Day two in Cambodia, and we’ve settled in as much as usual to our typical ‘normalcy’: Found a cute brunch place and a grocery store, have unpacked a bit, and figured our way by tuk-tuk to the workspace. We’re getting to the point in our lives when getting visas on arrival (just showing up in a country with cash and photos in hand) are less hassle and stress than filling out an online form and printing them ahead of time.
We’re turning into supertravelers: It’s no big deal to hop countries, pack last minute, plan last minute, and establish new routines monthly. I even ran on a treadmill this morning! Feeling healthy and happy for starting the month off on a good foot, I came upstairs to realize I had stepped into utter disaster.
What is that, you ask?
This morning, I woke up without my sense of taste. Even worse, I woke up without my favorite PART of my favorite sense: the only thing I apparently have lost is my ability to taste sweet things.
First it was the mango I had for breakfast. I wrote it off as Cambodian mangoes being more watery than Vietnamese ones. (Another reason I need to head back to Vietnam ASAP) Ate it anyway. Then it was my gummy vitamins (yes, I’m 28 and I still take gummy vitamins). “Hmm. Thats weird. Guess the sugar rubbed off in transit” I forced myself to ignore the worst case scenario.
Finally, I tested it. Yep. At 9am, chocolate already in hand (not an uncommon occurrence). It tasted like, well, some weird alternative universe of chocolate. One where all of the textures and flavors are the same, but the sugar was gone. It still chewed like chocolate, the melt in your mouth, creamy, smooth, texture all over your tongue. Instead, I felt a vague sense of dread. SHIT.
“Danaaaa. Don’t. Panic.”
ITS A CHRISTMASTIME DISASTER!
HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN TO ME!? I’m the girl who consumes sugar by the pound (Seriously, have you tasted my coffee? I can drink 3 Vietnamese brews without even a spike in peppiness). A steady diet of chocolate is lightly infused after every meal. I choose sugar over salt, any day. (or, a steady combination of the two until I’m running around at a holiday party like a drunken toddler, chatting merrily about how good that green bean casserole goes with tim tams, and speed-eating equal parts potato chips and cake). What is this blasphemy!?
As someone who can be surprisingly chill about injuries “Oh, I got my nosebleed on you? No big!” to “Where did that gash in my leg come from?” I immediately and rather frantically got to googling while trying not to hyperventilate.
I came to the conclusion rather quickly: If this keeps up, my life as I know it is ruined.*
Worst Case Scenario: I join the hordes of people who have anosmia, a rather dour group who seem to have lost their very will to live if it becomes a lifetime thing, and I can can see why. My whole world has changed overnight. I’m suddenly wanting to choose vegetables over fruit and skipping my second coffee, and I miss chocolate even though its only been less than 12 hours: I blame the knockoff Sudafed.
Returning to the last thing I remember tasting with any sugary pleasure, I pop another cough drop in my mouth. Instead of the sickeningly sweet taste, something I’m so pleasantly surprised by, all I get is a vaguely floral, cloying sensation, and the tip of my tongue explores…an empty feeling. Pressure and texture of the candy like substance without any pleasure. The lack of sugar seems to make food slightly more chemical, with a heaviness of where I used to taste the addicting, overwhelming, dopamine-inducing drug of choice.
What do I do now!? My roommate this month, who has a long career working in marketing for pharmacies, blames it on my cold.
“Be patient” she advises, as I theatrically spit out my chocolate and make a face. “It’ll be fine”.
Will my personality change? I like to think my good moods are just a direct relationship to my ability to process the insane amounts of sugar I put in my body daily. Insert candy, out comes a compliment!
Who will I be without my favorite things?
*When it comes to our own lives, we tend to assume the worst. The world must be burning because its happening to us. Small annoyances become large scale catastrophes, not simply an odd reaction to a sinus infection, long flights, lack of sleep and the shit ton of Sudafed we’ve been injecting into our bodies.
This all or nothing, 0 to 100 lifestyle makes for good stories, but maybe not the best reaction to our differences, our reactions to being slighted, and the way in which we deal with small annoyances.
We have one girl with us on the trip who has grown up without the sense of smell. She’s a super interesting, productive lady who doesn’t let it get in her way. But the sudden lack of something I take for granted will either put me into a tailspin of grump, or could help me further cherish the things I do have. This (rather hot, sticky, Cambodian style) holiday season, I hope its the latter.