Sunday, April 7, 2013

Hospital Food

Well, once again I ended up being taken by ambulance 2 hours southeast to Wake Forest Hospital, where I spent most of the last week. That makes 10 days of bring incarcerated since the end of January... and I say "incarcerated" simply because hospital food tastes like prison food (not that I've ever tasted prison food, but that I believe all institutional food is alike: ghastly).

They had me NPO for 36 hours while they did some testing, then on a clear liquid diet. The next day they allowed soft foods, including yogurt. I was surprised to read on the Yoplait Light Strawberry Yogurt label they served that it contained aspartame... Wouldn't you think a hospital dietitian would know better??

I don't even want to talk about the other foods they served, even though they had a menu where I could make my own choices. The choices were almost all pitiful, both in taste and nutrition. The closest thing to healthy was some cooked spinach, but I question the sauce ingredients (not stated) even though it was tasty.

One thing my doctors discovered is that my blood ammonia level was very high, but they found no reason for it after 3 days of tests. (I really didn't know we all have ammonia in our bloodstream.) The other blood work showed that I'm still way below normal in red and white blood cells, platelets, etc., and in fact I have lost some ground since the last labs on March 12 when they had shown slight improvement following my GI bleed in February.

The food advice my doctor gave me was to cut down on proteins. When I told him that all of my animal proteins are from grass-fed animals (or wild fish), his eyes glazed over... it meant absolutely nothing to him. To be fair, undigested proteins can increase ammonia levels, but the target should be how to improve digestion, not to eliminate the foods. The protein portion of my diet is within normal limits.

However, I DO think I'm slowly getting some sense of what's really going on with my health, and I think it all goes back to years of workplace chemical exposure that has damaged my liver. Kinda like the chemical exposure that is killing our honey bees... same syndrome, different chemicals.

I believe it is going to be up to me to take the data my allopathic doctors find in tests and integrate it with what I know, or can research, on solving the problem. I believe good nutrition is essential to both heal disease, and to prevent it, but most doctors do not hold the same beliefs. To me, there is a BIG difference in treating the symptoms, and finding and treating the cause.

For example, the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 in our food intake needs to be 1:1 for optimum health, yet our diets generally fall short, to the tune of 20:1 and even as high as 40:1 on a fast food diet. I thought mine was pretty good, in the range of 4:1 (acceptable but not great), but reviewing my food intake since January 1, I find I have strayed. Just that fact all by itself, could have an impact on how my impaired liver is able to function, and how it affects my health.


  1. My DH is in end stage liver disease with 15% of a liver, and so I know a bit about ammonia in blood. The liver would filter it out, if working properly.

    In him, high ammonia levels manifest as brainfog. It can get pretty severe, where he can't remember how to cook a meal he's done hundreds of times.

    I've known other people where it's so bad they appear to be functioning fine, even driving, but have no memory of having done so. That's scary!

    And protein does cause problems for those with impaired livers. He's been eating grass fed meat for 5 years, but the brainfog continues to get worse. It has more to do with his impaired liver, than the quality of the food.

    I am one who strictly believes in fixing the problem, not covering the symptoms. I make this clear each and every time a problem arises, medically.

    I've been using food for treatment for my chronic illness for 5 years. We raise as much of our own food as we can.

    I do hope you can figure it out. My experience has been you must educate yourself and then find a way to implement what you've learned, either with the doctors, or on your own.

    I am sorry to hear of the latest incarceration. The food in there alone could kill you!

  2. Pam, Thanks. I'm sorry to hear your husband is in such bad shape, it must be tough to watch. I really hope I don't get there too soon.

    I just got the test results from my abdominal ultrasound on 4/4. Doesn't look encouraging... there's an exophytic lesion arising from the interpolar left kidney, and a small cyst (?) in the pancreatic head. Both need further cross-sectional imaging, CT or MR.


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