It has been over 6 weeks since I stepped foot into a restaurant. Six weeks.
Before my surgery, I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat like I used to. I knew things were going to be different. But after my surgery, I continue to be surprised by the mental changes I am going through. Currently, it is my irrational fear of food.
Two weeks before my surgery, I made plans with my girlfriends to go out after surgery. I thought going out for martinis would be no problem. Hey…I can sit at the bar and still look fabulous! Just give me a water with a lime. Who could tell it wasn’t a vodka tonic, right? But when my friends called that week to finalize plans…I started to have a panic attack. Food. There would be food there. Food I couldn’t have. And I would smell the food. I would see it. What would I do? Would I faint? Cry? Run out the door without explanation? I honestly didn’t know.
So to save myself the potential embarrassment, I canceled. Lucky for me, I have fantastic friends. They totally understood and we promised to reschedule for sometime when I felt more comfortable. Crisis averted.
But it was in this moment I became very afraid of being around food I couldn’t have. Self control was not one of my best qualities. So, while on this crazy post-op diet, I avoided food at all costs. No restaurants. No parties. And definitely no dinners with the parents. I couldn’t bear the temptation. Instead, I came up with some “non food” activities. Going to the movies, trips to target, getting a manicure. And they worked….for awhile.
Until this one day when I dropped by to visit my friend, Nicole, at work. She invited me to see a comedian with a bunch of her friends on Saturday night. Foodless fun! It sounded right up my alley. I was getting all the details when it happened.
Date: This Saturday. Time: 9:45. Location: Kowloon restaurant.
Now, for all you who do not live near Boston, the Kowloon restaurant has to be the most fantastic Chinese food restaurant in the whole entire world. Well…at least on the north shore. It is delicious and I am addicted. Hence, this was not what I wanted as my first "being around real food" test.
Chinese food just happens to be my personal version of crack. I’m not kidding. The Chinese food place by my parent’s house actually knows us all by name. And when we order, we order big. Enough for breakfast the next morning. If you judge by how many fortune cookies the give us will each order, they believe we are a family of 15.
But I still decided to go, because hey- food can’t rule me forever. My friend knew I wouldn’t be eating, so I thought things would be fine. But when I walked into the door, I could smell it. The food. I felt lightheaded…I wanted to run…but I didn’t. I took a deep breath and walked up to my friend.
After some quick introductions, I encountered my first test. Drinks. I ordered a water…with lemon. Everyone looked at me like I ordered a glass of motor oil. I smiled sheepishly. The waitress wrote it down and walked away. I figured it could have been worse.
Test number 2 came when the group ordered food. I did not participate in the conversation at all. In fact, I think I pretended to be interested in the ceiling and carpet just to avoid making eye contact. But when the food came, the waitress brought me a plate.
She started putting the food on the table. Rice. Pork. Chicken. Beef. I wanted to cry. And as the food started traveling down the table, my heart rate started to rise. I started to think irrationally. One chicken finger? Could one chicken finger really hurt me that much?
One of the girls politely offered me the dish. I looked at her with what I can only assume was a look of sheer terror. Fear that I could not say no. But before I could even open my mouth my friend, Nicole, quickly said to her “oh...she’s not eating.” And the beautiful dish of delicious food went away. It was so simple.
I breathed a deep sigh of relief. Was I sad? Sure. But no one made a fuss. The food sat on the table the whole night. It was literally right in front of me. But most of the time, I was laughing so hard that my cheeks hurt and I didn’t even pay attention to it. In the end, I had a great time. But, if I had been there alone without the distraction, I know I wouldn’t have done so well.
So, here’s what I learned that night. I still have weaknesses…there is a lot I need to overcome about the food that I want but cannot have. Also, I am lucky to have the friends that I do and I continue to be so thankful for the support that they give me. Finally, and most importantly, if I plan to be around Chinese food ever again…I am DEFINITLY going to need a chaperone!