G.I. Jell-o to the Rescue

Today I fast. Tomorrow I swallow a camera.

No, I won’t be gnawing on my Canon Rebel out of desperation. I won’t be staving off starvation with my smartphone either.

These are the very (un)fashionable accessories I get to wear for my capsule endoscopy. The belt transmits the pictures. It malfunctioned last time.

These are the very (un)fashionable accessories I get to wear for my capsule endoscopy. The belt transmits the pictures. It malfunctioned last time.

I am suffering through a liquid diet today because tomorrow morning I will swallow a multi-vitamin-sized wireless camera during a capsule endoscopy. I won’t go into all the gory details, but my surgeon (part of my IBD medical team) needs to get a close-up view of my small intestines. Traditional endoscopies and x-rays cannot provide an adequate picture for her, so I will swallow this relatively small camera. It will take thousands of pictures as it navigates the twisty turning loopdiloop of my digestive system.

Unlike most endoscopic procedures, it does not require anesthetic and is completely painless.  Unless, of course, it gets stuck in the labyrinth of my small bowel.

The technology of it is fascinating.  The prep?  Not so much. I will endure a full day on a liquid diet followed by a giant bottle (a whole 16 ounces!) of magnesium citrate. Trust me when I say this isn’t the kind of beverage you pop the top off voluntarily.

I’ve done this twice before, most recently about 10 days ago. I fasted. I stressed about that whole getting-stuck thing. I gagged down the mag citrate. I gulped the capsule…and everything went smoothly from there. At least I thought so, until three days ago when the nurse from the endoscopy unit called to meekly inform me the equipment that records the images malfunctioned.

I get to do it all over again, Monday! Which is really fine since I should be able to get the results by the end of the week.

But that means prep day is today.  Sunday…the day I usually spend in the kitchen cooking and baking for the week. I had planned to spend the day baking boodle for the Older One–a box of cookies and snacks meant to boost the spirits of homesick West Point cadets. (For a full definition of boodle, check out this post.) Then I would move onto a new pasta sauce recipe to finally use some of basil blossoming in the herb garden.

A liquid diet on Cook-Till-You-Drop-Day? Really?

That means no sampling the sauce and no taste-testing the Fudgey Chewy Peanut Butter Chip cookies. What if the cookies don’t have the right cocoa to peanut butter ratio? What if I over-season the sauce? What if my willpower gives out, and I can’t keep myself from licking the beaters?

But wait! Maybe I can be spared all that turmoil. Maybe a hero will save the no-solid-food day. Maybe…just maybe…

Yes! GI Jell-o to the rescue!

Long before Bill Cosby introduced the world to Jell-o Jigglers, my momma introduced me to a thick, chewy, liquid-based treat she called Finger Jell-o.  She’d mix it up on camping trips, cut it into squares, and we’d all giggle as it wiggled its way into our bellies. It’s been a special treat in my family for years. Even the pups enjoy chasing a chunk around the kitchen floor on occasion. I usually whip up a batch on fasting days because it actually involves chewing, and I can trick my brain into thinking I’m actually eating something.

A few years ago when the Older One still lived at home and enjoyed playing jokes on his poor unsuspecting momma, I had set aside a pan of our favorite gelatin snack in the refrigerator to set. The next morning, I retrieved the pan with the intent of slicing it into bite-sized pieces.  I pulled the plastic wrap off and gazed at my beautiful sparkling orange jello and a… Wait a minute.  What’s that? That can’t be a…? Yes, it is!


The original GI Jell-o.

There, suspended in orange (sugar-free) jiggliness, was a GI Joe rifle!

I promptly called for the Older One…using both his first and middle names, so he would know I was serious. He walked into the kitchen, and tried unsuccessfully to conceal his grin as he declared, “Hey! How’d that get in there?”

My anger subsided when he confirmed that he had at least washed the plastic weapon before sliding it into the pan. We cut around it and continued to enjoy the Jell-o.

Now, instead of Finger Jell-o, I make GI Jell-o as a tribute to the hero of toy departments everywhere and to my son who is growing up to become a real-life GI Joe himself.

If anyone could rescue me from a day longing for food, it would surely be GI Jell-o. Last night I used four cups of boiling water to melt three small packages of Jell-o and four packages of unflavored gelatin. I mixed it all together in an 8 X 8 inch pan. Covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to set overnight.

This afternoon as my sauce bubbled and my cookies baked and my stomach growled, I pulled the pan from the refrigerator.  I did not see any plastic play-things swimming in its depth, but I smiled nonetheless.

GI Jell-o saves the day again with some fruity chewiness and a happy memory.

What gets you through a rough day?


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