Rigid External Distraction survival
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Basic Tips
Food and Diet


This first week is pretty much gauranteed to be hosted by a hospital.  You will probably not feel like eating at all for the first day or so, but the hospital will probably put you on a liquids-only diet initially.  With RED, you cannot shut your mouth all the way, so straws, spoons, and sippy cups are out of the question.  To consume your delicious chicken broth and various other liquid foods, ask the nurses for syringes.  Hospitals should be equipped with various sized syringes that can squirt different consistencies.  The syringes will take apple sauce, different soup broth, different fruit juices. You can also try mashed potatoes (get the powdered potatoes that mix with water, since this kind is thinner and easier to swallow). 

Later, when you feel a little better, move on to the puree the hospital serves you (it's usually just the pulpy version of the "special" for that day).  Just eat what they serve you.  Whenever you feel up to eating, say so.  The sooner you digest something, the sooner you can get off IV medication and get on oral medication (which means you're one step closer to getting home!).  Once you're off morphine, or whatever they give you through the IV, you'll feel more energized (a relative term in a hospital).


When you get out of the hospital, you move out of hospital puree to "home-style puree."  With RED, you realize that just about anything can go in a blender.  Just experiment with different soft foods.  To supplement the puree, drink lots of protein shakes like Ensure to make sure that you get plenty of calories (after a surgery like this, a person needs at least 10% more calories than usual).

It will take you a while to eat, so make sure you have most of the day reserved for eating. When you are ready to use utensils, start with baby spoons (you know, the ones with those chic Winnie the Pooh designs).  These spoons work because they are flatter and smaller than normal spoons. They can fit into your mouth better since your mouth won't want to open very far. When you use the spoon, get something on the spoon, then turn the spoon upside down, then put it in your mouth (you may want to use a bib for the first week...). Use your tongue and bottom teeth to scrape the pureed stuff off the spoon and into your mouth. You will not be able to use a spoon the normal way because your upper teeth will be blocked by part of the RED. You also won't be able to use straws (since you can't shut your mouth all the way), so I recommend the football player sports water bottles.  These bottles have an upside down "L" shaped straw (for sticking between the bars of a football helmet) and pump out water with a squeeze rather than a suck.


After you've mastered using a spoon and swallowing (not chewing) puree, you may be able to move up to the "mashed" level.  You absolutely must be careful not to chew.  Some mashable foods: overcooked noodles, spam, refried beans,and soft, milky eggs.   You can also try mushy cole slaw (but you'll have to swallow the little chunks whole), oatmeal, and cream of rice.  If you feel like dining out, you can eat the innards of burritos, or eat the mashed potatoes and cole-slaw of KFC.

Bottom Line: just eat whatever's in sight that can be mashed, blended, or swallowed whole.  Though satisfaction values may be slightly mediocre, the possibilities are endless!

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