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Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Things That I Still Cannot Taste: Day 6

So, I am still bitterly, outrageously, seriously ill. I hadn't expected this. When I gave up on my foolish plan to work in the office on Monday and went to the hospital to see a doctor, I expected something akin to instant relief, to the extent that relief can be instant when you don't seek it until the fourth day of something. I am having conversations with my mother on the phone that go something like this:
Phone: Ring! Ring! Ring!

Me: [cough cough cough] Ma?

Mom: [cough] Beth? I can hear you coughing. [cough cough] I was just [cough] calling to see how you are [cough] doing. Everyone [cough] out here has this. The guy next door said his wife is sick, his kids are sick, his [cough cough]...
Since my mother finished her course of antibiotics more than a week ago, this does not give me hope. However, my "Most Likely to Have Tried Every Medication Known To Man" friend advises me that my antibiotic, azithromycin (which she knew off the top of her head by it's original, non-generic name), has a somewhat delayed reaction in comparison to many drugs: it will kick the *ss of any bacteria, but only after 48 hours. Her toddler had pneumonia, and she was so concerned on the second night that she planned to take him to the hospital again the next morning, but it finally kicked in. Her wife, a veterinarian, confirmed this pattern. I am now in hour 50 or so, and there have been a few qualitative improvements, though I don't pass for "living" yet. We'll see.


What all of this means is that I still cannot smell or taste. I started to lose the ability to taste last Friday. Here are some of my food experiences since then:

-pumpkin simmered in coconut milk with Thai red curry paste and a stalk of fresh lemongrass, served over Japonica rice: this has a strange texture. The coconut milk is very smooth; the pumpkin is soft, but you can still detect its fibers; the rice is just firm enough to have a good texture and individual grains. It doesn't taste like anything.

-kiwi fruit: kiwi fruit has a nice texture, a lovely color, very interesting seed patterns, and an acidic edge. But it doesn't taste like anything.

-White chocolate with coconut flakes: this feels a lot like white chocolate ordinarily would, but with the added roughness of the shredded coconut fiber. It doesn't taste like anything.

-Green olives with red pimentos: these have a nice texture. There is the implication of salt.

-Tater Tots (aka dinner tonight as prepared by Steven): had I not known what these were before putting them in my mouth, I might only be able to guess that at some point they had been fried in something. Without being able to taste them, there is an implication that they are not food. This may also be true if one can taste them: at this point, I wouldn't know.

-Vietnamese mushroom flavored rahmen with diced white onion and broccoli: this has the unmistakable texture of rahmen with fresh vegetables. Also, it produces a vaguely oily-looking steam. Salt is subtly implied, which I think means my taste sense is even more absent than earlier.

-Cranberry juice: this sure looks red, doesn't it? With ice, it also feels cold.

-Soy milk: this feels smooth. And cold.

-White tea with persimmon flavor; peppermint tea: despite what you might think, tea has a completely different mouthfeel than water. It's not just the heat: you can tell that there is something else there. That something else has absolutely no flavor, of course, but it is tangible. I could detect tea or non-tea in an instant. The contemplation of the existence of tea and non-tea seem like part of a Zen exercise I didn't ask to have assigned to me.

-Chewable berry-flavored vitamin C, with natural bioflavinoids: this is much less vile than I recall it is with flavor. I really should have bought the orange flavor, which I enjoy. Not that I can tell the difference right now.

-Trader Joe's pouch version of saag paneer over Japonica rice: this has the texture of saag paneer. Definitely. I recognize it immediately. For what that is worth.

-Granola with dried blueberries in soy milk: crunchy.

-A microwave dinner of mixed veggies, a teriyaki like sauce, and brown rice: this was very easy to heat up. It has several textures, some of which are associated with the brown sauce. It doesn't taste like anything. I think I could pick out the broccoli and carrot, but that was by texture.

-Refried beans on flour tortillas with a blended salsa fresca of fire-roasted canned tomatoes, fresh onion, and fresh jalapeño peppers: Raw onions have a sort of edge to them that is detectable. Nothing else stands out.

-Apples: apple-ness is so innate to the texture of apples that briefly, I forgot that I could not taste this. Then I remembered, and I felt let down.

-Pomegranate: these sure are a lot of work, aren't they? Yet somehow, it was still fun to engage in the ritual of eating this. The little arils seemed to be full of goodness. Tasteless, tiny, shiny, red goodness.

-Harira soup (lentils, chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, tomatoes, and a dozen spices; served with lemon wedges): for something that has no flavor, this certainly has a wonderful range of textures. I enjoyed eating this, if only to sort out with each mouthful what I was getting. The lemons seemed to hint at piquancy. Or something like piquancy that exists when you cannot taste anything.

-Sugar wafer cookies: these really all do feel the same, don't they?

-Hot honey lemonade: I really should be able to detect the sourness of the lemons, shouldn't I? Shouldn't I? Or the sweetness of the honey? This is one of my favorite things when I'm sick! I feel so ripped off!

I am so very, very discouraged.


posted by Arlene (Beth)7:58 PM

Monday, December 10, 2007


NyQuil on my pillow makes me happy; NyQuil in my eyes, it makes me cry...

I have been remarkably ill for about ten days. I can't remember the last time I was this ill. Though my lack of a clear memory could just be the medication...

I am so ill, I am at a point where I would happily go in and see a doctor and beg for digestion-destroying antibiotics, if only I had a general practitioner (or even a medical history at my hospital's internal medicine department) that would see me. Alas and alack, while I have a doctor specializing in uniquely female anatomy and a surgeon, I don't have a generalist. And I haven't been willing to beg: I know that first-time appointments are very thorough, nearly impossible to schedule, etc. etc. etc.

Ah, privatized medicine. How glorious it is.


Somehow, I don't look as bad as the fruit they are trying to pass off as tomatoes at my local greengrocer. What odd, pink eggs those are. I don't know what laid them, but I do not believe they were grown within a thousand miles of here.


wet collodion on aluminum print of saxophone detailDuring my medicine induced daze, I wrote a couple of items which didn't belong here, or anywhere else in particular. They now have their own pages. They are a list of things I have in common with my Cousin, Ollie, which is reasonably self-explanatory, and The horsewomen of the apolocalypse wear low-rise jeans, in which I rant about clothes. (I'm going to pretend that the DayQuil is what made me go on a nutritional rant today against a few of my fad-dieter co-workers, but that's a story for another day.) Do not believe that this new segregation of non-food topics to other pages will continue! Though it might, now and then, when the mood strikes.

I also finally got around to scanning some of my ferrotypes. I can't claim that the web really makes them look the way they actually are. There's something about the light of the scanner within the varnish on the surface that changes the way they look significantly, and I spend too much time trying to remove the odd, bluish glow that they get under scanner light. (I'm starting to figure out how to do that: on my monitor here at home, they are beginning to resemble themselves.)

I'm posting two galleries of experiments, and will update the rest of to reflect the new work soon. I've posted a sample of one of the galleries in the past: it is protea, and the latest is blow, which are details from musical instruments, objects which I would like to photograph in many different ways, but am just beginning to examine. The images are made the way tintypes were back in the Civil War. Each print is hand-poured, exposed in camera, and then developed before the sensitizer can dry. Each is one of a kind - there is no negative, it is more like an instant metal positive. (I'll wind up explaining that in more detail on my photography site.) I'm still getting the swing of this: I will make "brighter" images in the future also, but like to wallow in the poppy contrast of these prints.

They are odd-looking images, and when they first dry, they are very obviously 3-D, with the light part of the image raised where the silver reacted. I love these plates. I think of their odd appearance as a benefit: no one mistakes these images for a view of the subject of the photo, they way my friends do when I show them a sunset or a flower, and all of their comments are about the quality of the sunset/flower, rather than the qualities of the picture as an abstracted representation of the sunset/flower. These plates are so obviously something else...

More on this when I am healthy. Which I hope will be very soon.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)8:25 PM

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