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My Toxic Life: Part II 

Chemo affects every individual in slightly different ways. Some lose their appetite. Others do not. For me, food has recently become a replacement for chain-smoking. I eat constantly now. The first week of treatment suppressed my hunger but that quickly changed. Since my treatment began I have gained ten pounds.

What's more is that not only do I eat like a horse -- but during the first two weeks of chemo I cannot taste hardly one morsel of the food I cram into my face. But then again I am eating pretty dull food. Leafy vegetables and grain cereal are not typically known for robust flavor. Recently I began introducing spice back into my diet. Anything to restore some sensation to my tongue.

I start with garlic. Two or three serious grinds of clove had no effect. It wasn't until my cheese-covered toast looked like a cinnamon roll that I began to feel an extremely distant and tainted buzz of the garlic I hold so dear.

I think to myself, "Man, this is pointless."

I can't taste a thing. I moved onto another beloved flavor -- salsa. I scratched together a personal blend of salsa so nuclear in its level of jalapeno that even the most seasoned Texan would probably sweat and quickly reach for a pitcher of water.

As I dipped the salty chips into the bowl of hot tomato juice nothing really happened. There's texture of course but no familiar sting. What gives? Yet, I did discover that salt comes through the haze of what I now refer to as "chemo-tongue."

So I thought for a moment, "Hey, I wonder if fast food can break through the iron curtain of tastelessness?" I decided to guinea pig myself into a fast food taste test. The golden arches beckoned me.

Drive-Thru Speaker: "Welcome to McDonalds. Would you like to try one of our extra value meals? If not, go ahead and place your order."

Me: "Ummm, yeah. I'll take a #3. Please, no ketchup on the quarter pounder please."

Drive-Thru Speaker: "Okay sir, that was a Big Mac extra value meal with ketchup only?"

Me: "No! I want a #3 quarter pounder extra value meal with NO ketchup."

I am home now. A day of chemo and my taste buds are completely fried. Will the good 'ol quarter pounder cut through my muted palette?

Jason Hatcher is a senior art director at Creative Loafing who is keeping a blog about his treatment for testicular cancer. Check out www.mytoxiclife.com to read the rest of the article.

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