Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Road To Zero

I continue to struggle to keep my weight up. That last six month Lupron shot really did a number on me. The above picture was my actual weight this morning. Sorry you had to see my deformed toes.

I had the same problem a year ago, and probably for the same reason. Some prostate cancer patients gain weight from hormone treatment. I lose weight from it, and I can't afford to lose much weight. I'm already thin.

As I talked about in my post, The Six Month Lupron Shot Blues, the six month version of the shot I was given last time made my abdominal area numb for a couple of months, so I couldn't feel hunger until my stomach started growling. I've never been able to eat when I don't feel hungry. I've never been able to stuff myself, or overeat. That was a great advantage to me all my life until I got cancer. Now it's a problem.

I'm sure I told this story at some point a year ago in this blog, but it bears repeating. Once, years ago, our dear friend Deanna asked my wife (tongue in cheek, I'm sure - that's Deanna) if I eat. My wife said, yes, I eat, but I stop when I'm full. Deanna was incredulous! What a concept! I eat when I'm hungry, and I stop when I'm full! That's worked really well for me until about a year ago.

A year ago, my weight reached as low as 120 pounds.

And that's with socks on! That's when the alarm bells went off in my head, and I realized I needed to see a nutritionist, which I did. I'll call her Katie, (not her real name) and my visit with her a year ago is told in my post, My Manna From Heaven. If you are a thin guy on hormone treatment who struggles to keep his weight up like I do, I highly recommend reading that post.

If you were reading this blog at that time, you may remember that her program worked very well for me, and I gave her some of my gourmet dark chocolate ice cream to thank her.

After my weight started going down again a month or so ago, I thought the time might come when I'd need to see Katie again. After a week and a half of diarrhea from our trip to Mexico, that need became more apparent. So I made an appointment to see her yesterday.

My normal weight is 130 to 132 pounds. You might not think five to seven pounds is that much to lose or gain, but to me, it's huge. It's hard for me to gain that much weight. I have the opposite problem that most people have; it's always been easy for me to lose weight, and hard to gain it. I've always had a high metabolism.

Once, in the 1980's, I went on a four day fast for spiritual reasons. I was in my thirties at the time. I lost fourteen pounds in four days, and it took me six months to gain it all back. And that's when I was perfectly healthy. Now it's even harder.

I'm sorry I have to say this again, but please don't joke that you wish you had my problem. Trust me, you don't. I know you mean well, but it's not funny.

By now, my bowel movements have gone back to normal, but my weight issues persist, as you can see. So when I saw Katie yesterday, I couldn't blame my weight on a bug from south of the border, or Montezuma's Revenge. Just the same problems I've had ever since I got that six month Lupron shot. My appetite is not what it should be. I get hungry, but then I eat a few bites and don't want anymore.

Since I had consulted with Katie before, I pretty much knew what she would say, but there was additional information that I didn't learn last time.

I told her about my appetite problems, and she said it's a common issue for cancer patients in treatment. There isn't really a good solution for it. She said if my problems persist in that area, there's a mild anti-depressant that she can prescribe that also acts as an appetite stimulant. I'd really rather not go that route if I can avoid it.

But treatment isn't the only thing that's ruining my appetite these days. I'm also emotionally upset over a conflict between good friends. I wish I could fix it, but it doesn't seem like there's anything I can do. It tears me up inside, and that doesn't help my appetite either.

The obvious solution to both my appetite and my osteoporosis and muscle tone loss is exercise, of course. I know I need to exercise, but it's been hard to find the motivation to do so. But now I have to. At the very least, I need to walk more. We have a gym with a weight machine in our basement, so I need to start using it again. At least two or three times per week, according to Katie. I'll start doing that again tomorrow. And the weather is great here this week, in the seventies and even eighties this weekend, so there's no excuse not to walk the dog.

You may be thinking, "Wait a minute, Mark, aren't you a medical marijuana patient? Isn't that supposed to help with appetite?" Yes, it does. But what I'm taking and the way I'm taking it doesn't really help my appetite at all. It's true that pot smokers get the munchies, and that cancer patients on chemo get help with their appetites by smoking or vaping medical marijuana. But the oil I'm taking is so concentrated that, even though I don't get very high from it, it ruins my tolerance for taking cannabis any other way. Smoking a doobie is not gonna help my appetite. I've tried.

But Katie suggested that CBD, which is the non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, and also the part that has most of the medical benefits, could also help with my appetite. I have access to CBD from a hemp plant provided by my caregiver that I grind up and use to make tea. I've only done that occasionally, and never felt anything from it. But maybe it will help if I start brewing that for myself every day.

Katie also wants me to start having protein shake lunches every day again. So I got some cheap ice cream, and ordered more of the MRM Natural Gainer I used before. My gourmet ice cream is way too good for protein shakes. Too expensive, too! In addition, she wants me to start eating before I go to bed. This is much harder than having a shake for lunch.

I understand the principle of eating before bed. I'm about to fast for eight hours or more while I sleep. I actually sleep for something more like ten to eleven hours each night these days. So I need to give my body something to digest during the night. But we usually eat dinner around 5:00 PM, and go to bed by 8:00 or 8:30 PM. Last night, we ate dinner around 5:30, having had chips and salsa for an appetizer, and my wife made pasta especially to help me gain weight.

But I ended up going to bed around 7:30 PM last night because I was so tired from the day. I was still full from dinner, so I didn't eat anything right before bed. I didn't get up until after 7:00 AM this morning. Almost twelve hours without eating. So I lost a pound instead of gaining. I need to be more intentional about eating before bed, even if I still feel full. But that's very hard for me to do.

I've done this before, so I know how to do it again. I just need to get on with it so I don't lose any more ground. If I don't, Gaunt Cancer Guy is right around the corner.

I asked Katie about diets for cancer that I've heard about from well meaning friends, in particular, the Ketogenic diet and plant-based diets. I wanted to know her professional opinion of those as a nutritionist. She said that the most important thing in fighting cancer is keeping a good BMI, or body mass index. Plant-based diets won't do that for me. One of the benefits of those diets is weight loss. That's a benefit I don't need. It's more important for me to keep my weight up than it is to try to sift out all of the "bad" foods for cancer, and only stick to the "good" ones. So excuse me if I keep having bacon for breakfast. It's what I need to do right now, and probably for good.

After my consultation with Katie, I told her about this blog, and that I had been talking about her in it. I told her I'd be writing about her today, and that I consider her to be a valuable member of My Team. I got emotional, right there in the office during a consultation. Shocking, I know. But this lady saved me from some real trouble a year ago by teaching me how to eat properly. I'm so grateful that I still have her to consult with a year later, now that the same problem has recurred.

As I've said before, I'm going back to the four month version of the Lupron shot from now on, to try to avoid this problem in the future. But this probably won't be the last time I have to deal with this. I just don't have that much margin for error. Gaunt Cancer Guy is still in the future, but I can see him coming. #waroncancer

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