Since beginning my chemo regime in July, I have been experiencing the usual side effects like hair loss, neuropathy in my toes and fingers, poor sleep almost nightly, flushing, achiness and the other big one – fatigue. But the side effect that I never really anticipated to be such a ” biggy” is the alteration of my taste buds. I miss actually tasting all of my favorite foods, but I think what I miss most is the enjoyment of my freshly-brewed cup of coffee each morning. Luckily, I can still smell the aroma.
My husband David makes the coffee most mornings at our house. It just seems to turn out better when he makes it. For years now we have started each morning sipping our cups of the steaming liquid, savoring the aroma and spending a few moments together enjoying the quietness of morning while easing into the new day.
This time of year I enjoy watching the darkness quietly change into daylight as each new day unfolds. I look forward to seeing the towering white pines in my backyard slowly reveal themselves to me each morning like mysteries unfolding. At first, they are invisible, totally concealed in darkness. Then as dawn slowly meanders into the horizon, they become shadowy and gray. Finally, and almost unexpectedly it seems, it’s light and there they are - standing tall, proud and majestically in the new morning light. I know they are just trees, but they represent strength and stability to me these days. Things to be counted on.
Since chemo, my morning coffee doesn’t taste quite right and I feel resentful about this unwelcome disruption to my routine. The coffee’s flavor is somehow off and mostly I just feel the hotness of it. Like every cell in my body I suppose, my taste buds are altered. Food and other beverages as well taste odd, so why should I be surprised that my coffee tastes odd as well? My taste buds seem confused, unable to distinguish between different flavors and tastes. There is no range of taste; now things just seem to either taste pleasant or not pleasant.
Even though I can’t taste my morning coffee these days, holding a familiar cup or mug with the steaming brown liquid is still comforting. Going through the motions of sharing a cup of coffee with David and lingering those extra minutes still feels good. Even chemo can’t rob me of that.
I am wondering how long it will take for my taste buds to recover when chemo ends. Such a minor worry when there are so many other far more pressing matters to face in the months and years ahead. But sometimes it’s those little things in life that seem to matter most - like enjoying a morning cup of coffee.
Thanksgiving is coming next month. I hope I get my sense of taste back!
HAVE YOU EVER LOST YOUR SENSE OF TASTE?