Sunday, August 07, 2016

Attack of the Frozen Pizza

Sometimes I am just stupid.

It's true. Sometimes I do things that I know I shouldn't just to spite myself. Just to prove to myself and to the world that I can still do something - anything - normal. Even when I clearly can't. Even when it is an endeavor doomed for crash-and-burn failure.

Case in point: I ate a frozen  pizza for lunch on Friday.

Okay, I realize that sounds like a pretty lame act of rebellion. You have to realize, however,  that I have a long, storied history of frozen pizzas and my body engaging in some pretty violent smack-downs. For years, I have been unable to eat frozen pizza. Restaurant pizza is fine. Frozen pizza is evil incarnate. It doesn't matter the brand. The toppings. The crust. If I eat a frozen pizza, my body rejects it wholeheartedly. Usually in the form of pretty severe heartburn and indigestion. So I do know better than to eat one.

So what the hell was I thinking on Friday?

I was thinking that I was hungry because of the stupid steroids. I was thinking that nothing would taste good to me because of the hateful chemo. I was thinking that I had exactly 20 minutes between conference calls at work and could maybe heat up a pizza quickly in that time. And I was thinking, You know what? Fuck it. I have cancer. If anyone deserves to eat a freaking frozen pizza in peace, it's me. And no one can tell me what to do! Like I said, it was a lame place to take a stand, but in that moment - in that mindset, fueled by steroidal hunger and rage - it felt rebellious.

So I made a frozen pizza - sausage, to be precise. I fully intended to share it with Ruanita and Sophie. Each ate only one tiny piece (they are obviously smarter than me) and I ended up eating all of the remaining pizza. And it tasted good. Well, it tasted, so that's good.

That afternoon, we had a new couch and chair delivered to our house. Unfortunately, the couch was about 5 inches too long to fit through and door and pivot into our living room from our small entrance area without busting out a wall. So as soon as I finished with work at three o'clock, we headed out to the furniture store to find something a tad bit shorter that we could fit into our old South Minneapolis house. I was fine at the furniture store. Tired and teetering around, as usual, but fine.

The way home from the store was a different story altogether.

The furniture store was in Little Canada, a suburb of St. Paul a good thirty minutes from my house - longer in rush hour traffic. As soon as we hit the highway to come home, I began to feel a tightness in my chest. It was like indigestion, but an extreme version that took my breath away. The pain was situated in the middle of uppermost abdomen and radiated to the left. It was like the Incredible Hulk himself had reached into my chest, grabbed...whatever...and was squeezing with all his might. It was excruciating.

Ruanita and the kids were concerned, obviously. Well, Lucas was at least. He was almost in tears by the time the whole thing was over. Sophie just kept saying, "It'll be okay, mom." And Nicky retreated to his happy place and didn't say a word.

We ended up stopping at my mother's house because she lives in St. Paul and her house was closer than ours. I was sure she would have Tums I could take. She did not. But she gave me some Zantac and a glass of water, and I lounged on her couch for a few minutes. I thought the pain had started to fade, so we all piled into the car again to drive from my mom's house to our house in Minneapolis.

The minute I got in the car, the pain started anew. I felt like I was going to throw up. I felt like I was going to poop my pants. And the pain would not let up. By the time we got home, I was in tears in the front seat of the car, hunched over a small cereal bowl Sophie had brought along full of Cheet-ohs for the ride. I walked through the door, kicked my shoes off, stripped off my bra and shorts on the way through the living room and immediately curled up in the fetal position on Sophie's bed (her bedroom was the closest and her bed was the cleanest). Ruanita brought me Tums and water and asked no fewer than 3,821 times if I thought we needed to go to the Emergency Room. I had no desire to go to the hospital. It was the Open Ceremonies of the Olympics Friday night, and I have my priorities.

Eventually the pain did fade. I laid in Sophie's bed curled up in my underwear for a full hour. Our junk food fest we had planned for the Opening Ceremonies was not to be. I did, however, get to join the family in our couch-less living room to watch the ceremonies.

After all was said and done, I was pretty certain I had had a gallbladder attack. Ruanita had her gallbladder out shortly after Lucas was born and the attack I had was very similar to what she used to have.

I began to wonder if it was the chemo that caused the gallbladder attack - one more unpleasant side effect to add to the lengthy and growing list. I searched online for "Taxol chemo and gallbladder issues." I found a lot of anecdotal evidence on various breast cancer boards of women beginning to have gallbladder attacks near the end of Taxol chemo. Many women ended up having their gallbladders removed after chemo. Doctors, however, (at least from my brief research) seem to assert that there is no correlation between chemo and gallbladder issues. I'm not sure I buy that. It's awfully "convenient" that this popped up as I am only two infusions away from competing chemo. If chemo can affect my heart - if it can effect my stomach and my legs and my arms and my hands and my feet and my thoughts and my scalp and my skin - who is to say that it is not having an effect on my gallbladder, as well?  Seems like that would only make sense.

Either way, I am now extremely suspicious of every little twitch and tingle I feel. I am going to avoid fatty foods, obviously (no small task with the steroids I am on that make me want to eat everything in sight) - and I certainly learned my lesson (again) about frozen pizza. Frankly, I am a little scared to eat now. I desperately - desperately -want to eat, but I am frightened of having another attack. It was not pleasant, to say the least.

So what is a bald, chubby Weeble to do?

Two more weeks.

Two. Weeks.


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