Eat… Or Else!

From James:

For almost two weeks now, So Young has had a severely diminished appetite, but it is slowly getting better. At first, she was eating a couple of snacks a day (no meals) and drinking liquids. Now, I would say she is eating perhaps one meal’s worth of food each day.

This is likely caused by several things: adrenal insufficiency, Keppra (an anti-seizure medication), and late side effects from radiation. Adrenal insufficiency occurs when you are on steroids for a long time. Steroids cause your body to produce cortisol, a hormone that makes you hungry. When you stop taking steroids, your body can respond by ceasing to produce cortisol, so you lose your appetite. You are essentially unmotivated to eat.

So Young has something called “focal seizures” every once in a while. In her, they manifest themselves as mild visual and (less often) auditory hallucinations. Focal seizures can be precursors to more severe seizures, which is why So Young is on Keppra. One of Keppra’s side effects is a loss of appetite.

Radiation is well-known to make foods taste funny. So Young experienced this slightly during treatment, when she developed an aversion to chocolate, of all things. Now she thinks many more foods don’t taste quite right, although she has cravings that we have to keep up with as well and can be the only thing that keeps her eating from time to time.

The nurse threatened to put So Young back on steroids to jump-start her appetite if it doesn’t improve, so she’s highly motivated and gradually getting better.

So Young’s diminished eating has had an effect on her ability to run and on her already severe fatigue. (I don’t think that the Keppra and radiation help, either.) You can’t easily run 6 or 8 miles if you have no fuel to do so, but she is doing it.

On Friday, I tried to call her from work at our home number and her cell many times with no answer for an hour and a half, so I became worried. I called Mom and asked her to check on So Young. Mom graciously dropped everything and drove to our house. Meanwhile, So Young finally called me. She was doing her 8-miler in training for the half marathon. We were worried for the worst, but she was in fact exhibiting the opposite — very vigorous health, despite the circumstances.

Mom called and said she found her. She said So Young refused to let her drive her home. “You married a strong lady!” Mom said. Amen to that! Keep running, So Young!


4 Responses

  1. We are very blessed to have a strong Christian daughter that demonstrates with her life her faith in God, her commitment to her family, her commitment to the church and her focus on the ultimate goal.

    We are also very blessed to have a son that demonstrates his love for God through his commitment to his family and the church and strives to do excellent work.

    This trial is not eternal.

    Enjoy this beautiful Spring day.

  2. Hi So Young

    It felt wonderful to spend time with you yesterday.

    I know this may sound off-beat, but can any of your network suggest a good reflexologist (foot specialist, usually trained in Asain traditions, but the Amish are also excellent) for you? It is not just because you are a runner, though I imagine your feet take a pounding.

    I learned from a Mainland Chinese physician in exile that his traditions taught that “the feet are the root of the tree. And how can a tree be healthy without healthy roots?” I had severe autoimmune disease at the time, and my legs felt woody right up to the knees, barely able to be dented by my fingers, but when I did, their imprint remained. There is more to recovery (for sure) than that, but there is alot to:
    A) taking care of your feet
    B) ministering to other parts of your body through the your feet.

    i am to the point where I can effectively massage my own feet and hands, usually at night, or when I do not feel right (migraine, etc). I have one of those little colored cards marking the body’s meridians on the feet, so that when I hit a very tender spot on my foot, I take a look at the card. Very right on.

    It really helps. It is a way of being kind to your body and learning about your body. First one’s on me.

    Love you dearly,


    • Ellen, you are amazing! Now I really must read that book. 😉

  3. I’m so glad things are ok and So Young is running. And James, thanks for the updates. We were gone and I didn’t check the blog.

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