Emergency room, with a view - Food Gypsy

This Delicate Mortal Coil

Published On June 12, 2011 | By Gypsy | A Slice of Life, Health

Spent much of my week  horizontal, in the care of the medical professionals at the Ottawa Hospital, Civic Campus.  Turns out my self-diagnosis; first of stomach flu, with resulting pulled muscle, then revised to gallbladder attack (via Internet/Grey’s Anatomy) though excellent, was not accurate.  Hello burst appendix. 

Should you or a loved one ever experience a “stomach flu” (vomiting, nausea, fever) with pain that starts in the center then moves and intensifies on the lower right of the abdomen, get thee post haste to a physician, you may have appendicitis.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT wait a week. — this has been a public service announcement.

The resulting infection could have killed a mere mortal.  Of course, for a Jedi like myself it is simply a matter of realigning with wellness – body, mind & soul.   It will take a while but robust individual that I am, having taken extraordinary care of my health for many years, I bounce better than many.

My medical care was truly excellent, the nursing staff was kind and attentive.  Where the medical system failed however was in providing one of the basic components of life:  FOOD.


The tray that sent me sputtering, spitting and looking for my soap box.

First there was the tiny matter of attempting to kill me with aspartame.

When a person is battling infection, why would one tax the liver further by making it filter a chemical sweetener?  The liver is a superstar organ; metabolizing fat, aiding in detoxification, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion.  Add that to glycogen storage, decomposition of red blood cells, plasma protein synthesis, hormone and bile production; quite frankly; my liver is busy enough already.

Next they fed me a gelatin dessert.  Now, I have nothing against a good gelatin dessert but again, how many chemicals is one overtaxed system supposed to handle?  I’m in the hospital already.  “Are you trying to keep me here?  Who do you work for?!  WHO DO YOU WORK FOR?!”  (It’s a conspiracy, they were trying to get me hooked on chemicals.)

All this after I made it a point to tell staff that I react to “food additives & preservatives”, I even had a red bracelet that informed staff of same.  On my tray, again and again processed, chemically coloured, artificially favored items appeared.  How can I digest this plastic you call margarine and why is there no ‘natural’ option?   How is one to heal fed by adipic acid, artificial flavor, disodium phosphate sodium citrate, fumaric acid, and the colorant red 40?

On admission I was asked what religion I practice (“Jedi”) but never once did someone talk to me about food.  Why?

In this flesh cocoon, that we call the human body we require three things for life  & vitality on this planet – air, food and water.  By not attending to my needs nutritionally, in my mind the system failed to deliver one of the basic human needs.  Simple.

Now, before medical professionals and dietary hospital workers get all up in arms saying that large hospitals cannot possibly customize each plate to each patient – I would like to point out that I never once received someone else’s medication, IV drip or diagnosis. 

There is chasm of difference between can’t and won’t.  All I want is healthy, natural food.

That being said… where the dietitians, prep cooks & delivery personal did go right was in the last tray of hospital food set before me.  Breakfast consisted of coffee (watery, but still coffee), grape juice (chemicals, no thanks) 2% milk, cooked oatmeal (can’t go wrong with oatmeal), dry brown toast and a boiled egg (perfectly cooked).  (Condiment options included margarine, artificial sweetener, pepper and diet jam.  Diet jam?!)

This tray was the key to my being released to recuperate at home until surgery in several weeks time as opposed to further ‘incarceration’.  The conditions were:  a fever-free night, clean blood work and keeping down solid (hospital) food.

A food challenge.  I simply smiled… “Obviously you do not know who you’re dealing with.  Bring it.” 

Home.  At last.  There is no aspartame here.  I am safe.  I see a cause in my future.

GYPSY NOTE:  In light of current health, the blog may be a bit spotty from time to time, we thank you for your patience.  The good news is, I’m on a holistic health mission so dishes delivered promise to be tasty and good for you!  More soon, but first we nap.


Your challenge should you choose to accept it.

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About The Author

"Gypsy" is not my real name." A freelance food & travel writer & photographer based in Aylmer, Quebec. Corinna Horton trained at Le Cordon Bleu, spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn, and is currently between big, shiny kitchens as she focuses on family and what's next in this delicious life.

7 Responses to This Delicate Mortal Coil

  1. Chrissie says:

    Hahaha, oh the joys of hospital food and their aspartame addiction… I highly recommend having friends show up with very large purses that contain brown paper bags of tasty and healthy unmentionables (unmentionables to hospital staff of course). :)

    • Gypsy says:

      Too true Chrissie!
      Friends must be food bootleggers of natural ingredients (all hail butter!)What is this morbid fascination with aspartame & the plastic they call margarine… my body is a temple and you are sullying the alter. ;)

      Joyfully, my stay was brief (and well documented) and my medical care was excellent. It’s good to feel good.
      ~ Gypsy

  2. wonderful , very insightful. I like it a lot. I come acoss the blog by MSN search engine. I would visit your site daily and introduce it to my friends. Please keep it updated. Keep on the good work. – A blog lover

  3. Anita says:

    Well, although not acceptable it is encouraging to see that at least hospital ‘sh*** is a global phenomenon and not one merely reserved for the good ole NHS.

    I say get Jamie Oliver on the case…he’s done wonders for school meals which in my opinion were nowhere near as bad as hospital gunk. Perhaps he would work with you Cori on what would turn out to be a MASSIVE joint (get it ?) project?

    Love Anita

    • Gypsy says:

      Bad hospital food is not truly ‘global’ – from what I understand, some hospitals in the USA most in Japan, and Italy offer very good food, in areas of NY and NJ they offer vegan, Kosher, veg you name it, all made in house. So, it can be done.

      I’m a big Jamie fan (even though he stole my x-BF… long story) and have been riveted watching his food revolution in UK and now the USA. I would LOVE to do a joint project with him.

      Anita, you’re in UK – be a love would you and give him a ring for us. Would you? I’ll put the kettle on for a cuppa’. ;)

      Shame you missed the Royal wedding… the perils of being fab!
      Thanks for reading!
      Your Gypsy

  4. Jenna Roy says:

    It happened to me last year. I was sick for a week before I went to the hospital and the doctor sent me home telling me it was gastro. All in all I was out of action for about 5 weeks…including the 1 week in the hospital trying to find out why I was sick. I understand how you feel. The food gets old quickly and I did what Chrissie suggested, I had people bring me good eats! I hope you are feeling much better.

    • Gypsy says:

      Hello Miss Jenna –
      Delighted to see you here and thank you for your kind note. Yes, feeling much better. Been out of commission for much longer than I would like — but back on the mend now.

      Today, I’m going to mix up some of my favorite muffins, a guest favorite from my days as a keeper of the Dragonfly Inn and delicious post of Food Gypsy readers. Will send it your way… should you wish to use it.

      Sending happy JAM vibes!
      Be well,

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