Chapter 20
"Not in Good Taste"

9/21/04

Over the weekend Danny and I went to the wedding of some good friends we haven't seen in awhile. For months I had been looking forward to this wedding as the beautiful celebration waiting at the end of Cancer Lane. Sir Donkey Bottom almost prevented me from going, but thanks to Lord Endocron, Follicular Cancer Lady got to go to the ball!

Usually in preparing to go to a nice event, I only concern myself with freaking out about not looking fat. This time however, I was contending with a gash across my neck that definitely didn't fit a semi-formal dress code. Time to go necklace shopping. Three different stores and a friend's house later, I found it. It had five strands of red wire that all ran parallel with my red scar, with pink and biege beads at random points along the wire. It's kind of like a portable abacus which I'm sure will come in handy figuring out tips in restaurants. It was an excellent camoflauge for my scar. I even played a few games of "where's my scar" with friends. And let me tell you, there's nothing like a game of "find the scar" to get the party going. The evening was wonderful. The wedding was beautiful. I laughed, I cried, I didn't scare any small children.

While my scar was lost amidst pink beads, something else was also lost--my sense of taste. I knew this might be a side effect of radioactive iodine but since my taste buds were working all last week I thought I had gotten lucky and missed the no-tastebud boat (when will I learn that luck is just not steering my ship this year!) I started noticing it on Friday when I decided to treat myself to some real ice cream. I thought since I've been eating nothing but low fat frozen yogurt since the 7th grade and cancer had stolen my whole summer, I deserved one real ice cream. As that first spoonful approached my lips I expected to revel in the glory of Ben and Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup Delight. I was sorely disappointed. Na´ve as I was, I thought real ice cream just wasn't as great as I remembered it to be. Actually, for my ass's sake, I'm going to keep telling myself that.

My tastebuds went downhill from that point on. The next day I had oatmeal for breakfast which never tastes like anything anyway so no surprises there. I had diet Coke and thought it was just flat. Later I had a pack of Combos and thought maybe they just forgot to add salt to that particular pack. (I was still in denial.) My epiphany finally came with a Hershey bar. Just for the record, we were on the road and I firmly believe that calories do not count when you are more than 30 miles from your home. Candy bars and Coke on road trips are fair game on any diet. I broke off a luscious piece of Hershey's milk chocolate as we pulled away from the gas station andů..nothin'. Ice cream, Combos...whatever. But Hershey bars are sacred. For a brief second I got angry at the Hershey bar (I apologized later in a Hallmark card). Then, in a very Matlock moment, I put all the pieces together and figured out that the one thing all the bad food had in common--was me.

It's so weird. It's like you're eating but not eating. Your brain knows what something should taste like and has certain expectations. When these expectations aren't met the whole world just seems wrong somehow. Have you ever taken a big drink out of a cup expecting Coke and gotten milk? It's sort of like that except it dawns on you more slowly. You keep chewing expecting the taste to kick in but it never does. This has been happening since Friday, it is now Monday and I'm still shocked every time I put something in my mouth. For the first second I always think it's the food (Hey! Who watered down this banana?)

Since my Hershey's realization, I've been doing nothing but testing my taste buds. Is it water or a whisky sour? Skim milk or salsa? Now it's just getting silly. Things have escalated into me taunting and challenging my taste buds like a kid on a playground. Oh yeah? I triple-dare you to taste this! Today I poured hot sauce in some expired yogurt just for fun. Normally I don't like anything spicy, especially dairy products. But now our kitchen has become the set for our very own Fear Factor. A place where one might hear phrases like, "Oooh, I know! Pour the Mongolian Fire Oil right on your tongue!"

Now I have moved on to coaxing them to work by eating something yummy. "Come on, you like cookies...taste the cookies!" Overall though, hibernating taste buds has really curbed my appetite. I'm eating much less because as I see it there's really no point (except like staying alive and stuff). Either way, I hope my taste buds wake up soon. So those of you who have been waiting years to tell me I have no taste, speak now or forever hold your peace.

Congratulations to Tom and Nicole!! Thanks for a very tasteful occasion!