It’s hard to believe six weeks have come and gone already since my surgery! Let me catch you up on what’s been going on!
The first five weeks is basically about letting your body become re-accustomed to food. As I mentioned in my last post, the first week was all clear liquids – water, crystal light, sugar free jello, sugar free popsicles, decaffeinated coffee/tea, low fat broths – nothing with carbonation or caffeine. Again, this was no problem because of the extreme nausea I experienced.
Week two began what they called “Full liquids” – protein shakes, skim milk, cream of wheat/rice, thinned down fat-free/no sugar added/no chunks yogurt, fat-free/no sugar added ice cream, creamed soups with no chunks.
Week three was “Pureed Foods” – This was the week I had been dreading the most! Just the idea of “pureed” foods sounded so gross! But, I found ways to work around it with foods that I could tolerate eating. Allowable foods included anything from the previous weeks, Stage 2 baby foods, low fat/small curd cottage cheese, smooth textured whipped potatoes, sugar free puddings made with skim milk, smooth applesauce, low fat ricotta.
Week four you begin to feel like you’re getting “real food” again! This is the “Soft Solid Foods” phase. Eggs, beans, finely cut meats and fish, tuna, cheeses, cooked veggies, canned fruits in water, potato with no skin – I even got Triscuits! Woo hoo! What a treat!
Week five is considered “Unrestricted Textures” – this is when you begin simply eating the way you’re to eat for life. By now you’re learning what and how much your stomach can tolerate. The purpose of all of this is not only to ease your stomach slowly back into food, but, also, to be sure there are no leakage issues with the stapling of your stomach. Each phase of “heavier” foods that you make it through without any sickness or vomiting is an extra “safety” net to be sure that you will have no issues in the future.
I remember before the surgery reading my little booklet about all of this thinking that these weeks sounded like horrible gastric torture, and wondering how I was going to get through them. But, let me tell you, it was a breeze. And I’m being straight up with you. With the surgery, something “clicked” in my brain. I never thought it would be possible that I would care so little about what I ate. I truly found myself eating only because I needed to eat. Even to this day, when food smells good or looks good, I have yet to have a moment when I “crave” food like I use to. I can take it or leave it. I don’t know how or why that works, but it does. I went to one support group class before my surgery and I remember others who were post surgery saying these very things and my mind just could not fathom it, but it has been true for me.
Of course the BIG change is how MUCH I am eating. I’d say on average I take in about 500 – 700 calories a day, never more than a cup’s worth of food at a sitting. My stomach gives me definite signs when it is time to stop, and I take those signs seriously and STOP! (It is possible to “re-stretch” your stomach a certain amount if you begin to ignore the signs your stomach gives you, stop following “the rules”, or make bad food choices.) Technically, I do not count calories at this point, it’s really not necessary, but I do count protein RELIGIOUSLY. This is drilled into your head from the time you start the program. Protein is KING! And at this stage, post-surgery, if I don’t keep my protein level up, I could potentially start losing hair. Being someone who already has very thin hair, this does not appeal to me. Protein shakes reign supreme in this household! The amount of protein you need will vary depending on your gender and size. I need between 60 – 75 grams per day.
The main question, of course, is how this is affecting my health so far. Well, Wow! Just Wow! I almost don’t know where to begin. I just got over the first migraine I’ve had in six weeks! Six weeks! I’ve NEVER gone six weeks without a migraine before, I’ve barely gone six days! So, that is pretty amazing. Weirdly, I’ve been able to eat wheat/gluten since my surgery (i.e. the Triscuits). Even my surgeon says he can’t explain that one, but he says just take it, be thankful, and run with it! But, it’s not a big, big deal since my diet is predominantly high protein/low carb. But, my fibro – now that’s the biggie! Before my surgery, on the typical 1 – 10 pain scale that chronic pain sufferers use, I averaged a 7 on a daily basis, with flares multiple times throughout the week. Since the surgery, I’m averaging about a 3/4 on a daily basis, going up to maybe a 5 at night. I’ve had maybe 2 flares TOTAL in the whole 6 weeks which have only reached about a 6.5 on the pain scale. While this is not “pain free”, this is a huge improvement for me! The hospital gives Bariatric patients a special four month deal at the cardiac rehab gym and I work out there every chance I get, and try to work out at home when I am able. This is amazing to me. Pre-surgery, I could barely walk, let alone manage a work out! I’d have been on the couch for days had I tried! Now I go, I do my full work out without any flaring, come home make dinner, do dishes, dance around the kitchen while I load the dishwasher, and wonder “who IS this woman?” And my hope is, as I continue to work out and lose weight, I’ll see even more improvements, and possibly even in areas where I’ve yet to see improvements.
With that said, let me give a small disclaimer for the benefit of my fellow “fibromites” and other chronic pain/illness sufferers. (But, the rest of you keep reading!) I am NOT pain free, and there are things the surgery did not help – the residual pain in my spine, shoulders and neck from last year’s car accident has not seemed to improve, nor has my TMJ, or the fatigue part of my CFS/Fibro or some of the fibro fog issues. I don’t say this to be discouraging, but to be realistic. When you suffer with things like fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue or other similar issues, people come at you left and right with their “miracle cures”. If you’d just try this or do that or eat this way or don’t eat that. My mother’s sister’s brother’s second aunt twice removed took this supplement and never had pain again! And when it doesn’t work for you, they make YOU feel like the bad guy, like YOU did something wrong. I don’t want to make anyone feel that way. I don’t want to feel that way! I’ve been made to feel that way before. I don’t like it! I just want you to know that this has worked to this extent for me, so far. Maybe it will continue to work, maybe it won’t. I’ll keep you posted. Maybe it will work for YOU, maybe it WON’T. I only want to inform you. You need to decide what’s right for you. Right now I take every day as a gift from God! If He continues to bless me this way, I praise Him for it, if He chooses to stop, I thank Him for the reprieve and we move forward! Either way, He gets the praise!
P.S. As we go through this journey together, feel free to ask me any questions you may have about the process. If they are of a more personal nature, please feel free to PM me on my Facebook page.