How an invalid eats!

12 Aug

For the past 10 days, I have been confined to my bed and, in recent days, my couch. I have now created a work/ rest nest where books, moisturizers, tea, remotes, notes, and all of my technology are within arm’s reach. Ten days ago, yours truly underwent her first ever surgical procedure. After tearing my meniscus (in baseball) and then finishing off my ACL (in tennis) two years ago, both were reconstructed. My student self did a lot of research before the surgery. I watched videos to understand the procedure. I read up on pre-op preparation as well as post-op recovery experiences. I understood that I would be off my feet for a couple of weeks. I did not have any idea how my daily routine would change without the use of one leg for any period of time.

Try it yourself. Try and get to a bathroom with only the strength of one leg. All of a sudden – sitting on a toilet becomes a feat of strength.

I digress – I’m getting to a point about food.

My regular diet is mostly light and healthy. I indulge BUT in the weeks leading up to my procedure, I had tried to eat healthier to promote quicker healing. I went through the trouble to stocking up on salads and making my own granola so I wouldn’t have to on crutches. Except, even if I wanted to eat after my surgery, I just couldn’t.

The combination of general anaesthesia and pain killers did a number on my appetite. When they discharged me, all I could ingest was two wedges of nectarine (a usual favourite) and water (in tiny sips). In the two days after, I was mostly on a liquid diet. I didn’t even want to smell food. This, of course, made it difficult to enjoy the treats that HoM brought me (homemade chocolate chip cookies and finnish cardamom bread). The lack of food sapped my energy levels. I was absolutely miserable.

Things started to improve when my dear mother (for whom I am eternally grateful for tending to me … the woman is washing my hair in a sink and putting on socks on my left foot because I can’t reach), started feeding me plain rice in water (congee/ “jook”). It doesn’t sound appetizing but the warmth of the white porridge-like substance slowly brought back my desire for food. This staple of Cantonese breakfast cuisine is usually savoury (cooked with meats, lettuce, duck eggs, chives, or bamboo shoots) and served with fritters. As a kid, plain congee was also served when we had upset stomachs. Think chicken-soup as a cure-all in North America. Once I could stomach the smell of meats, my mother added shredded chicken. Finally, protein! For 2-3 days, all I ate was mother’s congee in tea cups (because mum said I should be able to eat from a beautiful vessel!) And, after about 5 days of this regimen, I returned to my pre-op diet.

I took a lot of things for granted when I was healthy. It seems obvious but it’s true. I didn’t fully understand how awesome it is to be able to stretch first thing in the morning or move around in my sleep (I am sleeping with a leg immobilizer). I didn’t understand the privilege of being able to taste all of the wonderful foods that we write about on this blog. When I return to my YYZ duties, I’ll definitely remember to savour each and every bite and not to worry about depriving myself for the sake of vanity. Eat healthy and in moderation, of course.

Until then – you’re all to make a list of place/ things I need to try when I’m more mobile.


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