I’m in a weird place. I have lost almost 75 pounds since mid-November, 2012. On average, almost two pounds per week for every single one of the weeks that have passed since I took my first dose of Votrient, an oral chemotherapy. Jill and I are going to a wedding on Saturday and until yesterday, when I picked up a new suit from Chancellor’s Men’s Wear, I didn’t have a single suit, sport coat or tuxedo that I could wear. I’ll admit that when I was younger, I was a major clothes horse. I was reminded of that yesterday when Roger Stinson handed me my new suit pants and sent me into the tiny freezer — which is the infamous Chancellor’s changing room — and I emerged and had him slip on the new suit coat. The feel of a new suit of clothes that REALLY fits is a thrilling thing! I have worn fat clothes for so many years that the complete and utter thrill I got seeing myself in that incredible suit made me want to dance. Roger turned me down though.
This rampant weight loss is hammered home all during the day, as I witness people looking me right in the eyes and knowing that they don’t recognize me. Today at the Chamber Lunch and Learn, our office mates went to support Helena Coates of Media, Marketing and More! as she was today’s presenter. I haven’t been to any Chamber events lately, so I saw a good number of people there that I haven’t seen in months and months. Kat Cannella was one of the folks who I spoke to who didn’t have a clue who I was. She came over at the end of Helena’s presentation and we talked about my shocking weight loss and the loss of my hair color. I look very different, and Lord knows, I sure feel different.
The act of eating, finding things I can eat, the timing of meals and the difficulty of keeping food down are consuming larger amounts of attention in every one of my days. For instance, the very nice luncheon that was prepared for the Chamber event didn’t include a single item that I could eat. So, I sat with my peeps while they ate and after I dropped them back at the office, I visited Freeze Frame on Broadway and ate a nice cup of my favorite swirled orange/vanilla frozen yogurt with toasted almonds. It filled me up and made me smile all at the same time. Some days I just can’t eat. The very thought of putting something in my mouth makes me want to heave. For someone who has spent hours in a kitchen preparing the perfect meal for guests, running a competitive barbecue cooking team, organizing wine tastings and being something of a self-proclaimed talking head on food/wine pairings, the fact that I am having such a difficult time getting nourishment and stanching a precipitous slide in my body weight is just a shocking thing.
My doctors are concerned, my wife is concerned, my mother is concerned and I’ll admit, lately I’m really starting to get worried about where this might be going. Cachexia is the official medical term for this wasting away of one’s body/muscle mass. My skin has become very thin, my muscles are atrophying and the worry about whether or not I can eat is causing stress that I didn’t anticipate. Although becoming empty will almost always make me sick, sometimes the indecision over what or whether I can eat keeps me from doing what I know I have to do and just put something in my stomach.
I’ve reported in this blog that Dr. Andy Pippas prescribed Marinol, which is a man-made version of the active drug that is in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol. My prescription contained 30 pills with instructions to take up to two per day. I’m about three weeks into the prescription and although I have suffered from some level of food trauma every day, I have only taken about half of the number of pills prescribed for the 30-day period. I’m not sure why I would be given 30 twice-per-day pills and be expected to have them last for 30 days, other than maybe this was a test firing to see if the pills work for me when testing for drugs. The Marinol does work to some degree, although the appetite stimulation part of the expected drug action seems less than adequate. It does seem to help with the nausea, but it hasn’t done much to make me want to eat.
The Marinol doesn’t work as well as the real thing. Back when I started taking the Votrient, someone brought me a marijuana laced chewable. It was a four-dose chunk of chocolate that tasted like a Tootsie Roll. I was warned that if I hadn’t partaken of any pot recently (and, I hadn’t) that I should be cautious and maybe treat it like an eight-dose item. What I realized right away is that my nausea dissipated in about 15 minutes and that I was definitely more inclined to eat. So, not only did I want to eat, but I was more likely to keep what I ate down. If some combination of Marinol and the occasional dose of self-prescribed medical marijuana or can stop this weight loss and allow me to develop enough strength to begin some kind of exercise, then I might have a chance to actually be able to become fairly healthy again in spite of living with a deadly, incurable stage IV cancer. The info on www.sacredkratom.com/ about this is clear, the hard chemicals we use as medicine are often more damaging than they should be.
It is the side effects of the chemo — diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, numbness in extremities, dizzyness and lack of strength that make some people give up. “I just can’t deal with this anymore!” Finding something that will restore as much of a normal life as possible in combination with a great wife, incredible children, an awesome family, good church friends, kind co-workers and a good network that give cancer patients the continued ability and will to fight the disease that is trying to kill them.
Today I read an article written by CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The piece, “Why I Changed My Mind About Weed,” was interesting. There is apparently way more data than was originally thought to back up the notion that not only is marijuana, aside from its recreational activities, is not highly addictive, but it is also quite helpful for many medical issues without most of the side effects that come with powerful narcotics and other classes of drugs. According to the cannavapos twitter, citizens in some 20 states and the District of Columbia have ratified some form of legislation that makes marijuana available for medical applications. It is time for this to happen on a much broader scale. Cancer patients who avail themselves of a tried and true, natural form of relief from their misery should not have to feel like criminals! If this discussion makes you uncomfortable, I’m sorry. This will not be the last you hear from me about this.