Hospitals are a place of care, a place to help restore health. They are a place of healing, and a place that is familiar with disease and other ailments. Because of this you would think that they would be able to cater to special dietary needs… Think again.
On Monday night my boyfriend was in excruciating pain. He felt as though someone was driving a knife into the right side of his abdomen. I took him to the hospital fearing that it could be his appendix… it was. He was admitted to the hospital that night and scheduled for surgery the next morning.
While waiting in a cubical for the doctor I began to feel light-headed as I hadn’t eaten since lunch, it was now around 8 o’clock. With his mom now at the hospital he suggested I go grab something to eat – I graciously took the offer and headed to the cafeteria.
Once there my hope for food shattered… There were five “restaurants,” Pizzaville, Tim Horton’s cafe and bakery, Cultures sandwiches, Paramount Middle Eastern food, and Thai Express. Three of those options were already out, so I decided to peruse the menus of Paramount and Thai Express.
Paramount seemed promising because of the abundance of meat, but with closer inspection I noticed that most of it was spiced, and almost all of it came with pita bread. I decided not to take a chance and moved on to Thai Express.
I’d never had Thai Express before so the menu was a little bit confusing. I asked the man behind the counter if I could get chicken stir fry and he asked what sauce I would like. I told him I didn’t want any sauce and he looked at me, “you have to pick a sauce.” I explained that I couldn’t eat gluten and that I didn’t want to risk it… he wasn’t having it. “We can make the sauce gluten-free,” he kept pushing, “What about soy sauce?” I was in disbelief, “I can’t eat soy sauce, it contains gluten…,” I said. He continued, “We can make it with gluten-free sauce, you have to pick a sauce.” Are you serious?! I thought, he had to be joking. I was beginning to get annoyed, “Can I please just get the chicken stir fry without any sauce?” “It’s not going to taste good,” he replied. If this continued they’d have a code white on their hands, aggressive person – situation in progress. “That’s fine, I just want it plain.” He could hear the annoyance in my voice and finally agreed to make it, after repeating one last time that it wouldn’t taste good.
After finally receiving my meal I chowed down. The rice and vegetables were delicious, even without sauce. Of course the chicken was a little bland, but that was to be expected without any seasoning. Finally, some relief – I had energy for the night ahead. I looked back towards the Thai Express, so much for tasting bad, I thought. Now if only this hospital had more gluten-free options for Tuesday’s meal…