Post op and cannot keep any food down

Hi, I am new here.... so firstly wanted to say what an invaluable support this site is, thank you all & the OPA. My dad had his op 12 days ago (he's a very fit and active 76 year old), 6 days after his Op clear fluids were introduced, then he moved on to puréed food where he managed three very small portions (between 3-5 teaspoonfuls) over a 24 hour period. He was considerably uncomfortable from eating and very sick as a result. Further to this the consultant decided to put him back on tube feed and four days later he had an endoscopy for a stretch. Since then he has been able to drink water and yesterday he had two thirds of a supplement drink (over 1-2 hours), which again, left him very uncomfortable and he was sick. I can see that my dad (who is normally such a positive person) has become quite depressed. I spoke to the consultant who said that the stretch, even if not a long term solution, should work for at least a couple of days but this is clearly not the case. I am thinking that perhaps dad should try some soup or some jelly today as perhaps the supplement drink was too rich for him? But of course, the pureed food he initially had did not settle either. I would very much appreciate if anyone could offer any advice , many thanks , Louise

10 Replies

  • Sickness was the biggest post op' problem for me too. I could manage jelly,so it would be good to let him try a little of that. Some soups were 'OK' but the creamier ones (chicken, mushroom etc) though very tempting, didn't sit well on my stomach. A dry cracker, like Tuc was much better than any sweet biscuit and - very occasionally a tiny sliver of cheese turned it into a real treat. Tea and coffee was alright 'some' days but would make me feel uncomfortably full on others but Bovril drinks were OK, as was flat lemonade. My problem was caused by very slow motility, it seemed to be made worse by anything very sweet or very milky. I became dehydrated at one point and had to go back in hospital for a few days it was a bit disheartening at the time as I continued to be sick while I was there and after I'd returned home. My problem with food continued for three months, I was being tube fed throughout this time with Fortisip until the tube was accidentally damaged while two of the stitches holding it in place were being replaced (two stitches had come out). My consultant decided the tube could be removed at that point, and I stopped being sick at that point. I didn't need a stretch as the problem affecting me was much lower down. My sympathy to your dad, I hope his problem will soon be sorted out for him. Wishing you both well.

  • Hi Magpuss, thank you so much for your reply. Sorry to hear you had such an ordeal to cope with, i do hope things improved greatly for you. It sounds quite similar to dad with regards to motility. I will certainly omit dairy from dads diet for now, unfortunately he is even more 'down' today & he's now quite frightened to even try to eat, especially as he's feeling so nauseous. Your tip to try bovril is a great one as i know he always used to love it, thank you for that. Do you mind me asking if you have any tips on maintaining a healthy mindset, it seems such a hard battle for dad right now & it's so heartbreaking to witness.

  • Sorry to hear your dads feeling so low, I had a couple of nights when I found myself wondering if it had all been worth it - (the worst of my sickness was always during the night), but then I felt really guilty for even thinking it. I used to dread being sick to begin with but I knew it would happen, and I sort of got used to it - knowing that I'd feel much better afterwards. One night I found myself thinking it was amazing that my body could have so much 'inflicted' on it and yet just get on with all the healing processes without me even having to think about. No pain from the scars on the inside, or those on the outside - and apart from the sickness after eating, no feeling ill or incapacitated. I started to feel grateful once I realised that I'd been taking 'everything' for granted until then - think that stopped me from dwelling on any more negative effects.

    It's difficult to change someone else's mindset and I'm pretty sure if someone had tried to change mine at those times when I doubted it was worth it I'd have thought "they've got no idea what it's like", and stopped listening. Maybe just a gentle reminder that it's still very early days and his body needs time to get used to it's new plumbing arrangements. I actually expected things to be worse than they were, I'd been told that it would take a good six months before I even began to get back to normal, I was 72 at the time so I wasn't expecting to bounce back quickly. No one mentioned sickness to me though so I wasn't expecting that, maybe no one mentioned it to your dad either. I'm sure it would have been less worrying for my children and maybe a bit less troublesome to me, if we'd known about it, in advance. I'm now five and half years post op' and I'm fine. Just random dumping bouts ocassionally, some tiredness after eating and the slight inconvenience of sleeping 'propped up' - oh, and I eat almost as normal, just smaller meals, less sugary stuff and careful with dairy products - except cheese (thankfully). Hope your dad will soon begin to feel much better in himself, btw has he been given an antiemetic for his sickness? They didn't work for me, but they do for some so it's worth trying. Just remembered - when nothing else appealed to me, a small Marmite butty was very tasty. Hope you and your dad will soon see more positive results, best wishes to you both.

  • Thank you so much for all your insightful advice Magpuss. Dad is having anti nausea meds and i think they may be starting to work. It's just such a dreadfully slow process & i feel so helpless because all i want is to be able to take away his discomfort & get him on the road to recovery. Thank you for reassuring me that although it's a long process it does get better.

  • Hi Lou

    it really is quite early. The best advice I can give is keep trying. It will get better even if it doesn't feel that way right now. If he is able to manage soup fill that with butter and cream which makes it taste lovely and will help him put weight on. Real soup, from stock made from bones worked best for me. But keep trying. Don't despair. It takes 12-18 months to get back to something like normal and even then it's a new normal and is still a wee bit unpredictable

    have you been to an OPA meeting? There's lots of advice available and you can see how many of us get on post op


  • Thank you Haward, it really is of great comfort to have your're so right to remind me that dad is very early on in his recovery. Yes, I've received lots of advice & info from the OPA (especially from Rick) what an amazing charity. Thank you...

  • It probably has to be liquid food for a while and just taking very small occasional sips. The body reacts to the surgery in different ways and it might be that more stretches have to be done.

    It is a very common thing to feel depressed afterwards so do not hesitate about encouraging him to go for specialist help at, say, a Maggie's centre or somewhere equivalent. It can sometimes be a very long, hard struggle to regain feeding capacity, but there is no reason why it won't be successful in the end.

  • Thank you so much Alan, i saw dad earlier and suggested that he may want to talk to someone from Maggie's....don't think he's ready just yet but it's good to sow the seed. Thanks for your advice.

  • Hi Lou,

    Dave had surgery January, and had similar problems too. he was in for 5 weeks with double pneumonia, sepsis and then severe sickness and enlarged stomach. he was fed entirely during this time by Jej and also had to have an NG tube to drain the bile as he couldn't even process that.

    We are sure 8 months down the line that this was all due to motility problems which are still happening.

    Please tell your Dad things do improve, but the road is a long one. I think sometimes the emotional side of things comes with acceptance over the complete life change, which doesn't happen overnight, but it isn't easy for your Dad and all who are close to him.

    Not sure aboout your Dad, but we have found keeping active and life as interesting as we can including walking our dogs in pretty locations really helped to lift spirits if only temporarily. Dave has been back at work full time for a few months now which helps, but does still struggle with eating and sometimes feels inadequate as he can't eat out without embarrasment these days. We still struggle, BUT things have improved since January and we try to take one day at a time.

    Let us know how your Dad gets on xxx

  • Thank you Lynn, I'm so sorry to hear you've had such an ordeal...It really is good to know that things will improve, it doesn't always feel that way. Great that you & Dave get to enjoy the outdoors, i know already that dad is lifted from just a few minutes in the courtyard type garden at the hospital....what a difference a breath of fresh air can make. I wish you both all the best & thank you so much for your advice.

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