After waking to a nurse cleaning my tracheostomy and NG tube, a clinical psychologist entered my room. “Hi, Cavin. My name is Holly. It is my job to help you cope through this difficult time.”
Noticing the tubes protruding from my nose and throat, she said “I can see that you can’t talk. That must be difficult.” While it sounded scripted, the sentiment made a difference. “Can you write?” She asked, and I nodded.
Handing me pen and paper, she said “Great! Do you have any goals when you leave here?”
“I WANNA GET FAT WHEN I’M BETTER.” I wrote.
I could tell she was trying not to smile, “I hope that’s not a real goal.”
I smiled and looked down to write “GONNA EAT SO MUCH!” Capturing eye contact with her, I mouthed “Can you read lips?”
“Good idea,” she mouthed back.
“When you can eat again, what is going to be your first meal?” she asked.
I had been dreaming of so many different meals but the food at my favorite Japanese restaurant in Brooklyn was on my mind. “I want braised pork belly with cilantro and wasabi cream.”
Holly’s head shook from side to side. “Well that’s a first. Most people want a cheeseburger.” Holly began to collect her pen and clipboard “I’ll tell you what… I’ll take you out to lunch when you can eat again.”
Food is a big deal. We eat socially, we take each other to restaurants, and we literally are what we eat. We are made up of cells that are created from nutrients in (what we are able to digest of) the food that we eat.
By this point, the psychological effects of not swallowing for a long time… coupled with hospital liquid formula, my primal instincts overrode rationality.
If I were given a deal where I could eat all I wanted and would be able to eat for the rest of my life, but I’d never be able to walk again… or I could wait and I’d have a chance to recover from both ailments, I would have immediately chosen the food. I was brought to the point where I might have made it for a KitKat bar.
I can relate to my clients in this place and we are able to accelerate recovery with better nutrition… even if they can only get nutrients through a tube.
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