For the Love of Frozen Breakfast Food

For the Love of Frozen Breakfast Food
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For the longest time, winters were a joyful occasion.

It wasn’t that I liked the snow, or the sickness, or the slog of self-isolation. I didn’t want to stay home for a third of the school year. I didn’t want to wrestle with long division and cellular anatomy all by my lonesome. Like Ariel, I wanted to be where the people were. I wanted a stronger pair of lungs that weren’t as susceptible to the flu.

But there was something about winter. My dad was my primary caregiver, so my months-long sojourn meant that until I went back to school in the spring, he was essentially a free agent. He couldn’t work; he couldn’t leave the house for hours at a time. His priority was taking care of me, which forced the both of us to slow down.

I hated the isolation of winter. The confinement of it, the sadness of looking out the window and seeing nothing but muddied banks of snow. But I also loved the sense of escape. Winters were like the wardrobe from “The Chronicles of Narnia” — a whole new world, with fauns, divine lions, and packages of Turkish delight. I could disappear for months at a time, feeling somewhat like I was breaking the law.

My dad and I had winter rituals. We slept in, much to my mother’s chagrin. We played video games, because I was always caught up on homework. We even ate breakfast together — frozen waffles, oatmeal with yogurt and brown sugar, chocolate chip pancakes. Our mornings were slow and restorative, and often featured an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Then I grew up. I got a G-tube, and no longer needed something as pedestrian as three square meals a day. School got harder; my mental health deteriorated. Life changed, as it always does, and with it our winter routines.

But life is cyclical, so it’s no surprise that we’ve returned to frozen breakfast food. We don’t sleep in anymore. I can’t remember the last time we watched “The Andy Griffith Show.” But the world outside my window is heavy with snow. The pandemic has encouraged us to rediscover things that used to bring us joy, like Pillsbury Toaster Strudels.

Toaster Strudels used to be a staple in the Albers household. My dad liked the strawberry with icing; I preferred the egg, sausage, and cheese. They were cheap, easy to make, and an integral part of our breakfast rotation. Then I got my G-tube and stopped eating breakfast. Every once in a while, I would crave a Toaster Strudel, but that was as far as it went.

The other day, as my dad was putting me to bed, he asked, “You know what sounds good? Toaster Strudels.”

I fell asleep dreaming of cheesy, eggy goodness. The next morning, I woke up and immediately ordered five boxes of Toaster Strudels. There were so many flavors! So many options to choose from! I was a kid in a candy store, refusing to acknowledge that food does, in fact, cost money.

I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to eat them. Toaster Strudels are finicky, as is the way of frozen breakfast food — undercook it and you’ll be a cud-chewing cow; overcook it and you’ll be eating a crispy brick of burnt dough. I didn’t want to lose another thing to SMA, another treasure of my childhood.

My first bite was nerve-wracking. I spent a good five minutes sucking and swirling and trying to figure out if I was rooting for a lost cause. Then my dad chopped it up, and I was off to the races, elated at the knowledge that I had reclaimed something that I used to love.

Toaster Strudels aren’t as good as I remember. But that’s par for the course. And I’m enjoying all the new flavors — Blueberry, Cinnamon Roll with Cinnabon sugar. But it’s the memories that I love the most. The months spent watching a black-and-white sitcom with my dad, laughing at the school bus when it drove past our house.

Some things change: Instead of “The Andy Griffith Show,” we watch “Lost,” swapping theories over bites of Blueberry Toaster Strudel. But some things, like the time we spend together, endure forever.

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Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

Brianna (she/her) is a crip cyborg storyteller living in Minneapolis-St. Paul. She was diagnosed with SMA Type II at 9 months of age and lives with co-occurring physical and mental health conditions. By day, she works as an advocate, bridging disability and mental health awareness to empower people to live their best lives; by night, she dabbles in imagination, and is in the process of making the book of her heart, “#WaningCrescent,” the best it can be. Find her online at www.briannahopealbers.com and on social media @briehalbers.
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Brianna (she/her) is a crip cyborg storyteller living in Minneapolis-St. Paul. She was diagnosed with SMA Type II at 9 months of age and lives with co-occurring physical and mental health conditions. By day, she works as an advocate, bridging disability and mental health awareness to empower people to live their best lives; by night, she dabbles in imagination, and is in the process of making the book of her heart, “#WaningCrescent,” the best it can be. Find her online at www.briannahopealbers.com and on social media @briehalbers.

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