{Two weeks ago I was cut into and poked and prodded and a part of me was taken out. This is the story of those two weeks, as told through my Instagram account.}

Post-attack/Pre-surgery

The ultimate irony: I post an amazing collection of moments that waffles appeared on Parks and Rec, and the next day I’m struck down with the sixth (or is it seventh?) terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad attack. Go figure. After that, I’m tentative. Wounded. Scared. I seek comfort in Yogi teabag messages. I eat Cheerios and salad. I go in for a really intimidating, really boring test.

Post-surgery: Week 1

I feel utterly out of control. Broken and violated. They took a part of me and I will never have it back and I have to adjust now. But how? How? They don’t tell you how to adjust. They tell you you can go back to doing and eating what you did before. But isn’t that what got me here in the first place? This makes no sense. So I research. I google and ask and think and google again and think more based on what I find.

And why the hell does my chest hurt so much? Ah yes, the gas they pumped into me so they could get a better look. Well now there’s apparently a giant bubble in my abdominal cavity, and depending on how I move, the bubble moves too, like I’m a living, breathing level that you’d use to make sure you’re hanging a picture straight. I can’t lie down without getting an excruciating pain in my right shoulder. I couldn’t sleep the first night after the surgery, so instead I got up and walked to the table where the discharge papers were and read that I apparently should’ve called them last night when I had that pain in my right calf. Well, apparently I didn’t die of a pulmonary embolism. So at least there’s that.

What to eat? How to eat? When to eat? So many questions. And I have no energy and no appetite. I don’t know if it’s the painkillers or the trauma or the sleep deprivation, but I have no desire to ever cook or eat anything again. I tell myself this will pass — that one day, I’ll be back to posting food pics on Instagram and telling everyone way more than they need to know about what I put into my mouth. But for now, I just feel hurt. And scared. Scared that I’ll eat the wrong thing and it will set off some cataclysmic chain of events inside my body that will eventually send me back to the hospital. I’m terrified of eating the wrong thing. So I eat broth. And Jell-O (the natural kind made from vegetables). Everything is simple. Because everything else is so complicated.

I buy a new planner. And new pens to go with the planner. Because everything feels out of control and a new planner means more control.

On the seventh day, I venture into the kitchen. I cook using someone else’s recipe because I don’t have the energy to think of anything myself. But it turns out well. The Universe has thrown me a bone. You can do this. You will get there.

The next day, I use someone else’s recipe to make tortillas. From scratch. Miraculously, it all comes together even though up until today, I’ve had the shittiest luck with doughs. I get a rush — a surge of energy and confidence and yes, a feeling of control. Thank you, Universe.

I bake a red velvet cake for my dad’s birthday. I don’t lick the spoon or the bowl or the beater. I eat about two bites of cake at the celebration. I’m feeling good. I can do this I can do this I can do this. And just when I feel like I have a handle on things, my sister, who had her gallbladder out years ago, tells me something she did during her initial recovery that I haven’t done and instantly I question everything again. Oh God, what if, because I didn’t do what she did, I screwed myself over? All my independent research, all my feedback, all my confidence has gone out the window. Oh no oh no oh no oh no oh no. And then Joe — well, actually, Joe and several other people — remind me that I did exactly as the doctor said and my sister doesn’t make the best decisions, especially when it comes to her health. I come to my senses, but that moment of panic tells me just how vulnerable and anxious I still am about all of this.

Post-surgery: Week 2

My energy improves every day. I can move around pretty normally, that godforsaken pain in my shoulder has subsided, and I’m back to pretty much my normal routine. I still can’t laugh my usual full-throttle, gasping for air laugh, but it helps if I hold my belly while I’m laughing. Because God knows I’m not going to stop laughing through this. Laughing at the situation, laughing at myself, laughing at my cats because in the span of a week, they’ve gone from walking all over me like it’s no big deal to tentatively placing their paws gently on my chest or legs, looking to me for approval, then, when I give them the all clear, carefully situating themselves on top of me (anywhere except my belly).

I’m still worried about things. I had to come up with a mantra so that I don’t worry that every bite I take might be setting off that chain reaction I mentioned. I am healthy and happy and my body works in perfect harmony. Over and over and over again I say it, because I am one of those people who thinks that the things you say to yourself, especially the things you say over and over and over again, come true. Or at least have a much greater chance of coming true. So even if people who’ve had their gallbladders out have a higher incidence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and tend to have higher cholesterol, maybe I can will that away with a mantra, and even if I can’t, it’s better than worrying about it the whole time.

Being back in the kitchen helps tremendously. Using my hands and my creativity to prepare healthy, nourishing food for myself gives me a feeling of power that I so desperately lacked the first week. I’ve hit some home runs, whipping together delicious, plant-based meals using our CSA share, our pantry, and inspiration from this cookbook. Cashews and nutritional yeast are my new BFFs. I’m arming myself with freshness and all the green things. The things that are coming out of my kitchen aren’t just delicious; they’re works of art. The Universe is being so nice to me.

I track my food and how I feel in yet another new notebook I bought myself (my Amazon cart reads like a lesson in creating a sense of control in this crazy world). I’m looking for patterns. I use my fancy new pens. I tell myself it’s okay to pick different colors each day, depending on my mood. Pre-surgery, I would’ve forced myself to pick one color and stick with it FOREVER. Post-surgery, flexibility is where it’s at. Go with the flow. Wherever the flow ends up taking me.


I don’t know if I’m doing the “right” thing. At the end of the day, I don’t really know what the “right” thing is. I’ve come to the conclusion that, try as I might, I have very little actual control over how this all shakes out. “This” being life in general, of course. All I know is that based on what I’ve read and what nutritional experts have told me and what my gut says, if I want to reduce the risks, I need to eat smaller, more frequent meals, and I need to eat mostly plants.

Kind of like a rabbit.

But I also know that I’m going to have bites of red velvet cake and nibbles of tater tots and IF SOMEONE ORDERS CRÈME BRULEE GOD HELP ME I WILL ASSIST THEM IN DEVOURING IT.

Kind of like a slightly naughty rabbit.

So that’s it for now. The anxiety is slowly subsiding, the scales are gradually balancing. For now, it takes a lot of energy and time and motivation to eat this way. In a year, this’ll hopefully be a matter of habit. I don’t have the luxury of being able to eat mindlessly anymore. But is that really such a bad thing?