Mouth with tough out and tough falling into pieces

Losing Taste After Chemotherapy

Cancer patients after they get their chemotherapy infusion usually feels pretty good until a couple of hours go by. Then the weakness of your body starts to set in.

My wife always goes with me to the infusion center because when I get done with the infusion I get a little dizzy from the Benadryl that they give me due to a rash I start to develop. So after 4 hours, I've been at the clinic which I drive the nurses crazy, I just like to have fun. I love to converse with patients that are on each side of me. I like to get their names and talk about their sensitive problem which, believe it or not, they open up to me and we talked about it. Sometimes I'll just break out into a singing act just to make everybody laugh. I love being the class clown. After 4 hours I go home. My wife will not let me drive. After we get into the car and we head down the road, she'll ask that one question, “What would you like to eat?”

Food after chemotherapy

To me, it's probably the one thing I don't want. My wife will probably pull into a sandwich shop, get me like a small sandwich and a drink, usually a cola, she says it makes me feel a little bit better.

I get my chemotherapy every 3 weeks always on a Friday, by Sunday my tongue has swelled up, and the inside of my mouth hurts. She tries to give me something to eat but everything I taste is terrible, it almost has this metallic taste. Usually, she tries at least 10 of my favorite foods to see which one I like, but I do not like any of them. I always like scrambled eggs, but after chemotherapy, even the smell makes me sick. It drives her crazy because she says you have to eat, I just don't feel like eating anything.

Why does food taste funny after chemo?

Your tongue is an amazing piece of equipment. It can taste sweet, sour, tart, salty, bitter, and more. The cells that are on your tongue are what they called "rapidly producing" cells. That is why you lose your hair on your head, your eyebrows, eyelashes. For men, all the hair on your body also falls off including the hair under your armpits. So what's this got to do with taste?

Your tongue also has those same cells that are affected by chemotherapy. So if you can't eat so what do we do? Usually the doctor prescribes megestrol acetate to help with your appetite. But that does not help when your tongue and the back of your mouth are sore. I usually go 10 days without eating anything decent that is usually 2 days after chemotherapy I have counted 10 days that it's hard for me to eat anything.

What can I eat then?

My wife usually gives me a couple of cake donuts for breakfast. Cake donuts is a closed cell so it makes it easy to eat without it falling apart in your mouth and tasting terrible. For lunch, I always have yogurts either plain or fruit. Yogurts do very well because they have a neutral taste. I'll also have an apple or a banana. Lemon bars, lemon cookies, or anything lemon is good. Then supper comes around and this drives my wife crazy. Usually chicken soup, the one that has a lot of broth, is really good for you. Even though your tongue hurts in the back of your mouth the chicken soup will give you some protein. Tomato soup is also good without crackers, my wife likes to put a little bit of Italian seasoning in it to give it some flavor. Crackers have a bad taste and the texture is too weird for me. After supper ice cream is good. You'll want to have vanilla, it's not a good idea to get it with everything in it because of all the textures and flavors. Sorbets are really good too, as it is very soothing on the tongue. Always make sure that you have an anti-nausea pill with you because sometimes what you eat might make you nauseous.

So to break this down: fruits like apples, bananas, grapes are good. Try to stay away from any food that is highly acidic. They sell shakers that have different herbs and spices in it so you could place it on your food to help with taste. I usually place peanut butter on the side of a dish and eat it with a spoon. There is some protein in it and the taste is not too bad. Have your partner make lemon bars; they taste really good and are soothing inside of your mouth. Yogurts of all kinds are great. I like the Greek yogurts better. They seem to have a much better flavor even though you can't taste too much of it but it's there especially when there's fruit added.

A necessary evil

Chemotherapy to me is what they call the necessary evil. It is something that's very hard to live with, especially if you are the kind of person that enjoys life and eating. You're going to find that things are going to change. But it won't be as bad as you think.

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