Monday, January 28, 2013

Full Liquids Stage & 2 Week Follow-Up Appointment

Going home from the hospital, I was under instructions to be on a "full liquids diet". This means protein shakes made with milk or water, thin soups strained of all particles, sugar-free (SF) Jell-o, SF pudding, and other similar items. This was to last for 2 weeks, until I went to my first follow-up appointment at the surgeon's office.

On the whole, this foods stage went fine. As the shakes I had purchased (Unjury brand, Chocolate Splendor and Chicken Soup flavors) are formulated for bariatric patients and contained 21 grams of protein per serving, 2-3 shakes per day (mixing with milk adds 8 grams protein) satisfied my protein requirement of 60 grams per day. Each one is mixed with 1 cup liquid, so this also knocked off 2-3 cups of my 6-8 cup fluids requirement for each day. I had no trouble getting liquids down, so drinking a couple cups of tea and some water made each day successful in terms of dietary requirements.

I had purchased 2 tubs (34 servings) of the Chocolate Splendor flavor and 1 tub (17 servings) of the Chicken Soup. I love chocolate milk. Or, at least, I did...when I was having 8 ounces of it twice a day, everyday, it became old fast. I looked online for a recipe to help "shake" things up a bit. One recipe promised a peanut butter cup experience and called for the usual chocolate shake, plus greek yogurt and PB2 (powdered peanut butter - much lower in calories and fat). The first one was a welcome departure from the same old concoction, and had the added bonus of containing 45 grams of protein - 3/4 of my daily requirement! However, while drinking another the next day, I decided that I'd had enough of the thicker texture and mediocre taste. Luckily, it was only a few more days until I was allowed to progress to a more diverse menu.

By the time of my 2 week post-op appointment, I was ready to progress. I had successfully navigated what I assumed would be the most aggravating part of the food stages, gotten in all my daily nutrition requirements, vitamins, and exercise. I made it through Christmas at my friend's house with a multitude of guests and although some of the food smelled and looked great, stuck to my 8 ounces of strained soup. I had recruited a couple of "descriptive dialogue" assistants, who would describe certain items that I really wanted to taste, so that I could vicariously enjoy through their mouths. My surgeon was out of the office, so instead I saw his NP, Celestine Lee. As I had come to expect, she was pleasant, helpful, knowledgeable, and took time to make sure all my questions were answered. My incisions looked good, all my vital signs were excellent, and I was down 17 pounds since leaving the hospital. Celestine gave me the go-ahead to progress to the pureed foods stage, and one of the dieticians made sure that I understood the requirements and restrictions, and even gave me additional printed information about suggested menus and portions.

At this time I also discussed returning to work. I had a total of 4 weeks off, but was considering going back one week early. Celestine strongly advised against it, especially as I would still be learning what would and would not work for my changing body and introducing new foods. I agreed that I did not want to have an adverse reaction at work, and as I was still having a nap at least once a day, should probably take the full time. I received a return-to-work letter and, though I didn't know it at the time, some epic foreshadowing.

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