Strange how life gives you little problems some times that turn out to be interesting, and sometimes stressing at the same time…
So here I was, having a minor little problem. Nothing much. A bit of a ‘rashiness’ around the corners of my mouth; a tendency to an occasional slightly metallic taste on odd occasions. Nothing much, I figured. Then about 5 or 6 days ago, I figured it might be a food allergy.
I’m prone to a fair number of allergies. Basically, I’ve got IG-E, the immunoglobulin that gives folks allergies, but also gives them a very rapid response on re-exposure to a protein that has been repeatedly around. So things like long duration exposure to parasites causes the eventual formation of IG-E, which then attacks the parasite any time it shows up, giving better resistance to parasites. Not just things like worms from foods, but also things like malaria. Some folks will remember the article where we saw that the human genome has been influenced by Malaria for quite some time; so much so that we have Sickle Cell trait and even Favism as adaptive responses; and perhaps the tendency to eat Fava Beans by those folks without Favism as a way to get the same oxidative stress placed on the malaria parasite.
So it’s pretty common for me to have a moderate allergic reaction to something that has ‘been around’ a while. I figured “Maybe it’s coffee?”. Sometimes the metallic taste was after morning coffee. I’ve had coffee regularly for a few dozen years. Seemed reasonable as a thesis. So a couple of days back (Thursday) I went “cold turkey” off of coffee.
Needless to say, the day was a bit dismal.
The second day is worse.
Friday, mid day, I was feeling pretty grim. In the cafeteria I found a “Monster Energy Drink” and that helped. I upped my intake of other beverages to make up for the loss of coffee. But still, the total caffein intake was significantly lower. Not too surprised, then, that the usual withdrawal symptoms were about. Sleeping way early. Mild headache. Low energy. (I’m sure folks noticed the lack of any new articles or comments from me in the last couple of days…)
But the mouth issues did not resolve. Quite the contrary.
Sushi Good, Chocolate Bad
I’d noticed that the little candy bars I stuck in my “lunch bucket” had become tasteless. OK, with the general drop of stimulant levels, you expect some ‘low nerve function backlash’, but this was rather extreme. A sushi dinner out, though, was quite good. The aroma was great, the flavors of salty and the slight bitter to the nori (seaweed) were about right. I did notice that the wasabi caused a sensation of “mouth on fire” around the back and sides of the tongue, but not the middle nor the tip of the tongue. It was as though the areas with salt and bitter sensors (back and edges) were working fine, but the rest was relatively numb.
More testing on Saturday pretty much showed that “sweet” was gone. Things that I’d thought ‘tasted wrong’ or were ‘kind of metallic’; were things where the removal of the sweet component left behind an odd result. Sugar, straight, had no taste at all.
Needless to say, this caused me some angst….
After a bit more “digging” I had a laundry list of potential causes.
Paranoia Strikes Deep
The list is long. Far longer than I’d expected. (The Wiki gives a good idea of the range.)
So with thoughts of potential brain surgery to remove tumors or worries about just what vitamins and minerals I might be missing, I set about doing a differential. Was there anything in my case that was a clue as to what path?
It’s some times a bit hard to be dispassionate about that kind of thing. Yet you must. It’s just a logic puzzle. Nothing to do with what you want at all. Set aside all the baggage of fear and desire. Set aside all the ponderings of downstream implications. Just reason.
There was that slightly rashy corner of the mouth. Sporadic small ‘cracks’ to the skin. The “odd” slightly allergic feeling to the oral mucosa. This was more indicative of “alien presence” than “tumor” or “cancer” (or diabetes or liver failure or… the long list of other horribles possible).
Inspection of the tongue with needle and mirror showed that non-taste sensation was normal, and the appearance was normal (though a very slightly white look to the mid-tongue). I sporadically had a slightly ‘cottony’ feeling to the mouth. Nothing much, and I’d just written it off to probable side effect of an allergic response.
Let The Pondering Begin
So I sat and pondered a bit.
On the list was one thing that had the added ‘feature’ of a ‘cottony feeling’ and sometimes a rash in the corners of the mouth. Yeast. Typically Candida Albicans. AKA “Thrush”. But thats a disease often seen in infants, not me?…
Still, it didn’t take an MRI to diagnose it; nor a flight back to California and surgery to treat. It was a simple thing to treat, and that would tend to give a rapid differential as well.
The Loss Of Micatin
The local drug stores have all dumped Micatin in favor of Lotrimin and some other anti fungals. That’s not a good thing. Myconazole Nitrate is a decent anti-fungal and also has very very low side effects. So low that it’s the stated treatment for oral candida. Swish and swallow…
Not willing to try that with some other random antifungals off the shelf…
So I had to do some more exploration. Eventually I found it still around as a vaginal cream for, yes, yeast infections. OK, not the best of imagery with a large guy buying it, nor my favored description of what was used as treatment, but all in all it’s just a mild white cream for killing yeast.
Today I did the first treatment. About 1/2 CC orally, swish and swallow.
At first it tasted a bit bitter along the back and edges of the tongue. Midline and forward said nothing. Slowly, as I swished and squished it around, the “flavor” started showing up in more places… Eventually a gritted teeth ‘swallow’.
Then a rinse and spit.
A few hours later we had BBQ Ribs and Chicken. The BBQ Sauce was “Bulls Eye”. It has a rich flavor to it, including sweet, sour, and some salt.
I can’t quite find a way to say how good it was to take a bite and have that ‘slightly sour sweet’ flavor…
All in all, still not quite as remembered. Still a ‘bit more to go’, but I’d put it at about 90% in one treatment.
Now it is about 2 am (and I’m not sleeping ;-)
The “rashy and reactive” feeling in the mouth is gone. The “cottony” feeling is mostly gone too. A banana was just sooo good, fragrant and sweet. Maybe I’ll get to sleep before I must get up (at 5:30 AM… so just 3+ hours away), or maybe not. Maybe I’ll just have my first cup (s?) of coffee in a few days and enjoy the “rush” ;-)
Sequelae and Etiology
I’m hoping for “not much” in the area of consequences. Perhaps just a change of diet and some sporadic yeast treatments. But that leads to the question of “why?”.
What caused this to happen?
My speculation is that it was the change of diet that came with the new job. I’d likely been a bit ‘on the edge’ before (I’d had sporadic moments of a slightly metallic taste and ‘dull’ food for the last year or so, but they were not as significant and tended to last just a day or less). But the change was likely the move from a lot of ‘low sugar’ foods to a lot of ‘high sugar’ foods.
I’d been eating almost entirely home made foods. I tend not to sugar things (other than morning coffee) and basically do not drink pre-packaged soft drinks. I avoid “high fructose” whenever I can. (Fructose is metabolized in the liver, directly to fat, unlike glucose that is metabolized in all your body cells and burned as fuel. I suspect the high fructose intake of Americans is part of why we are so fat…) But all that changed with the job.
Mornings were a mad dash out the door with 2 cups of sugared coffee. Nice sugar wash to the mouth. Lunches tended to be a benign “sandwich” (bread, mustard, meat) but sometimes that nice cold leftover BBQ with the sugary sauce. Wrapped around it were nearly continuous snacks of “fun sized” candy bars (2), a bottle or two of pseudo-juice (10% juice, the rest high fructose syrup and flavoring agents in water), Nestea “Brisk Tea” in a can, sweetened of course, with fructose, some more coffee with sugar, Gorp – a mix of 1 cup cashews, with 1/2 cup each of raisins and M&M candies… with a nice sugar / salt mix) as a grazing snack.
All in all a great way to feed yeast… people not so much… On those occasions when I did have lunch out, I tended to have a sugary soft drink with it.
Then dinners were sometimes washed down with “Throwback” Pepsi. I found it at the local stores as a Pepsi made with real sugar, not high fructose syrup, and like the taste better.
So I’d shifted from a ‘nearly all vegetables and meat with pasta and rice’ to a ‘lots of sugary stuff and fruit’ bias in the diet. OK, my bad…
Well, sugars are going to be on the “out” list for a while. We’ll add them back in a few weeks; when a ‘cure’ is confirmed. Until then it’s going to be more ‘salty snacks’ and bottled water. I’m also going to be taking a ‘No Doze’ instead of my morning ‘wake up coffee’. At least until I can either get used to being awake that early And/Or choke down unsweetened coffee… or my boss accepts that I’m non-functional before noon ;-)
I really don’t get much done until the body temp goes over 98 F and that’s about noon… unless I jump start the warm up with a hot shower and some coffee… then I’m reasonably productive about 10 am… (I do ‘clerical’ and ‘side work’ between 8 am and 10 am, except when some “morning person” thinks everyone is like them and calls for 8 am ‘meetings’ when everyone is ‘fresh’… then I put on my plastic “Attentive” face and try desperately not to close my eyes or snore while the brain goes back to sleep ;-) If it’s important, I’ll read the meeting minutes later to find out what happened…)
So, more hand made lasagna and steamed fish over vegetables, less Sugar Soda and Candy Snacks.
And some time spent researching the preferred dosing schedule and treatment regimen. Is it ‘one and done’ or ‘daily for a week’? We’ll see…
On the plus side, I’m feeling much more alive and energetic now. Even as we drift to the dead of night and I’m not sleeping ;-) I can’t imagine what will happen when Espresso is returned to the mix…
Life sometimes tosses odd turns at you. This has been one of the more strange ones for me.
But it’s nice to return to the world of “to sweet”, but not “too sweet” …