There's an entertaining exchange between Adam Buxton and his guest Louis Theroux at the start of his recent podcast series. It concerns the ethics of the hotel breakfast buffet. Was it wrong Adam posed to take extra food from the buffet and then have it for lunch? He said that the amount of food that the hotel would have to throw out at the end of breakfast each day made it fine. Louis wasn't so sure, and a discussion ensues. When Adam asked his 90 year old Dad, who he thinks he got the idea from, there's a stern rebuke. Never! His father adamantly states.
My life has turned into that Breakfast buffet. I've become obsessed with food. This is something amazing as I hardly could eat a thing in my last stay in Barts. Having chemotherapy changes a lot of things about you, notably your taste buds. It was a heady night mid way through the second recovery week when I tasted red wine and didn't immediately want to throw up. A week and a half a lovely red wine intake began. Cakes and sweets remain off the menu but I managed to scoff down most of an apple and blackberry crumble I made towards the end of my time out of Barts.
Most of my interactions with people in my spell away from hospital centred around food or drink. I'd meet friends for coffee or lunch, plan a rare night out around the new pizza restaurant opening in my neighbourhood. I'd find myself watching TV and gravitating to cookery programs. I'd happily watch Bake Off, Jamie Oliver and the Hairy Bikers all in one sitting. It was comfort food telly. I'd look longingly at food pictures on Instagram (which basically *is* Instagram, well that and cat pictures), and idly look through BBC Good Food.
Having a food obsession back in hospital is a double edged butter knife. On the one hand you lose so much weight on chemotherapy that eating becomes really important. The more you can take on board the better. The only time I've been sick so far in this stay was when I forced myself to finish off an apricot frangipan and custard. That was a step to far for my delicate stomach. On the other hand *hospital food*. The grub here is by no means bad but it is bland, processed and repetitive. Being in and out of Barts for the last year I've eaten everything off the menu at least half a dozen times. After a while you just can't stomach another mince beef lattice.
To complement my food obsession I now have a dietician to advise me on my eating. She came to see me last week and now I have a whole stack of information on how to build myself up after this stay. The MacMillan build-up booklet is hilarious. Its like the anti-diet to end all anti-diets. It recommends adding butter and cream to everything. It's Nigel Slater's dream come true. Whilst still on the ward I've been given special access to a supplementary menu which, hallelujah, has food I haven't had in hospital before! Also a little brown bag comes to my room every day with cheese and biscuits and crisps in it. I'm being encouraged to graze more than a dairy cow.
Despite all this food talk I'm still losing weight. As those that know me in real life will attest there's not much weight on me to lose. Chemotherapy rips through your fat supplies at an alarming rate. I don't like how I look or how it makes you feel. Clothes that once fitted are now baggy, and I've even bought size 30 jeans. I feel like a bad photocopy of myself where someone has reduced everything by 50%. It's still me but a blurry, less focused me. This is your daily reminder that having cancer is bloody awful.
Home news: It's Happy Stem Cell Transplant Day! As followers of the blog will know I had a stem cell harvest done back in August. These cells were then frozen and half given back to me in the last round of chemotherapy. Well today the second half of that batch of cells is heading it's way home. These will kick start my immune system and hopefully mitigate any infections I will no doubt pick up in the next few days. For now though I'm doing OK and the fever has not struck yet (he says tempting fate).
I'm Currently... Reading Monocle Magazine, did you know you could buy waterfront property in Aarhus, Denmark for only 840,000 Euro?...Listening to the audio book of 'So you've been publicly shamed' read wonderfully by the author Jon Ronson...Watching Kermode and Mayo's Bond special from the Empire Leicester square (iPlayer).