It’s all fine. But I miss the ease of the liquids-only diet. When I was just on liquids, I didn’t really have any decisions to make. I just had to remember not to get dehydrated. On Thursday, I crossed the two-week post-op barrier, which meant that I could move from liquids to soft foods.
On Thursday, I also weighed myself. I’ve lost a further 10 pounds, so my running total is now 3 stone 4 pounds lost (that’s 46 pounds or 21.7 kilos).
Soft foods are nice. I started on Wednesday evening by trying a yoghurt. I figured it wasn’t that much different from drinking milk. It is. My chest was full of yoghurt for the next two hours. I know that sounds weird, but my stomach has moved to my chest. The constriction starts very high in the digestive system, so when food gets backed up, I feel it in my chest. The sensation of fullness has moved place in my body. I even noticed this my first night in hospital, when drinking water and the water seemed to stop mere centimetres below my neck. Anyway, after two hours of shifting around uncomfortably and more burping than is ever welcome, the yoghurt moved its way through my digestive system.
I’ve read extensively about eating after surgery and this experience seems fairly typical.
The next morning, I had a single scrambled egg for breakfast. It was the best food I’ve ever had in my life, soft and savoury. Every morning since, I’ve had a scrambled egg. It’s basically my middle name now.
I was too full for lunch that day after my single scrambled egg, but I was totally ready for dinner. I cut the skin off half a chicken sausage, fried it and mashed it up with two tea spoons of pureed carrots. Readers, I nearly died. Oh my God, my brand new stomach did not appreciate that. I put the remaining 5 and a half sausages and bowl of mushy carrots into the freezer – they won’t be used any time soon.
I’ve read lots of people who speak about vomiting a lot once they start trying food after weightloss surgery. I haven’t vomited once thankfully, but I suspect it will happen. So far, it’s just been discomfort and burps, more burps than you can even imagine.
So now, yoghurt is fine. Scrambled eggs are fine. Mashed potatoes are fine. Tinned mandarins are fine. I baked two dishes last night to last me the week. One is an Italian soft bake – low-fat ricotta and egg mashed together with Italian seasonings, covered with a layer of passata and a layer of low-fat cheese and baked. I also baked a Mexican one – a layer of mashed refried beans mixed with Philadelphia Light and fajita seasoning, covered with a layer of passata and a layer of low-fat cheese and baked. I haven’t been hungry enough to try either of them yet, but they smell yummy and are recommended all over the weightloss surgery forums for the soft foods diet.
I still haven’t been hungry. I also haven’t had any cravings for food. I know that sounds wrong, given how I wrote last week about my food fantasies. But that’s what they are – fantasies. They’re not real. They’re not like cravings I would ever have had on any diet before, because those cravings could be fulfilled. These new longings are nostalgic and mournful. I will never again eat the way I did. In a year or so, my stomach will have stretched to more or less the size that’s able to accommodate a full normal meal, but not the size that would cope with a binge.
I was at home in Cork earlier this week and I surprised myself by having something of a mournful goodbye while I was there.
I know that as an Irish person in the UK, I’m supposed to miss Ireland terribly and crave things like Barry’s Tea and Tayto crisps, but I would be perfectly happy if both tea and crisps stopped existing. They’re fine – I just can’t imagine getting worked up about them. Other than people, the only actual thing I miss about Ireland is our small shops. Corner shops in England are crap. They’re poky and dusty and have cardboard on the floor. In Ireland, literally everywhere you go, you’ll find a large and bright newsagents with a hot food deli. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a poor inner-city area or a tiny village in the countryside, there will be a lovely convenience store. And the hot food delis are what I miss. You literally can’t go far in Ireland without finding one. Petrol stations, post offices, at every bus stop and every corner, there will be a hot food deli in a little shop. (There are also similar hot food delis in big supermarkets now.) I don’t know where all of these came from. They weren’t there while I was in school. There were a few by the time I finished university. Then I went away to Poland and when I came home in 2006, they were everywhere.
While I was doing my PhD and again while I was living in Longford, my main form of sustenance was the hot food deli. In Longford, I had it down to a fine art. I wouldn’t go to the one in my own village, as I was too embarrassed to do that. I would drive into Longford itself, to a deli in a petrol station on the Dublin Road. My order was generally the same: a breakfast roll – a large roll with butter and taco sauce, two sausages, two rashers, two white puddings and an egg if it was looking decent, and a chicken fillet roll, a large roll with taco sauce, coleslaw, cheese and a spicy chicken fillet (a breaded and fried chicken fillet). I would also buy a litre of skimmed milk and a bottle of diet coke. Milk tasted better with my rolls but I’d need the Diet Coke afterwards to help me clear the congestion. I always fooled myself that the cashier would think if I was buying two rolls and two drinks then it must be for two people. I would eat these two rolls in the car. Then I would drive to another petrol station on a roundabout on my side of Longford, and I wouldn’t have enough space for a third roll, but I could fit a wrap, so I’d get a tomato flavoured wrap with taco sauce, coleslaw, cheese and another spicy chicken fillet. I’d also get two jambons (a pastry square with a gooey cheese and ham sauce) or a few sausage rolls if they were looking sufficiently floppy. I’d then eat this second part of my meal in the car again. This would be both my breakfast and my lunch and it was so much food that I’d have to sleep it off afterwards. If I love any food (and a lot of the time in my life I’ve hated all food) it is the food of Ireland’s hot food delis.
One of the best hot food deli counters in all of Ireland is the one in O’Herlihy’s Centra on the Grand Parade in Cork. It has an incredibly good range. On Tuesday, I visited it and said goodbye. I said goodbye to the shiny-with-grease sausages, the stacks of chicken fillets, both plain and spicy, the perfect golden jambons. I was sad and I was happy. I hate saying goodbye, but I love saying hello.
Hello New Connor.