What post-surgery goodies should I leave in my friends' fridge?
January 14, 2021 4:37 PM   Subscribe

[colectomy filter] A friend is having his colon removed next week. I can look up dietary recommendations and recipes online, but if this was you, what kind of snacks or meals would you want in the fridge? What would be a special treat?

He's asked me to pick up flowers and distribute them in vases around their house for when his wife brings him home from the hospital. So I will be in their house and can put items in fridge or freezer. She is a nurse, so no shortage of knowledge on the topic, and probably they'll already have covered any special needs like heating pads or cold packs and such. So my focus is food and I see "soft diet" is the rule. Did you have any cravings? Bland comfort food? Blended soups? Ice cream? Gingery things?

Small gift ideas also welcome (probably he would not wear that "No Colon Still Rollin" t-shirt, so... no). They're a young, healthy, liberal, outdoorsy couple in their 30s, no kids (they do have kittens). Slight woo-woo bent in the good way. Oh also: this is a good thing. They're super happy about this and it's a thing to celebrate. It will be life changing for them. Open to hearing anything useful that comes to mind.
posted by AnOrigamiLife to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
Frozen lasagna. There are several options available at the grocery store and it makes a good, hearty, substantial meal when you’re too tired to really “cook.” Bonus leftovers for the next day. Meat, veggie, organic, vegan; all the options are there. I like Simek’s.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 5:11 PM on January 14, 2021

Best answer: Here's a good guide on post-colectomy diet recommendations and restrictions for you to double check.

The flowers alone sound perfect. To be honest, if he and his wife didn't ask you to leave them food, I'd wait before bringing anything. He sounds really positive about this but still you don't want to risk leaving him something that is a reminder of what he can't eat. If you absolutely insist on bringing something, small portions are generally a good idea as he adjusts. You could check in with him and his wife after a day or two and see if and what you can make or buy and bring over. You're a very kind friend!
posted by smorgasbord at 5:45 PM on January 14, 2021 [13 favorites]

Best answer: How about a selection of novel juices from the specialty aisle? Carbonated things are probably out, but personally I like to grab a bottle of a new-to-me soda maybe once a month when I'm at the store, for a low risk thrill. If he's on a soft foods and liquid diet for a while, it might be fun to have a new or unusual juice flavor to try out. A nice treat with or without your lower bowel.
posted by phunniemee at 7:10 PM on January 14, 2021 [6 favorites]

Maybe some nice frozen broth from a fancy butchers? Simplest possible ingredients.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 9:39 PM on January 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Based on the thoughtful link by smorgasbord, and inspired by phunniemee and noucelle-personne, my recommendations may or may not be available since I don't know where OP/ friend resides.

Where I am, there are lots of places (like, more than coffee shops?) that specialize in made-to-order "bubble tea" (basically, various teas or fruit juices [with multiple treatment options for each one] offered with or without a huge variety of semi-solid add-ons from tapioca balls to crushed grass jelly) or "smoothies" or "protein shakes" or just plain up "juice bars."

Pricey, but can be very tasty (with lots of calories and nutrients). By and large, these will be unpasteurized so maybe contraindicated for your friend.

Many fancy butchers in my area who do at least some/ most of their own butchering will have a sideline of selling in-house-made frozen "bone broth" from the fresh bones (generally from high quality animals, not feedlot fodder). This is the schnizzle. Not uncommon for them to sell other frozen soups like chicken/ turkey noodle, etc. Better taste, and probably marginally more nutritious especially for cofactors.

Avoid anything with capsaicin (spicy hot) in it!
posted by porpoise at 12:22 AM on January 15, 2021

Best answer: I think that because of the nature of the surgery, doing any food thing might be dicey; there are a lot of meal restrictions that they may have to abide by, and you don't want to put them in a position of "oh gee....this was awful nice of AnOrigamiLife, but you are on an all-liquid diet for the next 5 weeks so you can't eat any of it and we'll have to throw it all out."

I would instead focus on the fact that he's just had major surgery, and even if it's a happy situation, his body still has to heal from it, and that body may need some support during that healing. Think, like, a cozy blanket for lazing under on the couch, a pillow to hug when he needs to cough or sneeze (if he's had an abdominal incision that's going to be a BIG thing), things that will make hygiene a little easier (they make supersized wet wipes)....things like that.

If you still really want to do food, maybe a gift card to a food delivery service, which they can either use right away or sit on.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:16 AM on January 15, 2021 [11 favorites]

When my husband had a similar surgery, he ended up with a colostomy bag for several months until his gut was healed. We did not know if the bag would be needed until the surgeon saw how bad the issues were. This bag required a significant change in diet for that period. I ended up having to throw out a bunch of food. I would be afraid these foods you want to get would end up in the same situation. Honestly, I would suggest you focus on non-food things like flowers, maybe a cleaning service, etc. to show support.
posted by eleslie at 6:36 AM on January 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I don't have any suggestions for the friend undergoing the surgery. BUT, what about his wife? I would bring a few items that she can easily eat, as she may well be very preoccupied with helping with post-surgical care. In that kind of situation, she might be "feeding herself" on the back burner, when a caretaker really needs to ensure that she has the fuel to keep going. And it might take some pressure off him to know that his wife has been cared for. A few suggestions:

-I loved this recipe for freezer burritos, and you can tailor it to her preference. (The important thing about this is that all it needs is to be heated in a microwave and can be eaten with one hand. Make sure you include reheating instructions.)
-Some cut up fresh fruit, or a bag of clementines or similar.
-String cheese or babybel cheese--easy to grab portions of protein.
-If she likes chocolate, a couple of bars of nice chocolate, or perhaps something like chocolate covered acai berries.
-Something like these apple & carrot "Superhero" muffins--nutrient dense, keep well, easily frozen (I'd bring half a batch wrapped to go straight in the freezer and half to go in the fridge), one-handed breakfast

I think this is a really nice impulse on your part, and if I were your friends, I'd be touched.
posted by CiaoMela at 7:59 AM on January 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

Yeah, I was going to say maybe stock in some nice quick meal supplies for his wife (or at least for her primarily and she can use her discretion for which components are okay for him), who may have to spend her meal-making time/energy on preparing special meals or meal replacement she's not going to want for herself.

Frozen tortellini and a couple types of sauce (also frozen tortellini is a great way to zhuzh up a simple boxed tomato or butternut squash soup), bag of salad and a bottle of dressing, frozen rolls or breadsticks. Some grocery stores now have quite nice ready-to-heat meals or meal components as well, either in their deli or in the cold case, and I particularly like the Del Real Mexican options like this Barbacoa or their carnitas (if your friends eat pork), and then get their pre-made beans and rice as well, little tubs of sour cream and guac and a package of flour tortillas - if his diet isn't severely restricted she can probably make most of that work for him as well as her own dinner.

Another nice drop-off food is just a package of the really fancy eggs and a bag of good shred cheese. You could add frozen breakfast sausage and hash brown patties - which are so easy to cook and so satisfying - and they'll get used eventually somehow.

Also, if she drinks coffee make sure she's well-stocked in whatever it is she likes - maybe snoop in their cupboards to see, and check the fridge to confirm whether she uses a creamer (and just to make sure they aren't almost out of anything critical like milk).
posted by Lyn Never at 9:11 AM on January 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

After brain surgery (obviously different, I know), I basically lived on watermelon, coconut water, and ginger ale for a couple weeks. A quick search showed melons are among the easy-to-digest foods post-colectomy. If the weather had been cold, I probably would have appreciated savory broths and brothy-soups.

A nonobvious thing if a lot of bed rest is necessary during recovery: cups with lids and straws. I found it much easier to drink in a somewhat reclined position using a straw.
posted by ktkt at 7:50 PM on January 15, 2021

A nonobvious thing if a lot of bed rest is necessary during recovery: cups with lids and straws. I found it much easier to drink in a somewhat reclined position using a straw.

Ooh, SECONDED. The first couple weeks after my own knee surgery I was 85% bedridden, and using a straw was really helpful when I was laying back on the pillows.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:09 AM on January 16, 2021

They make silicone straws with a bend in them which are especially nice for reclined drinking, and they are generally long enough to fit in a 20 or 30oz insulated tumbler or mug.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:32 AM on January 17, 2021

Response by poster: Came to mark bests with the benefit of hindsight...
I ended up putting a pot of blended potato leek soup in their fridge, plus some rolls, for him, his wife, his visiting parents. Also a selection of Naked and Odwalla juices. And I liked the idea of silicone straws so I got some, but after a time it came up in conversation and he said, while it was thoughtful, he cannot not use straws at all because they introduce more air to the bag. Good info to pass along to y'all. He found some MacGyver-y thing to do with them, so that was nice to hear.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 11:09 PM on August 24, 2021

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