Stage Four

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By Linda Nidiffer

As Tom fought with his dying pancreas he became extremely muddled in his thinking.  I knew that I would have to come up with an explanation and an end goal that he would understand and buy into as ICU psychosis hit him hard.  Stage one: hospitalization, stage two: ICU, stage three: rehabilitation, stage four: recover at home. Each day we would go over the plan multiple times because like all patients he wanted to come home NOW!

Many mornings I found myself misquoting Dorothy Parker as I drove to the hospital, “What fresh new hell,” will today bring?  The real quote is “What fresh hell can this be. . .” as she made her way to answer her doorbell.  According to LIVEXP on Google, “This is a rhetorical question that generally implies that the speaker is so worn down and frustrated by dealing with previous matters that they regard the latest one as just another form of punishment.” That Dorothy was cynical, sarcastic and witty; no wonder I like her so much.  

See, I thought stage four would be the easy part. I love being at home. The pandemic days were some of the best days of my life.  I stayed home and read book after book but now I am chained to the one room of the house that I hate the most—the kitchen and by extension the grocery store. Ugh!  I am neither a gourmet nor a gourmand.  If left to my own devices I may not eat every day.  I don’t see what all the fuss is about when it comes to food.  Take a multivitamin and you never have to clean your kitchen again! Simple.

I started to learn to cook on a wood burning stove when I was a little girl on the farm.  I have paid my kitchen dues.  I don’t like menu planning. I don’t enjoy freezing by behind off in the grocery store.  I am truly aggravated by the number of faux milks in the refrigerated cases and how jumbo eggs are just large eggs.  Okay I have wandered off into pet peeves again.

They sent Tom home with new diet restrictions and I have to relearn how to cook.  He has to have limited carbs and very few fats. It seems the pancreas does not like fats. Peachy! It is a good thing the man likes vegetables and salads.  The problem is that I don’t do green things; I can’t digest them.  I remembered that we have a steamer buried in the cupboards somewhere.  Hmmm, what can I use it for?  I dash to the grocery and haunt the aisles and read labels for the nutritional values as though I have rickets.  In one day my steamer is waving the white flag in surrender.  Poor baby has cooked broccoli (gross), green beans (less gross), edamame (who wants to eat soy beans?), and I can’t remember what else. I have been so traumatized by these healthy foods.  This stage four is going to do irreparable damage to my inner harmony that I may never recoverJ