One of the oddities not mentioned in the After Your Heart Surgery brochure that a hospital gives a patient and their family before going home is that the patient will become a Food Diva. If they were a Food Diva before the surgery, this aspect of their personality will become heightened, exacerbated, enlarged, inflated. Once the pain is over and the patient returns home, small portions of any food not resembling hospital food will be requested. This is natural. But “requested”, perhaps, is too gentle a word. Strongly suggested? The very thing the caregiver is suggested to make, however, will offend the patient’s also heightened olfactory senses. Chex Mix (TM) can send a patient into paroxysms of disgust. Crockpot pork shoulder, lovingly rubbed with chili, garlic, salt, and cumin, can send a patient over the edge. Who knew?
If one is not a natural born cook yet finds them self in a primary caregiver role to a Food Diva, this is a bitter pill to swallow. Where does it say I have to be Alice Waters, Julia Childs, or Ashley Rodriguez? To the patient whose primary love language is Acts of Service – The Provisioning of Healthy Meals to Your Family – to find oneself in the clutches of a merely serviceable cook of a caregiver is to find oneself gazing about the ramparts of the pits of hell. Some snarky, possibly overtly aggressive, comments about pizza and the frequency with which it is consumed, just might be uttered by the patient: “You just keep eating your pizza.” Food shaming at its best!
MoodRingMomma and I were at our collective caregiving wits’ end the other night. I suggested to our mother that we could eat either a) crock potted chicken thighs in green salsa from her own website cooksallycook.com or b) Stromboli from the Italian restaurant a stone’s throw away. MoodRingMomma added that she was willing to cook c) chicken curry. A veritable smorgasbord of options, with a green salad on the side!
But no, The Radish wanted effing ground lamb kebabs on flatbread with roasted tomatoes from Naomi Duguid‘s cookbook Persia. No matter that we did not have the skewers the recipe required, a grill, or ground lamb. Hamburger would do, mixed in with the grated onion, mashed into pasty little sliders by my very own dish pan hands, and cooked on the pancake griddle.
I later commented that really, this very labor intensive dish, was a Persian version of a poor Greek’s gyro, one we could probably get as take out. I felt it needed some tzatziki but all agreed that the sumac spice was essential (this, of course, we had on hand). Nonetheless, the Radish was pleased with the outcome and the smell did not offend. She enjoyed watching MoodRingMomma cry over grating the onions and me mashing the meat paste into “kebabs”. There was no sitting at the feet of Jesus for these sisters.
It was shortly after this that I had a hissy fit on the phone with my other sister MCVwasHere, during which I explained that everyday with a heart surgery patient is like being on a roller coaster. Up one hour, down the next, with loop de loops, hanging upside down for extended periods. This is no reflection on the heart surgery patient. It is the nature of the beast. But no doctor tells you this beforehand, of course. A heart surgeon touches your body exactly twice: once to cut on you for 4-5 hours and then again to remove the staples, and maybe then he or she might even make a different healthcare worker do that nasty bit of business.
My ten year old nephew, overhearing the conversation, piped up and said,
“Wait! You’re on a roller coaster????”
Like we were whooping it up on vacation at DisneyWorld. It still makes me laugh hard.
Sometimes life demands that a Martha show up instead of a Mary. Marthas get sh*t done. Martha would not have hesitated to wipe up the blood and crust from the wounds of Jesus but she might have been resentful that she had to unload the dishwasher and milk the yak too. I am not so sure that That Other Mary would have been up to the task, something I will inquire about in my personal one-on-one conversation on the other side. For today, Sweet Jesus, let me make it to Christmas. At least there have been no poopy diapers.
Shopping Suggestions: you are cutting it close, shoppers. I think you can still order Naomi Duguid’s books Persia or Burma, which are part travelogue, part stellar photography, and part recipes. Even if you never cook from them, they are beautiful books. Alternatively, order some baklava from Shatila.com. I like to think Martha served both Jesus and her sister a piece. YUM!!!!