It's Christmas Eve and it's very difficult for me to eat.
I don't mean that it's hard to ingest food. Thankfully, I'm still having no problem swallowing and don't have a sore throat. I haven't needed any painkillers - prescription or over-the-counter - in two weeks.
But everything I eat has the same bitter/sour/just-plain-bad taste and my brain demands I stop immediately whenever I try to eat anything. The hamburger I ordered on Sunday, the soup The BTW made on Monday and the chili I tried to eat on Tuesday all tasted the same ...and the taste was absolutely terrible.
I literally have to force myself eat. Liquids are easiest because they go down fast and don't leave as much of a bad taste as, say, a hamburger that has to be chewed. Plus, my dry mouth makes bread much more difficult to eat.
There are several by-products (I'm saving "side effects" for the direct repercussions of the radiation) of having lost my sense of taste.
First, I'm taking much longer at meals than I've ever taken before. Each fork or spoonful of food takes some serious mental determination to eat; I can't just shovel it into my mouth while reading or watching television as I might have before.
Second, meals have stopped being a social occasion. The BTW and I been out to eat just once since my taste buds started to fade three weeks ago.
Meals at home just aren't that much fun either. Getting carryout makes as little sense as going out because no matter where the food comes from it still tastes bad. The BTW and I aren't sharing a glass of wine because I shouldn't be drinking alcohol. Plus, I really have to focus on my protein shake or whatever else I'm trying to eat just to get it down.
Third, my rate of weight loss is accelerating because of all of this. As of this morning I've lost five pounds since The Process began a little more than four weeks. But I still had most of my taste buds until close to the end of week 2 when I hadn't yet lost a pound, so I've really lost five pounds over the past two weeks or so.
Team Stan was worried about my dropping five pounds or more a week so losing it over a much longer period is not that bad. My radiation oncologist says he's actually quite pleased with the limited amount of weight I've lost so far. According to him my weight is "stable" and I should continue to do what I'm doing as far as eating is concerned.
I'm pretty sure he knows I really don't have much of a choice.
This is a continuing series of blog posts by Stan Collender about his experience fighting cancer. "The Process" Stan is describing began last August.