Hey, that title might be boring, but it’s better than: You Can’t Eat A Bed-pan, right? Now, before I begin, I already have? Oh, well, anyway, this isn’t a strict guide, it’s more of a recap of what I did that worked when I was in for my abdominoplasty. You know me, dear reader, I can’t eat out and I can’t just buy food. It’s very hard, I’m at one of those low-times when it’s getting to me. Hence this post, I might as well put my work into words that might be of benefit to someone else. Who knows? As with all these types of posts this is just me, my own personal experiences with honesty running through them. This is just a discussion and look-back at what I did rather than a to-do guide. Whatever you take will have to be restructured to fit your diet and lifestyle. I’ll include a few recovery tips in here too, this is going to be pretty loose and informal. Just remember that everybody and every body is different and what suits one won’t necessarily suit another. Listen to your surgeons and doctors first, your nurses next, then Jack and then everyone else. Kidding, but seriously listen and take notes, you won’t remember it all and it can blur, take that as the first tip. You’re not that good that you’ll remember every detail and after a barrage of the same questions you’ve answered a dozen times before your head won’t be in the game fully.
I’m going from both before the surgery, my first major one, and also the after, that’s double the knowledge, it’s Jack squared! Or, rather it’s the knowledge of what was actually useful rather than just what I tried. This is the second run through, not he unholy first where I only had one week, I still have black rings under my eyes thanks to that. The one big thing I did was to get as much into the freezer as I could in the time I had. Breads, buns, dinners, everything that I knew would be okay for after, in other words nothing likely to cause an upset stomach or to aggravate an already troubled stomach, remember you’ll probably be on pills that might not agree with you. I never took any painkillers, but the antibiotics I was on really tore through me. A good set of meals already made meant I could stick to my diet and eat without much fuss. You can’t be sure how you’ll feel afterwards, you may not be able to make your own meals everyday, you might have help or not. What I wish I’d done is had a few sauces and frozen sides ready. Quinoa reheats really well, rice I had in, but should’ve prepared a bit more. I had stocked up on turkey mince, much easier to prepare than cutting chicken. Though I was eating steak a few days home. Heh. As always I have blanched vegetables by the pound already stuffed in the freezer so that wasn’t a problem.
I really believe that my diet has helped the recovery, there’s no way I’d heal so well a few years ago. It won’t speed it up dramatically and have you back long before you should be, but it’ll mean that you’ll possibly suffer less complications and be in the best shape you can be in the circumstances. Now, as for the stay itself. The idea is similar. Anything that can be eaten cold is king here. Any breads will work. I prepared a bag of mixed breads, cookies and crackers, froze them in sets and had them brought up. For dinners I had cold pasta or cold quinoa, each with chicken and a cold nut/seed sauce. I’m being vague because this will depend largely on what you’re willing to eat cold. These aren’t pleasant options, but they’re the best that were available to me and I was damn glad to be able to eat so well in the hospital. If you, like me, just have no choice what I suggest is making a few trials before you go for the real thing. Freeze a few dinners, get on Google and search for freezer suitable cold lunches, there’s so much that can be defrosted and eaten cold. No matter your restrictions if you’re willing to suffer a slightly bland meal you can eat well, eat healthy and eat nutritious food that will again aid in your recovery. Best way to plan it is the less flavour it has, the less it can lose. That might sound counter-intuitive, but I tell you the honest truth when I say the more spiced and flavoured the meals when it went in the freezer the harder it was to choke them down once defrosted. I had someone bringing these in to me daily, also a yoghurt and a packet of chia seeds. I was never hungry and only had trouble with my blood pressure once, I think I forgot to eat. It’s scary, but more than doable if you research and trial.
Now, I was offered help with planning a meal plan of sorts, I was very grateful, but I didn’t need it. They were willing to start from scratch to help me, so if you can try contacting the hospital beforehand and see what’s available. I was anxious that this might cause issues so I asked beforehand, they said it was no problem and at no point was it anything more than mild interest when questions arose. You probably won’t eat after the surgery, for me I’m ready to eat whenever so the day after I was stuffing cold pasta into my face. This was the biggest issue for me staying in the hospital. One more tip would be to over-prepare just in case anything happens and you have to stay longer. I was told I’d be in five days and prepared eight dinners. It was just the five days, but the three days grace meant peace of mind for me.
One thing you might be able to do is to have a list ready, with pictures if necessary, of brands and foods that you can eat. I had a baggie of nuts and a few nut butter bars with some fruit leather ready. One at home and one with me. Again, you may not need this, but having a list ready means that the people supporting you will have a much easier time getting what you need to you. Fresh fruit is a must as well. Every time I took a tablet, which I hate, do it regardless, I was either sticking fruit in my gob, nut-bars in my mouth or bread in my pie-hole. You can sink into sickness in the hospital, just feeling off in there can be draining and it’s all too easy to let yourself go and turn into a sickie. I saw it happen across from me, the man in that bed was fussed over, felt sorry for himself and slowly started to get sicker and more whiny. Staying healthy is mental as well as physical each helps with the other. Speaking of the mind, you may go out of yours stuck in the hospital. These next tips are probably petty well know, but you’d be amazed at what you never think of or what turns out to be useless when you’re in.
Music wasn’t as much help as you’d imagine, the problem is when you’re besieged by nurses trying to do their jobs. Reading was a little better, but it can be hard to get your focus so keep it light and airy. Put down that copy of War and Peace. You may end up throwing at the noisy machine in the night. What was a godsend was a book of crosswords and word-searches a friend brought in. They’re fast and keep your mind active enough to be distracting. I also kept a journal of my stay. Mostly taking down whatever I was told about the surgery, what I had to do and what might happen. You can also record anecdotes and stories. It again keeps your mind off things. A hospital stay can be distressing, the more comfort you can supply yourself with the better you’ll have it. Just think fast and easy to stop and resume frequently. You’ll be hit with a deluge of information and it can be extremely hard to keep it all in mind.
As you can see the food issues are just a small part of the whole. An important part and one that can be dismissed too easily. You can’t be sure how a surgery will affect you. No matter how young or strong you are it can topple even the best. Not everyone is an ideal patient like Jack. Not everyone is so wonderfully humble. My last bit of advice is to be patient, listen to your body and realise the time you take in taking care of yourself now is an investment in your future well being. Don’t be an idiot in other words. None of us are immortal, no matter how much we might feel it. Take the time to prepare beforehand, to stay healthy and happy during and to heal afterwards. It’s worth it, dear reader, it really is.