Is this the Next Stage in Total Gastrectomy Recovery?

I’m about 2 months post op. I’ve just returned to work. My energy levels are more closely reaching my energy levels from before and what I lack, a caffeine boost makes up for to get me through. Getting good. A little spitup here, a little puke there, but nothing I can’t manage. Still happens & is usually associated with one of my first bites of food.

The reason I wonder if this is the next phase of my recovery is because I can consume larger portions. And with more quickly being able to eat or drink, it seems like the healthier the food, the better I feel. Because more can go in more quickly, I can hit my sugar overdose easily. When my body was forcing me to eat mouse-sized portions, I didn’t feel crappy from too much fat or too much sugar. It appears that’s happening now.

In the car, I ate half of my cinnamon twist donut a few hours after my breakfast taco. Wow, sugar crash away. I can do some sugars if I’d had some protein, but clearly this was far too much sugar with far too little protein. Not to mention the fact that the first piece of donut was very quickly thrown up; it was stuck and my body was M-A-D at me for that one. But wow, do I love cinnamon twists. Just shouldn’t have piled in 2 giant bites at one time without a real meal nearby.

Cashews are bailing me out a lot now. If our day is ever unplanned, away from home, cashews fill the void. Cashews specifically are very soft, easy to chew, easy to transport and great on calories. And the protein is a must. This weekend, one of our lunches was delayed until 2:30. Let’s call that timing “unfriendly to the girl missing a stomach”. But a gas station pickup of a giant bag of cashews was 450 calories and pulled me through. Though, by 2:30, it was getting rather dire.

The social aspect of food/eating is what I noticed this weekend. I’m not bothered eating my tiny portions around friends/family who know about my surgery. They get it. But we were at an event with folks who didn’t know I don’t have a stomach, and it was very obvious they had worked very hard BBQing some awesome chicken, beef and all the fixings (this is Texas after all). I got a few looks like “oh, that girl must have an eating problem”. It’s not like it’s an easy or short conversation to explain that you had a gastrectomy and that yes you can live without a stomach. So, more than anything, I’m not personally bothered that it takes me forever to eat and take tiny bites. I just don’t like feeling rude that I’m not saying thank you with my actions of enjoying all that great food that was prepared. Maybe I just care too much what I presume people are thinking. I probably shouldn’t speculate.

So, here’s my eating theory for this 2nd stage of recovery.

  • Continue with real food
  • Actually care that the real food is healthy
  • Try to separate liquid and food intake
  • Try to stay away from anything too filling with not enough calories. (Still only 1/2 of my bagel. It fills me to the max with the yogurt beforehand.)

My food log this weekend:

Saturday (awesome calorie day when all was said and done. was also a very active afternoon at the beach, hence the protein bar. Whataburger dinner began at 9PM)
Potato, egg & cheese taco
1/2 cinnamon twist doughnut glazed (sugar crash & burn)
bag cashews
bud light
14 corn tortilla chips
3/4 cup diced avocado, tomato (kind like guac)
Smoked chicken breast (maybe 3 oz)
1/2 cup baked beans
1/4 cup potato salad
Nature Valley chewy protein bar (might have been too much sugar on too little protein. felt off for 15 min after)
1/2 grilled Whataburger sandwich (had to pull lettuce b/c too hard to chew. Had to tear the coating off chicken because too hard to eat. I’ll call their grilled chicken an epic fail. The breaded is far more tender, tastes better and easier to eat.)

1 cup oatmeal
1 scrambled egg
small bag cashews
2 pan-seared crab cakes
baked tilapia filet (1/2)
1 cup baked beans
bud light
6 peanut butter crackers
cheez-its at the end of the night (felt crummy. is the fat level too high now? I’ve munch on pretzels just fine, but it takes 53 pretzels to get 100 calories)

The Return to Work

So today marks day 2 of my return to work. I’m blessed that I work a desk job that mostly entails me, my desk, a computer, a phone and some meetings here and there. This is the ideal situation for me to constantly graze. For day one, I prepared by bringing a whole bunch of my snack food.

I’ve got my protein shot, oatmeal, peanut butter crackers, cashews and whatever lunch I bring. There’s a chicken spaghetti recipe that’s been going pretty well lately, so I’ve brought that for lunch both days. I just have to really really chew chicken.

So day 1 went really well. I headed out a little early and by the time dinner was over and had put the kids to bed, I was absolutely exhausted. But I will say my calorie input went really well. I was only ~95 short of my 2000 calorie goal. That’s actually closer than what I’ve been doing everyday anyhow. The one challenge I have is if some food goes bad and needs to come back up, the bathroom is quite far. My coworkers sit about 5 feet from in every direction….no walls, no privacy. This makes me nervous. But, so far, so good. I just very slowly, very patiently chew, chew, chew and eat, eat, eat.

I’ve been a bit of trial and error with food lately. Here’s my recent assessment (aka overanalyzing)

  • My frozen sausage biscuit hasn’t been going so well lately, so axe that one from my list.
  • Thomas bagel with peanut butter continues to go well. I specifically like the Thomas brand because the bagel is smooth and really easy to chew up.
  • If I drink a lot of water on top of my 6-pack of peanut butter crackers, I feel nauseous/crummy/yuckie. I don’t think I can chug water too close to these. Drinks are ok, but not my dehydration “chug”.
  • I had a white chocolate, macademia nut cookie yesterday. If I eat half, then wait a while and eat the other half, the sugars don’t hit hard & I figure it’s a little over 100 calories. This was a defensive move against a sugar crummy feeling since I no longer had a bed to lay down in and sleep it off.
  • Real food. Since you’re supposed to graze all day, it’s easy to turn to lots of protein supplements and snack foods. You’re always thinking high calorie so you can eat enough. But I’ve found if I slowly eat away at real food, I generally feel better. No gut wrench after a protein shake, no nausea from high protein snacks. Cashews seem to go ok (they’re softer than peanuts), but I try not to go too hog wild with them. Maybe my old theory of everything in moderation is holding true.

My strep is getting better. Throat still hurts which is upsetting that I’m already fighting to eat enough food due to my gastrectomy and now swallowing is hurting. Not unmanageable, just obnoxious.

Still going well. Just wondering when I’ll feel like I can start running again. Getting that urge, that need to get out there again. But I will try to stabilize my weight after this strep thing calms down. I need to gain my strength, then be sure I’m able to hold my weight before I add running and the extra calories that will require. My muscles are probably crying while I type that.

Have a great day!