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[food] Pizza dreams - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2011-10-08 07:38
Subject: [food] Pizza dreams
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, family, food, health, personal

Last night I dreamt at some length of pepperoni pizza. The look of it, those blood-red roundels of cured meat soaking in their own vermillion grease across a bubbling expanse of cheese just beginning to brown. The smell of it, that sharp scent of processed pig parts laying over the rich, rubbery odor of the cheese and the crunchy-yeasty promise of the crust transmuted so delightfully from sticky dough to a platform for transcendent savory flavor. The taste of it I was denied in my dream because I was eating a bedraggled salad in some anonymous pizzeria, and they kept bringing out other people’s orders and never my own. Finally I went up to the counter to beg a slice. They handed me a tray with several cold, stale cheese and pepperoni slices that had been too long in the warmer and told me I could have them.

Even for that I was grateful.

Then I woke up.

Consciously and unconsciously I’ve been integrating my experiences of food these past couple of weeks, both being on BRAT(y) and my episodic excursions from the restrictions of the diet. This is complicated.

First of all, everything is cyclical. From about the Sunday of chemotherapy to the Sunday or Monday after, I am in a very dietarily sensitive mode. From that trailing Monday the few days to chemo Friday I can eat more or less what I want within general boundaries of good sense and nutrition without disrupting my upper or lower GI. This except for the growing persistent food intolerances which inflect what I am willing or able to put into my mouth.

The digestive issues that disrupt my GI in that first week fall into several categories, which of course mingle and overlap. The chemotherapy I’m on interacts badly with insoluble fiber, so fresh greens, many vegetables and some fruits are right out. I’m missing my gall bladder and part of my colon so my fat metabolism is strange and very triggery. The damage to my gut lining from the chemo makes me transiently lactose-intolerant, sometimes spectacularly so, so dairy products must be limited or eliminated. The proteins in meat interact poorly with my chemo-inflected digestion, so I have to be very cautious about red meats and conservative about chicken.

In other words, pepperoni pizza and salad hits every wrong thing about my digestion.

Guess what I’m craving? Not just in my dreams, but in my daily life.

The upside is that this is all reasonably clear and easy to deal with. Lomatil as needed, Gas-X as needed, and sticking pretty close to BRAT(y) are keeping me from the absolutely disastrous GI disruptions of a few weeks ago. But man I miss real food. Last night, for my sister’s birthday dinner at one of the nicest fish/steak houses in town, I ate bread, hummus and sauteed mushrooms. Even that was me being a bit adventurous. On the plus side, I seem to be able to tolerate cake.

Cancer sucks.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

Post A Comment | 10 Comments | | Link

User: fledgist
Date: 2011-10-08 15:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I haven't eaten pizza in quite a while, but that's a matter of choosing not to in order to lose weight. Having to avoid it because of cancer strikes me as a painful option. No wonder it fills your dreams.
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User: mlerules
Date: 2011-10-08 16:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Okay, come April-ish, I'm taking you back to Apizza Scholls for pepperoni pizza and salad.
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Perdix: Buffy
User: perdix
Date: 2011-10-08 17:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I feel your pizza-craving pain, Jay. To manage my chronic gut issues, I now avoid both gluten and dairy, and eating anything very greasy or oily causes an instant GI freak-out - in other words, pizza is OUT. But it's the forbidden food I crave the most, hands down. That first hot, gooey taste explosion as you bite the nose off a fresh slice... the satisfying crunch of a slightly stale crust... the cold pizza breakfast of champions the next morning...... sigh.
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User: deborahjross
Date: 2011-10-08 17:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My husband is strongly wheat-intolerant, so I've found a wonderful GF pizza crust recipe. It's not identical to wheat crust, but very satisfying. (We're fine with dairy, but I understand that the vegan cheeses are mostly awful; still, once you get the crust down, it might be worth experimenting with them or just a cheeseless pizza with tons of veggies or lowfat turkey Italian sausage.)
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User: perdix
Date: 2011-10-09 01:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Definitely a worthwhile experiment! And vegan cheeses aren't all bad. Wherever did you find the recipe for that wonderful GF crust??
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User: deborahjross
Date: 2011-10-09 20:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The recipe is from a magazine article from about 20 years ago that a friend saved for me (while going through her stack of magazines). I posted it here: http://deborahjross.livejournal.com/195586.html

It calls for dry milk powder, but that's just for browning, so you could add the equivalent amount of garbanzo or garbanzo/fava or sorghum flours for the same effect. It's also a pretty forgiving recipe, so you can play around with it. The secret is to get the yeast really foamy first. I often let it sit after I've rolled it out, so it's already a bit puffy before I put it in for the first baking.

Let me know what you think!
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User: klwilliams
Date: 2011-10-09 03:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
About ten years ago I lost 60 pounds on a diet where all I could eat were protein shakes. Yes, I dreamed of food regularly. I'm sorry you're stuck on that diet, but glad it's helping.
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User: eposia
Date: 2011-10-15 04:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My oncologist told me flat out at this week's meeting that he thinks one of the reasons I did so well on chemo and healed so quickly was that I didn't have problems with appetite like the vast majority of people on chemo do. I kept eating whatever I chose (only losing the ability to eat spicy foods, which I haven't yet regained), often double portions, which means I have about a third of me (including fluid weight) to lose to get back to a healthy weight but also means I survived chemo with much less than the hassles I hear from you and others. I'm so very sorry you're having to deal with this but I'm glad at least the BRATY diet is still working for you so you can get SOMEthing down regularly.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-10-15 21:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My appetite is ok. It's bleahs that kill me. Good for you on keeping it up!
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