Finding Myself Again…
I woke up as cold sweat slowly trickled its way down the bridge of my nose. It reached the tip it and welled up into a droplet before falling to down to my lip. My eyes struggled to open still heavy from the anesthetic. There were muffled flutters of activity just beyond the privacy curtain draped around my bed. I could hear feet shuffling around on the cold sterile floor of the recovery room. The muted rhythmic breathing of respirators blended with the subtle sounds of heart monitors. My nostrils burned from the cold, dry oxygen being forced into my lungs by the nasal cannula. Still groggy, I could feel the irritated area where the breathing tube had been laid in my trachea while I was unconscious during the procedure. I swallowed hard and took a deep breath through my mouth. Pain seared through my abdomen revealing where the incisions had been made. I moaned in agony and before falling back asleep I reminded myself why I was here.
Six months before I received approval from my insurance company to have the laparoscopic gastric bypass performed I was required to meet with a psychiatrist to discuss how my life will change and the steps I needed to take to make sure this change took the right path. We discussed in length the changes that would take place physically and how to deal with it on both an emotional and mental level. We went over how I might experience slight changes in the way I tasted things. After a number of sessions with her the reality that my relationship with food, while I still loved it, was more like a drug addiction than a passion.
Something happened a couple months after the surgery that I never expected. I was at a party, still adhering to a rigid post-op diet, when a friend persuaded me to try his wife’s homemade garden salsa. My eyes lit up and I found myself tasting it in an almost three-dimensional way. Textures I would have previously missed came to the forefront. Flavors mixed and blended as I savored each bite instead of just chewing and swallowing. I went home that night and began to remember why I wanted to be a chef in my teens and early twenties. It was that thrill that comes from helping someone see and taste a dish in a whole new way. I had a new direction fueling my passion. I know now that I want to create food that is as natural and three-dimensional as that salsa that helped reawakened my passion was for me.