TERRIBLE experience in hospitals - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 01-09-2018, 01:40 PM
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Unhappy TERRIBLE experience in hospitals

In late May, 2016, I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea how sick I really was. The very short story is that I ended up collapsing at home, was rescued by police and paramedics, and then hospitalized for six months. I had in-home nursing care for several months after discharge and am still recovering with the aid of a live-in helper.

During those six months I was transferred to several facilities. My experiences in them were terrible, from a vegetarian point of view.

Something to keep in mind is that I'm in [a suburb of] Los Angeles, and I consider LA to be the epicenter of vegan/vegetarianism. So it was SHOCKING when the hospitals and rehabilitation centers I was in did not have vegan or vegetarian diets on their menus. Not only that, but some of them were CLUELESS when it came to preparing vegetarian food. For example, at one place they kept bringing me soup made with chicken broth. I kept telling them, "just because there are no chunks of MEAT in it doesn't make it vegetarian--if it comes from a dead animal, I can't eat it." But it happened over and over again.

At the same facility, they brought me scrambled eggs although I had told them I don't eat eggs. (I know, I'm not completely vegan but I've eliminated almost all dairy products, including eggs.) At another place they brought me hash brown potatoes--cooked in bacon fat.

The ultimate insult was when my lunch tray came and there was fish on it! They told me that all former vegetarians who'd been there ate fish; I explained that those people were actually pescetarians, not vegetarians, but I don't think it sunk in.

All in all, while my actual medical/nursing care in these facilities was excellent (overall), meals were a nightmare.

The last place I was in, a rehab center, bent over backward to satisfy me and I really appreciated it. They went out and bought vegan meat substitutes and made sure my meals were animal-free. But they were the exception!

Have any of you had similar experiences?
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#2 Old 01-10-2018, 11:04 AM
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I live in an area that many would consider to be more progressive, but actually, is very conservative beneath the surface. I had much the same experience when I had to spend a week in the hospital a few years ago. I just could not seem to make them understand that I just could not eat that. They had a menu to choose from and I tried to pick items that they would not have to change to accommodate me, but, pickings were very scarce. They even sent the hospital's nutritionist to have a talk with me but it didn't help my case much. I got a family member to bring me a box of granola bars so I wouldn't starve. Even so, I remember that one day they brought me a tuna salad in place of the veggie salad I had asked for for lunch and I gave it to my roommate.

I think the people working in the kitchen just don't want to change their routine to make special accommodations for a few individuals. which, in a hospital setting where some patients may require special diets makes no sense.
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#3 Old 01-10-2018, 05:53 PM
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I've never been in your shoes, but I am curious as to what particular health issue resulted in your becoming so debilitated and for so long.
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#4 Old 01-11-2018, 11:10 AM
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I live in an area that many would consider to be more progressive, but actually, is very conservative beneath the surface. I had much the same experience when I had to spend a week in the hospital a few years ago. I just could not seem to make them understand that I just could not eat that. They had a menu to choose from and I tried to pick items that they would not have to change to accommodate me, but, pickings were very scarce. They even sent the hospital's nutritionist to have a talk with me but it didn't help my case much. I got a family member to bring me a box of granola bars so I wouldn't starve. Even so, I remember that one day they brought me a tuna salad in place of the veggie salad I had asked for for lunch and I gave it to my roommate.
I spoke to the facilities' nutritionists, kitchen supervisors, even some of the cooks but it rarely helped. Ugh.

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I think the people working in the kitchen just don't want to change their routine to make special accommodations for a few individuals. which, in a hospital setting where some patients may require special diets makes no sense.
That's just it! They have special diets for diabetics, for low sodium people, food allergies, all sorts of stuff, so why is it so hard to produce veg*n food?! I forgot to mention that at one place, the fish place, after complaining again about the soup made with chicken stock, they brought me what they called vegetarian soup--rice in hot water. No, I didn't eat it. I did throw a fit, however...
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#5 Old 01-11-2018, 11:15 AM
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I've never been in your shoes, but I am curious as to what particular health issue resulted in your becoming so debilitated and for so long.
No problem: I had sepsis, rhabdomyolysis, a large liver abscess, cardiac failure, renal failure, and respiratory failure, the latter three brought on by the first three. I still have post-sepsis syndrome which zaps my energy, keeps me in bed most of the time, and causes awful joint pain. However, I don't want to sound all doom and gloom! I'm MUCH better now than I was and we mark each little accomplishment as a big deal. For example, I can crochet again now; I couldn't because my hands were too weak, but they've improved enough that I can do an hour or so of crocheting (I'm working on a blanket). A year ago I was in diapers, then moved to a bedside commode (too weak to make it to the bathroom and back), and now I use the bathroom like a normal person! Each improvement is truly cause for celebration--like being well enough to read and post on forums again.
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#6 Old 01-11-2018, 02:14 PM
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@VeggieSince88 . I am happy to hear that you are making so much improvement.

Now, about that crocheting - Congrats!!! I crochet, too. Tell me about the blanket - is it maybe on ravelry.com where I can see the pattern & what it looks like? I did not crochet for 20 years, after starting as a teenager, but restarted again 2 years ago and am going full-bore. Am working on a giant doily, using #2 cotton/acrylic thread/yarn instead of the recommended thin thread. God, when will it be finished...

Keep at it! Tell me your crochet stories. There is a great site called knittingparadise.com with countless thousands of members who knit and or crochet and there are very many photos of the members' creations.
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#7 Old 01-12-2018, 12:09 PM
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I'm not sure what to call the stitch--it's the most basic stitch I learned way back when I was a child, just starting with a chain stitch then reversing direction. I'm using a very pretty multi-hued yarn with little glittery things in it; its main color is a deep purple which transitions to a deep blue. It's really pretty. I don't have a label in front of me right now so I'm not sure about its actual name or anything, but I'll post those later.

MoxNix, how did you happen to pick up crocheting again after such a long break? I've always found it relaxing, almost therapeutic! What about you?
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#8 Old 01-13-2018, 08:31 AM
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Hey @VeggieSince88 ! I was wondering what happened to you! So glad you're back, and getting better.
It's horrible that the food, one of the most basic contributors to health, is so completely overlooked in places for treatment! Like if your car was in a mechanics shop and they put the wrong kind of oil in the engine!
I wonder how often hospitals are faced with veg'n requests?

We should all make a point to write letters, questioning accomodations, voicing our concerns

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#9 Old 01-13-2018, 10:03 AM
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I was just in a hospital for three weeks and I added back dairy and eggs because it was just too hard. My meals when I tried to stay vegan were things like "vegan chef salad"... a salad with iceberg lettuce, two grape tomatoes, and three slices of cucumber, with a packet of french dressing that I couldn't eat because it had egg in it.

Even with vegetarian, I kept getting things like Jell-O or chicken every so often. At that point I felt so helplessly upset because I couldn't eat it but now it's been wasted after the animal died for it. I gave away a fair amount of food so it wouldn't be thrown away, which isn't ideal either because now other people are consuming more animal products.

To be fair, the longer I was there, the more they tried. They had beans for me and a variety of meat substitutes. But at first it was a joke. And then my doctor accused me of compromising my ethics when I gave in and ate cheese.

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#10 Old 01-13-2018, 11:55 AM
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In the future, try to be admitted to an Adventist hospital. They tend to be vegetarians. I was at Porter Adventist many time about 15 years ago. Their menu was mostly veg*n with very few meat dishes. The menu was so good that omnis order veg instead of meat.

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#11 Old 01-13-2018, 12:26 PM
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Hey @VeggieSince88 ! I was wondering what happened to you! So glad you're back, and getting better.
Thanks, silva! Yes, I'm much, much better and happy to be back here.

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It's horrible that the food, one of the most basic contributors to health, is so completely overlooked in places for treatment! Like if your car was in a mechanics shop and they put the wrong kind of oil in the engine!
I wonder how often hospitals are faced with veg'n requests?
The feeling I got was that I was the lone person to EVER make the request, except at the one facility that told me about their previous fish-eating "vegetarians." You'd think I was from Mars or something the way they all reacted when I requested veg*n meals!

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We should all make a point to write letters, questioning accomodations, voicing our concerns
Indeed.
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#12 Old 01-13-2018, 12:30 PM
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I was just in a hospital for three weeks and I added back dairy and eggs because it was just too hard. My meals when I tried to stay vegan were things like "vegan chef salad"... a salad with iceberg lettuce, two grape tomatoes, and three slices of cucumber, with a packet of french dressing that I couldn't eat because it had egg in it.
I hope you're recovered from whatever put you in the hospital, or at least doing better!

I ran into similar issues. It was like, "if we take OUT the meat, then it's suitable...never mind about REPLACING the protein."

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Even with vegetarian, I kept getting things like Jell-O or chicken every so often. At that point I felt so helplessly upset because I couldn't eat it but now it's been wasted after the animal died for it. I gave away a fair amount of food so it wouldn't be thrown away, which isn't ideal either because now other people are consuming more animal products.
Oh, yes, Jell-O. I got my fair share of that. At one point it was on every single lunch and dinner tray, and I'd immediately call the kitchen and complain...again. In the 'fish' facility, I was getting no protein whatsoever, so I tried eating scrambled eggs one morning, and immediately vomited. So much for that idea. The ONLY option I had for any protein was yogurt, so I asked if it had gelatin in it. Yep, it sure did, so that was out.

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To be fair, the longer I was there, the more they tried. They had beans for me and a variety of meat substitutes. But at first it was a joke. And then my doctor accused me of compromising my ethics when I gave in and ate cheese.
Did your doctor have any suggestions?!
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#13 Old 01-13-2018, 12:35 PM
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In the future, try to be admitted to an Adventist hospital. They tend to be vegetarians. I was at Porter Adventist many time about 15 years ago. Their menu was mostly veg*n with very few meat dishes. The menu was so good that omnis order veg instead of meat.
In my situation--an extreme, dire emergency--there was no choice involved. The paramedics simply took me to the hospital here in my city, Arcadia Methodist, and that's where the fun began. I was lucky for months because I couldn't eat (I had intractable vomiting), so food wasn't an issue, but on the rare occasions when I thought I MIGHT be able to keep something down, that's when I found out how lacking they were in accommodating my needs. I really struggle to understand how hospitals in Los Angeles, of all places, can lack vegan/vegetarian meal plans.
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#14 Old 01-13-2018, 03:49 PM
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Something I've forgotten to mention: when I was finally discharged and had home nursing care, part of the care included a social worker. She came over and recommended that I sign up for Meals on Wheels (since I couldn't even stand up unaided, let alone cook). My daughter called them to sign me up and guess what? You're right! No vegan or vegetarian options! Really? I mean, REALLY?!
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#15 Old 01-13-2018, 04:18 PM
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Did your doctor have any suggestions?!
My doctor just stated "They should be able to accommodate you." (They being the outside company that contracts to provide the food.) I told him about the "chef salad" (which is how it was described on my tray and consisted of at most a cup and a half of lettuce) and said that my code of ethics included doing what is workable and healthful. After a week of meals that I couldn't eat or that consisted of practically no food I wasn't going to take any crap from him about it.

I felt like the implication was that I wasn't sincere about not wanting to kill animals, but I was just picky.

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#16 Old 01-14-2018, 09:27 PM
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...It's horrible that the food, one of the most basic contributors to health, is so completely overlooked in places for treatment!...
I just read in the news the other day that in hospitals 'nearly one out of five pediatric patients and one out of three adult patients aged 60 and older are malnourished' 'Malnutrition in older adults most often goes unidentified, undiagnosed, and untreated. This is partly due to the lack of training and education of healthcare providers in the clinical characteristics of malnutrition' [1]
Even the omnis are malnourished, and doctors cant even diagnose it.
Forcing patients to be malnourished should be counted as medical malpractice.
Is intentionally malnourishing veg*ns a hate crime?
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#17 Old 01-15-2018, 06:06 PM
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I'm happy you're much better now! I had a similar experience.

I live in the Midwest. My mother was hospitalized for six weeks with pneumonia at age 90. She was raised Seventh Day Adventist and was lacto-vegetarian her whole life.

The hospital was highly rated and everyone was very nice. But they were totally clueless. I did everything I could to get her well-balanced meals, but they just left out the meat and served her side dishes. Cottage cheese and peanut butter were the only protein foods offered, and only if I pressured them.

I gave up and brought her home-cooked food (by me) and veggie carry-out food for weeks on end. I noticed, too, that the fare they offered was totally inappropriate for heart health and diabetes management even for non-vegetarians.

Considering the mega thousands of dollars her insurance was paying to the hospital, this was, in my opinion, scandalous!
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#18 Old 01-15-2018, 06:13 PM
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My daughter called them to sign me up and guess what? You're right! No vegan or vegetarian options! Really? I mean, REALLY?!
Is it so hard to have some beans or lentils for gosh sakes!??!

Meals on Wheels is out of the question in my neck of the woods, too, not only for vegans and vegetarians but for anyone who cares about his or her health.
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#19 Old 01-15-2018, 09:47 PM
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I'm not sure what to call the stitch--it's the most basic stitch I learned way back when I was a child, just starting with a chain stitch then reversing direction. I'm using a very pretty multi-hued yarn with little glittery things in it; its main color is a deep purple which transitions to a deep blue. It's really pretty. I don't have a label in front of me right now so I'm not sure about its actual name or anything, but I'll post those later.

MoxNix, how did you happen to pick up crocheting again after such a long break? I've always found it relaxing, almost therapeutic! What about you?
That yarn sounds beautiful. I like yarns with "little glittery things" as you call it. Would love to know the brand and details when you have a moment to find the label but don't over exert yourself. Are you using a pattern or are you figuring it out as you go along?

Me, I live where the winters are 4.5 months long and 2 years ago something just snapped inside of me, telling me to take up crocheting again. I guess I was fed up with my grungy old mitts and winter caps, so I tried making those and they didn't look that great. Eventually, my crocheting improved. I have about 3 or 4 things on the go because, as you say, it is relaxing. Best to you.
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#20 Old 01-16-2018, 02:06 PM
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Whenever I go outside these days, even if I am not hungry I pack a lunch on the go, just incase.

Everywhere I go is fast food burger joints, and vegan restaurants are not really price friendly, so I am not down to spend $30.
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#21 Old 01-17-2018, 12:39 PM
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That yarn sounds beautiful. I like yarns with "little glittery things" as you call it. Would love to know the brand and details when you have a moment to find the label but don't over exert yourself. Are you using a pattern or are you figuring it out as you go along?
I bought it on Amazon and just looked up its link: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0052UOPI6 (note the 'smile' in the URL--when you use it when you order, part of the purchase price goes to a charity of your choice). I love the yarn! It's really soft and lovely. I'm winging it as far as not using a pattern, just doing it as I go along. The blanket is nearing its end, finally!

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Me, I live where the winters are 4.5 months long and 2 years ago something just snapped inside of me, telling me to take up crocheting again. I guess I was fed up with my grungy old mitts and winter caps, so I tried making those and they didn't look that great. Eventually, my crocheting improved. I have about 3 or 4 things on the go because, as you say, it is relaxing. Best to you.
I've always found it so relaxing. The blanket I'm working on actually got started five years ago as my mother was dying. I'd spend all day with her in her bedroom, and I started working on this blanket as a way to pass time. After she died in March 2013, I couldn't bear to look at it, so I put it in a closet--where clothes moths got to it! There's a GAPING hole near the bottom that I have no idea how I'm going to repair, but I figured I'd go ahead and finish the blanket and then worry about the hole. It was only a couple of months ago that I resumed working on it; it took that long to be able to look at it and not be overcome by sadness. My mom loved crocheting and continued to do so even when the arthritis in her hands made it difficult. Now when I crochet I feel good again, not sad, and I think that's a good sign of healing/getting over her death. Like I said before, it's downright therapeutic!
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#22 Old 01-17-2018, 12:41 PM
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Whenever I go outside these days, even if I am not hungry I pack a lunch on the go, just incase.

Everywhere I go is fast food burger joints, and vegan restaurants are not really price friendly, so I am not down to spend $30.
I rarely eat out, but when I do there are many, many choices here [in Southern California], from very inexpensive on up. We even have vegan fast food places! And, again, this is why it's so shocking that the hospitals were totally clueless...
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#23 Old 01-17-2018, 12:42 PM
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For just going around town and visiting people I simply got used to fasting. Some people likely suspect I have an eating disorder of some sort because I'll just happily not eat rather than eat meat or junk, they just never see the vast volume of food I eat at home, lol

Hospitals concern me tho, my local hospital offers virtually no veg*n food and what they do have costs a fortune. And no one I know cooks.
America is such a strange country.
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#24 Old 01-17-2018, 03:12 PM
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I just read in the news the other day that in hospitals 'nearly one out of five pediatric patients and one out of three adult patients aged 60 and older are malnourished' 'Malnutrition in older adults most often goes unidentified, undiagnosed, and untreated. This is partly due to the lack of training and education of healthcare providers in the clinical characteristics of malnutrition' [1]
Even the omnis are malnourished, and doctors cant even diagnose it.
Forcing patients to be malnourished should be counted as medical malpractice.
Is intentionally malnourishing veg*ns a hate crime?
And they KNEW I was malnourished as they had the lab results to prove it--my albumin levels were horrible, and I had to be given albumin by IV to bring them up. This is the main way they determine if you're malnourished.

As for a hate crime, I don't know. I think that would be very hard to prove. It would be more like "we're set in our ways and can't change for a few patients [even though they're virtually starving]..."
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#25 Old 01-17-2018, 05:13 PM
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I'm having what I think is a hangover effect from my hospital stay. I'm craving cheese, which I really hadn't since giving up dairy. I've tried Daiya in the past and been underwhelmed, though I hear they've "reformulated." Someone told me Go Veggie parmesan was decent so I ordered some and it tastes like foot flavored sawdust. The Go Veggie slices are edible with chili.

I need to trek out in the cold and buy some hummus, which is salty and savory and umami-ish, like cheese. But I resent it and I am (perhaps unfairly?) blaming the hospital for reawakening my craving for things like a grilled cheese sandwich.
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#26 Old 01-17-2018, 05:15 PM
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And they KNEW I was malnourished as they had the lab results to prove it--my albumin levels were horrible, and I had to be given albumin by IV to bring them up. This is the main way they determine if you're malnourished.

As for a hate crime, I don't know. I think that would be very hard to prove. It would be more like "we're set in our ways and can't change for a few patients [even though they're virtually starving]..."
I don't think it qualifies as a hate crime, but the hospital should be sue-able in a situation like this. Blatant violation of the Hippocratic oath to do no harm, if you won't feed someone something that they can actually eat and they end up malnourished as a result.
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#27 Old 01-18-2018, 07:54 AM
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There's a GAPING hole near the bottom that I have no idea how I'm going to repair, but I figured I'd go ahead and finish the blanket and then worry about the hole.

@veggiesince88. There is a forum, with countless members & much activity, called knittingparadise.com. There's a fairly good chance someone there will help you. (It's not only knitting but crocheting and other crafts too.) Be sure to tell them that the blanket is of sentimental value and ripping it out is NOT an option.

Many thanks for all your info! I'm going to go there pronto. And, yes, I do think that your change of feelings when working on the blanket is a mighty good sign. Congrats.
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#28 Old 01-18-2018, 01:11 PM
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I'm having what I think is a hangover effect from my hospital stay. I'm craving cheese, which I really hadn't since giving up dairy. I've tried Daiya in the past and been underwhelmed, though I hear they've "reformulated."
I think I asked once on this board if it was sacrilegious to dislike Daiya! Because, wow, did I ever dislike it. I tried the cheddar shreds and it was so awful I tossed out an almost-full bag.

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Someone told me Go Veggie parmesan was decent so I ordered some and it tastes like foot flavored sawdust. The Go Veggie slices are edible with chili.
I've never tried Go Veggie and have heard varying accounts of its greatness. I think I'm just wary of vegan cheese...there are some things that just cannot be successfully recreated in the vegan world. I do occasionally still eat dairy cheese which is why I can't call myself vegan; I've given up all other dairy but I'm stuck on the occasional cheese usage.

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I need to trek out in the cold and buy some hummus, which is salty and savory and umami-ish, like cheese. But I resent it and I am (perhaps unfairly?) blaming the hospital for reawakening my craving for things like a grilled cheese sandwich.
It certainly sounds reasonable that the hospital is responsible for reawakening those old cravings. When you're being really deprived, and I mean of basic, well-rounded, healthy meals, cravings are sure to follow. For me, the six months of IV antibiotics I was on really did something to my taste buds; my docs told me such strong antibiotics given continuously over such a long period can zap your taste buds--but they should rebound at some point. Unfortunately for me, that process started with sweets!! I craved anything sweet and really indulged in things like pie and chocolate. I still prefer sweets to savory, but I'm trying to do better in terms of balanced eating.

I hope you get some yummy hummus to enjoy. Right now I have roasted red pepper hummus in the fridge, something I had lost my taste for but now love again!
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#29 Old 01-18-2018, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by MoxNix View Post
There's a GAPING hole near the bottom that I have no idea how I'm going to repair, but I figured I'd go ahead and finish the blanket and then worry about the hole.

@veggiesince88. There is a forum, with countless members & much activity, called knittingparadise.com. There's a fairly good chance someone there will help you. (It's not only knitting but crocheting and other crafts too.) Be sure to tell them that the blanket is of sentimental value and ripping it out is NOT an option.
Thanks for the info--I'm definitely going to check out that site and see what ideas people may have for fixing that gaping hole. I did think about just ripping out the bottom, but that's the most sentimental part as it's where I started while my mom was alive.

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Many thanks for all your info! I'm going to go there pronto.
Oh, you're welcome. When you see an actual picture of the yarn its description makes a lot more sense!

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And, yes, I do think that your change of feelings when working on the blanket is a mighty good sign. Congrats.
Thanks.
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#30 Old 01-24-2018, 12:32 PM
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Something I've forgotten to say: ALL of the facilities had soy milk readily available, even vanilla which is my preference. When I requested soy milk, I didn't get blank stares and a reaction like I was speaking Martian!
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