Well. This is not the holiday post that I was planning to write. I had intended to post on home-baked gifts, Big Sur Bakery stollen, Christmas cookies, wishing everyone a peaceful and joyous holiday, and so on; but none of that happened. Instead, I wound up under the care of the good people at Stanford hospital. Twice.
A few weeks ago, I started experiencing some mild shortness of breath and chest pain. I felt like the world's biggest hypochondriac--the symptoms were quite mild--but a week later, at the urging of both the Suitor and my mother, I went to my local urgent care center. After a few tests, they referred me to the ER, where a CT scan showed multiple small pulmonary embolisms in both of my lungs. Turns out I wasn't being such a hypochondriac after all. A night in the ER and a day in the hospital later, I went home with an arsenal of anticoagulants and instructions to take it easy.
And take it easy I did until a several days later, when the combination of my feeling gradually better, the purchase of Michael Ruhlman's Ratio app for the iPhone, and above all the Suitor's mind-blowingly awesome Christmas gift* tempted me to sneak into the kitchen and bake a pound cake. Personally, I'm not at all convinced that this ordinary act of baking was detrimental to my health. The Suitor (only half-jokingly) begs to differ.
Either way, the following evening I was back in urgent care, and then the ER (where another CT showed three new clots), and then the hospital for a few more days. Fortunately I have family nearby, and the Suitor (bless him) barely left my room except to go home and sleep, so spending Christmas in the hospital wasn't nearly as depressing as it might have been.
I'm home now, though we still don't have any answers as to why a 27 year-old with no family history and no risk factors** wound up with lungs that looked like they'd been sprayed with bird shot. Even more puzzling is the fact that I threw additional clots despite being on anticoagulation therapy. None of the labs has come back with anything interesting, so the investigation continues. For now, I'm continuing my regime of blood thinners and intensive couch-sitting (meaning, sadly, no baking).
Now, you might be wondering, is there anything in here about food? I was going to write a post poking fun at the awful hospital food, but as it turns out, it's not that bad--some of it, that is. Most of it is indeed awful: in the post I started writing, I joked that to make up for my not being able go out and exercise, the chefs were making sure I get my strength and endurance workouts trying to chew their meat. And don't get me started on the "fresh vegetable medley."
Fear not, though, foodies! Way over on the other end of the spectrum is a not-entirely-secret, but to my knowledge little-known alternative to the regular offerings: the Farm Fresh program. These menus include seasonal, organic, often locally grown ingredients and, in my limited experience, are prepared with much more care and skill than the default menus. It's not a three-star restaurant, but it's not half bad. In fact, it's actually pretty good.
As an example: for one of my meals I had butternut squash and coconut milk soup, roasted potatoes and carrots with some diced poached chicken, a cup of what looked like braised chard (which I'm not allowed to eat at the moment, but oh well), a piece of surprisingly good whole grain bread, and a baked apple with raisins and brown sugar. Another meal included some of the same items as well as house-made chicken noodle soup and a salad with locally grown organic greens.
Presumably--hopefully--I'm done with my stays at Stanford Hospital. But if I do have to go back for any length of time, at least I know I won't be going hungry. In the meantime, I hope everyone has indeed been enjoying that peaceful and joyous holiday season I meant to wish you all earlier this month. From the Beyond Ramen household to yours, wishing you good eats, safe travels, and beloved company.
* Hint: it has a 6-quart bowl, a 575-watt motor, and a gorgeous coat of red paint. And it creams butter and sugar like you would not believe.
** The Suitor maintains that my burgeoning love of kale is in fact a risk factor, but the doctors assure me otherwise.