After reading Ginger’s post (Ginger snaps) from my hospital bed, I became concerned that, in my absence, she actually did SNAP (with that Southern act and all). She is very level-headed most of the time. She is more Tomboy than little lady; she snarfs, snarls, growls and barks loudly for food. She does, however, tend to adapt to situations well and can be vey loving and cuddly. She is also very smart and understands all of our motions and emotions. I’m pretty sure she can understand most of our words too. She knows when we are traveling for business versus vacation as we pack, and even knows when she will be joining the trip (or not). She has seen me through hospital stays and recovery days (at the foot of my bed), assisted on airport runs (both coming and going) and has traveled by plane, car, bicycle and boat. However, she has never until this week, seen me leave in the middle of the night, gasping for breath, groaning, almost mindlessly walking from place to place in the house, throwing things into a bag, food into their bowl and whisking them out to pee before barely, crawling out the door. The image I had as I looked back at them stayed with me all through the night. Dog’s are very intuitive and can sense when something is wrong and although I did my best to comfort and assure them that all would be well, I suppose they too could sense that I wasn’t sure myself.
We have a good friend that lives across the street who is a physician, so when I first realized there was something more than the stomach flu going on, I sent him a text asking him to call when he awoke (he rises unnaturally early and I figured it could wait until then). When I received no reply and the symptoms became worse, I called, leaving a voicemail realizing how difficult it was to get words from my mouth; by now I was seeking more than comfort from his advice as I heard myself ask for a ride to the hospital. He is often out of town so I assumed that to be the case. I know that I should have called for an ambulance (as Tom was quick to point out when I called him in route) but to me, that just seemed so extreme, and I can be a little stubborn about those kind of things. I stepped out into the cold air and considered walking across the street to knock on his door but somehow, in my head, it seemed more difficult to walk the steps than drive and I felt the urgency to get some relief from my pain.
And so, I drove myself to the emergency room early Wednesday morning and, at the time, wasn’t sure that I would return (although that is not what I told Ginger and Buddy). The hospital closest to our house is only a few years old and I had been there just once before to ferry Tom in. Unsure of how to find my way, I called Tom (still in Boston) for directions. He groggily saw me through each step (his sense of direction is superior to mine, even when he’s half asleep).
Turns out I did get to have my ambulance ride after all. Thanks to insurance BS, I was transferred to my usual haunt and was admitted to the hospital that morning, unable to have anything by mouth (not even ice). Of course, back at home, in the throws of my pain, I could not imagine ever eating again. However, once the morphine kicked in and the day wore on, I once again began craving food. I started to write but was too tired and weary; I could not find my words. So, I began reading a blog site that I had visited a few times before – Coffeeinthewoodshed. From there I found myself at yellowhouse. I know it seems torturous to read about food when I am unable to eat but, to me, it was therapeutic and comforting. In reading their beautifully constructed posts, I was made aware that my appetite had never left me, which also reminded me of something Dr. McCormick had once, long-ago said (paraphrased), “It’s good you still have an appetite; nothing too bad can be wrong”.
I don’t do well without food. I also require water, constantly and ice cold (in a glass). Hand to mouth, hand to mouth, hand to mouth. Having spent the better part of 24 hours unable to eat even a crushed ice cube… well you can imagine how I felt – CRAVING STUFF, HUNGRY, CRAVING STUFF (and it goes on like this from here; you get the picture).
When I came home the next evening, Ginger had reverted back to her sweet, loving-self (and lost that “attitude”). Buddy seemed relieved and was unable to leave my side. I was still feeling weak, tender and sore but was able to “eat” a liquid diet. Rather than opting for something pre-made, home-cooked was in store. Ginger gladly assisted me in making a humble soup from carrots, ginger (not literally) and leeks. A simple concoction that took little effort to prepare. A simple concoction that helped recover my soul. A simple concoction that will now be part of my repertoire. This soup was my first meal outside of hospital walls.
Yes, I did get to order food the morning of my departure (to prove I could hold it down). My first bite was of a hard poached egg. Is there such a thing? Basically it is a hard boiled egg except minus the shell and in the shape off a fried egg. It was delicious none the less!
The enormity of eating anything at all; good or bad, is insignificant inside hospital walls because the experiential qualities are incapable of comparison to eating at home. The nature of this soup is very ordinary “carrot ginger soup” but, to me, on this night, it was extraordinary. There is said to be healing qualities in ginger (and Ginger) and in this soup, I have found them.
My first taste of food, back home in the retreat of my home was overwhelmingly full of comfort. Music lulling me softly away from the noise of the ward, vivid, bright scents of familiarity and warmth along with my two best friends sharing a meal (they each got the tiniest bowl) was beyond what the doctor could order. Piotr, my neighbor, who had watched Ginger and Buddy while I was away and had been with me through my ordeal (after reading my text), was sent away with some soup too, but I doubt it would have been as therapeutic for him (although, it might have been). I shall remember this soup with great fondness and make it again, when a little recovery is needed. I was then able to sleep through the night.
RECOVERY SOUP – carrot, ginger and leek
Ginger (both the food and my dog) is restorative, so I opted to allow it’s assertive flavor shine forward in this soup. Leeks balanced the sweetness of the carrot and although it was orange, the flavor of carrot was not dominant; it was more thick than brothy and the zest was just right.
Olive oil for sautéing
3 cups sliced leeks
2 TB chopped, peeled ginger
3 cups largely diced carrots – peel and ends removed
1 tsp fresh, chopped thyme
4 cups chicken stock (homemade preferably)
2 TB lemon juice
Sea salt to taste
Heat a medium stock pot over medium heat, add just enough oil to coat the bottom (less than 1 TB for us) and tilt to coat the pan. Turn the heat to medium-low and add in the leeks and ginger, then the carrots and the thyme. Sauté for 5 minutes or so until the vegetables are beginning to soften but not brown. Add the chicken stock and let simmer until the carrots are quite tender and the aromas have lured you back to the kitchen (It doesn’t take much to lure Ginger to the kitchen, but in this case approximately 45 minutes went by).
Purée with a handheld blender or put into a food processor. The color should be bright orange and it will be thickish rather than thin; I dare you to NOT instantly put a spoon of it into your mouth right away, or to dip into it with your tongue (talking to you Ginger).
Back in the same pot, simmer the soup, allowing the flavors to mingle a bit more. Squeeze in the lemon and flavor with salt. That’s it! Unless you feel the need to do some more fussing, but tonight, we did not.
Ginger served mine (ya, right!) with a squirt of the lime crème made for the black bean soup. Upon Tom’s return, he enjoyed his with a grilled ham and gruyere sandwich (no airline snacks here)!
It’s good to have all of us back under one roof, safe and sound.