Now that I’m on solids, I can eat more or less anything. Except only in teeny tiny amounts. I bought a microwave chicken tikka the other day. In a previous life (literally one month ago), I would have eaten it all in one sitting, with rice and naan bread. Now, one little microwave container is literally FOUR meals, and with no rice or bread or anything like that added.
Solid food is difficult to eat, but I’m beginning to understand how my new stomach works now, so I’m coping well. I can sometimes stop eating on the second or third bite before what’s known as my “restriction” kicks in. Other times, I don’t stop until the fourth or fifth bite and my chest tightens up and the burping and discomfort starts. It really is bizarre to have to re-learn how to eat at the age of thirty seven and a half.
I have to be careful of a number of things in my new life. One is staying hydrated. I was never very good at drinking water, although I know it makes me feel better. I keep forgetting to drink water and I’m only getting about two or three glasses a day. I know this needs to change. It’s particularly hard as my stomach can’t handle water on top of food – it’s just too small, so I can’t drink with meals or for 30 minutes after eating. I used to get most of my hydration from the two to four bottles of Coke Zero I drank a day. I can’t have fizzy drinks at the moment. I think I’ve weaned myself off it now – I think this is the first time since my early teens that I’ve spent more than a few days without Diet Coke/Coke Zero. I’ve now gone a whole month without it. I now have no source of caffeine in my life at all, which is great. That said, Coke Zero is the one thing I find myself having to make a conscious effort not to consume. I don’t think I will though.
Another thing I need to be careful of is “sliders”. These are very soft foods that can go through your stomach without filling you up. There are stories of people cheating their new stomachs by having lots of peanut butter or nutella or custard or milkshakes or ice cream. That doesn’t seem at all tempting to me now. I could easily eat half a Mars bar with my current stomach and I don’t want to. I genuinely don’t have the appetite for it. Another way people cheat is to have is alcohol. The advice on alcohol varies – some say wait “a few months” post-op, others say “a year”. I don’t have any desire to drink at the moment, and I’ve decided not to drink anything for the rest of this year at least (but don’t stop inviting me to the pub.) Apparently it’s not uncommon for people to become alcoholic after weightloss surgery. I guess I can understand that – replacing one addiction with another, but again, alcohol doesn’t appeal to me right now, and it’s not something I ever felt a lack of control around in the same way as I do/did around food or cigarettes, so I’m optimistic.
A final side effect of this surgery is a potential failure of my new stomach to extract vitamins and minerals from food. As a result, I have to take a variety of vitamins and minerals every day for the rest of my life and have blood tests every year to check that my levels are OK and have vitamin B12 injections every so often too. Now that I’m on solids, I can swallow tablets, so I’m on my full vitamins regime. It’s all fine, except for iron tablets. Urrrrgh. They taste, predictably, or iron. And iron tastes of blood. For about three hours after I take them, I keep thinking my mouth is bleeding. It isn’t. It’s just my stupid iron tablets.
But it really is remarkable how good I feel. People simply can’t believe that I’m not lacking in energy when I’m eating so little, but my body has plenty of fat energy to live on and I feel fine. If anything, I feel more energetic than I have in ages. I got up early yesterday – on a Saturday (!) and started doing housework that usually waits till Sunday night. I had to go back to bed again after. But I think I’m going to get my weekends back soon you guys. It’s an exciting time to be me. I’ve lost another 6 pounds this week. Today is exactly one month post-op and today I weigh exactly four stone less than I did when all this started. That is incredible. I’m a happy Connor.