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Wed, June 19

Column: Doctor, patient have different definitions of edible<br>Tasty versus healthy – the age-old battle.<br>Tasty versus healthy – the age-old battle.

Have I ever mentioned that I love food?

I have? Fair enough. So let me tell you about my four daughters...

What's that? I mention them all the time? Okay. Have I ever mentioned that I love language?

Repeatedly? Really? Several columns on the subject, you say? Fine. Well, the good news is that I have something to say that doesn't involve my daughters or language, just food.

Your old pal Casey learned something very important recently: My gallbladder hates me.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a big old cheeseburger at a local fast food joint for supper, then I had an egg sandwich on a bagel with tons of butter for a late evening snack (bear in mind that I almost never eat breakfast, though I know I really should. So, the "late evening snack" is really just the third meal of the day).

Loved my egg sandwich. Puttered around the house. Started getting some stomach pains. Long story short, I ended up in the emergency room with a doctor telling me, "Your gallbladder hates you. It'd be best if you never saw each other again."

So, I'm having me some gallbladder surgery. That's dreadful, of course.

But the most crushing part? The thing that stings more than this angry little organ? If you have a gallbladder (A bladder full of gall! And "gall" is Latin for "pain!") susceptible to attacks, apparently a high fat diet will push that little thing into overdrive. The doctor at the ER handed me a paper saying that I had to avoid fat. But I love fat! Fat is delicious! Fat is my favorite! When I eat a pancake, it's really a delivery system for butter. I put extra cheese on my cheese. I have been known to make a cheese sandwich by putting a slice of cheese between two other slices of cheese. I love my fat!

Until my surgery, I had to go on a no-fat diet. None!

So, I tried. I really did. Well, it was mostly my wife and mother-in-law who tried for me. They are the ones who went to the store and bought all the no-fat cheese and cottage cheese and cream cheese. (While I love food, I'm IN love with cheese.)

My wife made me a tuna melt with the no-fat American cheese on top. I've never actually tried a tuna melt before. I've been in restaurants when friends of mine have ordered tuna melts, and I always thought the same thing: How ghastly. Cheese on top of tuna? Why not cheese on top of a burger, as God intended?

I have to admit it was pretty good. That cheese was something else, though. It didn't have the glistening runniness of real cheese. Rather, it looked like a piece of yellow plastic that someone had melted in the sun. It was just bizarre.

Something very dire occurred to me about my fat-free foods. They weren't strictly speaking "food." What they were was "edible." Not tasty, not appetizing, but also not poisonous. Heck, Play-Doh is edible. But these foods were neither grown nor born. They were simply manufactured.

My diet is not exactly pure, obviously. I do eat processed foods often, but realizing I was ingesting pure chemicals made me retch. So your old pal Casey has been subsisting on a diet of chicken broth, beef broth, Jell-O and bananas. (I do like veggies, but eating just a plain vegetable with no salad dressing? How barbaric!)

Another funny thing has happened. I've suddenly started reading the packages of our food. It's amazing how many things are in the foods we buy that didn't begin life as food. And it's amazing how much fat is on our diets.

Will I go back to my fat-full diet after my surgery? And how! But I now have a greater appreciation of what I'm putting into my body. I'll be a little more cautious, a little more careful about what I eat, and not merely eat it because it tastes good.

That being said, I cannot WAIT to have a pizza again. I'm starving.


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