Happy Nurse's Day to my fellow nurses out there!!
As a nurse, I meet a lot of people. Most of these people I care for a day or two, and they go on their way. Some people are frequent flyers, and I see them a few times during multiple stays. I've been at the hospital long enough that I now recognize names of people in our census - I recently took care of the family of a patient I had in the fall, before she passed away. There's a certain continuity to this, knowing people who come back, whether as patients or family members. Our hospital does a great job of involving families in the process, and there are some that you come to know pretty well.
It always amazes me the trust that people will offer up to those in scrubs or a white coat who walk into their hospital room. I try to get people to talk, and to really talk about anything. Many of the patients who come to our floor are struggling with major surgeries, cancer diagnoses, or other long term illnesses. Patients can't heal until they are comfortable, and in most cases they aren't comfortable until they can relax and let their guard down. This usually means talking - talking about their kids, their grandkids, their dogs (one of my favorite topics!), their favorite TV shows, places to vacation or shop, what they like to eat. I played a game with one patient the other day where we named the state capitals. It doesn't really matter, as long as it breaks through the tension and pain and lets them relax.
Many of our surgical patients need to tolerate solid food before they're allowed to go home, and sometimes this is a struggle for someone with no appetite. I had a patient like this a few weeks ago; he had just had surgery and the surgeons wouldn't clear him to leave until he had eaten and they were sure his digestive system was working correctly. I told him he needed to trust his body to work properly and to start slow, maybe with some soup. We talked a lot about food that day. What he liked to eat, what he didn't like to eat, what he would eat when he got home. He told me that he loved to cook, that it was something he enjoyed and loved to share with his family. I told him that I was relatively new to cooking, but that I was learning to enjoy it as well. At the end of my shift, I went into his room to check on him one last time. He gave me this handwritten recipe for soup, one that his family had been making for generations. He was entrusting it to me, to enjoy with my family.
This past week, one of my best friends and her little girl came to visit to celebrate her first birthday. This woman is part of my family, and has been for as long as I care to remember. We've shared so much more than a simple meal together can encompass, but I wanted this visit to be special - everyone loves a birthday, after all. I decided to trust this recipe and make this soup, and I was truly impressed. It's flavorful and rich and filling - just like the best relationships.
Tuscany Soup for the Soul
(via a long family history of foodie love)
1.5 lbs Italian sausage, casings removed
3/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 bunch or 6-7 cups chopped kale
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
7 cups chicken broth OR 7 cups water + 7 bouillon cubes
3 large red OR russet potatoes, in 1 inch cubes
1 cup heavy cream