This weekend, as I am preparing to begin my pre-surgical diet, I’m reminded of the episode of Rocko’s Modern Life in which Rocko decides to give his appendix one last hoorah before undergoing an appendectomy. He brings his appendix to a carnival. They ride the rollercoaster. They go skydiving. I feel like over the next 24 hours, I will be doing the same for my stomach. I am going to allow myself to enjoy food normally, one last time. I really don’t keep any junk food in the house anymore, so I am going to run to the store later and make tacos on my shift at the ambulance.
Yesterday, I attended my final pre-surgical nutrition meeting. They had me sign consents, and gave me a quiz to make sure that I’ve retained all the information given to me over the past seven months. I have. Some of the highlights:
Make sure to get 60-80 grams of protein per day to promote healing and to prevent loss of muscle mass.
Avoid alcohol and sugary/carbonated beverages.
Make sure to take your vitamin and mineral supplements to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
I was given my pre- and post-surgical liquid diet instructions. Starting Monday, December 5, I will be on a liquid diet (not the fun kind– primarily protein shakes and water) until January 12, when I go for my 3-week post-surgical follow-up appointment. The goal is to have all patients maintain a liquid diet for one to two weeks prior to surgery in order to shrink the liver, making the procedure technically easier for the surgeon. I’m all for anything that makes life easier for the person holding the scalpel.
After surgery, this diet will be maintained for approximately 3 weeks as I adjust to my altered digestive system. Every waking hour, on the hour, I will attempt to drink two fluid ounces of a high-protein, low-carb, low-fat shake. Every 15 minutes in between, I am supposed to drink 2 fluid ounces of another approved liquid, dealer’s choice. I’m planning to stick with water, but we’ll see how it goes. If I get bored, maybe I’ll branch out.
After gaining clearance on January 12, I should progress to “soft foods”– but other than greek yogurt and hummus, nothing even vaguely appeals to me. I would almost prefer to stick to the protein shakes. That phase lasts for another two months, when they give you clearance to start eating a “regular” diet.
Regular will be different, though. I’ll be able to eat and drink no more than 8 ounces at a time, and many people find that they cannot tolerate certain foods after surgery. As everyone is different, it’s largely a wait-and-see matter. I’m going to try things that might work now, and curiously, some of them will no longer even appeal to me.
I’m at peace with that. I know what’s behind me. I’m ready to move forward.