Sunday, July 17, 2005

Fifteen milliliters

He was one of the bigger guys, over 500 pounds. Tall, too, six feet and three or four inches. He said that all his life, no matter how much he ate, he never felt full.

He said that sometimes, even as a teenager, for dinner he would eat two whole chickens and wash this down with a half-gallon of milk, and he would still be hungry so he would have an apple pie, a whole one, for dessert.

If I'm remembering this right, after open gastric bypass the protocol was to allow the patient to take no more than an ounce of nutritious fluid, like one of those canned dietary supplements, and it had to be taken over at least ten minutes, once an hour. This was on the second post-op day. (The first post-op day they similarly took an ounce of just water over ten minutes, once an hour.) Rather stringent.

I was chatting with the patient after checking his vitals, and noticed that he had taken only about half an ounce of the drink since the last time I'd popped in on him.

"I can't finish it," he explained, "because I feel full."

For the first time in his life.

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