That is 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 when there’s a ‘mechanical’ placed before it means? So I went ahead and consulted the ever dependable Mr Google, and here’s what I got:
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. – Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology
There, the difficulty swallowing and narrowing of the esophagus.. The nice thing about mechanical soft diet is that the patient is on strict soft diet but doesn’t take away the seasonings 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, he!
But it makes me sad. Why? Because I love rice! And I don’t enjoy eating porridge/congee. So every time they deliver my food all I see is the congee that makes me sad. ☹️
Looking at the congee, 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 failed to notice that the dessert that came with it is my favorite — peaches! And because I took the time being sad about having congee, I have not touched the soup while it is still hot and tastes good. All because I locked my eyes on that one thing that makes me sad – the congee.
The same is true with my confinement. I started counting the number of days in my head I will be stuck here that I failed to realize just why in the first place I got here and the things needed to be done.
Don’t we do the same in ‘real’ life? You know, focusing on the bad rather than looking at the good? Seeing what is ugly rather than appreciating the beauty? Complaining even before we even start trying?
My first two days were extra hard because of the congee. Yes, no joke! I know for some of you who enjoys eating congee would say ‘oh it’s such a small thing’, but to a few like me who grew up not friends with it, you’d understand. However, the hunger and tummy pains helped me to realize that while I can choose to drop the congee all I want, I will suffer of intestinal pains since my body is taking in lots of antibiotics, albeit through IV, because I wasn’t filling my tummy enough to protect it. OR I can try to see things differently and learn to appreciate by taking it while in the hospital, and help my body recover faster.
You see, in life we may feel exactly like that — 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 – whenever 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. Train your eyes to see the good, and the beauty in things. To try first even before we open our mouths to complain and utter the words, “I can’t do it”. Because, really, who knows if you haven’t tried, 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.
I realized that looking at things in a negative and scary way will not get us anywhere. More than anything, it will only leave us feeling paralyze. 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 know congee and find out why others love it. I choose 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 enjoys and have this for their meal. Had I not tried, I wouldn’t be enjoying it now.
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 am actually grateful of it. If not for this confinement, I wouldn’t have known that really what is causing me to be sickly lately is not just because I was suffering of sickness, but because my immunity is in ground zero. As in nada. None. And if not for this experience, I would still be hating congee. Today, I know that I need to handle stress and pressure better. That every now and then, I must allow my body to truly unwind and not just because I am attending someone else’s party (which I thought is already considered as destressing). To eat the right kind of food, to drink enough fluids, and to sleep right because I am not getting any younger (even if my brain still feels like it!). Oh! And that congee actually do taste good!
Learning to appreciate and see things differently 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, to our capabilities, to our understanding, to our personality. More so, we come out of the experience stronger.
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