Sunday, December 27, 2009

Not your typical holiday post


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.


(wife.) said...

So, so happy you're back home and feeling better. The pic made me teary (as I'm sure it did you, too)... but I've been playing with my red KA in your honor. Something to *seriously* look forward to!! (...and who's to say the Suitor can't bring the ingredients & mixer couchside? ;-) )
-wendy (w_interrobang)

Anne said...

Wendy! Wendy = (wife.)! A little connection just went "phoop" in my head when I realized that you were not two people, but one--if that makes any sense. Anyway, yay for red KA love! I guess there are a few of us around. Be careful what you suggest, I just might draft the Suitor into hauling the mixer couchward. :) Especially now that I have not only a new Peter Reinhart book to play with, but Baking with Julia on the way...

Delicious Dishings said...

I hope you're doing okay now! That doesn't sound like a fun way to spend Christmas at all. But at least you had the Suitor and family close by!

Did you get that anniversary red KitchenAid with the glass bowl? I drool over that bowl! I was trying to convince my boyfriend that I need two KitchenAids and my second one should be that red one. No second KitchenAid but I did get a red ice cream maker.

(wife.) said...

omg Anne, I'm stunned you've actually seen my (semi-defunct) blog!! that's insane. And I stand by what I said - I think that would be a perfect couch activity. :-D

Before I got my KA a few months ago, I had my mom's 35-year-old one on loan - and now that she wants it back, I reeeeally don't want to give back the glass bowl!! It actually fits in my new one, which is amazing.

Anne said...

Megan - No, I got the 6-quart one with the steel bowl. I wanted the larger capacity, and the bowl lift rather than the tilting head. (But the 90th anniversary one is gorgeous!) I might still see if I can find a glass bowl that will fit in mine--soooo pretty--I'm just awfully worried that I'd drop it!

Wendy - I don't even recall how I originally came across it! I just remember the picture and the way your name shows up in comments and such. Re: the mixer, I think my mom's might be about that same age, and still going as strong as day 1. Amazing! I hope mine lasts that long.

julochka said...

oh my goodness!!! i hope you're ok! that sounds really serious! and how can it be out of the blue?

but i'm really excited about your kitchen-aid. it sounds like it's twins with mine! :-)

hope you're feeling better!!!

happy new year!

Anne said...

Thanks, Julie. It sounds worse than it feels, and it's getting a bit better every day. We still don't know why it happened, and it's starting to look like we might never know. Not very satisfying, but I suppose that's the way it goes sometimes.

I think our mixers might indeed be twins! Such a gorgeous color... :)

Bee said...

Anne, I'm completely horrified that I'm so late to send VERY BEST WISHES for your recovery. (I've been completely off the computer for a week, for various reasons.) Have they figured out what is going on with your lungs?

It seems a teensy bit inappropriate to congratulate you on the KitchenAid Mixer, but I know you've been coveting one and I'm so happy for you! I know that you will absolutely love it; and RED! So perfect.

I hope you are back to full health . . . and cooking soon. xx

Anne said...

Not to worry, Bee! Thanks for the well wishes. No word on what's up with my lungs--everyone's well and truly stumped. I still feel like an enormous hypochondriac because it's all just so unlikely, but the CT scans don't lie. I'll see a hematologist in a couple of weeks, and maybe she'll have a theory. I'm also in touch with a very good internist (through friends).

Meanwhile, my body seems to be handling it all pretty well. One of the things they worry about with PE patients is that the heart can get strained trying to pump against the clots, but judging from the various tests they've done, my heart is completely unfazed. Go figure!

As for the cooking, I still prefer not to be on my feet for long periods, but I'm back in the kitchen for easy things (as will be apparent shortly).

Supersaps said...

Oh my gosh! Sorry to hear about all the sickness drama and VERY glad you're feeling better. Here's to a new year and good health!

TBM said...

Gulp! Oh my goodness. For some reason I wasn't getting your feeds on my reader and missed all of this excitement. Hope that you are feeling so much better now, dear Anne! And that you are enjoying your wonderful gift.

PS I have a new love for kale as well. For some reason, this vegetable never was on my grocery list. Now I have to have it and have it often. It MUST be good for you ;-)