Here you go...
Marina's Whipple lasted about 6 hours. Marina was in good enough shape after the surgery that she went from OR to PACU (post-anesthesia care unit) to the general floor all on the same day. I didn't like the fact that our surgeon decided to skip ICU. It was absolutely nerve-wracking to see her in a regular room with all those tubes sticking out of her body.
Marina wasn't allowed to drink anything the evening after the surgery or the next morning. They gave her small ice cubes to melt in her mouth, to keep mouth and throat moist.
Marina was sitting in a chair on day 2. Not that she really wanted to. It's an exercise that nurses pushed her to do. Apparently it speeds up the recovery. She was able to take a few small steps from the bed to the chair and back. Later on day 2, they allowed her to drink water. Just a few small sips at a time.
On day 3 she was able to walk from wall to wall in her room. I think she was allowed to drink clear liquids on day 3. Ginger ale or apple juice. Again, small sips at a time.
Day 4, she started walking the halls. Short distances two-three times a day. A nurse or myself had to be by her side, just in case. She increased the number of walks and the distances with each passing day.
They introduced some soft foods once Marina was able to pass gas. Ability to pass gas is the green light signalling that "new and improved" digestive tract is open for business. Every bedside visit by a nurse or a doctor started with a question: Are you passing gas? Never in your life will you see so many people interested in your farting habits. For Marina, the magic moment happened somewhere around day 4.
They started with very soft foods like jello, apple sauce, vegetable broth. They added slightly richer foods a few days later. Ensure drinks, low-fat yougurts, puddings. The general idea is that you have to progress very slowly. From water to clear liquids to richer fluids to soft food to solid food. Eat frequent meals small amount at a time.
Marina was ready to go home on day 7. Unfortunately, she caught a small throat infection. The infection threw off her blood counts. The surgeons couldn't figure out what was going on, so they delayed the discharge. They discharged us on day 9, which is still amazing.
Our house has three levels and LOTS of stairs. Marina was able to climb the stairs without any assistance right off the bat. We started going for outdoor walks the next day. That would be day 10 after the surgery. By week 3, she was back to walking her regular route around the neighborhood. 1.5 miles or so. She resumed driving on week 4.
Sometime around week 5 or 6, she picked up Yoga (inspired by AntiCancer book). Mostly meditation, nothing strenuous.
Many Whipple patients go home with an Rx for a high doze of pancreatic enzymes (CREON capsules or similar medication). Marina had enough of her pancreas left so she didn't need that. She followed a very low-fat, vegetarian diet for a few weeks after coming home. Vegetable soups, rice pudding, apple sauce, short noodles, soft crackers, zero-fat yogurt etc. As Lainy mentioned, nothing fried or greasy. Vegetable soup was the main staple food in the first couple of weeks. We blended the soup with a hand-held blender to make it smooth. We added lean chicken soup a few weeks later. Again, we blended it until smooth.
As you can imagine, it's virtually impossible NOT to lose weight with a diet like this. Marina lost 5-10 pounds before the surgery, and another 5-10 pounds after the surgery. Don't remember the exact numbers. She didn't have any unwanted extra pounds to begin with, so she ended up being too thin. We tried adding nutritional drinks like Ensure, Boost, Carnation to keep her weight up. Marina hated the artificial taste so she rejected them all.
Marina started chemo-radiation 10 weeks after the surgery. A tough tough tough thing to do. I can't say that she was 100% recovered when she started radiation. 80%, maybe.
Any questions - don't hesitate to ask!!
Wishing you and your step-mom the best,
Bonus links from my bookmarks to yours
Nutrition after a Whipple Procedure
http://www.pancan.org/section_facing_pa … cedure.php
Whipple Procedure - Nutritional Concerns