Reckon the west is getting too fancy schmancy? Posh coffee shops getting you down? Never fear - Sunshine Hospital is keeping it real. In the emergency department, there were two toilet choices - one with no seat and the other fragranced with the fug of furtive ciggies. Sunshine - where you're never too sick to suck down a smoke!
To be fair, the next time I passed the toilets, the one with the missing seat had a maintenance sign on the door. And meanwhile, you the reader are probably rather confused as to where this post is going! Without boring you with too many tedious details, last week I spent a few days in Footscray and Sunshine Hospitals with a health problem. Don't worry, there isn't another pork roll scare. (Funny thing - my husband has eaten so many pork rolls, it's a wonder Nhu Lan doesn't have one named after him. It should be "The Bogan", because he always orders a roll with extra meat. Anyway, I thought everyone knew about the dying-from-pork-rolls thing that happened in the 90's, but it turns out he didn't. When I told him he went rather ashen, obviously reliving all the near-death experiences he has had over the last eight years he's lived in the 'scray. Oh, you didn't know about the killer pork rolls either? Oh well. Surely if you had to choose a last meal, a banh mi would be a good choice!)
Anyway, I'm fine now, but in the interests of a fair go, I thought I'd share with you some of Western Health's finest fare in an attempt to tempt you to visit its fair campuses. We begin with the emergency department sandwich. Actually, this is another sandwich from later in my stay, as I wasn't really thinking about food blogging at the time. But let's just say, when a single layer of ham covers the exact surface area of the bread - we're probably not talking Jonai Farms' finest. But we won't look a gift horse in the mouth. (Not to say it was horse. I'm sure it wasn't.)
Another standout meal was beef stroganoff "surprise". (Also not pictured - this is another meal, but I'd rather forget what it was.) Fun Ms Baklover fact: When I was 18, I worked for a spell in a hospital kitchen. The food would arrive in a van in giant, insulated barrels. You'd take a tray, upon which would have a menu with tick boxes the patient had checked with a little bingo pencil. You would then push each tray along a bench, placing the requested items onto it. Jelly? Check. OJ? Check. Grey broccoli in a lumpy cheese sauce? Oh, if you insist. They would then be taken up to the wards. I didn't get a chance to tick a menu, but I was really happy to see that the default option was beef stroganoff, which I quite like normally. Beef, mushrooms, sour cream sauce...and pickles. Yes, pickles, like the ones you get in a McDonald's burger - in a beef stroganoff. Hashtag hospital food logic.
Times were desperate. Friends brought me Aangan, which, after three days of mystery meat, tasted hallucinogenic. Slowly it dawned on me that there might be life outside the ward. A friend had brought me a coffee from the cafe, so I set off to find it myself. I wasn't sure if patients were meant to leave, and I didn't want to ask in case the nurse said no and I was condemned to another Styrofoam Zinger®-flavoured cup of tea and one of those biscuits with "NICE" printed on them, as if they're trying to convince you they are something other than sawdust. So I took off my hospital gown, put on my trackies, covered up the IV in my arm with my wallet and absconded.
And it was so worth it. I hustled back my contraband egg and bacon muffin to my room and devoured it with much gusto. Yes, I might eat it now and be completely unmoved, but like a teenage summer romance, at the time it felt so, so right. And I reckon they knew I snuck out to buy it. In fact, maybe that's the trigger for them to discharge you. "Matron, Bed 5 was just spotted at Zouki, buying a ten-pack of caramel slices." "Prepare the paperwork - she's cured!"
In all seriousness, though, the food was edible, plentiful, and more importantly, was accompanied by world-class medical care that is 100% free. Thank you to all the wonderful nurses, doctors and support staff at Western Health who were nothing but friendly, professional, and did everything they could do to make my stay as comfortable as possible. And while Sunshine Hospital may not win any prizes for food, Ward 1A did win First Prize at the Pressure Ulcer Expo. (I saw the certificate on the wall.) And I don't reckon there's a posh coffee shop anywhere that can lay claim to that.