When the doctor decided I was ready to take in food orally, my first hospital meal arrived on the plastic box tray. As I lifted the cover, I was startled to see some lump of meat on the plate, mashed potatoes that came from a powder, and those famous veggie cuts that came from the freezer. Horrified by the sight – and the less than pleasing smell – I called for the nurse. “I am not supposed to have solids yet.” I attempted to seem cool about the panic that stirred within me. Without having eaten real food in about a week and a half, this sight scared the hell out of me.
She took the tray away immediately, surprised, since she knew about the operation I had recently. Her expression to mask the dangerous mistake was subtle. Nurses are thankfully trained to be in control, so patients don’t feel they are in incompetent hands.
She had the orderly bring in a beef broth (I can’t stand beef!) I couldn’t have much, since I wasn’t hungry and didn’t particularly enjoy the taste. There wasn’t any negative reaction to the brown liquid, but I would love to test my capacity for eating with my mom’s homemade chicken broth.
Within a couple of days of increasing food density, they eventually brought me that minced meat and mashed potatoes dish that I found so tantalizing the first time. It wasn’t easy trying to eat hospital food when I wasn’t even feeling hungry. I forced down some of the disgusting mash, not knowing if the quantity I had eaten was enough. I left about half on the plate. On the upside, it wasn’t making me sick, even after more than an hour.
I hadn’t the slightest idea how much intake was required. No one seemed to even mention a quantity. The nurses were unfamiliar with gastrectomy diets. Was I supposed to figure it all out on my own?
On September 28, I thanked God for twelve years in remission… and counting! Enjoy life!