One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. -Luciano Pavarotti Did you ever realize how much pleasure eating is? Not only to eat food, enjoy the different flavors and textures, but to feel satisfied and content? Food is a gift, straight from God, on so many levels, and something that we enjoy over and over again, every day.
We are so blessed to live in the most wonderful country in the world, where there is such an abundance of food.
Not only do we have our “daily bread”, but so much more. I’m not going to talk about the starving millions in other countries, although it’s all very true. Since I came from the former Soviet Union, I could talk a lot about the difficult times that my parents and grandparents had to live through, but that’s a story for another day.
Today, I would like to talk about the pleasure that we get from eating. It’s such a trivial, seemingly insignificant occurrence that we rarely stop to think about it.
I’ve always enjoyed my food, and was taught from childhood to appreciate it by my parents. Now, I often stop in the middle of my dinner and marvel at the miracle of eating. Yep, I said miracle.
When I was 21, I had midgut volvulus, which resulted in sepsis and I lost ¾ of my small intestines and ½ of my large intestines. I was in critical condition for a long time and was given less than 5% chance of survival. To find out more about what happened, you can read about here or watch a video here.
I literally didn’t put any food in my mouth for more than 2 months. Then, for at least a few years, every time I would eat, I would feel absolutely awful. I was receiving nutrition intravenously. Trust me, lugging a pole with a 3 liter bag that’s connected to you and trying to drag it through the house (the wheels don’t exactly ride smoothly on carpet), is NOT fun.
I was constantly thirsty. Always. I drank three times the amount that normal people drink and I was still thirty. I was thirsty while I was drinking. I dreamed about liquids and had nightmares that I didn’t have anything to drink. I would wake up in a panic. In desperation I would drink the whole pitcher of water next to my bed, the entire pitcher full of water at one time.
I still drink a lot of water today, and I savor every drop. Drinking is wonderful. It’s heavenly. I LOVE my liquids. Tea was my best friend for a while. Especially in the years that I didn’t feel great most of the time, it would settle my stomach like nothing else. When I couldn’t drink before surgeries, etc., that was the worst. All I could think about was getting some ice chips as soon as they rolled me into PACU.
Your perspective changes with different circumstances and experiences that you go through.
Sometimes as I stand in the shower with warm water running over me, I want to cry from joy. For years I couldn’t take a shower without a long ordeal of wrapping all my tubing so it wouldn’t get wet. I had to make it fast too, because no matter how well I would wrap up my central lines and tubes, they would still get wet if I was in the water longer than 10 minutes.
It’s a gift to have a warm, cozy home. It’s a gift to be strong enough to work. It’s a gift to enjoy the beauty of nature and to feel the warmth of the sun. It’s a gift to have a loving family.
I often tell my husband “Sergi, it feels so good to feel so good.” Because for years, I didn’t.
I was doomed to the life of an invalid. At the age of 21, I was lying in the ICU listening as the GI doctor stood at my bedside and told me that most likely I would be on tube feedings or TPN all my life. I thank God that my surgeon was very encouraging and kept my spirits up. My intestines had been completely necrotic and not likely able to absorb the needed nutrients. I would never be able to enjoy food like a normal person.
At that moment, I realized what a big part food has in life.
When friends get together, there’s almost always food. What if I could never have that part of my life again? What about cooking? Cooking had been my hobby and passion since I was a little girl. There are so many events that are surrounded by food: barbecues, picnics, potlucks, family gatherings and let’s not forget the holidays – there are feasts every time.
I realize that there are more important things in life than food, of course. I had to learn to accept all that I had lost and still find joy in life.
Those dark days are now behind me. God is stronger than “Mother Nature” and science. I am healthy today and not on any supplemental nutrition and medication because He created a miracle that no one can explain.
Today, I bustle around in my kitchen, always trying new recipes, different flavor combinations and cooking up old favorites. As we sit down at the table with my husband and indulge in tasty mouthfuls or invite people to share our company, I still think back to those years. I had to sit back, watching other people eat. Many times we had to pull over at the side of the road when driving because I was nauseous, and I missed countless events, church services and gatherings because I was up all night, or didn’t feel good that day.Those dark days may be behind me, but they will always be part of who I am. I don’t ever want to take eating or drinking for granted. It’s a gift from God and I will forever be grateful.
As you sit down to dinner with your family or are enjoying some snacks in your living room, take a moment and thank God that you have such a wonderful gift – the gift of eating food, feeling satisfied and healthy.