Low Carb Dining at the Emergency Room

I’m popping in to relate a little adventure that has a few of those items that go into the bucket list labeled: “prefer not to”.

These items were:

  • first time driving myself to the emergency room
  • first time getting a CAT scan
  • first time getting surgery of any kind
  • having an emergency appendectomy

This was how *I* spent my weekend.

Now, this went about as well as could be expected and is not the point of this post- really. I showed up early before the appendicitis was advanced. That made an already routine surgery even easier. I was completely calm throughout the entire process, with an: ‘oh, well – these things happen’ attitude and an utter lack of drama (which I am sure the hospital staff appreciated). I had laparoscopic – or ‘keyhole’ surgery – and have only 3 tiny holes in my abdomen, took a shower myself the next day and left the next morning.

It was so I uneventful that a ‘get well soon’ card would seem out of place. This was less traumatic than most bouts of the flu.

What this post is about was maintaining my low carb diet. After 2 weeks I had finally gotten in the groove of low carb and I wasn’t about to let a potentially life- threatening condition spoil my diet.

Appendicitis has the benefit for dieters of killing appetite – before it kills you, of course, so eating wasn’t on my mind prior to surgery – getting that damn appendix out of me was my primary focus as I felt like hell.

Later, now appendix-free and out of recovery and into my room, I was brought a meal of ‘clear liquids’.

What garlic is to a vampire and Kryptonite to Superman, this ‘meal’ was to a guy who just got into ketosis that day:

  • iced tea with high fructose corn syrup
  • raspberry ices with corn syrup
  • jello with high fructose corn syrup (noted on the printout I was given with the meal as ‘flavor: red’)
  • cranberry juice with high fructose corn syrup
  • a packet of sugar
  • 1 bowl of low sodium chicken broth

Think about it for a moment: my first meal after surgery and more than 12 hours after eating did  not contain any actual ‘food’ as I saw it. The printout that came with it gave the following tally:

Carbs: 76, fluids: 780, calories: 310, protein: 2, fat:0, sodium: 128, potassium: 61.

So a little math shows that my meal was 99% carbs – and the crappiest carbs possible. I would have been better off getting fed via a glucose IV.

I wasn’t going to touch that crap and only had the soup, which I have a strong feeling caused the death of no chickens as it sat at the bottom of the soup water like a fluorescent yellow chemical spill and I had to stir it to make it mix. It was likely a ‘chicken flavored’ bullion cube rather than the real deal.

When the server came for the tray she seemed disappointed in me. “Why didn’t you eat?” She frowned. It almost seemed a personal rejection to her – like she had spent all day preparing it for me.

“It’s all sugar – I don’t eat sugar.”

“Are you diabetic?”

“Not really, but I’m on a low carb diet and I’m not going to eat this.”

“I can get you sugar-free versions of everything except for the berry ice. ”

“Oh – I’d eat that.” I said.

I soon got another tray and another bowl of broth with sugar-free versions of the jello, cranberry juice, a lemon wedge (how I was supposed to use this baffled me) and a packet of Splenda.

While this ‘meal’ covered an entire tray, it had a total of 31 calories – which is kind of amazing. If I wouldn’t mainline simple sugars they were going to starve me to death.

Lunch was another hearty 31 calories.

Mid-afternoon a resident checked on me and asked me if I would like solid food and put in the order. The nurse told me: “now you can order real food. You can get cookies, a sandwich, pasta – anything.”

Thanks for the recommendations, nursie.

Instead, I ordered grilled chicken breast, broccoli, zucchini, tomato soup with a salad and blue cheese dressing.

Finally – real food! 476 calories, 23 from carbs, 32 from fat and 26 from protein. I wasn’t going to starve to death after all.

The next morning I was able to order whatever I wanted and called for an omelette (made with real eggs – you have to ask), ham and cheese and a sausage on the side. I was also able to have some coffee.

This meal totaled 553 calories, 40 grams of fat, 36 grams of protein and 2 grams of carbs as per the printout.

I also noticed that comment had appeared on my printouts: ‘Patient wants sugar free’.

What I found was that it seemed that the individuals that I talked to about my dietary preferences were OK with it – either they didn’t care or agreed with me. The nutritionists that ran the place, however, still held old-guard notions about a ‘one-size-fits-all’ diet.

I’m home now and I’m fine – just sore.

And I can eat as per my plan again – no dietary restrictions.

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10 thoughts on “Low Carb Dining at the Emergency Room

  1. Glad to hear you were able to get a couple of healthy meals while you were hospitalized ! Take it easy. All the best to you. I hope you have a speedy recovery.

  2. I am actually surprised. Appendix is among the deceases typical for our Western civilization (and supposed to be caused by the grain-based and high sugar diet) like diverticulitis, high blood pressure, cancer, cavities and so on. I though that a LC diet for 10 years would prevent it, but probably I am too optimistic about undoing all damage done by our eating since the childhood.

  3. Glad you are ok! I had my appendix taken out at age 16 (a long time ago) and I have an ugly 5 inch scar to show for it. I was in the hospital for a week. Nowadays, it always surprises me that the nurses are stuffing crackers in my mouth as soon as I wake up from surgery (I had my ankle operated on twice in the last couple of years). At that time I am even too groggy to explain to them that I don’t eat that stuff. 😦

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