I have done a few diets in my time. The low carb diet and the no carb diet. A gluten free diet when I had a similar bout of GI distress. A Weight Watchers diet when I was trying to shed some baby pounds (or, more likely, Lithium pounds). I had a brief eating disorder as a teenager (not exactly a diet I suppose) and I have always been “almost vegetarian”; meaning I only like certain meats. But nothing was to prepare me for The Diet.
You see, my diagnosis of Oesinophilic Gastroenteritis has only one treatment. Steroids- specifically Prednisone. But Prednisone has the side effects of depression, mania and psychosis, and thus a Very Bad Idea for me to be on. Seeing me descend quickly into complete insanity, my doctors in the Dungeon quickly weaned me off the drug, and because they had absolutely no idea what to do with me, they referred me to an Immunologist.
The immunologist suggested a six week elimination diet, whereby all potential irritants to my GI tract were removed. I was to avoid wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts, soy and seafood. This, in theory, was a Very Good Idea. In practice, however, it was a nightmare.
I was an inpatient for those six weeks and at the mercy of the hospital kitchen. All the kitchen could find to feed me was chicken with rice. So that’s what I was fed twice a day for over a month. Chicken and rice.
After four weeks or so of this diet, I began to dread mealtimes. Chicken. Rice. Chicken. Rice. Twice a day, every day. It was doing my head in. It even continued in between hospitals. Once I was admitted to the state psychiatric facility I was still finding chicken and rice underneath my closh.
One evening in the locked ward, when dinner arrived at the little hatch in our dining area I felt myself losing the plot.
“if I see another chicken breast with rice I will….” I glanced at the warning look the nurse handing out plastic cutlery was giving me,” most definetely not kill myself. There is going to be chicken and rice under there.” I continued, pointing accusingly at my tray.
“It might not be.” the nurse responded hopefully.
“It will be.” I replied darkly.
I lifted up my closh, and indeed there was chicken and rice (albeit with an apologetic garnish of parsley). “See!” I said triumphantly. “That’s it. I can’t do this anymore. I’m not eating this tonight.” I took the tray back to the hatch.
“if you don’t eat you don’t shit. And if you don’t shit, you die.” offered Nicole helpfully.
“This is getting a bit silly,” the nurse admitted. “Look, is there any way we can get Rachael something else to eat tomorrow?” she asked the young Asian lady from the kitchen.
“Ah. Yes!” the lady answered, nodding vigorously.
My heart leapt. How had I never thought to ask for a change before?! Possibly because my ECT had wiped out my ability to even remember what foods I had to avoid.
“Don’t count on it,” Nicole said, after the kitchen lady had left. “She can barely speak English.”
The next day I wondered if Nicole was right. If the kitchen lady had understood what was being asked. If, in such a big hospital, they wouldn’t accommodate change. Nervously I lifted my closh. It was then I squealed with delight. Something new! The kitchen lady understood! I lifted my plastic fork and prepared to tuck in to something different.
Chicken and veggies.