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Chemotherapy Put Me On A Baby Food Diet

National Institutes of Health
National Institutes of Health

Doctors say that everyone reacts to chemotherapy differently. Each of us has a slightly different body chemistry and that’s why we have different reactions to chemo.

For me, my downfall is dinner. I can eat a breakfast of corn flakes or shredded wheat with a cut up banana and milk and it doesn’t bother me.

I can eat a lunch of a bagel with margarine or whole wheat toast with fruit preserves (actually Polaner’s All Fruit spreadable fruit) and I’m fine.

But when I eat dinner, my digestive system rebels and I wind up in the emergency room again with white-knuckle, teeth-clenching, absolute screaming stomach pain right below my solar plexus.

And it doesn’t seem to matter what I eat for dinner. One night I had lentil soup, and wound up with terrible stomach pain despite the fact that lentils are listed as a recommended food on one of the lists I’ve been given by the hospital and the oncologist.

The next night I ate a Healthy Choice pineapple and Chicken Steamer for dinner and I wound up with terrible stomach pain again.

The night after that, my daughter, Sarah, made me some home-made macaroni and cheese, with whole wheat macaroni and white cheddar cheese, and I wound up with such terrible stomach pain that in the wee hours of the morning I had to find somebody to drive me to the emergency room.

I was in such pain that I had a lot of trouble dialing my cell phone. I kept doing stupid things like dialing my daughter’s number and then hanging up instead of pressing the “Call” icon on my iPhone.

When Sarah didn’t answer, I called my friend and neighbor Bernie and luckily his wife Karen heard the phone and they drove me to the emergency room,

After the doctor assessed my condition, he asked me if I had ever had morphine, and I told him yes, once many years ago, when I was in the Air Force .

He asked because to control the pain, they had to give me an intravenous injection of Dilaudid (hydromorphone hydrochloride), which one nurse told me was the most powerful pain killer they have. Another nurse said that dilaudid was ten times more powerful than morphine.

The oncologist tells me that I can eat anything I want, but although each of those meals is fairly bland fare, my digestive system couldn’t tolerate them.

Part of the problem is that every time I go to the doctors’ office or the emergency room they give me a list of foods that are allowed and foods to avoid, and none of the list match.

For example, one says coffee, tea and carbonated beverages are okay and another says they are not. Over and over again, the doctors and nurses have told me, quite emphatically, that I should not drink coffee, and after my latest incident with pain that sent me to the emergency room, the doctor told me not to drink tea.

Here’s the most recent list of foods that are allowed and foods to avoid. It was one of the things they gave me when I was discharged from the emergency room.

Foods to Avoid
Milk and Milk Products: 2% milk, whole milk, cream, high-fat cheeses, high-fat yogurt, chocolate milk, cocoa.

Breads and Cereals: Any prepared with whole milk or high in fat, doughnuts, French toast.

Desserts and Sweets: Pastries and high fat desserts, chocolate.

Fats: Limit to less than 8 teaspoons a day. (I can just see myself sitting down at the table and measuring out 8 teaspoons of fat and drinking it. Yuck!)

Fruits: Citrus such as oranges, grapefruit, pineapple.

Meat and Protein Foods: Fried meats, bacon, sausage, pepperoni, salami, bologna, frankfurters/hot dogs.

Potatoes: French fries.

Soups, sauces and gravies: Chicken, beef, milk or cream-based soups. Cheese and tomato sauces.

Beverages: Alcohol, coffee (regular od decaffeinated), carbonated beverages, tea, mint tea.

Vegetables: Fried or creamy style vegetables, tomatoes.

Foods Recommended
Milk and Milk Products: Buttermilk, evaporated skim milk, skim or 1% low-fat milk, soy milk, nonfat or low-fat yogurt, powdered milk, nonfat or low-fat cheese, low-fat ice cream, sherbet.

Breads and Cereals: Any prepared without added fat; choose whole grains for at least half your servings.

Desserts and Sweets: Lower fat options 93g of fat or less)

Fats: Olive oil, canola oil.

Fruits: apples, berries, melons, bananas, peaches, pears.

Meat and Protein Foods: Tender, well-cooked lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or soy prepared without added fat. Dried beans and peas.

Potatoes: Boiled, mashed.

Soups, sauces and gravies: fat-free or low-fat based soups.

Beverages: decaffeinated, non-mint herbal tea, juices (except citrus), water.

Vegetables: All other vegetables.

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