First Major Surgery


I haven't been on this for a long time. Again. Maybe I was busy, Or I didn't have anything to write about.

But a few weeks ago pain flared up on the right side of my tummy. Just under the ribs. It happened before. Many times. I thought it was just a stitch that you feel when you work hard. But it became more frequent and intensified. I was diagnosed with gall stones. Serves me right of eating a lot of good food. By 'good' meaning food that is delicious, tasty. Sinful. Savory. Sweet.

So the doctor says 'We have to remove it'.

Me: ?
Doctor: your gall bladder
Me: Will I die?
Doctor: (smiles) Not yet. But that pain is because the gall stones are blocking something that helps you digest, and the gall bladder is swelling because of the resistance.

So I checked myself into the hospital Monday last week. My daughter keeping company.

Now I don't like hospitals. More so if I have to go under for what my doctor calls 'Major Surgery'.

Monday night I was already scared. Yes. A middle aged man deathly afraid of going under the knife. I had tubes and sensors attached between me and a beeping machine.

Tuesday morning, a nurse gently wakes me up saying it's time. So I got up to go to the bathroom, cables and tubes attached, to take a sanitizing bath with what the hospital provided as a sanitizing bath kit. The cold room felt colder. My daughter was still asleep. So I consoled myself and alleviated my fears a little by telling myself she will be there waiting for me after the procedure. Gave her a little kiss, got back into my bed and told the nurse I'm ready.

I was wheeled out of the room and we made our way through corridors, doorways and elevators, with each second bringing me closer to a heightened level of fear. That whole time I prayed. I prayed that everything would go well. That this is a milestone in my life. That I will see my daughter when I get back to my room. That my life partner will be there too.

Arriving at the operating theater, I was transferred to the operating table, and more cables and sensors attached to me. All the doctors in the room assured me that everything will be fine. I just nodded. I was afraid my voice would break from the fear and the shaking. I could hear the heart monitor beeping incessantly, indicating that it was beating faster than normal.

Doctors finally explained to me what will happen in the next few hours. In detail. What is to be done. What to expect. It didn't help me relax. It was the general anesthesia  that did.

I woke up around 3 in the afternoon, my belly button screaming 8 in pain. Nurse gives more pain killers. I don't know how much time passed. I could only remember saying '7'; '5'; '4'. Then the nurse said thats good. We'll get it down to 3. That must have happened because next thing I knew I woke up in my room. With my daughter. And later in the evening with my life partner. My tummy was sore. I couldn't sit up very well. it was painful.

I saw the stones that have been plaguing for what must be many years, considering the size of these crystals sat in a plastic medical cup. I stared at it. For a few minutes. Then at dinner.

Checked out of the hospital next morning. Still sore. But can walk.

Today I got back to work. pulled off the bandage from my belly button. Ew. Dried blood.

I got through it. Now I have to watch what I eat for the next few weeks. And live my life as if it was my last day on Earth.

Pray for me.


Three Chefs: a short primer

It is so difficult sometimes to find time to write. Topics to write about seems to be flooded all over every published medium, and going with the undertow is just too easy.
There are many good writers out there. I'm sure. With beautiful photographs and prose that could whisk you off your feet and say that life is good. Rants, raves. multitudes of comments and likes. How will I ever get this blog up to the same visibility as it was years ago.
Yesterday one of my head chefs has dropped another hint that maybe she has forgotten about the creativity of cooking. The reasons to put a few ingredients together creating magic, And the characteristic of every professional cook: doing the same thing over and over again getting the same results.
Though there are times that we had to make do with certain dishes due to the availability of resources, we always toed the line and went back to look up the recipe and remember how it was put together in the first place. The head chef seems to have forgotten that temporarily in the spirit of convenience.
Having three head chefs whom I try to develop to one day be a great chef is a juggling act in terms of personalities and preferences. One is head strong and one of the best chefs I know who can handle a kitchen brigade. Small in stature, she commands a respectable camaraderie among her subordinates. Then there's the head chef that rose from the ranks, starting out a cold station cook, eventually being given control of one of the newest kitchens in the restaurant group. When he started out, he had an admirable rigidness that would compliment the kind of culture and work environment we have developed in few years we worked together.
But, like all humans granted with super powers, the other side of the spectrum has garnered another shade of grey. His rigidness was just a preview of an iron fist that is all talk and threats, and a minimum amount of coaching, developing. And lately he has developed a kind of forgetfulness reared its ugly head once or twice. The staff are good at what they do, but they're not getting better.
And finally the head chef that is the best buddy for all the cooks. A sense of authority has eluded this individual, and thus treats his fellow cooks as close friends, afraid to toe the line and is content with the status quo.
All three chefs have helped me get to where I am, knowing more things than many years ago. I guess it's the diversity that makes it a colorful and challenging point in my professional life. And because of this I realize I have more recipes, scientific conclusions and assumptions than when i was a cocky, struggling graduate of a Swiss hotel school. Did you know that vinegar can make flour change its gluten to make stretching dough flat by hand extremely easy?
I would appreciate if you could help me. These three chefs are good. I need them to be better. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, but I need someone to look from the outside in. Can you help?


I'm back

It's been awhile since I last wrote on this blog. I haven't realized it was flooded with Instagram images. Somewhere along the way I have automated some daily activities and spread my digital self thin.
Suddenly my posts are a motley collection of nonsense, recipes and wandering thoughts that have no coherent direction. I guess the chaos theory applies here. And I have recently started to rein in the over reaching tendrils of unorganized digital behavior to get back to why I started writing in the first place.
Since my last sensible article:

  • I have been to Singapore on business several times for the German restaurant that I currently lord over in the kitchen.
  • I have finally seen the Hong Kong Skyline with my own eyes.
  • Have gained 58% fluency in the German language
  • Developed an awesome Excel Spreadsheet Solution for my Food Cost Monitoring
  • Bought and still ride an awesome motorcycle (and learned zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance)
  • Broke 100 followers in Instagram
  • Broke 300 followers on Twitter
  • Discovered new recipe sites, and followed writers that matter to me
  • I have lost interest in Pinterest
  • My photography skills have improved
  • I learned how to make bread
  • I am in control of my financials (or at least I know where my money is going)
  • I am more aware of those who want to be a professional cook over those who think the profession has a glamorous end
  • I've had minor surgery on my cheek to remove a cyst a few years back

So now I'm back. Let me know if you need me.