in Cancerland. We will direct and or suggest items of food to avoid, items you must never eat or items you can eat all you want of. Thank you for coming and have a nice day.

    MacGyver’s cancer, was of course south of yours. What he consumes often departed faster than he consumed it. There was, after much waste, items or restaurants that we found were not as easily rejected and stuck with him a little longer than others.

    Which is all great, but when some of the “eat all you want foods” on MacGyver’s list is prepared by someone other them X, Y or Z, it is guaranteed to explode. Which is not so great!

    There went the eat all you want instructions and in came the trial and error period. It was a total pain in the a** and very discouraging because for almost a year during his chemo, he had an ileostomy. Which I will desist from recounting that experience and gladly report they could and did reverse it. So, now he flows normally, just more often and not in a bag hook on his side, and of course he still must be very careful.

    My point is, after the shock subsides. You begin to become resourceful, clever, inquiring, you eat things you thought you would never eat or find that things you did not care for really are not as bad as you once thought they were.

    It becomes a challenge of sorts and each day you begin to become more experienced, and suddenly you’re a master of Cancerland Food and Beverages 101.

    Change is a good thing it’s just not always easy.

    Now, you’ve made me hungry for some warm bread pudding topped with that magnificent bourbon sauce. I learned to make in New Orleans. Since I have none made. I will dream of it. Yummy…..Night Peter! Hugs and prayers.

    Always;
    M

  2. Oh dear god….the wet nurse……good luck finding one of those in your part of town! I have forgotten how much I liked canned spaghetti. You are amazing Peter..love it!

  3. txs! That was really funny


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