Hi Fishing, and hello to your wife! I'm happy to hear that you're moving forward with this; it is a scary process to be certain, but the rewards, for me, were life changing. I'll do my best to answer your questions and help you through the process. There is a thread that I followed with others that experienced the surgery at the same time. Their words, coupled with the wisdom of veterans on the forum were a saving grace. I'll find the thread and tell you where to find it on another post.
I'm going to split your first question into two answers:
1. Your diet for the first several weeks starts with liquids and very, very soft, mushy foods. These include puddings, mashed potatoes and gravy, soups, yogurt, oatmeal or cream of wheat, etc. I was told to follow this diet for 3 to 4 weeks, but others had different instructions. I was told that I could advance the diet as was tolerated, but to stick to softer foods for that first month. A big one for me was no lifting anything over 5 pounds for the first month, 10 to 15 pounds the 2nd month and no working out until 6 months. I have followed this one to a "T".
2. From my Husbands perspective, his response to you is that he would definitely have stayed home with me for the first couple of days and then evaluate how I was doing to determine if he should go into work or stay home. He's retired now, so it's a hypothetical for him; but I would agree with him on this. He said, after the first few days at home, his biggest job was to make sure I didn't lift anything! I have to tell you though, I had my surgery in Cleveland on Wednesday, and they kept me until Friday morning. I had to stay in a hotel until I was "officially" released for travel on Saturday. We drove the 4-5 hours home to Michigan on Saturday (it wasn't horrible, but I did sleep through a good part of it!).
My recovery was difficult and I did have complications afterwards; this is major, major surgery; just because they can do this laproscopically doesn't lessen the magnitude.
3. Medications, for me, had to be crushed up and mixed in with some liquid motrin; I had a very difficult time swallowing afterwards. I was not on Protonix after surgery, but have re-started it. Not because of reflux, but because I still produce a significant amount of acid and it is causing problems in my stomach. This is important: make sure you have something for nausea; I had zofran for the day (it is stronger) and phenergan for the night (not as strong, but helped me sleep!). Get a prescription for this or these from your Dr. before you leave. Also, pick up chewable gas-x; this will help tremendously with the shoulder pain and the gas that's left in your stomach and intestinal track.
4. 90% of your recovery will take place in the first 8 weeks; the remaining 10% can take a year. Depending on your age, the 5 week mark seems to be almost magical! The younger you are, the faster your recovery; at least that is how it seems from the postings here. I'm 53 and it took me the full 5 weeks before I could say I'm feeling good; but I can tell you, that the recovery is worth it. I feel better than I have in years, Years!! I no longer cough all the time, clear my throat, have trouble breathing and a whole host of other things.
Stay with us here, there are incredibly good people on the forum and they were my lifeline. I'll be watching for your posts as well and will help you every chance I can. I'll look for the other thread, like I said, read through the postings but do not be put off by the angst of some of the remarks, look instead for the tips and helpful discussions and information.
Good luck! Let us know how you're doing and if you have ANY questions, write here for the best information. I would start a new thread...name it something like..surgery coming soon, have questions! or something like that..you'll have a lot of good people helping you out!