You got that right! That’s hospital food you’re looking at right there. The same food I’m staring at as I’m writing this but most probably not finish before I finish my food.
That was my day 2 meal in the hospital. The admission came in a little unexpected– drove myself to the ER for a dose of antibiotic IV load-up (the expectation set to me before I left one of the satellite hospitals of Medical City where I intended to secure an antibiotic prescription for my painful tonsils) turns out, the big hospital discovered more pressing reasons not to allow me to go home. Hence me, stuck.
Fast forward — as the man entered to serve my food, I was informed that my doctor has placed me on a Mechanical Soft Diet. In my head I thought, well I know what soft diet is but what does it mean when there’s the word ‘mechanical’ before it? So I went ahead and consulted the ever-reliable Google, and here’s what I got, by Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology:
The mechanical soft diet is a close cousin of the soft diet. It gets its name from the fact that household tools and machines, like a blender, meat grinder, or knife, are used to make foods easier to chew and swallow. In contrast to the soft diet, the mechanical soft diet does not restrict fat, fiber, spices, or seasonings. Only the texture and consistency of foods are changed. Fruits and vegetables may be soft-cooked or pureed. Meats, fish, and poultry can be cooked, ground, and moistened with sauce or gravy to make chewing and swallowing more comfortable. Breads and crackers may be limited at first, as they can be dry and difficult to swallow. Milk and other dairy products like pudding, custard, and smooth yogurt may not need to be changed at all!The mechanical soft diet is appropriate for patients who are recovering from head, neck, or mouth surgery, who have dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), narrowing of the esophagus (food tube), or who are too ill or weak to chew.
There, the difficulty swallowing and narrowing of the esophagus. The nice thing about Mechanical soft diet is that even if the patient is on strict soft diet it doesn’t take away the taste of your food. My food tastes so good! Impressively it doesn’t taste like hospital food at all, even if it does look like one, ha!
But it kind of makes me sad. Why? Because I don’t like eating congee. So every time they deliver my food all I see is the congee. ☹️
Looking at my food, I forget to check and appreciate the beautifully made viand that comes alongside it (which I’m sure is lovingly and carefully prepared by the chef for sick people like me). I fail to notice that the dessert that came with it is my favorite — peaches! And because I got stuck being sad about having congee, I have not touched the soup while it is still hot and good.
The same is true with my confinement. I focused on counting the number of days where I’ll be stuck here that I failed to reflect why I got here in the first place and what I can do to get well soon while taking note of the things to ensure that I don’t get to this point again.
Don’t we do the same in life? You know, focusing on the bad rather than looking at the good? Seeing what is ugly rather than appreciating the beauty? Complain even before we start trying?
My first two days were extra hard because of the congee. Yes, no joke! I know some of you would say ‘it’s such a small thing’, but for someone like me who grew up not friends with it, I bet you’d understand. The good thing about being confined and having no choice is you get to develop endurance (if you don’t eat you suffer from hunger and tummy pains). Which helped me realize that while I can choose to drop the congee and suffer intestinal pains since my body is taking in lots of antibiotics, I can also try to get used to it, appreciate it while still in the hospital and help my body recover faster.
Sometimes we go through the same feelings — the feeling of being stuck, thrown things we have no choice but accept, or given situations we can’t do anything about. But hear me when I say this – when you find yourself in that situation, drop whatever lens you’re wearing, put on your gratitude lens and decide to look at the situation at a different angle.
For What the devil meant for evil, God turns and uses for the good. – Genesis 50:20
We can train our eyes to see the good and beauty in things. To try before we open our mouth to complain and say “I can’t do it”, because who knows if you haven’t, right?
I remember a quote I once read, don’t be afraid to try new things, to make mistakes, because we only need to be right once.
Looking at things in a negative and scary perspective will not get us anywhere. More than anything, it will only leave us feeling paralyzed. As I was staring at my congee on day 2, I thought to myself – well Peachy, these are your options: 1. you can starve yourself and suffer tummy pains due to lack of food, 2. you can opt to buy fast food which is not good for you and your throat so you’ll end up prolonging your hospital stay. 3. or you can use this time to get to enjoy your congee and find out why others love it.
I choose to do the latter.
Had I not tried I wouldn’t have discovered why others love eating congee and what’s so special about it. Thanks to that hospital confinement, I can now relate to my friends who love to eat that.
While it may be unfortunate that I had to be admitted in the hospital for 5 days and paid a fee enough to break my pocket for a few months, I’m actually grateful for it. If not for this confinement, I wouldn’t have known that the simple sore throat isn’t really the problem but my compromised immune system. Immune system to which was at zero. If not for this experience, I would still be hating congee.
Now I know that I needed to handle stress and pressure better– that every now and then, I must allow my body to truly unwind (which is more than attending someone’s party); to eat the right kind of food, to drink more fluids, and to have enough sleep because I am not getting any younger.
Oh! And that congee do taste good. 🙂
Learning to appreciate and being more grateful will not make us any less of a person. In fact, it can even add more to who we are. It adds up to our learning, our capabilities, our understanding, our personality. More so, we come out of the experience wiser.
And to end this post, let me share with you this Bible verse: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4