I am now a week out from my return home from hospital and have been on “free fluids” (aka, anything you can drink through a straw) for ten days.
I’m not gonna lie – it’s been a challenge. There’s only so much liquid you can intake before you miss chewing. I’m not hungry – never hungry – but I am missing the substance and taste of the foods I like. And some I don’t. I’ve been craving meat a lot, which is not something I usually crave (perhaps it’s the missing protein?). Thankfully, as soon as I have these cravings I then imagine in vivid detail my stomach and what something like a honey soy chicken wing or a cheeseburger – two things I have been craving like crazy – would do to my healing staple line. I think about the pain, I think about getting something stuck in the wound – and at the moment those fears are enough to stop me deviating.
Thankfully I have been relatively pain free – I took some panadol (liquid – ew!) on the day I came home from hospital but haven’t touched the stuff since. I have been uncomfortable, and I get the odd pain in my abdomen and I had one incident where I leaned over the wrong way and got an excruciating pain in my right side – like a really bad stitch. I just had to stand up and rub the spot, then lie down and stretch it out, and it went away. It did scare me though, so I spent the rest of that day (Wednesday) being extra careful. My stomach often feels like it’s tightening, like when you’ve worked too hard at the gym or when you’re so hungry your stomach “does knots”. It’s also very noisey. It gurgles, it goes high pitched and low – it makes people laugh, apparently.
One thing I have experienced in the last week or so, something I am new to, is being cold. I’ve always been quite hot-blooded, actually I’m always bloody hot! But since my surgery I have had trouble keeping warm. I put it down to the ted stockings, which are lowering the circulation to my feet, which makes them cold. And when my feet are cold, so am I. I have had to have the heating on everyday, I wear multiple layers of clothing and I sit under a blanket with a beanie on. This from a girl who would wear dresses in minus four. It’s a strange sensation!
Another thing I’ve noticed is regarding my teeth. I brush my teeth twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening – but since starting this liquid diet I have noticed the “fur” on my teeth is really bad all day. I think the very act of chewing removes crap from your teeth, and so I feel gross in my mouth without it. I’ve started brushing in the middle of the day too, cos it feels disgusting.
Mostly I am bored. So bored. I’ve only left the house a few times, once for coffee with my Dad (which took 1 1/2 to drink), twice to go to the shops and once for a dinner party with friends where I showed up with a small container of soup. Pretty much I’ve just been sitting around the house, giving myself needles (clean once a day, but I’m so cautious it takes me ages), watching a lot of TV and constantly sipping on something. Forever sipping. They say Gastric Sleevers should have two mottos: Sip, Sip, Sip! and Chew, Chew, Chew! At first I was so afraid to hurt my hernia or my new stomach that I sipped so daintily, it took me three hours to sip my (250ml) lunch one day. Thankfully by the end of the week this has changed and I’m now taking larger sips, but I’m certainly not gulping like I used to (I would chug water down). I can now drink a small cup of tea without it going freezing cold – just tepid. I did do an experiment earlier in the week where I took a large mouthful of water, and I felt it – it hurt going through my diaphragm.
It’s practically impossible to maintain the amount of water required to stay hydrated while still having three meals. I tried to uptake my water by adding it to juice, having icy poles (make your own with lemons, raspberries and limes – or be lazy like I was and buy lemonade flavour, or frosty fruits) and just generally not going anywhere without my trusty Sistema ‘Sip n’ Go’. As I don’t like soup very much, I found asian inspired soups were a great idea too (lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chilli and coriander with water in a pot, strain and voila!).
A few musts for the liquid diet:
- Fibre – I used Benefibre twice a day, usually in juice or milo. It’s tasteless and it makes you poo (and it makes your poo not runny – cos that’s what’ll happen if you’re on a liquid diet without fibre).
- Protein – try protein shakes, natural protein (can be added to milo etc) or just drink a crap load of dairy. Protein is great for repairing muscle, and trust me, you’ll feel like crap if you don’t keep it up. My Dietician said 50-60gms a day on the liquid diet (working up to 80-90 when back on full solids). This is a hard feat to achieve though, so try and just get it in where you can. I went for a cup of Milo (10g when pared with 200ml milk) over a cup of tea (small amount of milk, so less protein).
- Nice bowls – it probably sounds weird, but I found this to be a way to get through the whole “oh, soup again” mentality (even though I haven’t had that much soup). Having a nice bowl to sit down to makes it easier, and feels less “diety”. Eating out of the same plastic containers all the time get’s boring, and the boredom seeps through to your food as well.
- Walking – you don’t need to go for a walk, but getting up and wandering around the house is great to get those leftover gases moving. I found the more I walked, the more I farted, and the better I felt. Don’t over do it though,
So here is my diet for the last week. I’ve been keeping track on MyFitness Pal (best app ever – definitely get this one!).
Day 4 (Friday): Weight – 117.8. Breakfast: Juice with Benefibre. Lunch: Musashi P30 Protein popper. Dinner: Orange juice with Benefibre. Snacks: Lemonade icy pole. Tea.
Day 5 (Saturday): Weight – 116.4. Breakfast: Juice with Benefibre. Lunch: Strawberry Up & Go. Dinner: Milo (with skim milk and Benefibre). Snacks: Bulla yoghurt icy pole and lemonade icy pole. Tea.
Day 6 (Sunday): Weight 114.5. Breakfast: Musashi P30 Protein popper. Lunch: Organe juice with Benefibre. Snacks: Lemonade icy pole.
Day 7 (Monday): Weight 114.0. Breakfast: Juice with Benefibre. Lunch: Musashi Protein P30. Dinner: Soup part of the Minestrone Mum made for dinner (had to watch everyone else eat the delicious Italian Bread, waaah!). Snacks: Bulla yoghurt icy pole. Tea.
(Mum’s fridge decided to not make things cold on Monday, so I had to throw out all the milk and juice I had)
Day 8 (Tuesday): Weight – 113.4. Breakfast: Juice with Benefibre. Lunch: Chocolate Up & Go. Dinner: Carrot and coriander soup. Dessert: Ice cream.
Day 9 (Wednesday): Weight 113.1. Breakfast: Musashi Slm toning Protein popper. Lunch: Milo (with skim milk and Benefibre). Dinner: Musashi Slm toning Protein popper. Snacks: Lemonade icy pole.
Day 10 (Thursday): Weight 112.5. Breakfast: Musashi Slm toning Protein popper. Lunch: Clear broth (asian inspired – lemongrass, chilli, garlic, ginger, lemon and coriander). Snacks: Black tea with lemon and honey, Icy Pole, 2 x Laughing Cow light cheese wedges.
I have another few days on the liquid diet, and I had a delivery of a new protein powder today – Nectar Roadside Lemonade flavour, can’t wait to try it. I had bought one before surgery, but I didn’t like the taste – I’d recommend finding one you like beforehand… waiting for delivery meant I spent quite a lot of money on those Mushahi poppers (although I did like the convenience of those, and they taste nice).
Next week I’ll move on to the “pureed” stage. As you can see, I’ve already started experimenting on some softer foods (ice cream, yoghurt pops, laughing cow cheese etc) – I did this to try and see how my stomach was fairing, but I made sure it was nothing I couldn’t handle. I didn’t go crazy and eat a cheeseburger in a blender (sadly)!
I also got a letter to say that my Early Release of Superannuation had been approved by DHS – the whole amount! So now I am in the process of sending the application off to my super fund to actually receive the money, a friend who is a JP just came round to sign my identity documents. It’s really exciting, but most importantly this means that, for the first time in 10 years, I will be debt-free and I’ll be able to concentrate on a mortgage deposit! Things are looking up in so many ways right now! 🙂