Most patients are fortunate enough to spend but a few evenings in a hospital and the menu appears to be broad spectrum enough to keep every taste bud marginally happy. When one is however confined to these four fine walls for an indefinite amount of time, that menu becomes something of a game of Russian Roulette, you need to make decisions every day on what you are going to offend the least the following day, your taste buds or your constitution.
A week ago I took the opportunity to explore and ordered a ‘gourmet’ chicken salad, which consisted of iceberg lettuce, chunky tomato wedges and chicken covered in something resembling a marinade. It was a meal that left me in a literal panic attack and agonising stomach cramps. It required the services of my specialist doctor, two nurses, a handful of calming medication, a traumatised husband and a weeks worth of careful monitoring to rectify. You see, in my current condition, severe stomach pains can indicate that I’m entering full Clampsia, which would require an emergency c-section. After one of the most terrifying moments of my life, it was established that I was suffering from nothing more than a bad meal, but one that had certainly provided me with some grey hair.
Navigating hospital food is a daily challenge, one that can only be mastered after having experienced it in all of it’s glory. For example I have learnt that boiled potatoes is a perfectly acceptable lunch time meal, do not ever order it for dinner however. I’m pretty convinced that lunch’s leftovers are placed on the hot paving in the parking lot and left out in the sun all day to stay warm for dinner time. Mashed and boiled potatoes are also considered to be the same thing. I play out the insanity game daily by ticking the ‘mashed’ box and expecting to actually receive mash and not the floury dry coaled lumps of potatoes which I receive in place of mash.
Deciding on an evening pudding after dinner is also quite the challenge. How does one select between the wall plaster and custard (baked malva and custard), unrecognizable cheesecake, jelly and custard, cheese and cracker board or fresh fruit (the only fruit in season is Winter Melon and 3 Naartjie wedges). My husband didn’t believe the Malva was good enough to repair our boundary wall, so he gave it a try last night, he licked up every ounce of custard, but could barely get through half the portion of wall plaster.
The only fruit provided for snacks is an apple, which looks much like any other apple, except that it smells and tastes like Pear, and it matters not how many times I eat it, I’m pretty sure the exact same apple is placed on my bedside every evening for a midnight snack, it seems to have the same blemish in the same spot every single time it makes an appearance.
Crackers and cheese. We are given a plate of nibbles for an afternoon snack, a handful of bland crackers, a little sachet of margarine and a small tub of something resembling grated cheese. It has the texture and consistency of playdough, is totally odourless and tastes as amazing as the air in my room. This is considered a treat.
PS: This morning I changed things up and opted for the fish cake instead of bacon or mystery sausage for breakfast. I can attest that you should avoid the fish cake at all costs.