Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 7: Don and Diets

I guess this entire blog is one day off schedule. I'm usually writing it in the morning, so it's usually about yesterday, not today.

My son was sick, and my wife went off to spend the day with my daughters, so my visitor yesterday was another patient.

I met Don night before last. He was on the exercise bike, and I stopped to talk to him. He immediately invited me for a game of spades, something which we still haven't done.

I did, however, drop in on him and spend some time talking.

It turns out that he's getting a transplant (for B-cell Lymphoma) the same day as Jerry's biopsy. His transplant is an "autologous" one, which means that they harvested some of his own bone marrow stem cells while he was in remission, and they are going to transplant him with his own cells.

Keeping Track of Patients

It was interesting to me that Don's transplant and Jerry's biopsy were on the same day. Yesterday morning, I told Dr. Reddy that my counts could go up somewhat slowly because I needed to be in the hospital on Wednesday to check on both of them.

She asked which patients I was talking about. I told her the room, and one of the interns gave her the last names.

Then she said, "Are there any other patients I should know about?"

Then she looked at her students and said, "Okay, let's cancel the rounds. We'll just get an update from Mr. Pavao."

That was fun.

Autologous Stem Cell Transplants

I don't know how effective autologous transplants are, but they seem like a great idea. There's no risk of rejection.

I did read one interesting statement:

The most feared complications include a return of the original cancer or development of a second malignancy, such as acute leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) ... Decreasing the incidence of these conditions is important because both acute leukemia and MDS are associated with a very poor prognosis. (, emphasis mine)

At this point, I don't mind being reminded how dangerous acute leukemia is and giving glory to God—and testimony to the reality of our faith in the Gospel—that he controls the circumstances of those "who love God and are the called according to his purpose."

Anyway, that's how I met Don, who gets his transplant on Tuesday, the same day as Jerry's 2nd biopsy. I've been asking everyone to pray that Jerry's biopsy is clean.

But I was getting to a story.

Don and Diets

Don has come to visit me twice. The other night, after I dropped in to tell him I couldn't find anyone else to play spades with us, he visited my wife and I at our room. Then he came over again yesterday afternoon.

Couldn't find a spades player that night, but we did get cards--trying card trick on my brother
We talked about a lot of things, and we had a very pleasant talk about God, faith, evolution, atheists, arrogance, and basic human decency. If I had to label him, he'd qualify as agnostic, although he's actually baptized into Judaism, and he really doesn't like the word agnostic anymore. He's very open to spiritual things. Very, very interesting fellow.

But most interesting of all was our discussion about hospital food.

He got a visit from the "nutrition" director, just like I did. He was significantly more straightforward and honest with her than I was.

When asked about the food, he described it as "hideous."

So part of his purpose yesterday was to recruit me for a talk with her, hoping that if we gang up on her, maybe we will be able to effect some kind of change.

My sister thinks this is a Freddy Krueger hat
It really is embarrassing what they serve. As I said before, there's not a lick of dietary fiber on the menu, not a whole grain in sight, and there's no way even to special order whole grains. Hannah (Lorie) did buy high-fiber cereals and whole grain crackers at Trader Joe's, so we don't have to do without, but it's a shame that there's nothing on the menu.

And what is on the menu is no better. It's not like there's the least bit of effort to actually promote nutrition. For example ...

The last couple days, I didn't fill out the menu, figuring I was getting mystery meals anyway, what's the difference. Thus, what I'm getting is what they decide to send to a patient who doesn't specify.

I get jello for every meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is some tasteless fruit from a can in it. With dinner, I also got banana pudding with Oreos™ crumbled across the top.

For meat yesterday, I got breaded, fried chicken fingers for lunch and some sort of pork smothered in gravy for dinner. I also get a bleached white bread roll with them.

I did at least get a serving of vegetables with lunch and dinner!

She'd like this hat better then.
But I look at those meals, and I think, "Do these people not even watch TV? Do they not ever hear public service announcements from the health department on the radio? Do they not know that fiber is good for your heart and is a significant factor in preventing colon cancer? Do they not know that fried foods and gravy contribute to obesity, which leads to a much higher risk of winding up in the hospital and having to eat foods that increase your risk of winding up in the hospital?"

It's all the worse that this food is said to come from the "nutrition center." They need to go back to calling it a cafeteria or kitchen. I haven't a clue why they would call it a nutrition center when there's barely a lick of nutrition in the food!

So I went ahead and volunteered to do what I don't want to do and talk to the "nutrition" manager about the fact that they serve the kind of food that, at the very least, plays a key role in so many people being in the hospital in the first place.

Don's going to try to arrange that for tomorrow. No sense attempting that on the weekend.


  1. Good luck with the nutrition battle. They serve what most people want. They have an opportunity to introduce patients to a new way of eating. Most people will only eat what they have always eaten. There's a reason why white bread fills the aisle at walmart and you have to go to traderjoe's to find good stuff. The nutritionist makes the menu based on what the majority "will eat". Most patients from selmer don't eat whole wheat. That's what the nutritionist will tell you.
    Love your new hat.

  2. And the military-industrial complex strikes again. As a Canadian who starting traveling in the US for business ten years ago, I was really struck by the advertising on TV: ads for meds to 'cure' you of the diseases that all the ads for 'food' had put you in the way of. In an endless loop, yet. They (the industry, not the people, who are wonderful!) WANT you sick, because that's where the money is, so I am never surprised at hospital food :( The entire culture is slanted toward that end. I do believe there is a plan lol. Glad you have the whole wheats to hand, and I am praying for you and all your buddies there. God bless you, and thank you for sharing your story as you go along.

  3. We talked to them today. They just got a new manager in the kitchen last week. He said at the last hospital he was at, he added a "heart healthy" menu, and that he would make that a priority here. We got very positive responses to the suggestion that they get some whole grains and at least encourage healthy eating in their patients.

    They also promised me brown rice with every lunch and dinner :-D.

    As the lady said, "There's no arguing with what you're saying." Very encouraging and pleasant meeting. Who would have thought?