Friday, March 29, 2013
The Best Lunch Ever
I recently spent some time at the hospital (hence my hiatus from here). It was fun – as much fun as can be had floating in a constant drug-induced fog. Epidurals, intravenous, and fancy little pills helped pass the time.
But they didn’t do much for sleepless nights. Go figure.
During the day, daily routines told you the approximate time. If it wasn’t your vitals being checked regularly like clockwork, then there were mealtimes: 7:45 am, 11:45 am, and 4:45 am. You knew what time it was when you heard the food carts coming.
Despite common consensus and jokes about the hospital’s culinary delights, I kinda always liked the food. I have spent many a time within the sterilized walls, so I have had my fair share of meals. And hey, if I don’t have to make a meal (for once), I am happy. As a rule, however, I never eat the soup or soggy toast. But more often than not I have always been too sick to care - too brain-fogged to know what I was eating.
I’m not complaining. I am grateful. I have a medical system that takes care of me. The doctors and nurses are fantastic. The cleaning and catering staff are delightful (you get to see the same ones over the course of a 4 -5 day stay, so you make chit chat while lucid on morphine).
But at the risk of changing my tune and sounding ungrateful, my recent hospital stay highlighted by the culinary delights was....memorable.
During the first day or so of my stay, I was restricted to a liquid diet which included Jell-O (!). No problem, as post-op I wasn’t really up to anything more. But through my fog I noticed my other roommate, who had already been there longer than I, was able to....order. Order what she wanted. Like in a restaurant.
Catering staff came around carrying an over-sized i-Pad, and with the touch of a stylus, was able to enter what the patient wanted.
“What would you like for dinner, miss?” I could barely hear through my drug-fogged ears.
What? She gets to order? When do I get to order? I hope HOPE I get to order something.
“And coffee, tea, juice....? Dessert?”
My muddled brain went wild. Aside from constant nausea, I was also hungry. Starving. Dying for a piece of a cake.
But then, my roommate’s order complete, the catering person left. Strode right by my bed without a glance at me.
What about me? What about my order?
I lay staring at the curtains, tears on my pillow (and all that), feeling sorry for myself. Why can’t I order something?
Oh right. Restricted diet. Whatever.
I was later told that would change the next day.
Okay. Okay. Okay, I calmed myself (with the help of an Valium or two). I would get to order tomorrow.
But that night, for dinner, I got a tray with plates, utensils, food-warming covers and everything.
What’s this? I didn’t order this? This sure isn’t my liquid diet! Oh well, who cares. I didn’t cook it, I thought.
I lifted the lid in excitement. A pork shop with rice and either carrots or sweet-potato (something orange) all swimming in gravy threatened my gag reflex despite my body-paralyzing epidural.
Okay, gravy is a liquid, yes, and there was tea and Jell-O, yes...but this?
I can’t eat this! As my stomach turned at the sight of it all, the smell sent me over the edge.
But I knew I had to eat SOMETHING. I swallowed the rice and orange things with water, and chased it all down with Jell-O.
I am not being ungrateful, truly, but it was all a bit too much. Someone must have goofed and I got the wrong tray. Despite feeling sick, I had had cravings for a White Spot Monty Mushroom burger (if you’re from these parts you would know what that is). But any cravings of any kind of instantly gone.
The next morning after my breakfast of soggy toast and hardboiled egg, I was in and out of a nap when I felt a presence at the foot of my bed.
I foggily wondered if it was an angel, a sure sign of my fate. But it wasn’t that kind of angel.
It was the catering angel with his computer and stylus at the ready.
“What would you like to order?” He handed me a menu.
A MENU I tell you! Like in a restaurant.
I quickly scanned the options, and had to divert my eyes from the hot foods described. I couldn’t do that if I was allowed.
And then I saw them. Sandwiches. I had visions of something fresh and crisp, straight out of a deli kitchen so fine, the napkins would be cloth. I knew my diet was still restricted, but how restricted?
“Yes,” the catering angel confirmed, “you can have a sandwich.”
Ham or deviled egg were out (my stomach started to turn at the thought), but I knew right away what I wanted.
I glanced up, narrowed my unfocused eyes as best I could, and challenged him to see if he had what I wanted.
If I could have jumped on the bed with joy at his answer of ‘yes,’ I would have. But my various tubes attached to various parts of my body prevented that.
At my request for not one but TWO desserts, his answer had me giggling and clapping in delight. In hindsight, I think he just assumed I was too hyped up on morphine.
Well, it was the longest wait in my life until lunch, but it was the best peanut butter sandwich chased with red Jell-O and butterscotch pudding I have ever had.
I lived on that for the rest of my stay and survived tell about it.