Life throws us some weird things at times
Life is full of coincidences and weird synchronicities. I used to work with someone who had a PhD in some obscure and fascinating academic branch of neuroscience and she and I would have regular, good natured spars over what I’d say was an eerie coincidence and she’d insist on explaining rationally, draining any spine tingling oddness from whatever tale I was telling.
I’ve lost touch with her, but she came to mind yesterday as I left a hospital appointment for myself, to drive Susie-Belle for her check with the vet. It was a day for both of us to have our noses looked at. I’d just seen a specialist, who’d poked an instrument up both nostrils, asked me lots of questions and told me I need a scan of my nasal region and brain. It was a déjà vu moment – another topic my old colleague would explain using plenty of fun-sapping science – as what the doctor’s ordered is much the same as Susie-Belle needed a few weeks ago. I’m sincerely hoping that this is where the coincidence ends and I don’t get the same diagnosis as she did. It’s not likely I will.
I lost my sense of smell several months ago, and, seeing as much of what we taste, we’re actually smelling, two of my senses have taken leave. I smell nothing, and taste little. It followed a bout of a ‘flu-like illness back in April, and according to the specialist, it’s likely that my olfactory nerves have been attacked by a virus. The scan will confirm things, but if it is this, it’s probably permanent, as if things were going to improve, by now, they would have done. Bit of a bugger really, but, there are worse things than losing two of your senses.
I tell myself this repeatedly as I numbly eat my way through cake that tastes vaguely sweet but nothing more; or sip, I can no longer savour, a coffee – I used to love the strongest, blackest coffee – but now it’s just a cup of hot water. Things could be worse, much worse, that I know. At least I’m just married to a chef and not one myself, or, heaven forbid, a food writer; no, that would be more life changing, as whilst being remarkably tiresome, not being able to taste food, is not how I earn my living. Although I did once earn it as an aromatherapist. Really I did. You could not make this up could you? And I can still live perfectly well without smelling and tasting anything. Really, I know I can, there are so many other things that I could be putting up with; of the senses, these two are probably the easiest to learn to live without, even for an epicurean hog like me.
Unlike Susie-Belle and her nose problems, I don’t gulp water, and my nose doesn’t run. Like her, I’m almost as greedy as I’ve been all my omnivorous life, although as the months have gone on, there’s a real fading of my food memories and gluttony is steadily being replaced by mere eating for the sake of old habits – and fuel. I’m gradually forgetting what once, favourite foods taste like now, and it dawned on me last week that I’ve been relying mainly on taste memory. But, there’s still some interest in eating, a lifetime’s commitment to sensory indulgence, enhanced by marriage to an extraordinary chef won’t let me give up without a fight; for a start I’m learning to enjoy texture in food in ways I’ve never appreciated before. It’s a lesson in being thankful for what I do have, and not letting myself wallow for too long in self-pity.
When this does threaten, I look at Susie-Belle, and my mind wanders into curious territory of coincidences and unique bonds that many talk about, and I know I experience this with her. Our relationship has always been close, from the moment I saw her photograph online I was bewitched in the sweetest possible way. She’s brought me so much, and turned my life compass in a direction that I know will continue for a long, long while after she’s moved on to wherever we all go eventually. I’m sure my old colleague would calmly explain to me why there’s no irony, nor coincidence in the fact that my nose is getting attention at the same time that my beloved Susie-Belle is having her nasal space eaten away by a tumour. But she might agree it’s at least a little weird.