Living in Oppositeland

Going through cancer treatments is a little like living in Oppositeland, where everything you know–all your little habits and patterns–get turned upside down.

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Today as I was leaving radiation, I ran into the nutritionist. I don’t see a lot of the staff anymore since my treatment is so early, but she said she’s glad she ran into me because she was concerned that I had lost a little weight. I explained it was the thrush, which made it hard to swallow and also made me nauseous, but it was such a strange feeling. I’ve had years of medical professionals telling me to lose weight, and now I have every medical professional handling my treatment telling me, “HEY: stop losing weight!”

My taste buds are upside-down too, and it has given me an interesting theory. Virtually every blog or forum post that talks about taste changes from head and neck radiation says that sweet taste was the first to go and the slowest to return. For me, it’s all I have left! It made me wonder if people don’t lose whatever taste buds are most prevalent for them, or whatever is weakest. I have strong taste buds when it comes to sweets, which is why I rarely eat candy or dessert. When I do, I prefer fruit flavors like lemon or lime and I have trouble finishing truly sweet dishes like rich chocolate mousse. It’s an interesting theory, at least, that my salt/savory taste buds went first because they are weaker and only that strong sweet taste has survived.

I’ve also been a really reliable, predictable sleeper. Once I get into a pattern, I get sleepy on schedule and usually wake up a bit before the alarm goes off. Now I find it’s unpredictable and I’m likely to be up and down all night. I think it’s probably the steroid, but it’s a weird feeling for someone who has never had insomnia.

It’s all par for the course, and expected changes. It’s not bumming me out, and overall my health is still good and I feel relatively well. I’m happy to officially be 43% done with chemo and 40% done with radiation!

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