A close relative – a guy of 42 with a wife and 2 young kids – underwent serious open heart surgery a couple of weeks ago.  The surgery was very high risk.  His family sat for 11 hours from the time he went to the OR to the time he was in ICU.  He made it through the operation and the surgeon and cardiologists are pleased with the results.

But – yes there is always a but – his recovery has been difficult.  The main problem – he has not been able to maintain breathing on his own.  Two weeks on a ventilator – that is a big tube down his throat pumping in air – and by necessity – a nasogastric feeding tube.  After two weeks he has recovered sufficiently to just wear a nose mask that forcibly pumps oxygen enriched air into his lungs.  One by one the tubes going in and  out of him have been removed.  Still – on the feeding tube.

I was there last evening and was able to examine a can of the glop that was being poured into a bag that fed him.   The stuff:  Promote by Abbott Nutrition.  To quote their website (emphasis mine):

Promote®

Very-High-Protein Nutrition

  • PROMOTE is a complete, balanced, very-high-protein formula for patients who need a higher proportion of calories from protein. It is ideal for patients with low caloric needs and those at risk for protein-energy malnutrition or pressure ulcers.

  • For tube or oral feeding.

  • For supplemental or sole-source nutrition.

  • Use under medical supervision.

High Protein – on what planet?

One 8 oz can contains 237 Calories. 14.8 grams Protein, 6.2 grams Fats, 30.8 grams Carbs.

Assume a male of 170 pounds with limited mobility, you would guess that his caloric needs would be above the 1500 mark – so maybe 6 – 8 cans.   He is probably getting between 90 to 120 grams of protein in a 24 hour period.  Where is that High Protein?  Given someone whose chest has been cracked open, whose body has been cut to ribbons and is trying to heal, whose muscles have been played havoc with and who is getting supplemental blood – where is this High Protein?  In my world – this level is just bare minimum.

Now take a look at the ingredients.  No – they do not make me a happy guy.  Is there anything the family can do – nope – this is not just ICU this is heavy duty CTICU.  Just stay out-of-the-way.

Add one more thing – the guy is an insulin dependent diabetic.  They take blood, measure the result and give him a shot.  Reduce the “effen” Carbs and reduce the dependency on insulin.

Ah well – he is improving and hopefully he will be able to breathe on his own and eat solid food again.  Not fast enough.