Friday, January 25, 2013

Taste Buds...Who Needs Them?!

So, a couple of weeks ago I posted about my general complaints...not the obvious "I hate everything and everyone 2-5 days after chemo" complaints, but the day to day irritations about this entire process. 

One of those annoyances was that my taste buds were all out of whack. Nothing tasted like it should, and this is really irritating! I have to say that going through chemo is a little  like being pregnant (only much worse in my case): you crave certain foods, smells really bother you, and only one particular thing sounds good to eat at any given time. I was not above making the husband run to McDonalds for a milkshake at 9 in the morning. And it better be vanilla, because if you bring home the wrong flavor, watch out!

The reason it sucks for your taste buds to be out of whack is that you crave something, like an amazing plate of pasta, and you make someone make it, and then you take a bite and go, "sorry, it doesn't taste right, I can't eat it." FRUSTRATING for everyone involved, I promise! But as annoying as this was becoming (and I'm pretty sure there were days that the husband wanted to kill me), I was starting to acclimate to this change. I had started finding the things that did taste good to me and satisfied the cravings. It was annoying, but I was coping.

And then I clearly made the mistake of complaining about this side effect to some people. The chemo gods obviously thought they'd have a little fun because the next morning I woke up and couldn't taste ANYTHING! And I knew it immediately because I had a sore throat, popped in one of those nasty cherry tasting lozenges, and realized I couldn't taste it...AT ALL. UGH! Throughout the day I tried everything to no avail. Nothing had any taste.

It's been a week now, and I still can't taste anything, so I've given up hope that this is temporary.  And I promise you, compromised taste buds were WAY better than no taste buds. I take back every bad thing I said about them being whack...because I never realized that I should be grateful for messed up versus nonexistent.

I can't even describe to you what it's like to eat things without tasting them, but it certainly has taken a lot of normally tasty items off the menu: rice, pasta, fish, meat...anything soft is just disgusting when it doesn't have any flavor. I'll save you the vivid imagery of what's its like to eat these things.

What I have discovered is that I eat for texture now. If it doesn't crunch, I don't want it. I've been living on broccoli salad (the kind with cashews, cranberries, bacon, and what I'm sure is a tasty onion dressing), pomegranate seeds tossed on EVERYTHING, and cinnamon chex (for some reason, I can actually taste cinnamon on a small corner of my tongue). Also, if something is crazy spicy or has a strong smell (bleu cheese), my sense of smell is clearly compensating. I can't really taste it, but my senses must be creating a taste on some level. We went to Chinese food for my mom's birthday and the only thing that tasted okay were the spicy green beans. They cleared my sinuses and though I couldn't taste the spice, they did taste and crunch like a green bean.

I'm typing this while sitting through my most recent round of chemo. And I'm a little grumpy because I have just learned that I could probably have salvaged my tastebuds by rinsing with salt water and baking soda 6 times a day from the beginning. The doctor was surprised I hadn't been doing this. Well, if someone mentioned it, or stressed how important it was, I didn't hear it. I only heard the baking soda part for mouth sores. Trust me, this is something that I would've been doing!! (She does think I might be able to rescue them if I start this now, which I will be doing as soon as I get home).

Be careful what you wish for is the motto for the day I guess. I never thought wishing for tastebuds that weren't out of whack would bring this on. And let me tell you, if it's too late to rescue them, I'm going to be like this for the next 3-4 MONTHS! Dear lord, I now know where homicidal rage comes from...
Most. Annoying. Symptom. EVER!

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