Least year I had three of my four parathyroids removed. Along with roughly half of my father’s extended family, I have inherited a condition called MEN 1 which causes hyperparathyroidism. I’ve experienced some effects of this condition in recent years, including nausea and tiredness. By far the most irritating, however, has been persistent and recurring kidney stones, precipitated by excessive calcium absorption due to the overactive glands.

Surgery has largely eliminated these particular problems, improving overall mood and well-being as a consequence. Additionally, some unexpected effects have emerged. Firstly, my life-long impulse to consume copious volumes of sweets seems to have evaporated. I’ve long had an intense sweet tooth. I would frequently binge on candy, able to tolerate what turned out to be more than the normal limit. Now, trips to the local candy store with my coworkers, something I used to organize, no longer interest me much. When I do go, I tend to get much less than before.

The most notable unexpected change is my sudden taste for, of all things, beer. I’ve long been disinterested in beer, finding very few that appealed to me in any way. Since surgery, however, I am finding that I enjoy it much more than before, to the point where I am now actively interested in trying new beers and keeping track of what I enjoy. It is unclear what mechanism of my rectified biochemistry is responsible for this change, but it is a truly strange experience. It almost feels as if I am, somehow, slightly more “normal” than before.

These changes serve to remind how much of our mood, taste, and personality is, ultimately, our biochemistry.