I miss apple juice.
Or maybe it’s the idea of apple juice I miss. I just had a cup last week in the hospital. It was the first beverage I drank that actually had flavor following my surgery. After days of being hooked up to an IV and subsisting on nothing more than ice water, it tasted like a nectar from the gods. Sweet and succulent and oh, so delicious. Paired with chicken broth, I felt like I was dining on lobster and champagne that evening.
But then, the very next day, I started hearing news reports about how apple juice is no good for you. How this study showed that dangerous levels of arsenic were found in samples of apple juice. Damn you, Dr. Oz and FOX News. You’re both nothing but a bunch of killjoys! If I want to ingest poison, I should be able to do so without feeling guilty about it. The FDA is saying hey, relax, arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food and soil, and we need to stop getting our panties in a bunch because the levels found in apple juice are well within accepted safety standards. Consumer Reports says those standards are much too high and need to be lowered, and the whole thing has turned into one big pissing match. The loser? Me! Because now I’m going to think twice before drinking apple juice, and that’s just sad. Even without worrying about arsenic (and lead, too – when it rains, it pours), they say apple juice contains too much sugar, is high in calories, etc. They’re vilifying it like the poor ol’, much-maligned Big Mac.
That ain’t right.
You know what else I miss? Bacon. Ever since I landed in the hospital, I’ve had to contend with well-meaning friends who keep telling me to “lay off the bacon” now. For some reason, over the years I have developed a reputation as a person who loves bacon. Well, okay…I do love bacon. Fair enough. But I don’t eat any more of it than the average person! It’s an occasional treat and nothing more. Boy, you write one blog post about the maple bacon bar at Voodoo Doughnut and you’re branded for life. And okay, I suppose in retrospect buying that bottle of bacon vodka a couple of months ago didn’t help. Nor did posting a picture of the chicken fried bacon Tara, the kids and I enjoyed at Slappy Cakes the day before Thanksgiving…which, coincidentally, happened to be two days before I ended up in the hospital. In my defense – in all of our defenses – we split two pieces four ways. It was merely a decadent taste. But oh, how everybody latched onto that when I was suddenly
near death hooked up to an IV in great pain. The truth is, I first started feeling sick after eating leftover turkey that morning, a food that is generally considered to be healthy. There’s no rhyme or reason for what happened to me. Was it related to diet? Perhaps, or it may have been the trigger, or none of the above. Even the doctors don’t know. Now, I am not complaining about my friends’ admonitions or warnings. It just means they care about me and want to see me healthy, and I appreciate that very much. I intend to take care of myself, and have already made adjustments toward a lower-fat, less-sodium diet. I am also stubborn – that would be the Taurus in me – and maintain a philosophy that life is too short to give up everything that makes you happy, and practicing moderation is key. I believe in long-term goals and short-term indulgences, and intend to partake in both.
In fact, I’m kinda feeling like a nice, tall glass of apple juice right now. With a crispy strip of bacon for stirring.
And then there’s alcohol. I haven’t had a sip in fourteen days, which is some kind of record for me. Am I a teetotaler now? Ha! Fat chance. I am way too addicted to Bloody Marys to ever give them up, and I’ve even started liking beer now. It’s just that I haven’t felt like having a drink since getting sick. Every doctor and nurse in the hospital asked me if I was a drinker, and I said socially, which by my definition was 1-2 drinks a day, five days a week. Nobody ever looked alarmed when I said that, but the news wasn’t exactly met with approving glances, either. One nurse suggested my sweaty brow might have been a reaction to booze withdrawal, but in reality the thermostat was simply too freakin’ high in the room. I was actually offended by her comment – can’t a guy perspire without getting the second degree?! – and the moment she left I snuck a few shots of whiskey in order to forget the sting of her words.
I kid, I kid.
And I will be the first to admit that a near-daily Happy Hour was more of a ritual or a habit for me than anything else. Tsk, tsk – I know. I considered it almost a birthright; I’m a writer, after all, and we stereotypically have a long and prosperous association with alcohol. I have come to realize, since returning home, that the slight buzz does not make up for all those empty calories. I will still enjoy the occasional drink – but it’ll be when I feel like it, not because it’s
3:55 5:00. Once again, it’s all about moderation.
Love the concern, appreciate the advice, but don’t you worry – I don’t intend on going anywhere (and by that, I mean dying) anytime soon.
A trip to Ely, on the other hand, is right around the corner. In seventeen more days!
And if you think I’m stepping onto an airplane without a drink or two to calm my nerves, you’re out of your mind.
- High Arsenic Levels Found in Apple Juice, Grape Juice (blippitt.com)
- The continued attack on the healthiness of apple juice (timesunion.com)