Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gastric Sleeve Surgery - A Wife's Perspective: Part 4 Nutrition Class

Every Wednesday, I am going to write about the process of Eric going through weight loss surgery to record my feelings and perspective as the wife on the sidelines.  As this is an extremely personal decision on Eric's part to change his life, I am trying my best to stay true to my feelings, while at the same time accurately recording the events.

Part 1 Informational Seminar
Part 2 Doctor Appointment
Part 3 Easy way out?

In order for Eric to have the Gastric Sleeve surgery, there are a number of steps that he has had to go through before scheduling a surgery date.  Seminar, initial doctor appointment, nutrition class, swallow test, endoscopy, and psych evaluation.

Shortly after attending the initial seminar and seeing the doctor to determine if he'd be a good candidate for the surgery, Eric scheduled us for the nutrition class.  I told him that I wanted to be present at the class to get an idea of what he'd be going through after surgery and for the rest of his life.

He surprised me with a phone call in the middle of a Thursday afternoon asking if we could attend the class that was being held that night!  After a little kid maneuvering, I was flying across town to meet him for the class.

I have to say, the presenter/dietitian, was extremely knowledgeable and presented the information in an engaging way.  I was never bored and thought she had a great presentation.

She went over nutrition in general, food labels, hidden sugars, and what to expect after surgery.  Overall, the information was interesting and informative even for people not about to undergo weight loss surgery.  I wasn't bored at any point.

That being said, I got a little emotional after learning about just how much Eric's life is going to change.  It's okay...and I am past the emotion, but it just felt like a lot to take in regarding how he will be able to recover from surgery and then eat for his new life.

A few things that I think I would struggle with:
-not being able to drink anything when eating a meal (the stomach isn't large enough to accommodate food and drink together...focus has to be on food nutrients)
-learning to sip water throughout the day (the goal is to consume one ounce every 15 minutes)
-not have liquid 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after a meal
-learning what the body will be able to tolerate (high fat or sugar foods can cause problems)
-chewing, chewing, chewing and taking 30 minutes to eat a meal
-no alcohol, caffeine, or soda

Eric knows these things will be an adjustment, but he isn't nervous or scared.  The dietitian also explained that with the smaller stomach, it would naturally take 30 minutes to eat the three ounces!  Also, hunger is significantly decreased.

With the gastric sleeve, 80% of the stomach is cut away and stapled back together leaving a "pouch" (their word, not mine) that is about 3 ounces big.

The recovery is broken into six weeks.  The first week after surgery Eric will be on a clear liquid diet.  He'll be able to eat broth and diluted juice.  Overall, the most important item for him to eat will be protein followed by fruits and vegetables.  He has to be very careful about not eating too many sugars.

The second week is still a liquid diet, but it doesn't have to be clear.  It includes foods such as tomato soup, light yogurt, oatmeal, and vegetable juice.  Eric will have to be cautious with sugar as it tends to upset the stomach.

The third and fourth week are the hardest, according to the dietitian.  She explained that patients feel like they are on this particular stage for so long and get frustrated.  The diet includes pureed food such as mashed potatoes, avocado, banana, hummus, and mashed beans.

The fifth week is better because patients can start to add back in solid proteins such as chicken, low fat ground beef, and fish.  Cheese is okay at this point as well.

The sixth week is much like the fifth week but adding seeds and nuts along with steak are possible.  But keep in mind, all this is in super small quantities.  I have to keep reminding myself that Eric will be fine because his stomach will be smaller.

He has to avoid heavy carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, tortillas, and pancakes for at least six months.

He also has to give up soda, caffeine, and alcohol for good.  Due to the small stomach and different rates of metabolism, patients are prone to becoming alcoholics, so Eric's doctor says no alcohol.

I mentioned that I got emotional after the class.  It was because it felt so overwhelming thinking of all the things Eric would have to give up and avoid.  It feels so restrictive.  However, in thinking about it, the recovery is restrictive, but after the six weeks, Eric should be able to eat and tolerate a variety of foods, just in much smaller quantities.

As I watch Eric go through this process, I am so impressed with his determination.  The nutrition class did not freak him out at all!  He is not looking for a way to cheat on the food choices.  He is not interested in "testing" a forbidden food to see if his body can tolerate it.  He is planning to follow the diet prescribed by the doctors.  He has been doing a lot of research in looking for recipes and food suggestions.

The kids and I will not be on quite as restrictive of a diet as Eric, but we will be eating better simply due to circumstance.  If Eric cannot eat rice, I won't be making it for dinner.  I plan to follow a modified version of his diet to be in support with him as he recovers and learns to live his new life.

It's a learning process for all of us.  I am glad I went to the nutrition class to learn more about what to expect.

On a funny note, there was one super annoying man at the class who kept asking questions in the form of repeating everything the presenter said.  "So, what I'm hearing is that we can't eat tortillas."  The teacher in me was about to turn around and tell him he was wasting all of our time.  Read the packet and listen up, dude!  Eric had to poke me to settle down!

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