A Nutritionist’s Dilemma

Yes, it is good to be home with family again and in a familiar bed (though my back is still sore and may require chiropractic treatment after the weekend). Now it seems so long ago when I was in hospital. I did get a reminder yesterday when I went back to the other hospital where I had a follow up with the ear/nose/throat fellow. I believe Dr T in KGH fought to get me in initially as I was a kind of priority patient, but now that I am not, I ended up being the last to be seen, waiting almost two hours for a three minute check up. The frustration was exacerbated by lack of food and water and stress about who was taking care of Jess who had spent the day at a babysitting course. It all worked out, but I was reminded how important it is to keep me fed on a regular basis– everything is so out of proportion and I feel like a whiny bitch who has forgotten that just a day before I was so grateful to be free. But this was not the way I wanted to be spending my first day of freedom.

My dilemma is this. Being neutropenic, meaning of low neutrophils and white blood cells, surely there are foods to avoid in my daily diet.  Foods that may contain bacteria. That means most fruit and vegetables, uncooked herbs and spices, apple cider, raw nuts, salad bars (naturally!), potato/macaroni salad (which I was served on two occasions in the hospital), unpasteurized dairy and honey. But what I did not know was it also includes miso, tempeh, dried fruits (though other lists say it’s OK), Caesar salad and dressing (even packaged?), feta, sharp cheddar and herbal nutritional supplements. On only one list did I see processed packaged cold cuts/meats on the NO list, and on others it was acceptable. Listeria, anyone? I have never seen mushrooms on any list, which befuddles me as they contain fungi that can lead to fungal infections, which as you may know can be pretty nasty. How about avoiding excess sugars and complex carbs that feed candida? That can become quite a nasty infection as well. Nevertheless, at no time was I given any such information upon discharge, let alone while I was an inpatient. I am aware of some of these because of what I happen to know about my illness and also what I learned from the food safety course I took a few months ago. At the meeting with my hematologist, the only recommendation suggested was to avoid salad bars and wash hands wash hands wash hands…. From the research I have done in the last few days, I find conflicting information about whether or not restaurant food is acceptable, where yogurt and probiotics factor in, and other ambiguous things. On one list I even read that though patients are able to eat citrus foods, they are not to handle the skins and peel them!

One of the things that everyone agrees on is no raw vegetables. This is a disaster for a raw foodist! For me it is manageable, but what I am facing now and in the future, hopefully for a short time but it could be longer, is something that goes against every belief I have about the healing power of food. In order to get through this, I must resort to SAD, aka Standard American Diet. And sad it is, because it includes mostly “dead” and processed foods. Foods with no life energy.

I have passed on to my meal group the information I have about what is recommended, guidelines we need to follow at home as well. After a time, this will become second nature. But here’s something weird: ever since watching Edward Scissorhands with the kids in the hospital the other day, I have had a craving for ambrosia salad!