rubber soul: the dietician

by Jane Eaton Hamilton

Jane Eaton Hamilton is the author of nine books, including the novel WEEKEND, which the Vancouver Sun called a “tour de force.” Her books have been shortlisted for a number of awards, including the Pat Lowther Award and the BC Book Prize. She has twice won first prize in fiction at the CBC Literary Awards. Find her on her blog.

so what are your concerns she says and i say i want information for my ankylosing spondylitis and she says but let’s talk about lowering your triglycerides i say my triglycerides aren’t elevated she says the things i show you will get them back in range and i say but i am really interested in the list of foods i should avoid with ankylosing spondylitis and she says also we will also work on a plan to get your blood sugar more stable and i say my blood sugar is within range and she says let’s talk about how to even those numbers out because obviously your body is having trouble converting your sugars triglycerides and sugars are our concerns today and i say but what i’m consulting you for is ankylosing spondylitis and then she says what time to do go to bed what time do you get up why do you stay up so late have you heard about sleep hygiene do you watch tv in bed do you read in bed reading in bed is particularly bad because your eyes move back and forth and i almost laugh because reading in bed is what writers do and sometimes we write too with pens or even laptops so i say just consider it as me working the afternoon shift she says the window should be open you don’t want to add rotten sleep hygiene to your woes i say heaven forfend she says the only thing you can do in bed is sleep i say am i allowed to have sex because although it’s often unhygienic what we do we do do most of it in bed considering our older bodies i’m sure you can understand her lips collapse together and she pretends i didn’t say this she says only the sleep you get before 10 p.m. counts i say does sleep know what time it is what if i have sex at 2 does that orgasm not count it makes me sleepy she ignores me and says what time do you rise do you ingest food when you get up what do you eat and brings out plastic bowls red orange and blue so i can choose the amount of my yogurt and asks me to estimate the size of my apple which makes me giddy why am I giddy i say jiminy crickets doesn’t that depend on the size of the apple the store sells we move along through the day’s food when we get to dinner i say could we just discuss the hit list for the ankylosing spondylitis and she bends to her bookcase and plunks a rubber mound of individuated white rice kernels a blob of sliced melded carrots a blop of cooked spinach and pasta with discrete strands along with a chunk of salmon on a plastic segmented plate more food than i would eat in three meals like portions in nashville she says you should eat more vegetables all of the stacked vegetables quiver like we are having a slight earthquake 4.4 say i think of japan where there is rubber food in restaurant windows and not for the first time wish i traveled less to avoid moments like this where cultures rub like tectonic plates and i try hard i try really hard i try excessively hard sucking in my lips wiping emotion from my eyes not to react so as not to be labelled a bad patient but it is hard to answer questions with rubber food shaking not inches from your face i want to tell her that once my daughter had a boyfriend in japan who made prosthetic ears and i kept one by my canadian telephone and i was keen to collect more body parts i got rubber lips and one eyeball i ask her if she imagines that eventually i got a whole face (i didn’t because the kids broke up) but she says do you eat fish do you eat beef do you eat chicken do you eat fried foods salt breading do you drink alcohol pop coffee water what do you take in your coffee how much of it do you take she is going to find something wrong if she prys enough she is getting more insistent more charged up more i can see the roots of her hair bleaching in front of me she plunks down a glass of rubber milk which cannot slosh and a glass of rubber orange juice the food off gasses in a way that makes me swoon i think you don’t put rubber food in front of a writer she says i will give you a print out of your weight loss goals and the changes you need to make so that your triglycerides and blood sugars come down try it for a month then make an appointment to see me again and i say if i come back will you be able to prepare the list of foods that aggravate ankylosing spondylitis and i say may i please have some rubber food to take home but she just gives me a quarter of an elastic laugh i say is there a website i can order rubber food she leaves the room for the print out i slip the rice just the rice into my gym bag


Jane Eaton Hamilton is the author of nine books, including the novel WEEKEND, which the Vancouver Sun called a “tour de force.” Her books have been shortlisted for a number of awards, including the Pat Lowther Award and the BC Book Prize. She has twice won first prize in fiction at the CBC Literary Awards. Find her on her blog.

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