Friday, October 1, 2010

Food, Glorious Food

When I was younger, I was in a community production of Oliver, and while my stint in the spotlight didn’t last, I still find musical tunes catchy. And there’s been certain lyrics constantly on my mind: “, glorious food! We’re anxious to try it...”

I’ve been anxious to really eat for the past several months. The slightest reference to food can make me salivate more than Pavlov’s dogs. The majority of the summer, I existed on apple juice, which is neither terribly exciting nor palatable. And so when I was able to begin eating real food after my surgery, it was absolutely overwhelming. I had developed a highly specialized bucket list of food of things that I needed to eat. Some cravings were understandable, like the chocolate cake I had listed, some were results of successful product placement, like a Happy Meal (I have a cool Batman toy to prove it).

It was challenging to build up - from softer foods to more exotic things, like roughage. It was a slow process and the pacing was driving me crazy, it seemed to be the ultimate test in self-control. And little did I know a larger event was looming.

You can’t get off completely unscathed from a major abdominal surgery, and one night I found myself face first in my toilet upchucking any progress I might have made. I got myself to the ER with my newly blocked insides and proceeded to spend the next few days in the hospital. I academically understood the need to stop eating for the adhesions and be put on bowel rest and I complied easily with this. But by the second or third day when the nausea was gone and the hunger was back, I was less patient. First came the tray of clear fluids. I took one bite of Jell-O and put it back down. After months of eating clear fluids, I simply refused to do it anymore, I would throw up just from the thought of it. And so, again, I existed on pitchers of apple juice for a while.

But there was the promise of crackers hanging in the air. I had the nurses page the doctors, my hope and energy for the day depending on eating the crackers. After they told me I couldn’t have the crackers yet, I started to cry. I was so hungry and all I wanted was crackers, it was literally consuming all of my thoughts. Crackers, crackers, crackers - I wanted my freaking crackers.

A doctor came in a little later with exciting news - they were giving me crackers, semi-against orders, but nonetheless, I was getting crackers. I cannot communicate my sheer excitement when she brought in saltine and graham crackers. I ate so many crackers, failing at pacing myself, but happy as anything that I was once again eating.

The pacing is hard, and the temptation is harder. Food is unimaginable when you haven’t had it in so long. I’m still working on my food bucket list, and adding to it as well!

And all I can think when I eat is - food, glorious food!!



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  2. Oh Jennie, I understand your pain far too well!

    I reluctantly find myself admitted to the hospital once or twice a year with blockage-like symptoms. I can't go to the washroom, can't eat, throw up profusely, suffer unbearable pain and discomfort, and get completely overwhelmed with the anxiety that takes over. So much so, that the anxiety itself is usually what puts me over the top and into the ER. I am immediately put on bowel rest, which usually lasts at least 2 days. Like you, I eventually start to feel better, and the hunger kicks in fast and furious. At first it's the blockage that causes the nausea, but then it's the hunger and lack of food. I've cried many times as the clear-fluid tray has been placed in front of me, wishing with all my heart that I could just have something, anything, that was solid and somewhat filling. One time, my hospital roomies' wife had brought some lunch for her sick hubby. She could see just how hungry and upset I was, and asked the nurse if I would be allowed to have one of her homemade cups of applesauce. It was the BEST applesauce I've ever had.....that first taste of real food was glorious and oh, so satisfying!

    Keep inspiring us Jennie! And keep eatin them saltines!

  3. Try asking for Arrowroot cookies? I was in the IWK for a broken leg, but the smell of them bring back some good memories.
    Hope donairs are on your list. Bash here we come. Heather F lives right across the street from Bash, don't know how she does it. Take care