Writers drink coffee. It’s just a fact. NY Mag even wrote an article called The Best Coffee Beans, According to Writers and Novelists (who drink a lot of coffee).
I’ve been a coffee drinker since high school. I love coffee. I’ve had significant chunks of my vacations oriented around the magical beans (dreaming of Colombia). My morning routine solely consists of plodding downstairs, feeding the pup, and making my pour-over. Through the years, I’ve given it up for small periods of time, but usually no longer than a couple days.
But, like many people, I lost my taste when I got Covid, in early December. The first bite into food without any perception of flavor was the strangest thing. I immediately bought $20 worth of kale, and decided that I would only eat kale and lentil soup until my taste came back (unfortunately, even without my taste I preferred fried chicken).
After a few weeks, my taste started to regenerate a little bit (my smell, not so much). I could taste the basics—if something was sweet, sour, or bitter (I could always perceive spicy food, but just the heat).
Then, my taste came back like La Croix flavors—just a hint of something more nuanced (than nothing). Every day it seemed to improve a fraction.
Then suddenly, weirdly, I lost it all again. I don’t know if it’s because I went under anesthesia for a surgery, or because I was re-exposed, or if the disease was still in my body (I tested negative). My senses came back faster the second time around, but… with a problem.
Random tastes and smells are really, really bad. Think of a mix between the smell of dirt, corked wine, chemically oil… yech.
It’s called parosmia, and apparently loads of people are experiencing this post-Covid. Parosmia is a disorder in which the odors of certain things are distorted. This happens “when smell receptor cells in your nose, called olfactory sensory neurons, don’t detect odors and translate them to your brain the way they should” (Web-MD). It’s supposedly a good sign that your senses are on the mend.
The first time I noticed the parosmia I was eating peppers. I made a giant salad with spinach, chicken, feta, tomatoes, and bell peppers. I thought something had gone bad when I tried it, and I threw out the entire salad. Later, I tried snacking on a bell pepper, and it tasted rancid.
Then, the weird, rancid smell thing started happening with other foods. Unfortunately, that included my morning coffee. Noooo! Whyyy! It also got stronger and more noticeable, always lingering at the back of my throat.
Not being able to taste coffee was partially sad, but having it taste bad was… a travesty! How will I ever start any morning, ever?!
And the timing could not have been worse. My fiancé and I were in the process of moving all of our belongings to storage, and we planned to drive across the United States for his first externship rotation.
We woke up at 3 a.m. every morning to drive, to maximize our hours and beat traffic. Without coffee, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. But…somehow…I did.
I had throbbing headaches on days three and four, but it’s hard to know if that was from coffee deprivation or sleep deprivation.
I’ve structured a lot of my habits around my coffee-drinking one, like journaling. It was easy enough to switch to green tea, but my mornings still feel slightly off.
Most people don’t want to be addicted to anything, obviously. My addiction has never really bothered me. Coffee makes me feel like my brain is waking up, and like I’m ready to exercise, and write, and edit! Hopefully I can learn to cultivate that feeling independently, or associate it with something else.
I’ve heard rumors that the vaccine can bring back peoples’ senses. I don’t think it will change the parosmia, but I’m willing to try when it’s available.
I also heard that smell training is the best way to regenerate your lost olfactory neurons. I bought the four recommended essential oils from Amazon, and I’m huffing them like a crack addict.
Has anyone else dealt with this before? Do you know someone who has? Let me know!
Happy writing, friends!