Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts tagged as “Surgery”

The Sausage Smoothie: The Best Worst Idea I’ve Ever Pursued

My struggles with finding something satisfying to eat during this tonsillectomy recovery are well documented here on The Black Laser. Before the whole thing though, people gave me all sorts of fun ideas about what I should eat. Lamb sorbet. Taco popsicles. Barbecue Sauce Ice Cubes. Baconade. One of the funnier ones comes from one of my favorite bits in Zach Galifianakis’ Live At The Purple Onion. If you’ve not seen the film, it’s on Netflix. Get it.


But through all the joking about what awful things I might eat that could be blended, I actually started thinking about what might go into a sausage smoothie. Then I started thinking that it could actually be really delicious if done correctly. Of course, we’re not talking about strawberries, yogurt, orange juice, and sausage. That would be foul. But what if you put appropriate things in, like butter and potatoes and caramelized onions? Then it might be damned delicious.

Desperation and boredom have led me down this darkened path and I have actually made this seemingly vile, yet potentially awesome, concoction. Here’s a photo of the ingredients.

We’ve got sweet pork sausage that I removed from the home|DCWCasings, butter, milk, onions, garlic, potatoes for mashing, flour and chicken stock to make pan gravy after cooking the sausage and onions, and salt and pepper to taste. There’s no pepper in the photo, but use your imagination for a second. Here are a bunch of photos of the process. See if you can follow along. Nothing too terribly complicated. Thoughts afterward.

Making pan gravy. Yum!

Here are all the ingredients cooked and ready to be mashed up by the blender.

So how was it? It was god damned delicious! And why wouldn’t it be? I only put things in there that taste good. But more importantly, things that taste good together. Don’t believe that I would actually drink this wonderful concoction?

That was my second glass.

It was rich and frothy and thick like you would expect a smoothie to be, but savory and full of fat and gravy and butter and meat and potatoes. It was salty and peppery and sausagey and just wonderful. My only niggle is that the milk I added while blending cooled it down a little too much, but that would easily be fixed by throwing it on the stove again for a couple minutes. I would probably add more milk next time so that it was a little thinner. I blended it initially with all the gravy and maybe half a cup of milk (?????), but it ended up the consistency of a milk shake. I added a bunch more milk until it was fluid enough to drink from a glass without the aid of a spoon. In retrospect, it could be thinner. It was about the same consistency as a smoothie you get from Jamba Juice or something. But, you know, full of sausage, onions, butter, and garlic.

Michael was over to eat my chicken adobo and hang out and he insisted on trying my evil genius creation. He approved. It’s just that damned good. Maybe this will help me gain back some of the 15 pounds I’ve lost since my surgery. Shit, those two glasses are probably worth at least 5 pounds right there.

I suppose the real question is, would I make it again? You bet your sweet ass I would. This would be easily modified to become a thick and hearty soup, or you could use leftover Thanksgiving dinner and make something else truly extraordinary.

And don’t forget it.

A Gazpacho Adventure

Quite a few people have recommended gazpacho to me over the last week or so as something I could easily eat with my compromised throat. And if you’re anything at all like me (and undoubtedly you are since I created you in my image), you can’t hear the word “gazpacho” without thinking of this:

[flv height=”420″][/flv]

Hell, here’s the whole episode because I love you all. (Right-click, Save As… to download) At least until someone tells me to take it down. Go back to Russia!

I’ve never eaten gazpacho before. Honestly, looking through recipes it seems like pureed salsa. As much as I love salsa, I’ve never wanted to take huge spoonfuls of it down my throat. But, you know what? Fuck it. Might as well try it, right?

I found a recipe on Tastespotting that seems pretty good and basic. Not difficult. No real cooking. Just chopping which is easy peasy. As a bonus, the ingredients were so lovely that I felt compelled to take a photo.

And here they all are just a few minutes later ready to be blended.

In go the onions and garlic first!

Yum! Mush!

Here goes the rest! I had to do it in two batches since my blender isn’t quite large enough to get it all. But that’s ok!

Here it is, in all its puke-looking glory ready to be stored overnight as per the instructions. Tomorrow I will let you know just how delicious it really is.

Cooking is fun!

6 Days In: Thoughts and Recollections of my Post-Surgery Experience Thus Far.

Now that six days have passed and I’ve lost 13 pounds, I thought I’d post for you all to give you a little update of what has been happening since my surgery Friday. I know you’ve all been dying to read about my ultimately trivial trials and tribulations, so I’ll try to hit on every tiny bit of minutiae and detail that has run through my mind since Friday morning. Deal?!

Surely you’ve all read my quick and dirty post from Friday afternoon where I posted a sample of my delightful post-surgery voice. Well, I didn’t get into the niity gritty of it all with you.

After surgery I woke up nice and cleanly, ready to put on my clothes and walk out the door. Frustratingly, they made me wait until Jesse arrived as I guess it is against hospital policy or whatever to allow just-post-anesthesia patients to get up and walk out by themselves. Silly policy. What, they don’t want drugged up patients wandering into traffic on Fifth Avenue? Honestly, I felt fine. A little ti-ti, a little woozy, but not bad in any capacity. Truthfully, I’ve gotten myself home from further in MUCH worse states. I was good. I put on my clothes, stood up, paced a little bit, and then they put me back into a chair to wait. Within 10 minutes or so, Jesse arrived and the female nurse told me I would have to be rolled out in a wheelchair. I protested but she told me I must use the chair. Once we were all set and ready to exit, she told another male nurse to lead me and Jesse to the street. He asked if I wanted to sit, I said no, and he was cool with me walking. Rad. The lady nurse said I needed to use the chair, but he just pshawed her off and let me walk. Awesome.

A painless cab ride to my house in Greenpoint followed. Jesse dropped me off, making sure I was good, and I began my regimen of drugs.

The first and least pleasant of the medications I had to take were 4mg hits of methylprednisolone, a steroid used to fight inflammation. Luckily these guys are tiny little baby pills. Unluckily, I had to take 6 of them my first day, 5 the second, 4 the third, 3 the fourth, 2, the fifth, and just 1 on the sixth day today. They also taste like shit, particularly when you’re burping steroid fumes because the only thing you’ve eaten in days is half a pint of ice cream and four quarts of water. But the worst is swallowing pills with a pained throat. Not nice.

The next drug I’ve been on is Amoxicillin, a penicillin-based antibiotic. If you were ever a kid, you’ve probably taken this stuff before. I know that as the son of a doctor and a nurse with a bazillion siblings, we never lacked a bottle of the sickly sweet, bright pink, bubblegum flavored chew tablets in the medicine cabinet. I don’t have the tablets, but the liquid they gave me is bright pink and bubblegum flavored just like I remember from my childhood. I take two teaspoons from a delightful little dropper provided by Duane Reade in the morning and at night. It’s chalky, a little gross, but not all together unpleasant. If my throat hurt more, it would be a bear.

The final playmate in my drug trifecta is Hycet, which is really just liquid vicodin. Party time, right? This stuff also tastes like miserable hell, but it’s much better than trying to swallow those damned huge vicodin tablets and, because it’s a liquid, it gets to work right quick and allows me to eat. I am trying to be sparing with the stuff since A) opiates can be a real bitch, B) it’s a highly controlled substance and therefore difficult to obtain, C) I’d like to only use it when I absolutely need it. Call me stubborn, but I typically avoid pharmaceuticals unless I can see no way around them. Two spoonfuls of this shit and I can swallow broken glass.

Drugs taken and brain exhausted, I laid down on my sofa to watch a movie (I have no idea what) and passed out. I woke up later and spoke to my doctor. He commented that I didn’t sound like I was in all that much pain to which I replied that I was not. He told me that the worst was yet to come and to be sure to drink ample water and get some rest. Two spoonfuls deep into a hydrocodone daze, I successfully ate half a pint of ice cream but then became grossed out when my mouth got super phlegmy and I couldn’t do anything about it for fear of making my throat bleed. That right there was pretty much it for me and ice cream during this throat business, though I’ve been ordered only to eat soft, cool things.

I’ve come to recognize something about dessert too. Eating dessert alone is fucking depressing. I heard a lot of “Oh, you get to eat all sorts of ice cream! Fun!” and “I’m jealous you get to live on ice cream!” and whatever. But, you know what? It’s all nonsense. Who wants to live on this shit? I do not have a sweet tooth. I bought a pint of sorbet at some point when I first moved into this apartment in April and it’s MAYBE 1/3 gone. Most of that was eaten by Mike. Look, I like ice cream…when I’m sharing it with someone I like. But ice cream all by yourself because that’s all you can eat? Depressing. I have no problem eating dinner by myself. It is a nice time to chill and reflect and just sit quietly. And, no doubt, I will drink by myself until I can’t feel my face and every bad decision seems like the right one. But dessert is meant to be shared and nothing has hammered that home quite like sitting in the dark, alone, trying to force ice cream down my wounded throat with only the sweet, foul-tasting hydrocodone juice providing me respite. Oh how I yearn for something savory.

After a night of fitful sleep caused by my newly VERY loud snoring due to an incredibly swollen uvula and painful swallowing leading me to drool all over myself, I awoke early Saturday morning strangely full of energy and ready to go out into the world. I was inflicted with an acute case of cabin fever literally 24 hours after my surgery. I had no idea what to do with myself. Last week when thinking about what the weekend would entail, I had thought it would be raining since we were supposed to be hit by hurricane Earl on Friday night. But that never happened and we were blessed instead with perfect New York City autumn weather. How frustrating to be stuck inside, feeling fine, trying to be diligent about this whole healing process! But later in the evening, when Jesse called me to come out with them, I just didn’t feel up to it. I couldn’t place it, exactly, but something was off. Then I realized it was that I hadn’t eaten anything substantial since Thursday afternoon and it was Saturday night. I was not supposed to eat solid foods of any sort until Monday, but I couldn’t stomach the thought of more apple sauce or dissatisfying ice cream. I scoured my pantry to see what I might make that would be soft and treat my throat nicely.

Oh Lord, thank you for the pasta gift you gave me. Willfully breaking the rules, I made the half-pound of pasta telling myself that if it hurt even a little bit that I would stop and put it away. Well, it didn’t hurt and I wolfed down the whole batch without issue. Stupid boring pasta with stupid boring premade sauce was the best thing I’ve eaten in ages, no hyperbole. As I told Nina, I crossed the pasta barrier and never looked back.

On Sunday I met up with Charles and spent the day just hanging out with him. We wandered through the neighborhood and got some ice coffee, which was magnificent, and went to The Meat Hook so he could buy fancy hot dogs and sausages for Labor Day. I nearly died. The Meat Hook, if you’ve never been, makes their own stuffed-casing meat things. The hot dogs are homemade and so good that you don’t even need to apply mustard. The only thing they have in common with your standard-issue, grocery store, pink liquid meat and entrails tubes is their name. These things are light years beyond a standard hot dog. You might go so far as to consider them real food. I know. I know. You never thought anyone would describe a hot dog as real food, but I totally just did and I stand behind it.

To see these wonderful things there and unable to even think about eating them made my heart sink. I would have killed for the adorable girl in the red bandana behind the counter to grill one of those things up for me. Alas, there was no way I’d get it down my throat without doing something bad. So back to Charles’ place to walk his dog Sebastian and kick it. It was nice to be out of the house for the first time in days. I don’t really do well as a homebody when I feel good. If I feel sick, yeah, sure I’ll stay home and just hide out. But if I feel fine except for some mechanical pain, I want to be out. Being at Charles’ was a nice compromise between being out going nuts and staying home. I felt safe. Secure. And he was going to cook some ribs later which sounded just fine by me.

Matt and Amanda came over for dinner with a bunch root-beer baked beans, so we had a feast of slow-cooked ribs with homemade barbecue sauce, dill and mustard heavy potato salad, and those sweet yet savory baked beans studded with bacon. All while I was so high on my drugs that I could barely talk. It was awesome. No, I’m exaggerating. I wasn’t THAT high, but I had accidentally taken one too many spoonfuls in preparation for dinner, so I was not my typical conversational self. All in all, it was great. It’s nice to have friends that can cook.

Monday morning I woke up bright and early, 8ish, a stupid time to be awake on a holiday. Michael called me around quarter to nine asking how I was and what I was up to. He was at his ladyfriend’s house in Williamsburg, so I invited him up to chit chat and try this new coffee joint, Milk and Roses, that opened up on Manhattan and Clay. If you live in the neighborhood, check them out. A damned good iced coffee prepared just how I like it, basically just a double americano on ice, for 2 stupid dollars. And they have a quiet, lovely backyard. So comfortable, so easy. Shit, I might just go up there tomorrow and sit by myself with my book. Who knows?! I’m crazy like that!

After our usual stitch & bitch session, Mike and I went back to my house where he made himself some eggs and I ate some tomato soup trying to be a good patient. Soft stuff, liquids only, I drank my water, good good good. We hung out listening to some minimal space house for a little while before meeting up with Charles again to head down to McCarren Park to meet with Matt and Amanda and a couple friends of theirs. The day was stupidly perfect again, not a cloud in the sky, 78°, light breeze, comfortable in pants or in shorts. The kind of day you want to spend outside. And we did. It was an ideal day to sit in the shade on the grass and no do a whole lot of too much.

After a couple hours and the arrival of Jesse and Manja, I started to get hungry again. For some strange reason, a bowl of tomato soup was not keeping me full the entire day. First Caitlin, Charles, and I split one of the last Meat Hook hot dogs and, god damn, even room temperature with no bun or anything was it good. Of course, the hot dog was a gateway drug. I set my sights on one of the last two bratwursts we had. I wrapped it in a paper towel and started taking little hamster nibbles off it. About 2/3s of the way through the brat I noticed that it was tasting too salty. And when it was nearly gone and I put it down and I still tasted salt, I decided to investigate by spitting.

Unfortunately, I do not have a photo, but what came out of my mouth was the brightest red blood I’ve ever spit. And when I could continue to spit it, I thought perhaps it prudent to call my doctor, holiday be damned. I called and left him a voicemail at the office and then another on his answering service as the message instructed. I heard back from him within a few minutes, by which point the blood had stopped. He told me not to eat sausage (sadness) and that I should stay on soft, liquidy stuff for a few extra days now because of the bleeding.

THE HORROR!!!!! A few extra days?! Didn’t he know I was going to make adobo later that night? That I’d purchased everything for it and was super excited to make that wonderful, salty, tangy stew of meat, garlic, and love? Were not chicken and rice technically soft foods? Was not sausage technically a soft food?! Woe! Another five days on fucking not real food?! I thought I might have died. But better soft food than spitting blood into the grass at McCarren Park.

On the way home from the park, we stopped at one of Manhattan Avenue’s myriad appliance stores and I purchased my very first blender. It’s a tool I don’t use or even think to use often, so I’ve never owned one of my own. Juli had one when we lived together, but I can count the number of times I used it for myself on one hand. One Black&Decker blender richer and 50 dollars poorer, I went to the grocery to buy smoothie fixings: orange juice, milk, bananas, strawberries, raspberries, whatever the hell else might go in those things. How disappointing to be buying fruit to blend into a frothy paste when you had planned to make a comforting bowl of steaming chicken adobo. Utter heart break.

My sleep was really bad that night. I don’t know if it was the psychic disturbance of seeing so much blood come out of my mouth (meh) or that my uvula was still swollen and my throat was actually starting to hurt. Maybe a little bit of both. I tossed and turned and woke up and spun around and drooled and sweated and felt like I barely slept even ten minutes. It is no surprise then when at about 11am on Tuesday I started nodding off and felt compelled to lay down. I didn’t wake up again until 7:30 that night.

What the hell? I guess I needed it. I slept fine that night too. So weird and dumb.

Here we are on Wednesday. I’m going a little crazy and even have found myself wishing to be back at work. I know I shouldn’t be working, but damn I really really want to be doing something. It was nice to have time off this summer when I was unrestricted, but this whole staying home and doing nothing shit is driving me up a wall. Even my trip into the Upper East Side to re-up on my vicodin juice seemed pleasant when normally it would have been a miserable chore. I enjoyed waiting in line at the bank and the pharmacy. How miserable of an existence. And my throat is hurting worse than it has so far, which I suppose means that it’s finally getting to the job of healing. It’s no where near unbearable, which I am thankful for. If I had to rate my absolute worst strep incident ever a 10, I think this is maybe a 5. Uncomfortable, sure, but not coupled with the horrible fever, shaking, and pain that comes with strep. Even if this gets up to a 7 or 8, I’ll be riding fine, no sweat. I’ve got my juice and know how to use it. Bring it on.

The worst part of the whole thing is sitting by myself in my house. I want to run around and do things, but I can’t and that makes me unhappy. I’ve caught up on my movie watching and sleep and alone time. I want to drink a beer and eat a taco. I want to say yes to Chad and work Fashion Week. I want to be out of the house. But I know I shouldn’t and that it really is best if I just lay low for the next week and a half.

To sum it all up for those of you not inclined to read my 2900 word ramble about the last six days, I thought I would feel like this:

But really, I feel like this:

Take from that what you will.

Post-surgery posting.

Hi everyone! DID YOU MISS ME!? I missed you!

The operation went swimmingly as far as I can tell. I’m not going to post a photo of the back of my throat. Feel secure in the knowledge that it is NOT PRETTY right now. Luckily, the pain is mild. Maybe that’s just the lingering anesthesia, but I prefer to think that I am just super awesome. You know. Narcissism.

On request from Carol, I did record my super sweet post-surgery voice. Between the tube they shoved down my throat, the drugs, the surgical excision of my tonsils, and the burning of my adenoids, my voice sounds really great right now. I think I will sing an opera to Richie, my 82 year old super intendant.



Don’t you want to listen to an entire book-on-tape version of Crime & Punishment read by me in that voice? I know you do!!!

Here’s to hoping my recovery is as easy for the rest of the two weeks I took off for it. The doctor’s doom and gloom about the utter misery I’d be suffering through seems, at this point, to have been hyperbole, but there is time for things to get bad and painful. Thank The Flying Spaghetti Monster for the bottle of hydrocodone syrup I’ve got.

One minor complaint though. I’d kill for a taco. Like, murder and watch the life drain out of someone’s eyes as I choked them to death kind of kill. Someone want to bring me a taco shake? Sausage smoothie? Lamb sorbet?

Bye bye, tonsils! Bye bye!

This is the inside of my mouth:

These are my tonsils:

Not sure what you’re looking for? How about a visual aid:


Those pock-marked balls of vestigial tissue are the bastards that have caused so much drama in my life over the past few months and tomorrow they will be excised from my face forever. So take a good look at them because the next time I post a photo of my gaping maw, they won’t be there. They’ll hopefully be in a jar in my closet.

Also consider this posting a notice that things might be slow here at The Black Laser for a little bit while I recover. My doctor has really been hammering it in that I am going to be in some considerable pain while my throat heals meaning I might not be up for posting amazing things for all of you to enjoy. For this I apologize. In the case that he is being overly dramatic and my throat does not hurt quite so badly as he makes out it will, then you can expect me back in a few days. We shall see.

Wish me luck. I have to be at the hospital at 7:30 tomorrow morning.

A Letter to My Tonsils Regarding Their Current Inability to Function For Longer than a Week Without Providing Me Serious Distress.

Dear Tonsils,

It has been a long road for the three of us, hasn’t it? I recall clearly my entire childhood my mother noting that you two were very large, even then, and I always thought it curious. What a strange thing to have large tonsils. We had such a fine life together through most of my childhood.

I recall, quite clearly, the first time you caused me pain. I was 13 and at camp for the summer. I remember one day my throat hurting like nothing I’d ever experienced before. A burning, miserable pain every time I swallowed. Down at the showers I looked at the back on my throat in the small mirror screwed to the tree by the hand washing basin and saw, for the very first time, a sight that would become something I’d know as a horrible, horrible sign: white splotches covering you two. It hurt even to swallow my spit; water and food caused me grievous discomfort. But, as a 13 year old, being sick means admitting that you can’t tough your way through everything and that is admitting defeat. Instead of going to the infirmary right away, I suffered silently. At lunch at the doctor’s table, I couldn’t eat at all and just sat there, frustrated, angry, in pain, and broke into silent tears. Jim, the table councilor, took a look at me and then took me straight over to the infirmary where I stayed for the next few days as I slept off my fever and had the anti-biotics I so dearly needed administered. That was our first, but most certainly not our last, experience with those dastardly streptococcus bacteria. I’m sure you’re familiar with them, tonsils.

Time passed and I forgot about the special type of hell I lived through that week. During my junior year of high school I came down with infectious mononucleosis. I thought I was just bored, but as it turned out I had mono. The mono made me slightly more tired, a little draggy, but wasn’t too bad. What it really did that I enjoyed so much was open the door for our good friend strep to walk right back into the back of my mouth and set up shop. TWICE. That was an unpleasant year, salvaged only by 800mg hits of ibuprofen, raspberry sorbet, and liquid penicillin. Really, tonsils, no one should have to deal with this. It’s unpleasant.

And how many times during college did we come down with strep throat, tonsils? 3? 4? More? Too many times, tonsils. It was about this point that I started to suspect that you were broken. Swollen, disfigured, scarred, I don’t know anyone else who gets food stuck in their tonsils. That’s a bad sign right? I’m fairly certain it means that something is wrong. When the doctor referred to you as “hypertrophic,” meaning that you were huge, he probably didn’t mean it in a complimentary way. I think what he meant to say was, “Damn, son. Those shits in the back of your throat are right fucked up.”

Now here we are hours away from April and I have strep for the third time since the end of February. What is that? Five weeks? Consider me frustrated. The first of the three was pretty easy. You two got gross and whatever, but I was never in any serious pain. But the second time? Lord. I was up all night having fever delusions, unable to sleep for the pain you were causing me, choking down water and Advil by the thimbleful so I wouldn’t keel over dead. Not nice. Not nice at all. And since I’m a freelancer, I don’t get sick days. I was sitting at Number 6, sipping soup, and wincing as I tried to get it into my stomach. When those white splotches reappeared this Monday, I nearly had a heart attack. I’m moving on Saturday and have so much stuff to do tomorrow and Friday that I could not afford to be incapacitated with strep.

All this begs the question, what’s the next step for us, tonsils? If I have anything to do about it, you will soon be but a memory. The Ear/Nose/Throat specialist I went to see tonight took a look at you, recoiled, and said, “Oh my god, yes. Those are infected.” I said to him, “Doc, this is nothing. You should have seen the last round,” and he looked at me like he couldn’t imagine how it could be worse. It made me wish I had a photo. He then told me that the next step was surgery but that he didn’t want to operate until I’d been infection-free for a few weeks. Here’s what I think will happen: I’m going to run this third round of anti-biotics, I’ll be fine for a few days, and BOOM splotches. He tried to put the fear of the surgery into me telling me how painful it would be for a couple weeks. But I just countered that it would be better than living under the constant tyranny of two motherfucking, goddamned, asshole tonsils that kept making me ill.

Sorry, guys, I got a little carried away there.

Anyway, it’s been a long road and I wish I could say that I was sad to see you go. But I’m not. Good riddance. I just want you out by mid-May so I can get healed and go down to the Maryland Death Fest and have a jolly old time.


Joe Dillingham
The Black Laser.