Institutional Food

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I never had a corn dog until yesterday, dinner at ManorCare rehab center in Yardley.  I’ve been here and Pennsylvania Hopsital for a month. So  I’ve had my share of institutional food.  Jen told me that corn dogs were one of Viv’s favorites. They weren’t too bad.  Served with hush puppies and a chicken rice soup.  I’ve avoided all soups but the chicken rice was well, OK.

Lunch yesterday was also a new experience.  On one of the other wings they were serving fresh grilled cheese steaks.  I rolled in and asked if I could have one to take back to my room.  Although I couldn’t take one back to my wing (infection prone cases), I could have one  in the dining room.  It was packed with wheel chairs but I found a spot an enjoyed a cheese steak.  Slice of American; no cheese wiz.  Coffee.

My first tray at at Pennsylvania Hospital was liquids, Thursday, the day after surgery.  I enjoyed a cool lemon ice, soothing to my throat that had hosted an air tube and suction pump.  Within hours however I was vomiting and was rewarded with a nasal pump to clean all fluids from my stomach.  So I didn’t eat for about a week until the nasal pump was finally removed.

Penn hospital food was generally OK.   I enjoyed a turkey sandwich, roast beef on  a roll with horseradish mayonnaise.  Plenty of juices, mashed potatoes.  I also drank a vanilla Mighty Mac shake with many meals to supplement what I was eating.  I was actually surprised that I ate several beef dishes with heavy gravy.  Not a regular part of my diet.  I avoided fish, until I ordered fish on a croissant.  To my surprise it was imitation crab meat.  Quite good.

I arrived at Manon Care late Friday night after two weeks at Penn. Someone found a bowl of rice crispies and milk and a peanut butter sandwich for my welcoming dinner.  The offerings the next two days were ridiculous.  One meal  was white bread with a piece of dry chicken.  No condiment. Jello or something like it for dessert.  Another meal was a fried chicken patty with another two slices of white bread. This place employs a dietician?  I was told high school students staffed the kitchen on weekends.

A dietician did meet with me on Monday.  I am restricted high potassium foods (bannanas, oranges) since levels were high at Penn.  The surgery also limits any hard to digest foods (whole grains, fruit with tough skins, for example).  Slowly the trays improved with things I could eat and enjoy.

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Breakfast can be french toast, pancakes, home fries.  The price of eggs is high so Manor is not serving eggs?  Waffles with some preserve and whipped cream is quite good.  And Wednesday is chipped beef on toast day.  Not a lot of beef but a breakfast favorite for me.  Occasionally sausage that I can eat if there isn’t tough casing; and bacon that is off limits.  Protein meats are good for healing but lean meats not fatty.  Inadvertently I ate a piece of chicken with skin on it one night. Within minutes I was sick,  sensitive stomach.

Manor’s lunches and dinners are not quite as good as Pennsylvania Hospitals but I can eat most meals that I order.  I few beef dishes were just too, too rich for me but we were prepared with emergency meals in the wing refrigerator.  Diane has brought in peanut butter and apple butter sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, squash soup and quiche. Good replacements or supplements.  I’ve wanted her to cook some scallops but it hasn’t happened yet.

Turkey, chicken, roast beef sandwiches with condiments are OK but I’m tired of soft white bread.  How about a nice roll!  There are also open face sandwiches, Turkey and one that I suspect was pork was lean enough to eat.  Mac and cheese, slice of ham with fried potatoes were both pretty good.  Desserts are limited, sometimes fresh fruit which I cannot alwys eat, occasionally cake or one cookie, pudding, ice cream, or  jello (sometimes liquid).  Diane ate a nice piece of pumpkin pie one day.    I get tea water with each meal but the water is luke warm, offered tea is decaf pekoe.  I brought in some herbal tea but the need to reheat the water puts me off.  So I’ve had limited tea and only one cup of coffee with the cheesesteak meal.

Snacks are usually available at night — ice cream, peanut butter orange crackers, and I have crackers and peanut butter in the room.  Protein!

I suspect some menu choices involve healthy options and special diets.  But cost is another factor.  No eggs at Manor now; neither Manor or Penn had herbal or better teas.  When I asked why, cost seemed a factor.  Being a bit of a foodie, I can’t say I totally enjoy my month of institutional meals, but I am thankful I have been able to eat most.

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