Gallstone woes

A few years ago, I got a salad from Le Pain Quotidien near my work.  It was a new restaurant near our theatre with remarkably different food, and although the prices were a little high for my non-profit paycheck, I would occasionally indulge in their rustic french fare.  I would lean towards the vegetarian dishes, which were usually a few bucks cheaper.

I can't believe I actually found a picture of this salad!
I can’t believe I actually found a picture of this salad!

On this particular day, which has been burned into my memory for the horror it brought this foodie, I bought an arugula salad with goat cheese medallions.  It was the kind of goat cheese that was a little gooey, with a sharp, salty bite just on the cusp of being overbearing and unpleasant but mellowed out by the rich dairy.  I had eaten healthfully up until this point that day, dug in and almost immediately my body reacted: a hot flash, a feeling of weakness and faint, and embarrassingly painful gassy cramps.  I looked down at my beautifully constructed salad, at the arugula, the tomatoes, the lemon vinaigrette and those gorgeous cheese medallions and I knew then and there: it was the cheese.

I’d always been a slow eater (I tell my friends that I prefer to dine rather than eat) and had been subject to these kinds of attacks since senior year of high school.  I can remember how I would invariably get sick after eating in a restaurant.  But at those times, it never occurred to me that the problem could be cheese.

And that’s because, that doesn’t actually make sense.  I’m not lactose intolerant, I still enjoy low-fat dairy products: it wasn’t the dairy, it was the fat.  High fat foods give me this reaction.

For a while, I didn’t think of looking into it with a doctor.  Although I love cheese, I figured this was a good thing: I didn’t NEED to eat high-fat foods, it was really better that I have a tangible excuse to avoid them, right?  Ah, if only it had been that simple.

After a virus I contracted in Greece last month, I tried three different antibiotics on my inevitable ear infection before I could find one that wouldn’t reek havoc on my digestive system and after that I was never really the same.  I had terrible heartburn and would have this hot flash/nausea reaction pretty much anytime I ate.  So I had to bite the bullet and see the doctor.

The doctor told me that I probably had gallstones and ordered an ultrasound.  Just as my ultrasound results came back, I started to experience stabbing pains in my upper right abdomen and it was determined that I did, indeed, have gallstones.  Since I was beginning to experience pain, my gallbladder would have to come out soon.  Fortunately, the surgery can be done laparoscopically with a very short recovery period.  And there are high hopes that without the gallbladder, I will be able to eat all the foods I love again.  If that’s true, I’m really hoping that the habits I’ve formed over the past few years hold so I can reintroduce cheese and other high-fat goodies into my diet in moderation.  Although I have told James that he can probably expect to find me at home some night with a wheel of cheese on my chest, gnawing away….

This is all my way of saying I’m sorry I haven’t been able to write for a bit.  I have been living on Utz Sourdough Pretzels and Outshine Raspberry Popsicles, although even those are starting to become difficult to stomach.  My surgery is scheduled for Wednesday and I am looking forward to being able to eat real food again maybe even by the weekend (but my diet must stay low-fat for a few weeks).

I can, however, hope to give you much more varied recipes and exploits in the kitchen if this surgery does everything it’s promising.  James and I are already fantasizing about which of my cheese recipes I’ll highlight first once I can get back to cooking.

I can also tell you all the things I’ve been fantasizing about dipping these pretzels in…

  • Chocolate
  • Ranch dip
  • Homemade Buttermilk ranch dressing
  • Peanut Butter
  • Nutella
  • Chocolate and Peanut Butter melted together
  • Onion Dip
  • Spinach Dip
  • Cream cheese
  • Sweetened cream cheese with cinnamon
  • Cream cheese seasoned with herbs
  • Really the possibilities are endless…

Thanks for reading.  Hope to have a good update soon!

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