Mysterious Cravings

One of the most peculiar symptoms that I’ve experienced since getting Multiple Myeloma is the cravings. From what I have described, my wife says it reminds her a lot of when she was pregnant; she had peculiar cravings for things that never relented, even if she satisfied whatever she thought she was craving. In my case, I feel a sensation like hunger, even after I’ve eaten a alrge meals and I’m absolutely stuffed to the point of discomfort. As a smoker, I can say that it is like the craving for a cigarette, but it remains even if I smoke. As to smoking, I’m trying to quit and using every tool in the VA anti-smoking arsenal, and having some small success, but the craving makes it even more difficult than it might be.

It’s a powerful sensation. It can wake me from sleep, making me rise and look in the kitchen or stare at my cigarettes, knowing that even if I eat or have a smoke, the craving won’t stop. Try to go back to sleep, and the sensation is powerful enough to keep me awake wondering how to satisfy it. I frightened the cat one day when I yelled at nobody in particular “What do you want!” The cat wanted to run away, and took off for another part of the house. I sat there craving something I could not identify.

The cravings left me for a while. Through 2010, the cravings waned from the new year into spring, and I went the summer without them. They started to return in the fall, and now, as my cancer is active again, so are the cravings. I wonder if it has something to do with the medications I take. These have changed pretty radically as time has passed since 2008 and the discovery of my affliction. I wonder if it is a function of the pain medications, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense, because my use of pain meds hasn’t altered enough to matter since 2009. But I have to recognize the coincidental beginning of my use of pain medications (codeine at the start) and the onset of the craving sensation.

My wife also opines that it may be a hormonal imbalance. That’s possible I guess; some of my medications do claim a reduction in testosterone production. My wife’s point is that women get the craves during pregnancy, and those cravings are tied to hormonal imbalances. I have, by the way, tried eating pickles, but like anything else, they just leave me feeling as if I’ve eaten something and the cravings march on, undaunted.

The cravings, unrequited, leave me antsy and edgy. This is like people who’ve had too much coffee, I suppose, or perhaps the common side effect of Dexamethasone. I don’t take Dex. I did only once and my heart rate and blood pressure went through the roof and kept me overnight in the VA hospital. I thought my head might explode. My inhalers, used to help my breathing, contain tiny amounts of steroids, but I have used the inhalers long before I was diagnosed, ergo long before any of the medications I currently use. In spite of the inhalers back in the “old days” I felt no cravings. At least, none that I couldn’t satisfy. I tend to call those times, way back when, as 2004 BC, with the BC meaning, obviously, Before Cancer.

But I do seem able to tie the cravings to the cancer, at least loosely. They came on after I was diagnosed, but before I began treatment, and their intensity appears to be tied to the activity level of the Multiple Myeloma. That’s not enough for me to consider as definitive proof that my cancer causes cravings, but it is enough for me to be pretty suspicious. I can’t say that I have seen others who speak of cravings like I’m describing, but then again, there are a lot of things about cancer I don’t see discussed very much. Since my particular bent is to let people know everything possible about cancer as I experience it or learn of it, I’m mentioning it. The cravings may well be a part of cancer and a function of the blood affectation cancer causes in its corruption of bone marrow plasma.

But wherever it comes from, it is another of the things which I take note of. It’s difficult not to take note of them, what with their being cravings and all. And so frustrating in my lack of ability to satisfy them.