Tag Archive | taste changes

Tuesday doldrums and Wednesday nausea

The past couple of days have been a little tough going, but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel from this cycle of chemo. At least I hope that’s the end of the tunnel, and not another train come to run me over.

The iron infusions have done some great things for my energy levels. I haven’t felt any fatigue this time around, and haven’t needed an afternoon or an early bedtime. Surprisingly, this isn’t necessarily all good. If I’m tired, I can nap and then be unconscious to the annoying side effects for at least a bit of time. As it was, I got no break from the annoying side effects.

This time around, my main complaint was with my mouth. For a couple of days, it felt like the cells in my mouth were oozing a nasty flavor. It’s probably associated with the platinum in the Carboplatin. I likened the flavor to that of the powder they put in balloons to make sure the insides don’t stick together. Mornings weren’t too bad, but the intensity would grow throughout the day until, by evening, it was nearly gagging me. Some food would mask the flavor, but only while the food was in my mouth. As soon as I stopped eating, the balloon powder flavor would come rushing back. Needless to say, I didn’t appreciate it, and by the end of Tuesday evening, I was frustrated and annoyed and in most ways just irritated with cancer in general and chemo in particular.

Wednesday was slightly better. The balloon taste was gone from my mouth, but now food tasted awful whenever I tried to eat. Nothing worse than being hungry, and yet not wanting to eat. I did plan ahead and took my anti-nausea meds early in the afternoon. By the time the nausea kicked in (as it does, every Wednesday after chemo), it wasn’t too bad at all. I just needed to sit on the couch and relax for a while. As a bonus, and again with the planning ahead, my mother-in-law had come down for the afternoon to help me out when I needed to sit quietly and the kids had work to do.

Overall, I survived. There’s been no puking and hopefully I’ve kept the annoyance mostly to myself. I know my kids are aware I’m not too happy right now. Mr. Curiosity has been making me get well charms, and Miss Adventure told me how happy she was for me when I found some food that almost tasted good. Looking forward to being done with these side effects.

Glad that week is over

Sometimes I hope, when I’m writing down all my symptoms, that next time will be easier because I’ll know what to expect. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be the case. This was a hard week for me. Tuesday was probably the worst. Not only did my whole body hurt from my Neulasta shot (just feel that bone marrow growing. Too bad it’s growing in an enclosed space – inside my bones!), but my throat hurt whenever I swallowed. I felt like I was in Bill Cosby’s tonsillitis sketch. The internal monologue would go something like this:

BRAIN: Hello, throat. How’s it going?

THROAT: Oh, I’m just fine, thanks.

BRAIN: OK, then, the mouth seems to need to swallow. Can you do that for us?

THROAT: No thanks, I’m good.

BRAIN: No really. We need a swallow here.

THROAT: Oh, alright. POW!!! FLAMES IN THE THROAT!!! MAJOR PAIN!!! Um, can we not do that again anytime soon.

BRAIN: Sure, no problem. Sorry about that.

It’s really hard to go to sleep when every time you swallow, the pain from your throat wakes you up. Normally with a sore throat, I’d load up on the vitamin C, drink a bunch of honey and lemon tea, and gargle with salt water before bed. Don’t want to mess up the chemo drugs, so the vitamin C is out  and my chemo-altered taste buds are telling me that honey and lemon tastes nasty, so we’re down to gargling with salt water. At least it didn’t make me nauseous. By the next morning, nothing hurt near as badly, but I did need a morning nap to make up for all the sleeping I didn’t do the night before.

Friday, the day after another infusion, brought its own set of trials and tribulations. It seems that the Venofer is affecting mostly my mouth, so everything tastes off. This was extremely frustrating to me because I was hungry, but nothing I ate tasted good. Not everything tastes bad, but it all feels wrong in my mouth. Even my lemony water wasn’t cutting it anymore. Gatorade had gone back to tasting like spit, but plain water was nasty and tea was worse. I probably got a little dehydrated because I had to force myself to drink and eat all day. By the end of the day I was biting my tongue to keep from snapping at everyone.

Even now, a few days later, my mouth is still not back to normal. Eating is just not enjoyable, even when I’m hungry and my husband makes tasty meals. The good news is I have one more infusion, and then I’m done. I should be able to maintain my iron levels with diet once the Venofer brings them back up to normal levels. Always have to find the bright side, right?

Taste changes

Everyone knows about the basic impacts of chemo – you lose your hair, it messes with your blood (anemia, increased risk of infection, etc.), and it messes with your digestive tract (nausea, loss of appetite). One of the side effects of my particular flavor of chemo is changes in taste, caused by the platinum-based Carboplatin chemo drug. Interestingly enough, my taste buds start to be affected pretty much that night.

The first change I notice, is that water no longer tastes good plain. Now, I drink a lot of water. You’ll always find me with my cup full of water around the house, or a water bottle if I go out, so it’s a big change for me not to want to drink water. I tried adding mint leaves or lemon balm to the water, but it still didn’t taste right. Even my tea in the morning just isn’t quite right (but I drink it anyways).

I started drinking Gatorade during the last cycle, since I was craving salty flavors (which is a big change for me since normally I think Gatorade tastes like spit). I asked StatGuy to go out and get me some Gatorade, and he came home with six different flavors. So far, lemonade has been the best. At one point, I put a bit of Gatorade in my water bottle with lots of water, and it still tasted good, so that’s what I’ve been drinking lately.

As my kids call it - "Lemony water"

As my kids call it – “Lemony water”

The other big change is my lack of desire for sweets. Normally, my lunch isn’t finished without a cookie to top it off, but in that initial week after chemo, those taste buds seem to be down-regulated and sweets just aren’t worth the effort for me. Potato chips are quite tasty, though, so that’s been my treat of choice this week. I have to be careful with even chips, though. I tried Cool Ranch Doritos, and they were actively nasty. Hint of Lime Tostitos, which are normally a favorite, were absolutely flat, with no lime taste at all. How disappointing.

The trick is finding something that’s at least somewhat appealing so I get some calories in my body.