Sunday, March 12, 2017

Leaving Stage Three

Well, I'm almost there.  My "new" life has "new" goals and of course, with each, new rules and new opportunities to feel a sense of accomplishment.

The Bariatric Surgery diet is conveniently divided into stages.  A "Newbie" learns, during the months of preparation, that passing from stage to stage post-operatively, one allows the reconstructed stomach to heal and to learn to contain food again.  Follow the rules, and it is expected that the organ will cooperate and will set up a pathway between itself and the brain and all will be well but different.
Don't follow the rules and the pathway gets interrupted and the poor, wounded stomach will not heal. Don't drink enough fluids and dehydration surely will ensue.  The professionals on the team drill all that into the heads of their patients.

So, the very first Stage in this healing/learning life is met with tiny sips of water only hours after surgery.  Following the successful ingestion of a medicine cup filled with water, four small bottles of water are left at the bedside and it's time to prove you really want to go home in two days.  Sip, sip, sip, get those bottles chugged down.....without chugging.  Nurses come around, perhaps not as often as they should, but their eyes are on the prize.  They also have a goal.  Want to work on a Bariatric floor, make sure your patients get that fluid down orally in addition to intravenously.  From that point, the assaulted stomach is asked to accept some more fluids the following day.  This was not an easy task. Suddenly, everything that was the slightest bit sweet, tasted like it contained only sugar.  Jello, Carnation Instant Breakfast, Crystal Light and Snapple became the enemies.  I thought I was going to be nauseous forever and had a tiny moment of buyer's remorse.  The third day, still in the famous Second Stage, I felt a bit more tolerant and took in some more fluids in all of their forms.  My ability to get home was based upon my ability to empty things that were brought to me by the Dietary Aides, God love them.  Each tray was a monument.  Every slide of food, a weapon against remaining in that bed, walking the floors, dragging an I.V. pole.  If you know me, you understand that I was not going to stay another night in the hospital and I was going to convince my doctor to D.C. the I.V.
From the moment I became un-tethered, I met the food tray with new resolve.  "I'm getting out of here tonight!" So I dumped my tomato soup down the bathroom sink, put on my own nightgown and turquoise robe, and did a dance for my doctor when I met him in the hall.  Bam!

I came home, as I had anticipated, well into Stage Three.  I honored my new "pouch" which I now refer to as "Prada".  Excuse me, but if I have to rename my stomach, I'm giving it a fitting name. Think designer handbag if you don't mind.  So, for the past, not-quite two weeks, I have been feeding Prada clear liquids, protein drinks, strained soups, broths, artificially sweetened Greek yogurts devoid of anything that resembles fruit, teas, waters, and not much more.  I am proud to say that I did it.  Not once did I waiver.  Prada lets me know if I'm "eating" too fast or drinking more than sips.  Prada has been kind and we have worked it out together.  We're ready, together to move on.  We've made it through the storm and it's all down hill from here, or at least I hope so. One more day and I start "mushy" foods. I'll add a whole lot more to the list of things I can have and I am told that I will have to chew very slowly and listen to Prada when I'm getting the signal to stop.  It will be a learning curve, one that will take me through the next four weeks.  I'm not ready for more than this and I'm still following those rules.

In four weeks, I betcha I'll never eat another flavored yogurt or drink another Snapple.  Plain water never tasted so good.

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