After a recent emergency surgery and complication post-surgery issues resulting in a nine day hospital stay, I returned home to recover for what was forecast as a six to eight week timeframe. I am happy to report their prediction was right on and today I feel completely back to normal life after that interesting recovery coming through what I now recognize as several stages. Thanks for all your concerns/prayers of support, those prayers were answered!

Looking back over those weeks, I offer the following observations or lessons learned. Coming home was most welcome despite the fine care received at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. I learned afterwards that during those 9 days there were times when it was thought that I would not come through this alive (a prognosis shared with my wife, but not myself until I had come home for a while). But that was not to be this time around. Coming into the house was a careful and somewhat painful transition, but with a huge snowfall predicted for that night, we just beat it in time. The next days and nights were spent enjoying my swivel and adjustable lounge chair that proved amazingly comfortable, allowing Pam the bed alone so she could get well-earned night’s sleep before going off to work each day. I enjoyed much sleep and rest just as the doctor ordered, clearing my often busy calendar of anything that would hinder that process. But the frustration was in the loss of appetite, a sign of phase one in that recovery process. Getting on the scale I found I had not only recovered from my pre-hospitalization dehydration weight (had lost 15 pounds leading up to the event), but added a few more in what I assume was water retention for a total increase of 20+ pounds. With little desire to eat, that quickly went off but I do wish I could enjoy food again.

The next stage found my appetite back looking for tasty foods. With each idea – ice cream, cookies, orange juice and Cran-flavored juices (we eventually had 8 or more Ocean Spray Cran-flavored quarts in the frig!) no matter the food or drink, nothing fulfilled that desire, how frustrating a search. So weight came off (Yeah!) and I was enjoying the restful vacation which slowly turned back to taking on voluntary tasks of purpose as opposed to tasks of commitments, so no stress and lots of procrastination with the excuse of ‘I can do that tomorrow.’

Then I discovered the secret taste bursting fruits in those small green, red and purple seedless grapes! Talk about your easy snacks, just picking a few off the stems throughout the day. Wow, they were so tasty and good. Later we discovered that grapes could be kept frozen and taken a few icey cold and tasty bursts of flavor as snacks too. We kept a pound or so of each (especially when found on sale for $1.99/lb vs. the usual $3.99 or even $4.99/lb prices) that were added to every possible meal – grapes cut in half were added to different flavored Special K cereals – we had as many as 7 different flavored cereals in the kitchen cabinet to choose from each morning. That grape/banana cereal mix along with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice (even tastier than the usual bottled OJ) got each day off to a great recovery start. When it came to making a lunchtime salad, those same grapes (I don’t know why I kept cutting them in half) became the flavor burst on the bed of lettuce, grape tomatoes, cran-raisins, shredded Italian or Mexican cheese, Pepperoni slices, apple slices (how did apples get SO expensive, like $3.99 a pound!), banana slices, Italian croutons and of course Thousand Island (or Catalina) dressing. I so wish I had taken a picture of what had become a mountain of a salad, so tasty and colorful!

Speaking of those expensive apples (seriously, one apple would come out as $1 and more at those prices!), I found myself treating them like gold. Cut in half to create two separate servings from each, with three types of apples in the fruit bowl at one time – I tried to compare the texture and unique flavors of each both in those salads or sliced with peanut butter, another recovered appetite treat. In that way three apples would last more than a week of flavorful enjoyment. In the earlier weeks, I was not allowed to drive, so when those privileges were restored, as Pam told one men’s cooking demonstration at our church, Jim’s favorite hobby became shopping trips to the local Acme.
Free at last! Fully motivated to get engaged with my normal busy schedule and tasks again with that appetite back to full normal, I have put back on a few of those lost pounds, but am watching that carefully. The surgery and its serious complications are now but the latest part of my long and complex medical history, a story to be shared to those who would listen over a shared lunch meeting (smile!)
Go try those grapes, frozen or fresh and see if you agree at that amazing treat!

PS: I’m out of grapes right now and am finishing off the last of those eight Cran-flavored quarts, moving forward with a new resolve to move away from the daily sweets I so love, focusing on healthy foods and further weight loss in the weeks to come. Wish me luck!

PPS: They recently came out with a Cran-pineapple flavor that is to die for – temporarily overtaking my Cran-grape and Cran-cherry favorites!