Monday, August 17, 2015

Hospital Food & the road to Healing!

Last week my father had a motorcycle accident. It happened out of the blue, on a seemingly 'normal' day, and completely rocked my world upside down. I won't go into the details other than to tell you that the driver of the car was charged, and witnesses were certain my father wouldn't make it based on what they saw. I'm very happy to say that he's with us today, and although he has some months of recovery ahead, he's doing amazing. REALLY amazing.
The reason I wanted to write this blog is because I believe that if you don't take negative experiences and turn them into something positive, then  you've missed an opportunity for growth. So if I can help even ONE other person reading this as they care for their loved one, then i've used this horrible experience for good. Writing this is also quite therapeutic for me, to be able to share my experience with you.
I want to start by saying that I'm extremely thankful for our medical system and after this event I am proud to be Canadian and have the services that we have covered for us. It's not a perfect system but it's a very good system. From the EMS drivers first on scene, to the doctors at the Alliston hospital who made the decision to move my dad to St. Michael's hospital in Toronto, to the doctors and nurses who cared for my dad over the next few days, I'm deeply thankful.
Now I want come to the part of the story that will hopefully help one of you. Some of you may have a loved one in hospital, in hospice, in homecare OR it may come at any point in your future. As a bystander or family member you will feel somewhat helpless, as I felt. I couldn't fix broken bones or take CT scans or run IV lines, but I can (and YOU can too) help in a BIG way in the days after the trauma team has done 'their thing'. Aside from the healing effect of just 'being there' and the support you will provide, I want to talk about nutrition, because this is the one area that we have still not improved upon in the hospital setting.

My dad hadn't eaten in over 24 hrs (understandably). He was kept hydrated with a saline drip, so we didn't have to worry about that, but eventually when food was brought to him, it was the powdered, cold and processed food that we would expect from a hospital. This is not the kind of food that promotes healing, in fact the oils used in these foods CAUSE inflammation, and don't provide the nutrients needed for the body to heal itself. I'm sorry but it's the naturopath in me - this is my viewpoint and perspective, and it's my only way to have any control of the situation:)

My dad is also in his 60's, so muscle-wasting is a huge concern. After our 30's it gets harder for our bodies to maintain muscle mass (that's why we push resistance training in this age group), and with every decade we lose a substantial amount. When you take an older person that becomes bed-ridden (even for a few days) or requires a cast, the muscles waste away even quicker AND will be harder to get back after the fact. So in light of the inflammation in the body post-accident and the muscle wasting there's a few things that I wanted my dad to have for his healing.
Protein is essential. It's what will keep his energy up, immune system strong, and will provide the amino acids required for hormones, anti-inflammatory mediators made by the body, and will keep his muscles from being eaten for energy. Next is healthy fats - they will repair the damaged cell linings, help with hormone communication, decrease inflammation and heal the adrenals (the stress organs).
 Next comes the rainbow of colors you get from veggies and fruits - all the bio-flavonoids that fight free-radical damage and decrease inflammation in the tissues, not to mention the vitamins that will help with the healing process. So on my way to the hospital I put together a quick comfort package (this is for both my dad and my mother, who wouldn't leave his side and was also feeling the effects of stress and fatigue after the accident). Keep in mind these foods are not 'ideal' because some of them are just quick packaged foods that are convenient to bring and won't spoil during their stay, however they are a step up from what is currently provided by the hospital. This is a picture I quickly snapped before throwing it all into a cooler bag.
Here is what I brought - 2 tupperwares, one with cut up veggies (cherry tomatoes, carrots, peas, celery, brocolli) and one with fruit (blueberries, strawberries, peaches); packets of protein powders (my parents mixed these at breakfast with some water); packets of powdered greens, protein bars, Lara bars (fruit & nuts), trail mix (raw almonds, walnuts, dried cherries, apricots), mini-tuna cans, sardines, gluten-free crackers, Vector granola (protein-rich granola), individual yogurt, Emergen-C (vitamin C drink mix), coconut water, gluten-free lemon snaps. Please note vitamin C or greens should not be given to anyone who is bleeding or in need of blood thinners until they are stable!
 My dad is normally a healthy eater and therefore these foods would provide some comfort to him and also to my mom. If your loved one does not normally eat this way you could tailor it to meet their likes while still ensuring you are providing a healthier option for them then what they receive in hospital. My parents greatly appreciated their comfort package and it made me feel great to be able to do something to speed my dads healing (I also brought my homeopathic remedies and traumeel cream for the bruising and aching tissues!). My dad has been making leaps and bounds over the last few days, and as I write this, we were able to celebrate his Birthday as a family at home (Aug. 16). I also want to say a big thank you for the many friends and neighbours who helped us through a very stressful time - it was a reminder that community and support is such an important component of good health. I feel blessed to have you all in my life!

Dr. Anna Falkowski HBSc, ND
Naturopathic Doctor, Clinic Director
Twitter: @NaturoDoctor
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Jason Ellis said...

Such a nice post you have shared here on vitality .Good to know about the facts on hospital food and the road to healing. Keep updating your blog with blogs like this.I want to share something with all kidney cleanse diet or homemade detox cleanse aim is to get back to your fitness and always feel fresh to start any work in your corner.During Cleanse process you should feel better and get some fresh energy to do any work but not enough to get into gym & do some workout it behaves according to your routine.

Anonymous said...

You said that vitamin C and greens should not be given to a person who is bleeding; or is on blood thinners - or requires them. I feel the need to clarify something. It's true that vitamin C in its SUPPLEMENTAL form is contraindicated. Further, it's also true that vitamin K, in its supplemental form, is not completely safe. However, raw organic green vegetables, in their whole form, ARE safe. This statement is veritable even when a person is on one, or more, blood thinner(s). The latter statement is veracious even when a person is bleeding.

My above statements are analogous to what I am about to say. Antioxidants, in their SUPPLEMENT form, can cause cancer. However, antioxidants that are consumed in their natural, plant forms, do NOT have any adverse effects. So in other words, consuming raw, organic vegetables do not cause any diseases.