Well, this is a first for me. One title for three entries.

Let’s start with the least controversial. I have just about no ability to concentrate after chemotherapy. Go figure. So I have to find special things to read. My mother used to love “Where’s Waldo” books when it got really bad. Fortunately, I’m a little bit better than that.

Well, maybe.

I read Entertainment Weekly. But that’s only when things are at their worst. I also read The Week Magazine, a very pleasant newsmagazine where no story is over 2 pages and almost all are a page or less. It’s particularly nice now, when I’m not paying as much attention to things in the world, to have it all predigested for me.

And I also am catching up on lots of columnists. I love Laurie Notaro, and not just for the way she spells her first name. I mean, how can I not identify with “True Tales of the Dorkiest Girl Alive” or “Autobiography of a Fat Bride?”

And I like lots of the contributors to This American Life. I’ve done all of David Sedaris’s and am reading David Rakoff’s book Fraud now. The articles are still longer than my attention span, but it is a fine book. How, in this very merry season, can you resist the tale of Christmas Freud?

Which brings me to fraud number 2. I feel like such a fake, a poser, a poseur, a fraud so much of the time. Cancer is a big deal and life threatening and I’m just sailing through it. I didn’t take my Compozine out once for nausea this last treatment cycle. I ate almost reasonably without worries. (We learned a lot about what I can and can’t eat and I actually had the sense to go with what I learned.) The tumor is getting smaller and smaller. Everyone is so worried about me, but everything is going so right. What the hell did I do to deserve this?

Yeah, I did sleep 20 hours Saturday, but was that because of chemo or because I’m just lazy? I’m horridly behind in grading. Maybe it’s the chemo and not being able to concentrate and such, but from time to time I’ve decided I’m just a fake.

Okay, when I’m reasonable, I may be able to convince myself that’s not completely true, but lots of you know me fairly well, so you know I’m not always the most reasonable person around. So I’m spending lots of time beating myself up for being so far behind. It can’t really all be the fault of the cancer.

It doesn’t help me that Charlie tells me nothing is really all that new and I do this during every finals period. He actually expects me to believe I’ll get through this and have some perspective. Sheesh!

It’s interesting. Charlie works with someone who, while working in state government, had to investigate a worker who claimed to have cancer. The guy got lots of his coworkers to contribute leave time to him so he could be treated. Yeah, turned out he was faking it all.

No, I’m not thinning my hair intentionally. I really do have cancer. It’s just I don’t know why it’s not worse than this.

But I’m still incredibly thankful it’s not worse than this!

And now, for part 3. Not every medical professional in Macon is completely stellar, I learned the hard way today. I figured I’d talk to a nutritionist about ways to deal with getting adequate nutrition while avoiding nausea and food smells and those fun things that happen the week after chemo. Sure, I know I can handle turkey sandwiches and yoghurt, but maybe there’s something I’m missing.

Like grits. Are grits the same as oatmeal? The protein in corn is a whole bunch more complicated than that in oats, so will it affect my digestion?

But I was too much of a temptation to the nutritionist. She really, really wanted to deal with my weight problem. Yeah, I have a weight problem, but that’s not number one on my list now. And when I’m asking for ideas of things to eat after chemo, don’t tell me that I need to throw out all my lovely frozen foods and cook from scratch and it’s easy. Nothing is easy the week after chemo.

I’ve dealt with people like her before. The only tool they have is a hammer, so every problem is a nail. This nutritionist may have a lovely weight loss program, but that’s not what my problem is now. And when she told me that it would require major lifestyle modification on my part, well, sorry. Doing that already. Dealing with cancer you see.

And gotta to get off to Cancer Wellfit. Yoga tonight.



  1. Fran Hunt said

    I think that feeling like a fraud is a universal trait, especially among academics at finals time. I remember feeling like that every time a new term started or during finals or …..

    Now that I am in the testing business, I still feel like a fraud, just not in front of so many people at a time! I keep wondering when they will revoke my degree…

    What an annoying experience with the nutritionist – it would be nice if people actually listened to what you were asking them before they trot out their standard spiel.

    Glad to hear that things are going (on the whole) well!

  2. Nathan Moore said

    If you weren’t on the anti-depressents this feeling of being a fraud would most likely be a lot worse,
    or at least it would be something that you couldn’t deal with as well as you are.
    As far as what the nutritionist said, you really can’t change everything all at once or you won’t
    stick to it. Especially because you are most likely to want to drop all the changes when the special
    chemo considerations go away.
    When I lost all that weight I did it in steps. The first step was going to the gym almost everyday
    and working up to more and more exercise (buring more calories in the crosstrainer and more weight on
    the weight machines), but I didn’t really change my diet much. Just adding exercise changes your diet,
    but I didn’t set out to do change it.
    After I lost 20 pounds and stayed at that wieght for a while, I cut out soft drinks and a lot of the
    junk food I had been eating. I stayed off the soft drinks completely, but only go and get junk food
    when I’m really craving it and then only try to get just enough to satisfy that craving. If I’m
    craving chocolate I might buy the smallest peice of chocolate that is bigger than a Hearshey’s Kiss.
    If you don’t fill in those cravings you end up eating more of other things b/c you get into munchy
    mode. My weakness is when other people bring junk food around. If there are Doritos around, I will
    eat them. If Zack buys them, I will eat them, replace them for him, and then eat them again…
    I started finding things that were filling, but didn’t have a huge amount of calories, like high
    quality bran flakes (Kellog’s Complete), but I know you can’t eat those right now. I usually eat 2
    bowls (one wheat and one oat) of raisin bran (bought raisins separate b/c they don’t have the sugar
    on them like the ready made raisin bran) each day without milk. I figured out that when I ate it
    with milk I was consuming a lot more milk than I thought I was. I keep a big bottle of water handy
    to wash it down, and sometimes drink milk too, but I try to be careful not to drink too much. I don’t
    know how skim milk would change things b/c I stay as far away from that stuff as I can. I also take
    a fair number of vitimins. I had to do a lot of research on them to know what to take without causing
    trouble. It’s complicated. I also eat a fairly high protein diet usually, and one or 2 times during
    a normal week I eat something really tasty that doesn’t fit in the strict diet.
    Anyway, I lost another 20 pounds fairly quickly, and then almost 20 more over the next several months.
    I haven’t been exercising like I was b/c Mercer won’t let me in the gym anymore, but I’ve stayed within
    about 7 pounds of what I got down to.
    I changed several other things incrementally too. I started eating almonds before anything with
    cholestreol or fat/oil b/c it has a lot of plant sterols which keep your body from absorbing cholesterol.
    There are some other things, I’m sure, but I couldn’t have done it if i didn’t do it in steps like that.
    Your nutritionist should know that changing things like that takes time, and since you are already
    having to use your deminished concentration on the other things, she (it was a she, right?) shouldn’t
    be smacking you with the weight stuff too hard. A few little things here and there maybe, but her
    main job is to make sure that you get the nutrition you need to keep your body up, but if it’s not
    something you can stick to, then it won’t work. The chemo diet complicates stuff enough that I would
    think that just getting your vitamins and minerals in you would take priority over weight loss.
    Really long post.
    Will you have the attention span to read it?

    Oh, do you want help with grading?


  3. Evelyn said

    Hi Laurie! How can you think you’re a fraud? You’re one of the most “genuine”, “I definitely miss seeing you” people I know!

    I guess my therapist is helping me recognize my emotions, because I definitely felt angry at that nutritionist! I think I’d be asking if there was someone else I could see. Nathan, on the other hand, is an inspiration!

    Take care of yourself!

  4. Kelly said

    General anger at nutritionists is pretty standard. 🙂 My parents were freaking out about my weight loss, so I agreed to see one up at Boynton Health Services on campus. This story is best told in dialogue form for full effect (and I’m procrastinating on my term project due tomorrow)…

    me: “Here are sample daily meal plans and eating times that I’ve been using during the last 6 months. I’ve lost about 50 pounds doing this, but I wanted to be sure it was healthy.”
    her: “Oh… this looks very healthy.”
    me: “Good.” (prepared to get up)
    her: “So, how often do you weigh yourself?”
    me: “Every morning after I wake up but before I eat breakfast.”
    her: *insert appropriate rant about eating disorder here and multiple comments about how 1 or 2 pounds doesn’t matter… it’s how I feel*
    me: “Well, I appreciate that opinion, but I know that I’m carrying around extra weight and I’d like to trim that down.”
    her: “Well how much do you want to lose?”
    me: “I’d like to be 120.”
    her: *pulls out calculator while screaming about how that’s too much weight to lose* “You have no business weighing any less than 122.”
    me: “But I thought you said a pound or two didn’t matter? What’s the difference in 122 and 120?”
    her: *uncomfortable silence and topic change* “So how much do you think I weigh?”
    (Keep in mind that she’s a solid 2-3 inches taller than I am and pure muscle.)
    me: “Eh.. 125?”
    her: “No, I weigh the same as you do.”
    me: “Okay, but you’re lean muscle which weighs more and you’re taller. Me weighing 135 isn’t the same as you weighing 135.”
    her: *shocked look* “But… but you just need to gain muscle, not lose fat. You should stay the same weight.”
    me: “Wouldn’t I inherently be losing fat if I gained muscle and stayed the same weight?”
    her: *confused look* “You just don’t need to lose anymore. It’s not healthy.”

    I thanked her for the opinion, gathered my things, and left. I’m reasonably sure she wrote something in my files as I now get weighed every time I go even if it’s just for a cold, and the last time I went to the ob/gyn she asked me how I “saw myself.”

    Perhaps its a self perpetuating thing? If I have a healthy diet and I’m doing fine, I never need to see her again. If you just have a few questions about what foods you need to eat, you’re done too. If I have an eating disorder and you need to start dieting in the middle of cancer treatment, that’s guaranteeing lots of visits.

  5. John Mark said

    Fraud Schmaud! I think you’re fabulous. Are you finished with chemo until after the holidays, or do you have more before Christmas? I hope you can come to the Christmas Eve service. Kay’s been whipping the choir into shape, and we have added holiday help to make an even joyfuller noise… which, for some reason, brings David Sedaris to mind. I love David Sedaris. He should write about our church! Hope to see you at Taizé on Monday (at 7). Have a wonderful weekend, and keep us posted!

  6. Nathan Moore said

    Since weight and David Sedaris are in this conversation already, had anyone read in
    “me talk pretty one day” about when Amy Sedaris wore her fat suit bottoms to Christmas
    one year and fooled their father? It was wonderful! They were the pants that she later
    used for Jerry Blank in Strangers with Candy, so you can imagine his reaction. Read it
    if you haven’t already!

  7. John Mark Parker said

    I love David Sedaris and his sister Amy. Of course, I’ve never met them… Has anyone read “Holidays on Ice?”

    Where is Laurie? We miss you. I was just checking to see if more had been posted.

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