I have a single large, almost bottomless, ceramic mug that is used for drinking coffee, primarily decaf.
When working for Gargantua on the overnight shift, I would brew a fresh pot of coffee on arrival at work and drink almost all of it before midnight. Each night I consumed a minimum of four large cups of strong coffee without experiencing any form of adverse effect. After the accident, I found that ingesting any amount of caffeine triggered large skin blisters at various locations on my body. The primary wound site was on my left forearm.
Dr. H recommended I stop drinking any caffeinated beverage. Coffee was replaced by flavoured herbal teas. After about a year, I was able to tolerate decaf. Since I use only one mug, this resulted in a new kitchen routine. In the morning the mug was used to make a cup of decaffeinated instant coffee. The mug was then rinsed and used to brew flavoured herbal tea later the same day, and in the evening.
Since the accident of March 6th, 2011, I have experienced a very irregular sleep pattern. If I go to bed at a normal hour I will wake in the middle of the night and be unable to return to sleep. To deal with this interrupted sleep, I have followed Dr. H’s recommendation that I get out of bed, leave the bedroom, and occupy myself in some way that does not trigger excitement, or mental exertion. This boring activity is continued until I sense the onset of sleep. I then return to the bedroom and hopefully doze off.
During these sleep interruptions, I will drink a cup of decaffeinated herbal tea to help promote sleep. These herbal teas come in a wide variety of flavours such as apple, blueberry, cherry, lemon, and in specific formulations designed to promote sleep e.g. “Sleepytime Tea.” Since I try to save money whenever possible, I bought the tea sampler packages. These were less expensive and they contained herbal tea packets in a variety of flavours. During the period of heightened sensitivity, both the blueberry and cherry flavours would trigger skin reactions and blisters. I put these packets aside and, after a year, ended up with a large collection of unused tea packets.
My body appears to be slowly healing itself, or undertaking changes such that the frequency and severity of these skin reactions, rashes, and boils, has steadily declined over time. The last such incident was photographed on July 2nd 2015 (This is the only image photographed in daylight. The images in the URL above were photographed under interior tungsten lighting which resulted in a red colour cast). The image below is from TAQ EXHIBIT WOUND 2016-02-08-09.
Figure 1 – Daylight Image of Healing Skin Reaction
Because I seek every means to economize, and because the incidence of skin reactions has moderated, I have begun using the saved stock of flavoured herbal teas. These teas are drunk during nightly sleep interruptions in the expectation they will promote sleep. Decaffeinated coffee is known to contain trace amounts of caffeine which might keep me awake. Herbal teas contain no caffeine.
After drinking a 3 am cup of tea, I wash the cup and retire to bed. In the morning, the same mug is used to make instant coffee. When drinking the coffee I can taste residual flavour from the tea drunk during the night. This combines with the coffee to create an unpleasant taste.
To avoid this unpleasant taste, I carefully rinse the cup after drinking tea. I have also begun leaving the cup filled with water overnight followed by a morning rinse before making coffee. Despite these measures, the flavoured tea can still be tasted as a background to the desired coffee flavour.
During the period which resulted in the accumulation of unwanted flavoured tea, I followed a similar tea drinking practice. Herbal tea was drunk in the late afternoon, in the evening, and before bed, with morning instant coffee being made in the same cup. During this prior period of identical routine, no residual flavour was noted.
This experience provides evidence of an impaired sense of taste having been present in the past. Over a year ago, when I drank a variety of mixed hot beverages from the same mug, no residual flavours were noted. Having recently resumed exactly the same tea drinking routine, I now detect residual flavour from the herbal tea in my morning cup of coffee.
Since the accident, I have also used a variety of hot sauces and condiments (wasabi, hot mustard, Thai chili sauce, etc) and would slather these on every meal. I now find these food flavourings to be too spicy and I am reducing the quantity applied, or not using them at all. I believe this also suggests the return of a more normal sense of taste.
I routinely walk to both of my doctor’s offices and will follow a standard route through the downtown core. I have recently found myself becoming irritated by persons smoking on the sidewalk, or by pedestrians walking ahead of me with a lit cigarette in hand. I have no memory of any past years similar irritation with cigarette smoke. I believe this new irritation is due to an increased sensitivity in smell.
It is my belief that these apparent changes in my ability to taste, and to smell, represent the restoration of brain functions impaired by the accident of March 6th 2011.