My tolerances to extreme temperatures has disappeared. There was a time, just before my operation, when I was impervious to the cold of winter. I would walk around in a sweater in the middle on winter.

We lived in Montreal from 1968 to 1980. Winters in Montreal are truly horrific with temperatures dropping to -30C on a regular basis. I would walk Janet home after a date, then walk home from her house, a 45 minute jaunt through the balmy winter temperatures. I was dressed for the occasion and was never cold. Heavy winter coat, snowmobile boots, good gloves and so on.

We were in Swaziland in 1999. My father had just died and we were there for the funeral. We were going out one night. I was dressed in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. One of the locals looked at me and said I could not go out like that. I thought I was breaking some sort of local protocol. He explained that it was too cold. How cold is it? I asked. 10C, he says. I laughed. Call me when it gets to -20C. He thought about that for a moment then exclaimed that he had no idea what that would feel like.

Nahed Rushdy was at our house in Montreal for a visit. My mother always insisted that I drive everyone home. Too cold to have people wait for the bus. This evening was no different. We were all ready to leave when Nahed remarked about my lack of a winter coat. She insisted that a coat was in order, a sweater was just not warm enough. She even went so far as to remark that it was not more manly to behave the way I was. Fetneh came to my rescue. She sighed, he is not being manly, he is never cold. She sounded a bit exasperated, she was always cold.

I could not leave the house this past winter without a coat. It was not even a cold winter. Depressing. I have also lost my tolerance for heat. Cannot take a hot shower, drink hot beverages or food.

I have trouble adjusting to the slightest change in the condition of my stomach. I have a huge tolerance for foods, able to digest the most formidable of things. Indian food is back on the white list, as is Ethiopian food. The hot pepper sauce that some food joints love to add to your food is big on the no list. Mexican and middle east house are particularly partial to these sauces. Almost like adding Tabasco sauce to a meal. Every meal is becoming an adventure. I have yet to develop a concrete idea of what sends my stomach into a turmoil of activity. My tolerance for different foods changes all the time. Salads are good some days, and not on others.

I think, looking back, that my first inkling that my tolerances are changing should have taken place in the hospital. I was terrible at taking drugs, with my body reacting in totally unpredictable ways. Hardly the time to become conscious of tolerances, I must admit. As I said, looking back…

Every day since the operation has carried a relevance of sorts into what the body can tolerate. I looked at my naked body in a full length mirror the other day. It happened quite by accident. Came out of the bathroom in our hotel room in New York to find myself in front of the mirror. My body has gone through its fair share of changes over the years, from athletic to overweight to the sudden and unexpected battering that was the operation.

A bag, a scar, a port-a-cath. The bruises, the result of the new set of self administered injections. The bruises are expected, though hardly welcome. The body keeps absorbing the abuse that is heaped upon it. The visible signs surely point to the more extensive damage that was done internally, not just by the operation, but the myriad number of drugs it is forced to absorb.

Tolerances build up over time. Sometimes through ignorance of what is really going on. Other times though ignoring the many signs that are pointing in a very definite direction. The symptoms of my condition were there for a long time. I could no longer eat as much as I used to. Some foods had started disagreeing with me. I put it down to a changing constitution brought on by old age. At least older age. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I was sitting in La Guardia airport waiting for our flight home. Alarms went off. Soldiers came running. No guns were pulled. The soldiers stopped in front of a corridor and started chatting, then laughing, seemingly oblivious to the alarm itself. The public was not moved, no one reacted to the alarm. Another new normal.

Tolerance levels have changed.

© 2010 I Have Cancer Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha