What happens when your tastebuds stop working? Well, it's simple. Everything tastes like cardboard. Add in a palette that seems to have grown tiny razorblades and you find yourself in a situation where you don't actually want to eat anything. It's a challenging time ...
My Macmillan Nurse warned me that it would happen and, to be honest, I didn't believe her. "Your treatment will affect your tastebuds Steffi; we've seen it time and time again" she said. "Yeah, I'm breezin' it, I'll be fine" was my reply a couple of weeks ago.
I had a craving for a burger the other week and Kirsty and I went to the Super Sausage Cafe in Pottersbury because the juicy beef, fresh salad, cheese and bun combo is a delight. I was sitting outside due to my compromised immune system and my mouth was watering because I knew how wonderful the next few minutes were going to be.
"And then I bit into it ... and I tasted nothing!"
That was just weird because I'd had a BLT for breakfast that morning and it tasted fine. Now, however, I couldn't taste anything! There was a 'memory' of what it should taste like but there was no substance. My brain knew what all those flavours should be, but they weren't there anymore. It really was as if I was chewing cardboard and I almost sobbed with disappointment.
I tried a few chips and still nothing. I dipped them in ketchup, in mayo, and, fatally, in American mustard and that's when the razorblades in my palette kicked off and I actually screamed in pain! So that was the end of that then. I looked at my burger and fries and felt profoundly sad.
Since then, the symptoms have worsened. My tastebuds are completely gone, there are razorblades in my palette, my sense of smell has diminished and my appetite is shot to pieces. All because the beams of love and light I get each day during radiotherapy are killing the cells in my tongue, mouth and nose.
My saliva glands are having problems too. I wake up each morning with a super dry mouth so have a large glass of water next to my bed and sloosh throughout the night just to keep my throat lubricated.
But the one thing I keep in the forefront of my mind is that this is only temporary. I'm receiving a curative treatment and, as of publication, I only have 10 radiotherapy sessions remaining. In 2 weeks time, it'll all be over and done with and everything can start to heal again. Then it's down to me to change my 'terrain', stay healthy and keep cancer at bay in the future.
So I knuckle down and have the Chemotherapy on a Monday (only 2 left now!), answer the dieticians questions honestly on a Tuesday, keep drinking the Ensure meal replacement drinks because - let's face it - I need the calories and enjoy a relaxing 20 minutes in the Linear Accelerator each day before travelling home with one of Team Steffi for an evening of recovery.
Yeah, it's tough going, but I'm tougher! Give it a few weeks after treatment ends and I'll get my taste buds back and the razor blades will slowly disappear from my palette. I'm going to have such a great time when that happens!