One of the questions that I get asked frequently since my accident in December of 2008 is “Do You Remember What Food Tasted Like?” my answer is NO. When I was in the hospital my wife Joan would fill out the daily menu form that was supplied in the morning and she would order my food for the day. I had no idea what she ordered but I did not question it in any way because my wife of 25 years knew me best. With having retrograde amnesia I recognized types of food from watching countless hours of television but had no idea of what food tasted like. In June of 2008 I had lap band surgery because I was very overweight and until my accident I had lost nearly 80 pounds and my diet had changed considerably since the surgery. No longer were the days of eating large amounts of food now my meal consist of about a cup of food at each meal. In the hospital I would eat mostly eggs in the morning, soups for lunch and chicken of some sort for dinner. When I got home from the hospital is where I rediscovered what food tasted like.
I can remember being at home and looking in the refrigerator and pantry and wondering what these food items were and what did they taste like. Joan was still preparing my meals since I was in so much pain and taking pain medication every 4 hours I would eat small meals so that I would have something in my stomach each time I took pain medicine to avoid an upset stomach. I would eat oatmeal every day in the morning because it was easy to swallow seeing that my stomach was now the size of a racquetball and the restriction required foods that are eay to swallow. For lunches and dinners is where I would start experimenting with foods. There were so many choices in our house from deli meats to fruit and cereals all of which I had no idea what they tasted like. I remeber wanting to try everything I could to see what I liked and what I did not enjoy. After the first week of being home we started going out to restaurants and I would tell Joan to order for me what I would normally order so that I knew I was getting something that I liked in the past. We always went to the same restaurants so that I felt comfortable in my surrounding because at this time the world was still new to me. I soon realized that I still enjoyed most of the foods that I did in my previous life but I felt the need to try everything because I had not experienced it before.
Soon after I started ordering my own food at the restaurants we visited and Joan would always tell me that I would have ordered that same dish before the accident so that made me feel better, like I was still my normal self. I did go to a Jewish deli with one of my Jewish friends and ordered liver pate and he said to me “are you sure you want to order that because that seems pretty jewish and I am not sure if you will like it” I ordered it anyway and I must admit it was pretty tasty but I would never order it again.
So, the one thing I will always wonder is “does food taste the same to me as it did before my accident?” I may never know the answer to that question but I will enjoy trying new foods and try to expand my taste for life.
The memories I have of playing college and professional football are no longer with me but new memories of what it must have been like are what I try to rebuild. These 7 years of college and pro-football must have formed who I am as a man in so many ways that I will never understand. I watch the HBO show called “Hard Knocks with the Cincinnati Bengals” and I can only imagine that this is how my life was throughout my football career. As I watch this show I wonder how things are different now compared to over 25 years ago, I am told ny close friends that I played with that there is not much of a change in the game as far as training goes. I watch with amazement as the work ethic of these professional players unfolds in their daily workouts.
The wear and tear that their bodies goes through on a daily basis and why I should not be surprised why my body feels the way it does every day. Being on the Board of Directors of the NFL Alumni Association Arizona Chapter I see first hand the quality people that come out of this game and the accomplishments and the failures we all learn by. I know that by being part of an organization such as the NCAA and the NFL allowed me to further my education both on and off the field of play to become what I no longer remember. I have to say I may not remember the game that I played but I am proud of what the game has made me.
My wife Joan and I spent Labor Day weekend on our boat in Oceanside California alone without the kids and I must say we were able to talk to each other in peace and quite. We were able to talk about topics that we have not shared with each other since my accident. We started talking about ways that I am different since not recalling any memories of the past 46 years. Joan mentioned that when I first came home from the hospital I was more mellow and things did not upset the way they did in my past life. Examples are being stuck in traffic, prior to my accident I was more irate and less patient with people and the way they drove in Arizona, but now after 10 months of amnesia she says that I am starting to revert back to my old ways of being less patient. I know feel more compelled to slow down and not let things bother me as much, after all I am trying to be a better man than I was before.
Joan also pointed out to me that there are many sounds that are driving me crazy that never did before such as a bag rattling in the car or the constant barking of a dog, so I guess I am becoming more patient in some area compared to others. I am really trying to be more patient in this life seeing that I have been given a clean slate to reinvent myself to be a better man.