A very Happy (delayed) Easter to everyone; I hope you all enjoyed the celebrations and/or the long weekend, as you prefer. I very nearly posted this ‘ambush’ video yesterday after discovering Mariacristina had taken it, but soon decided that nobody would be in a rush to hear from me on Easter Sunday – and I was too busy (along with Mariacristina and Jagoda) being beaten at Monopoly by Lorenzo… Anyway, here I am now, offering my somewhat subdued greeting:
I had told Mariacristina that when I was growing up, my siblings and I used to bounce downstairs on Easter Sunday morning full of excitement at what the Easter bunny might have brought us and put in our usual places on the dining room table. Harriet and Freddie would invariably have more eggs than the rest of us; in Harriet’s case she was reaping the rewards of her particularly sociable character, while I can’t remember who Fred’s benefactors were. He, too, has always made friends with especial ease, but it wasn’t such a ‘boy’ thing to exchange Easter eggs.
As it was, we all seemed to have a fixation on making the eggs last for as long as possible, which more often than not resulted in their going off before we’d managed to finish them. It’s not that we were otherwise starved of chocolate, but there always seemed something magical about the big, foil-and-box-wrapped egg delivered that night.
Given my abiding jealousy of my siblings’ superior egg count, it was wonderful to get downstairs this year to find not just a beautifully laid out breakfast for me and Mariacristina and our guests, but also an excess of chocolate in my place! At last, I was the Easter egg king! Admittedly, my appetite is pretty small now, so there was very little chance I was going to make much of a dent in the chocolate mountain, but psychologically it was fantastic. Also, there’s far less chance I’ll be dragging out the demolition of my egg(s) over many months, as my immuno-suppressed diet means avoiding eating food that’s been open for a day or so…
It’s an incredible transformation, when I think about it. In the weeks between finishing the MARALL trial and the moment my neutrophils dropped me into neutropaenia before my admission to St George’s for the conditioning regime, we maxed out on both quantity and quality on our magical gastronomic tour of Streatham and beyond.
Now, though, my appetite is almost non-existent, and my taste has been neutralised by my continuing flu. As a result, it is often the simplest food that I find easiest to eat. I do sometimes feel a bit hungry when mealtimes approach, but I still don’t particularly feel like eating. So far I’ve been good at making sure I get something in my stomach anyway, apart from the time I pushed myself to finish an omelette and promptly dashed to the loo as it – and the rest of the contents of my stomach – came straight back up.
That was an important lesson: I’ve since been listening more closely to my body and not forcing myself to eat more than I feel is right. One of my favourite dishes at the moment is pasta al brodino, a simple pasta in stock that I hardly have to chew, which always takes me a long time before my throat agrees to open up and swallow. It also fills me up and keeps me warm: with a bald head, I do get colder than usual.
Strangely, I don’t miss the glorious extravaganzas cooked by Mariacristina, the magnificent dishes laid on by Hawksmoor and the like, or the fantastic multi-topped pizzas at Addommé and Bravi Ragazzi, for example. After all, my stomach has no particular craving for them; in fact, the richer and more elaborate the food, the less appealing it seems. The first night I was back at home and excited about Mariacristina’s pasta, but any appetite I had quickly shrivelled when she brought out an enormous portion; so big, in fact, that even Fred couldn’t finish the equivalent. She has quickly learnt that I find it overwhelming to be confronted with an excess – or even ‘normal’ portion – of food, even if I know I don’t have to eat it all.
I do look on with a bit of jealousy at some of the meals that others are eating, though, as I have very fond memories of particular dishes, even if I myself have no particular desire to eat them now. Perhaps I sometime just wish I had the appetite and unblocked nose to be able to enjoy what I know to be a delicious experience, although it is that same lack of appetite and inability to taste that makes me relatively apathetic about not being to enjoy food right now. I still believe good food to be one of the great pleasures of life, though.
The flu symptoms – touch wood – appear to have quietened down a little, helping me sleep better and to get through the day without squirting Vicks nasal spray every eight hours. Hopefully the brave little band of lymphocytes created by my brand-new bone marrow are starting to chip away at the bad bugs. I’m yet to hear the results of my blood cultures, but am back at St George’s tomorrow, when I’ll no doubt learn more and have a couple of other side-effects checked out.
So: Day +26 and the wagon rolls on… Buon appetito!