People Change, Bodies Change, Minds Change, Memories Change

It has been just shy of 27 months since I obtained a traumatic brain injury. Upon my return home, I learned that I loss my sense of smell and flavor (anosmia). At the beginning of this stage, I was filled with anger, grief, and frustration. I will not lie; some of that is still there. I took pride in cooking whole foods and using recipes as suggestions regarding the herbs offering flavor. I fought eating and not eating. I won’t lie.. I still do.

However, along my journey I realized what I still have: textures and sensations in foods. Well, to be honest, the joke has still been it all tastes like chicken. When I have eaten or even prepared to eat, I have dissected the tastes (not flavors) of foods along with textures that they may offer to the point of writing about this here.

There is a new discovery. My husband has said, “What you focus on, you create.” Well, I have focused on what I still have. The result is my memories have altered. I do not remember the flavors of foods. I know to many this may sound very sad; however, that is not my goal here. I am here to offer encouragement, for the world (this condition included) is full of pain and grief. To not remember the flavor of foods is a wonderful thing, because WHAT I DO REMEMBER is textures of food and that I have appreciated even from childhood! I don’t remember the flavors of foods and the pleasure they brought. To be honest, I never really loved eating due to some early childhood experiences. There’s a song called “Don’t Know What You Got Til It’s Gone.” Well, you don’t miss things when you don’t remember them, which is far healthier than memories of what potentially will never be again. We cannot live in the future nor the past, and the best way to live is moment by moment and appreciating what you do have instead of hoping for what was and / or may never be (again).

The most miraculous thing in this experience is I did not cognitively purposely lose my memories of foods’ flavors. The only thing I did is to live in the present and try to appreciate my new life without smell.

I used to drive into the driveway of our old house from where I fell from its balcony. I pined for how and who I was. I pined for the memories that we created in that house. I grieved that I could not go back in time. I now no longer visit that driveway and peer on all sides of the house. I am focused on living in the present. The outcome is far healthier and more beautiful than focusing on what was and will never be again.

The mind is a beautiful thing. My mind has adjusted and programmed my memories based on my willful mindset of how I am living and aim to continue living: in the present.. not in the past nor the future.

If I can do this, then you can too. I will say this was done with the intent on living in the now; however, I was not directly looking to forget flavor. It happened unbeknownst to me. I hope that you will join me and find more joy  and peace in your life as well.

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Claiming One’s Place Vs Circumvention

As aforementioned, I obtained a brain injury August 24, 2014 and nearly lost my life. I fell twenty feet from our former Victorian home’s balcony and had a subdural hematoma (7 inch brain clot), which had both my brain lobes on the left side of my skull.

I began attending monthly brain injury support group meetings May 2015.  It took me from October 2014 to May 2015 to even realize I had new challenges outside of inability to smell and loss of flavor (which most people call “taste). Upon attending these meetings, I met a young lady named Anna Pope who also obtained a brain injury through a car wreck. Every time we introduced ourselves, she always says she’s a survivor. I remotely heard her from day one; however, like all the other attendees, I would talk about “my accident.” Anna is a breath of fresh air to me. I am very particular about verbage, and after a while, I HEARD her. I heard she was not circumventing what occurred but instead CLAIMING her victory. Talking of only the accident is all about loss, whereas stating you’ve survived is about victory.

Time passed, and I followed Anna’s footsteps and began claiming I am a traumatic brain injury survivor. This matters. What you state and how you state it do matter. The more you claim victory, the more victorious you feel and become.

Years ago, I attended a Jubilee Church. There is a speaker by the name of Kevin Leal who repeatedly speaks of CLAIMING your life.. I am thankful that he sowed this seed and that Anna watered it. Because I now know firsthand that this is not a crock of bull. It is the truth.

Now, as of today, I just read about a fellow anosmic, Sarah Ramsden, who is a nutritionist. She obtained a brain tumor and lost all smell and flavor. She states she is a brain tumor thriver. So this is my new stance. What you focus on, you create.

My goal in this post is to help encourage everyone to not be bashful or ashamed for the lemons life has given you. You can let them sour or you can make lemon meringue pie among other things, whether sweet or savory.

Gratitude is bestowed to these wonderful influences in my life, for they have made a difference not just in a moment but in my perspective of myself and the world around me.

Anosmia and Artificial Flavoring

As aforementioned, I acquired anosmia versus being a congenital case. Therefore, I understand if those of you who have had aosmia your whole life either understanding or not understanding some of my posts about this condition regarding food and eating.

I have never loved food. The reasons are a whole different story. However, there are things I enjoyed before I had anosmia. There are some things about my former life that I have realized are still part of who I am and my preferences.

You would think that artificial flavoring would not affect anosmics, because we only taste from our taste buds and miss the 95% of “taste,” which is flavor. Here’s the thing. There are foods that have taste condiments, which offer more sweet, sour, salty, and occasionally bitter. Chocolate is the closest food to tasting as it was. HOWEVER, chocolate flavoring versus genuine chocolate DO NOT taste the same. I would think this is more known to us, as there is probably a way to offer the aroma of chocolate giving the one eating fulfillment, as flavor is a huge facet in eating to most.

Due to this realization of imitation chocolate flavoring, I have come to understand that artificial flavoring does matter. The point of this is that reading labels or what is written in fine print is pertinent if you are seeking to enjoy what you are eating. Furthermore, understanding that flavoring is not the same as the genuine food offering tastes is not the same. Therefore, at bare minimum understanding this can keep you from feeling disappointment that the food does not taste as you remember.

I do understand that hardly anything tastes what it did before becoming anosmic; however, understanding limitations along with having a moment of some pleasure eating is better than always being down in the mouth (pun intended).