In my early college days, a couple of my best friends and I spent most of our money driving all over the midwest and the south to see different bands that we loved.  We drove for hours, stayed in cheap motels, and lived off of Taco Bell, vending machine food, and that weird peanut butter and jelly mix that comes in the same jar.  It was amazing.

But the thing is, as twenty year olds will do, we also played lots of tricks on each other.  You know, like making your friend think you left her at the restaurant while she was in the bathroom.  Or filling her water bottle with vodka from the mini bar and dying of laughter the moment she takes a huge pull.  Or passing off dog treats as cookies.  Basically, we messed with each other’s food.  A lot.  Like, you better not leave your drink unattended or it will likely be salted.  Or worse yet, thrown out the window of the moving car.

You guys, chemo is trying to be that same kind of friend to me but doesn’t know how to play it.  It’s kind of an asshole.

For example, the other day after feeding the girls lunch, I baked some lasagna roll ups that I made and froze before chemo for myself, and my thoughts went something like this:

I’m so hungry!  And these smell so good!

Nom nom nom.

Wait, this tastes funny.  Is this bad?  I can’t tell. I never can tell anymore.  It’s probably okay.

Nom nom nom.

It does taste funny.  It’s probably just my mouth.  But they have been in the freezer for over three months.  And they are made of cheese.  How long can you freeze cheese anyway?

Nom nom nom.

I wish Josh was here to taste this and tell me if it was safe.  Oh man, I remember that time he tasted my breast milk, and it WAS bad.  Twice.  He puked that second time!  He would definitely tell me if this was bad.  

Nom nom nom.

I should invent the seeing eye dog equivalent of dog food testers for chemo patients.  It could, like, smell a food and let me know if I’m about to poison myself since my own taste buds are so unreliable.  Someone could totally poison me right now, and I wouldn’t even suspect it! 

Nom nom nom.

Oh, here comes Penny.  She wants a bite.  I’m not sure if I should give her any.  What if it really is bad?  But how can I tell her she can’t have a bite as I sit here and eat it?  Okay, I guess I’ll just see if she says anything.  Am I being an awful mom?  What if I’m food poisoning her right now with rotten lasagna?…  Oh, she wants another bite.  I guess it’s okay.  Here comes Alice.  She wants some too.  Geez, I JUST fed you guys.  Why can’t I ever just have something that’s mine?  Or eat in peace?  Or poop in peace?

All the Lagemann girls: Nom nom nom.

Oh, they lost interest.  Yeah, this tastes funny.  I’m done too.

Seriously, a lot of food just tastes weird right now.  My mouth itself, like just sitting here, tastes like poison — bitter and muddy.  Some things tastes worse than others, and drinks are definitely worse than food.  At a time when I’m supposed to stay suuuper hydrated, water is the devil.  It tastes like dirty, well water and pennies.  Josh is ever so nurturing and gets very frustrated and worried when I’m not drinking enough water.  But I kind of feel like we’re on Fear Factor and Josh is Joe Rogan asking me to drink the urine of a dying warthog or a pitcher of sharts or something.  I did once eat a bug for a dollar, but water is almost out of the question for about two weeks after a treatment.

For the ultimate eff you, first chemo makes me more tired than I’ve ever been in my life (and yeah, I’m laughing at you first and third trimester Heather, and you nursing-a-newborn Heather), and then it takes away coffee.  Chemo and coffee must be sworn enemies.   But sometimes, I choke it down anyway because I don’t know if it’s humanly possible to take care of a one year old and a four year old without coffee.  And you don’t get between a white girl and her pumpkin creamer.

Oh well, there are worse things, for sure.  And maybe, in this case, chemo mouth will make the palate grow fonder.  Or something.  I’m hoping I’ll be all like, “Oh hey, kale and beets!  I never properly appreciated you guys!  Now that I know how truly disgusting things can taste, you guys are just delicious.  From here on out, you and your vegetable friends are all I ever need!”  At least, a girl can hope.

4 comments on “Road trips and chemo mouth.”

  1. So, you ate a bug. This would be easier to believe if it were Paul or Josh (for the right price), but YOU,— NEVER! It just goes to show how much some dads really know.

    What kind of bug was it? How big was it? Who witnessed it, and how old were you?

    Love Dad

    • I did eat a bug; Paul and Mike Stevenson (and maybe Josh) are my witnesses. It was when Paul and I were living in the Elm Street house so I was probably 22 or so. I really only did it because Mike was so freaked out by the idea, and his reactions are always so funny. It was a smaller, green bug, but I kind of cheated because I mixed it with my cottage cheese.

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