After reading this book, I’ll never complain again about having to fast before having a blood draw. Even being unable to eat for several days because of the flu pales in comparison to the nightmare described in this book. Jon Reiner is a guy who loves food, to the point of gluttony. But nasty digestive flare-ups lead to a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease, surgery to repair the damage, and an altered diet.
The book begins at a point in Jon’s life when he’s been feeling exceptionally well, so he has reverted back to eating whatever he wants. Then the worst possible thing happens: while his wife is at work and the kids are in school, his intestines rupture. Jon comes close to dying on his living room floor. He spends weeks hospitalized with peritonitis, and the doctors not allowing him to eat or drink anything. He has only intravenous (IV) nutrition. Jon comes to hate the medical term NPO (no products orally).
As time drags on with very little healing, the doctors decide to let him go home, but he must continue to survive solely on IV feedings for three months to allow the digestive track to rest and heal. Watching his family eat while he is allowed not one sip of water or bite of food is agony. Jon’s descriptions of food fantasies and past eating experiences are vivid, to the point of almost being able to taste them as you read.
The story is truly stranger than fiction. It is hard to imagine that anyone could survive the abdominal infection and months of not eating. But the human body is amazingly created with the ability to heal up from nearly impossible odds. The next time you feel deprived because your meal is late or the doctor wants you to fast for a day before some procedure, think about Jon Reiner and thank God you’re not going through the same thing.