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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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A matter of taste

09 July 2018

One of the least-mentioned but most annoying aspects of having Parkinson's is that you lose your sense of smell.

Now if you have armpits like mine living in close proximity to your nose, losing your sense of smell could be seen as a godsend rather than a handicap -- however, one's sense of taste is closely aligned with (and dependent on) that sense of smell. Consequently, lose your sense of smell and you also discover a world of blandness when it comes to food and drink.

As regular readers will know, I've also been suffering the effects of at least two colds for the past month and the combination of congested nasal passages plus Parkinson's has meant more than four weeks of utter blandness in the food department.

Now I have to say that the old-sheila has been very good when it comes to dealing with my loss of taste.

Previously, I was someone who despised spicy foods and didn't even use salt or pepper on my meals. I really enjoyed the nuttiness of unsalted rice and the subtle taste of potatoes cooked without a bit of the old sodium chloride. I guess this was also good for the blood pressure and flexibility of my arteries in old-age.

Now however, the only foods I can really taste at all are those which are heavily loaded with spices, chillies and such. I've gone from hating curries to loving them and almost every meal I eat now includes a helping of chorizo sausage to give it the necessary "zing".

For those who have never had to eat a meal without taste, I can tell you that it really does turn the task into more of a chore than a joy.

The pangs of hunger must be sated but chewing and swallowing are things normally associated with the reward of lovely taste sensations. When those sensations are lost, texture becomes all that remains and therefore, hugely important.

Without the benefit of taste, some foods are almost gag-worthy in their consistency and texture. It becomes rather hard to look forward to such options and again, the old sheila has been very good in adjusting the meals she cooks in order to avoid the worst of these.

Fortunately my cold(s) are almost done and last night, for the first time in a long time, I was able to taste the spicier elements of my evening meal again. That was actually a much bigger buzz than I expected it to be. Woohoo!

However, I'm not looking forward to the time when what little sense of taste I have left is completely lost.

On the bright side however, I suspect it will make the task of keeping myself "trim, taut and terrific" much, much easier.

High kilojoule temptations are no longer temptations when they're not accompanied by a sweet (or any) taste so chocolate, ice cream, potato chips and such will be easy to avoid at that stage.

Fortunately, one thing I've learned about this interesting trip down Parkinson's lane is that for every downside, there's always an up-side... if you look hard enough.

But for now, I shall enjoy the hottest curries and the spiciest foods I can find and relish in the delight of still being able to taste something.

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