As I pulled myself out of a Demerol/Phenergran stupor in time for dinner on the third day of hospitalization, my meal was placed in front of me. I cringed at its presence. Cautiously lifting the cover from the warmed plate I found a dollop of sticky stuffing, deli thin slice of turkey - both covered in what I can only assume was canned gravy, a cup of peas and carrots (soaking in muddied water from the can, I’m guessing/hoping), a half of a canned peach with a tablespoon of small curd cottage cheese and a maraschinos cherry parked lopsided at the crest of the cottage cheese, a mug of sweet tea and for dessert ... pecan pie that was so sweet even my sweet tooth rebelled. I was starving. I picked up my fork and attacked the peach and cottage cheese, pushing the cherry aside (I just don’t like them - the color is a bit creepy) and continue to poke around. Scooping some of the stuffing out from under the gravy I tasted it. It sure didn’t need any salt and I found it dry and depressing. I dab a bit of it into the gravy and made it pass for food. I ate slowly and methodically. When my stomach stopped growling, I stopped eating. By midnight I was hungry again and asked a nurse if she could find me something to eat. With the kitchen closed (small town, what can I say?) she slipped into ICU and found some chicken and rice soup, saltines and a ginger ale. Kudos for her efforts and I did manage to eat the chicken broth and rice pushing away the gristly chicken cubes. The ginger ale went down well. I like ginger ale. I was feeling better and wondered what breakfast would bring.
Aside from the incessant visits from the nursing staff for my blood pressure - which is perfect and my temperature - which was nearly perfect I slept like a rock. I was up and ready for breakfast at five and at five forty-five breakfast was served. My disappointment continued. A wannabe butter soaked biscuit, two strips of bacon, one scrambled egg and a bowl of grits and yippee ... one half of a slice of a fresh orange! There was a plastic carton of orange juice that tasted like plastic, a carton of whole milk and a cup of coffee - a non-dairy creamer was offered. Seriously? I ate the orange ... the egg ... the inside of the biscuit ... I called for a nurse. When she arrived I asked her about the food. I don’t mean to complain, but really? Is this how hospitals keep you coming back? Is this food ‘good for business”? Is this what the people want? Am I alone out here?
After a hospital visit I was told I’d be receiving a survey. I was warned it was lengthy but was asked very nicely if I’d complete it. I will. And I will focus on the food. Perhaps, like the schools, Jamie Oliver needs to hit the hospital scene! Would they let him in? How can a hospital conscientiously offer foods that are just plain not heart healthy? EVERYONE, heart condition or not, needs to eat heart-healthy ... diabetes-friendly ... lives depend on it! Why are we the people allowing ourselves to be fed this way especially when we’re sick? When we’re on antibiotics we need probiotics to help rebuild the good bacteria the antibiotics has stripped from our bodies while fighting the bad bacteria! We need lean meats, fresh fruit and well-prepared vegetables! And, how about a salad? And, can’t we skip the desserts? Do we really need to pack our ailing body with sugar? Wouldn’t a bowl of fresh fruit do a body good? Is this all too much to ask?
When I returned home, I was craving fresh fruit and my husband was well-prepared! A quick trip to the store netted some unsweetened yogurt, fresh salmon, broccoli, Kashi cereal (my personal favorite), unsweetened soymilk and all the goodness my body was craving from a three day visit away from good and decent nutrition.
What are we to do?