Friday, February 22, 2013

bready dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

I’ve been doing this thing where I fast for forty-eight hours before chemo and another twenty-four hours after chemo.

Bear with me, here. As I mentioned in previous posts, I’m open to alternative medicine, when it’s not an either-or kind of thing—so, not an alternative but an additive. I am not open to the conspiracy-theory-laden remedies suggested by the most recent self-appointed oncologist to cross my path, the acupuncturist across the hall from me.

In addition to those damn alkaline foods, he talked about something called cesium that he actually referred to as a “magic bullet,” and sent me to the FAQ section of a website called “Don’t be put off by the name,” he said.

But is it okay to be put off by FAQ #5? “Why should I believe you? Weren’t you convicted of fraud?”

Anyway, no one involved in the ACTUAL MEDICAL STUDIES about fasting has been convicted of fraud. The theory is this: Healthy cells rally under a bit of stress, such as short stints of famine. Kind of like how plants grow bigger when you don’t water them too often. (Although, as I’ve learned the hard way, never watering them doesn’t have the same effect.) Cancer cells, on the other hand, shrivel up and die.

Take that, cancer cells.
So fasting pre-chemo gives chemo a little extra boost, and has the side effect of making chemo’s side effects less intense. It’s been proven in mice, and human studies are on the horizon.

I’d never fasted before—I don’t think my colon needs cleansing, and if I want to see God, I’ll just go to church, where there are coffee and donuts. But I figured it was worth a try, and it hasn’t been as hard as I thought—not eating (or, in my case, having a little bit of Gatorade or veggie broth once a day) for forty-eight hours isn’t that different from not eating for five hours: I get a hungry and a little grouchy and light-headed, but not more than that.

But I do think about food A LOT. The first night of this week’s fast, I went to the gym, and a cooking competition called The Taste was on TV. I was glad that for once the resident loudmouth conservative hadn’t changed the channel to FOX News. The theme of that night’s challenge was sandwiches, and I fell in love with every one of them: the Armenian-inspired sandwich with tzatziki sauce, the banh mi, the fried pork belly on homemade bread, the classic roast beef—pretty much every sammie but the one made by the girl who didn’t have time to finish cooking her chicken.

Anthony Bourdain tells some ladies about the very serious art of sandwich-making.
Recently I heard a radio story about early Antarctic explorers who created elaborate fantasy meals while gnawing away on their pemmican. One of my favorite childhood camping memories is of a terrible dinner my mom made; I don’t remember what it was, but all of us, including her, spent the whole meal laughing and talking about what we’d rather be eating.

So when AK and I went on a post-chemo walk yesterday, she indulged me in a lengthy food conversation. I could have told you she loved pho and pastries, but I found out she has a considerable soft spot for classic Italian comfort food. See? Food talk brought us closer together. My favorites can also be divided into the healthy-ish foods I eat semi-regularly—sushi, Brussels sprouts, tropical fruit, cereal (and all breakfast foods, actually), bread and bread and bread—and what the new health-minded Cookie Monster would call a “sometimes” food—dim sum, salt and vinegar potato chips, eggplant parmesan, burritos of all stripes, matzo brie, eggnog, any doughy dessert, any chocolaty dessert, any custardy dessert.

One of each, please. And two of those yellow things in the pink wrappers. And three of any dumpling with shimp inside.
I eased out of my fast this morning with a bowl of cereal, but the real celebration will come in a few hours when AK and I go down the street to Schodorf’s for a really amazing sandwich.


Sizzle said...

Now I want a sandwich!

Una said...

Now Henry and I want some dim sum!

Cheryl said...

Then my work here is done. :-)

Peter Varvel said...

I'm impressed you went to the gym *while* fasting. Needing to conserve fuel would be enough of an excuse for me to skip a workout.

And I love that you know that about Cookie Monster's makeover.

Cheryl said...

I seem to be able to manage it on the first day of the fast, less so on subsequent days. Also, you haven't seen my workouts--not exactly the kind where you have to pound Zone bars to keep going.