Originally posted on Facebook on August 24, 2013
What is the recovery process like? How soon are you up and about again and what is the process for reintroducing foods into your diet? Recovery is a long road, not because of the surgery itself, but because you have to re-learn how to eat for a totally new stomach.
I’ll be up and about that day, to make sure I don’t get blood clots in my legs. For the first 2-3 days it’s nothing but clear liquids, which means water and chicken broth.
The next morning I’ll go for an upper GI X-ray, where I’ll drink some barium and they will watch it go through my whole system, to make sure everything still works right, and there aren’t any blockages or unusual swelling. I’ll go home Tuesday evening, most likely, and for the next two weeks, it’s a total liquid diet, much like the one I’ve been having all this week. Water and protein shakes. But in very very small quantities constantly. I won’t be able to chug my giant 32 ounce water bottle in one swig anymore! It’s something like 2 ounces of water or protein drink every 10 minutes the whole day. And some light walking. And deep breathing exercises. After 2 weeks I can start introducing regular food back into my diet, but it all has to be the consistency of applesauce. Baby food, anyone? And I have to eat a tremendous amount of protein. Tremendous = 70-90 grams of protein a day. So three meals that are about a quarter of a cup of total food (half of that being protein), and two protein shakes to supplement.
Of course hydration is important. But you can’t drink for 30 minutes before or after every meal. The stomach is so super small, and the point is to keep it as small as possible for as long as possible. Eating too much too fast will do a variety of things, including stretching the stomach, but also lead to dumping syndrome (it is exactly what it sounds like) and vomiting (gross). After 2 more weeks I can try not-pureed food. Some people take 6 weeks to get to this stage, some people are there at 3 weeks.
It’s all about trying, eating slowly, and waiting to see how your body reacts.
Long term? I’ll always eat less. And I should avoid bread, rice, pasta, red meat and really high fiber stuff. They stress your stomach, and cause it to stretch. And keeping the stomach small is what keeps you a successful surgery patient in the long run.