“Hello, Hospital Nutritional Services, do you want to place an order?”
“Yes, this is Beranski in ICU# 3, I would like some breakfast please.”
I had not eaten a thing for two days due to my surgery. I swooned for the commanding strength of a hot cup of black coffee; shear ambrosia.
“Yes, Ms. Beranski, I have your chart up in the computer. When was your surgery?”
“Have you moved your bowels yet?”
Even though I was still in the fog of post anesthesia, I found that question a bit off-putting. One would never be asked that at the Russian Tea Room.
“I think so.”
“What would you like to order?”
In my opinion, there are precious few “stand-alone” foods; these have no need of assistance from spices or other provisions to make them perfect. One such food is bacon. What begins as a wilted sliver of pork, dances and cackles in the skillet, becoming a perky ribbon of gastronomical bliss, and the ideal colleague for eggs.
“I want two scrambled eggs, bacon, well done and a cup of coffee, please.”
“No, you cannot have that.”
“OK, an English Muffin with strawberry jam, a banana and coffee.”
“Alright, French toast, fruit cup and coffee.”
“OK, let’s take another avenue here… how about you tell me what I can have.”
“Cream of Wheat, plain, or Quaker Oats, plain. No coffee, decaf tea only.”
“What about a glass of orange juice?”
“Well, I guess I’ll have a big mess of Quaker Oats with a morphine chaser.”
“We will get that right up to you Ms.Beranski, and thank you for calling Nutritional Services.” (as if, I had a choice of caterers to call.)
Breakfast arrived within the hour. Carrie, a lovely young lady from the kitchen staff, placed the institutional green tray on my bedside table. As she lifted the metal covering from the bowl of Quivering Quaker Oats, a single puff of steam made its escape toward the ceiling.
“Boy, that steam is sure anxious to get of there.”
Carrie laughed, “Yeah, this stuff looks disgusting, but it doesn’t taste as bad as it looks.”
“Thank goodness for that. I will need some utensils.”
“OH, Duh…I’m sorry.” Carrie reached in her pocket and retrieved a napkin with the utensils.
“What is this?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s a ‘Spork’….you know, spoon / fork. We use those with the runny foods. Do you need any help eating?”
“Only if you’re willing to swallow this for me.”
“You’re so funny…no thanks, I had my breakfast already. Bon Appetite.” Carrie chuckled and continued on her rounds.
As the first sprok-full of gruel passed my lips, I was transported back in time to a Dickensoinan workhouse with Oliver Twist. But unlike him, I would not be asking for MORE.