A Day at the Hospital [Tomato Soup]

M hay had his first experience with renal colic, or kidney stones, on Monday morning.

I’ve never seen someone in that much pain – seen someone behave the way that they do when they are in that much pain.

It was a scary experience because of how fast his condition worsened and because neither of us knew what was happening to him.

At 9 a.m. he got out of bed and told me that his back hurt.

By 9:15 he was prostrate, moaning and screaming, completely unable to move and vomiting non-stop.

By 9:28 a.m. he was gone in an ambulance.

I didn’t ride with him to the hospital because I had a lot of commitments on Monday that needed to be cancelled before I went to the hospital. I don’t have a smart phone, so I can’t e-mail on the go.

So I arrived by taxi to The Ottawa Hospital’s General Campus on Smythe Road around 10:30 a.m.

When I walked into the emergency room, a very pleasant volunteer wearing a bright blue vest asked me if I needed to see a doctor. I told her no, thank you, that I was there to see m hay.

“OK, I’ll go and find him for you. I’ll be two minutes,” she said.

I didn’t wait long and sure enough she was back. Awesome!

“He’s in bed 2,” she said. “But the nurse said he just went out for a smoke.”

WHAT?! M hay doesn’t smoke. All manner of things raced through my mind — the worst of the worst possibilities of why he wasn’t in his bed.

“Um, m hay doesn’t smoke,” I started.

The volunteer was very reassuring that we would find m hay.

She told me to follow the green dots to the observation unit and to ask the nurses there where he was.

When I arrived at the biggest green dot I pushed open the door to the observation unit.

Every bed in observation was full; all of the machines were beeping melodically.

Lots of nurses were cutting around in scrubs – only one was at the desk.

Bed two was directly to my right. A very m hay-like foot was poking out of the covers.

I was reassured.

“Hi there, I’m looking for m hay,” I told the nurse. “Actually, that should be him right there!”

I caught a puzzled look out of the corner of my eye as I bounded the two metres to bed 2. I looked in.

An elderly gentleman!

How embarrassing! And for goodness’ sake, where is m hay?!

“He’s actually in bed 12,” said the nurse.

Straight ahead to bed 12, then. There he was – feeling much better.

We left a few hours later.

M hay put in a lunch request – no curries or fancy stuff, just something homey.

I delivered.

Lens got a little steamy.

Tomato Soup
*recipe from userealbutter.com, who got it from from Fine Cooking issue #91 March 2008

2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter, unsalted
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, smashed and peeled
2 tbsps all-purpose flour
3 cups lower-salt chicken broth
28 oz whole peeled plum tomatoes, puréed (include the juice)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 sprig fresh thyme
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsps torn fresh basil

In a non-reactive 5- to 6-quart stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter over medium-low heat to melt the butter.

Add the onion and garlic, stirring periodically until translucent and soft. Take care not to brown them. Stir in the flour until the onion and garlic are coated.

Pour in the broth, puréed tomatoes, sugar, thyme, and about 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a simmer over medium-high heat while stirring to prevent any sticking on the bottom of the pot.

Reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer, covered for 40 minutes. Remove the thyme sprig and let the soup cool a little before puréeing it in a blender or a food processor. Rinse the pot and pour in the soup.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and reheat if it has cooled too much.

Serve warm, garnished with torn basil. Makes 8 cups.

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