JUST OVER A YEAR AGO…
…MY SON DREW BECAME SERIOUSLY ILL. Within the span of a few weeks, much of his body had shut down. His brain became a tangled mess of misfired messages that left him unable to move. His doctors were stumped.
Eventually, a spinal tap and several MRIs confirmed multiple sclerosis (MS) and, with that finding, he spent nine weeks in the hospital – first to treat Drew's acute episode and second to teach Drew how to live again.
But this is not a story about MS – that is Drew’s to tell. This is a story about food.
The Saturday before Drew ended up in the hospital, I made one of his favourite dishes: spaghetti pie. He couldn’t really leave his room, so we carried the kitchen table upstairs, lit some candles, cued up a playlist and dined on spaghetti pie with a side of garlic bread and Caesar salad – just like any other Saturday night.
And that was precisely the point: We were all scared out of our minds, not knowing what was wrong with Drew, but there was comfort in the ritual of dinner, with a recipe we knew and loved from less-complicated times. We reminisced, enjoyed seconds, left room for dessert and generally let the energy of the moment hold us together as our world fell apart.
The next morning, Drew awoke with chest pain. We called 911 and, in a tornado of activity, an EMS crew arrived, strapped my boy to a stretcher and carried him off into a waiting ambulance.
It sounds silly to say that, in the face of such an extreme life event, a simple supper could make any kind of difference, but it did. So many times during the ensuing nine weeks, our unbeknownst “last dinner” became a touchstone – a symbol that, regardless of the circumstances, we would be able to get through anything with a lot of love and a little pasta.
This is the power of food: It is the engine of life. Now, we are just over a year into living with this disease. I still make spaghetti pie, but our meal planning has become more strategic, with a focus on meals that optimize health. Most importantly, we have never lost sight of the strength that comes from breaking bread as a family.
I know life is crazy busy. Everyone has somewhere else to be “right this minute.” Maybe we can’t make every meal count. That’s OK, but aim for a few.
Let us help. This is Best Health’s food issue. We have solutions for easy weeknight dinners in “Slow-Cooker Magic” (page 54) and fun ways to experiment with fruit in “Oh, Fig!” (page 48). For preventive health, see “Meals that Heal” (page 60) for ideas to help thwart breast cancer and “Second Opinions” (page 16) for help with managing diabetes. And if you need a little boost to deal with brain fog, low energy or bad skin, turn to “Herbal Magic” (page 64).
There are lots of ways that food can improve your health and well-being – you just need to start exploring the possibilities on your plate.
Yours in Best Health,