MY FIRST POST-OP MEAL
For the first 24 hours after my surgery, there was a big NBM sign on my hospital room door. (NOTHING BY MOUTH). I wasn't even allowed to sip water or eat ice chips. I was on an IV, so I wasn't as thirsty as I feared I'd be, but still, I was really looking forward to that first sip of water. I was also totally freaked out about it. For whatever reason, I thought I'd be able to FEEL my new stomach, and not in a good way. I'd spent my whole life chugging down food and never giving another thought to what happened to it after it disappeared down the rabbit hole, but after my surgery I was afraid it would hurt, that I'd be able to feel the staples and that until everything healed, every bite would be excruciating. If nothing else, I thought for sure I'd be able to feel my old stomach floating around unattached to anything. I don't know, I was just weirded out by the idea of eating again after being all chopped up and rearranged inside.
Of course it wasn't weird at all. I started my post-op diet with water, an itty bitty tiny bit at a time. We're talking one sip, and then twenty minutes later taking another sip. I couldn't feel the sips going down, so that was good news to me. In fact, in the beginning I couldn't feel my new stomach at all. My first actual meal was sugar-free jello. I was allowed to pick any color other than red because they wanted to be able to see if there was a leak in my staples. I think I chose green jello and I remember carefully watching the drain for several hours after those first few bites and imagining a greenish tint. I was fine of course. I also wasn't hungry at all, so eating a few bites and watching the drain was basically what I did for the next several days. Until the drain came out, I pretty much continued on a clear liquid diet. I ate sugar free jello and sugar free popsicles and chicken broth. I knew I wasn't allowed to chug water yet, so I didn't even try.
THE FIRST MONTH AFTER SURGERY
After the drain came out (OUCH), I was upgraded to a pureed diet. I would personally rather starve than eat pureed meat, though, so I just stuck to an already-soft-foods diet. I never pureed a darn thing. I only ever served myself food in 1/4 cup servings, so I never tested the limits of my pouch until about a month after my surgery. I ate scrambled eggs and Laughing Cow cheese and sugar free jello and tried not to suffocate myself with protein shakes. I was never very good with protein shakes. They're just nasty and I choked them down for the first few months after my surgery never to return to them again. I don't think I ate many vegetables at first either, mostly because I've never been a fan of baby food.
After a week of soft foods, I started a modified regular diet. I began eating lunch meat and ground beef and fish. I had to chew everything about a million times before swallowing, but that worked fine. I totally avoided carbs and by "carbs" I mean anything that Weight Watchers would've deemed a "bread" item on the old food groups diet. I started eating vegetables and even salad, I think.
FOODS I COULDN'T EAT FOR A WHILE
One of the big surprises was that many "soft" foods don't work at all with a beginner’s pouch. Pasta, for example, which you'd think would be easy to digest, is a total nightmare. It expands as soon as it hits your saliva and becomes almost impossible to keep inside your pouch. The same thing goes for rice and bread. Anything that could potentially absorb liquids and expand is just horrible when you're a fresh post-op. I remember the first time I ever tried to eat half a hot dog with half of a bun - it came right back up almost as soon as I got it down.
Soda also became an instant no-no. Before my surgery, I had been warned that I would not be able to drink soda again for quite some time, if not forever. I vowed never to go back to drinking regular full-sugar soda again, which I haven’t, but I was really looking forward to that first diet coke. It’s been over five years now, so I can’t remember exactly how far along I was when I discovered that I could drink soda again, but I know it was during the first year. I still get EXTREMELY burpy if I try to drink soda directly from the can or through a straw. I have no trouble drinking it from a glass, though, and I regularly consume all types of carbonated beverages, including chick beer and wine coolers.
Another interesting surprise was that for the first couple months post-op, if my pouch didn't like something I ate, it just sent it right back up. And since I no longer had a stomach, it would send the food back up EXACTLY as it was before I swallowed it. You couldn't even call it throwing up since it was almost as if my esophagus was a two-way street. For something that was technically barfing, it was pretty benign. My body just automatically rejected any food it couldn't handle. Fortunately (and unfortunately), that food eject button expires pretty quickly. I think the last time I upchucked was maybe around three months post-op and since then I haven't been able to barf no matter how much I want to or how hard I try (see morning sickness).
After my first month post-op, I was down 30 pounds. THIRTY POUNDS. That was more weight than I’d been able to lose on my own in the previous five years combined. For the first time in my life, I threw out my fat clothes. I knew I'd never need to wear them again.