My Scars

So if you’re about to have this surgery, you might really want to know what will my scars look like? Here are my scars labeled for you. I’m sure everyone is a bit different. I had very few complications and haggled my surgeon to try and keep the big incision small. This was taken 4 months and ~ 2 weeks post op.

4 months post op

Have a good evening.

Running NYC Central Park!

There’s a new term I’ve read about called sightrunning. It’s where you tour a city just by running it. I did that this morning and wanted to share. It was beautiful and I was motivated to get the full 5 miles in. Wore my Boston marathon shirt but felt like a bit of a nerd running so slow while wearing it. Oh well, I’ll use my “I don’t have a stomach and am out of shape” excuse. So if you’re having a bad stomachless day, remember the good days come too.

I will say being stomachless touring through NYC can be frustrating at times. I’ve only had 2 meals fail, one worse than the other. The first one, I needed to “spitup” and was looking for the bathroom frantically and then found out it was locked. That was not cool. The other place, I found a bathroom but wasn’t able to eat anything further. All my other meals have gone fine. Again, it’s just when I get excited about how tasty some food is and one bite goes down too big. But I am able to slowly eat and enjoy all the flavors of my food here.

If anything, this city is well designed for the stomachless because you can always get a snack on just about every corner. So the constant snacking works out well. I’m a total sucker for the roasted almonds.

Here I am in Central Park.

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The best turkey sandwich

After my “unable to keep food down” debacle, I’m just extra happy to enjoy my food. I got a turkey sandwich today on white bread with Swiss cheese, tomato slices with the skins cut off, mayonnaise and spicy mustard. I eat lunch at my desk and when I said, “omg, this is so good”, my coworker just laughed and gave me a funny look. After all, it was just a turkey sandwich. I used to not put on mayo because of calories, but I’m quite certain that is what made it taste so darn good and let’s face it, I can use some calories.

One of the questions I get from people about my gastrectomy is whether I still enjoy food. I’d say absolutely! Maybe even more so. I’ve also found the slower you eat food, the quicker you realize it’s quality. Bad stuff tastes gross when chewed to mush.

Now that I’m eating again, I’m able to drive the scale back up. I think I’ve recaptured some of my weight loss. It is hard to stay hydrated and gain some lbs, but I’m figuring it out.

I will mention that this weekend, I almost ate an entire chipotle burrito. Yes, you read that right! I did the first part at lunchtime, put it in the fridge and had most of the rest in the afternoon. I went with the barbacoa for protein because I’ve found it to be the most moist. I didn’t put any lettuce on there or picante, but it was still scrumptious. So glad to have my appetite back. And when every bite of your food stays down, it’s a lot easier to enjoy. (If you’d asked about my food enjoyment 2 weeks ago you would’ve gotten a scowl.)

Have a good night!

My Bump in the Road

So, my surgeon told me that in general, you should trend upwards; some days might not be great, but the overall trend should be improvement. I had been getting better…until last week. He also talked about everyone hitting some sort of bump in the road to recovery, so I guess this was mine.

Some nasty “bug” has been going around and a week and a half ago, it hit me hard. It was just general crud/infection: coughing, congestion, head cold. But what seemed to happen when I got all that congestion was I couldn’t hold down solid food. Since my mornings consist of lactose-free milk with protein powder and later yogurt, at first I just thought some of my meals were going badly. But over a day or so, I realized it was more like every meal, every snack, anything solid, anything with a consistency beyond yogurt. Yikes…

So, I focused on hydration and tried different foods to see if I could hold down anything. I kept up my protein shake and my yogurt to give me a good start. Foods that I tried and failed: chicken; cottage cheese; pizza, tortilla chips; any real, non-processed food. Foods that worked during my debacle: peanut butter, peanut butter M&Ms, sun chips, ice cream. I spit up most every bite I swallowed, every attempt at a “meal” for a week. I sustained myself on junk food, yes junk food. It’s almost as though you can’t push your food down when all your congestion is coming back up, unless it’s sugary and processed. This cued hubbie’s comment, “You need to see a doctor. I haven’t seen you eat any meal in the last week that you haven’t spit back up.” I emailed my PA but knew it was related to the “bug”, and I was at the tail end of this illness; I didn’t want to jump the gun if it was all related to the “crud”. Her response was basically make sure you’re still pooping. (See, this gastrectomy thing all goes back to poop.)

Another lesson learned: I tried some decongestant pills that were labeled for 24-hrs and another day for 12-hrs. Bad move. Disgusting as this might seem, I would cough them back up 6-12 hours later. Yeah, that warrants a second, “Disgusting!” So, note to self, for decongestants, must use nothing labeled for long time periods. I checked some children’s liquid decongestants and I’ll try that next time. To date the pill form of ibuprofen and amoxicillin have gone fine.

I lost a pound or two this last week and a half. And I stopped running. (My theory is, if I’m sick and not eating, I shouldn’t be running.) I did continue taking my lunchtime walk. It helped me deal with the frustration of another failed meal and got me outside in this wonderful fall weather. I will say, this was definitely a frustrating, tiring week. At least I had busy days to distract me from how poorly eating was going. I am an amazingly grumpy person by the end of the day when I haven’t been able to eat any substantial food and my apologies for anyone who met “Grumpy Marne”. On the upside, since I don’t ever feel hunger, I don’t think I was all that bothered by not really eating. Aside from the tiredness, it’s not like I felt starving all the time. And hooray for my horrible, high-fat diet for preventing me from losing more weight than I did. My nutritionist would probably have a heart attack reading what I ate over the past week.

The end to this horrible saga was 2 days ago. Thursday I was able to eat again, real food. Small bites, same as before. And it all stayed down. I can’t express just how happy and satisfying it was to finally eat some real food and just have it stay down. Amazing. I felt so good that night, I ran, pushing my daughter in the jogging stroller while my son biked alongside. It was awesome. Sunset was beautiful, I felt so wonderful; again why I love running.

I’ll probably have to focus on excess food for another week so I can try to gain some weight back. Before I got sick, my weight was stable without having to get too gung-ho about 24/7 food intake. I think I’m able to tick that scale back up. I can only say I will be upset if I catch another bug.

Have a good evening.

Some good meals lead to a bad meal

My dinner last night went so well! So lunch today was in the epic fail category. Tried Buffalo Wild Wings boneless chicken. Nothing, nothing stayed down. Bad, bad, bad.

I’d say my body is a gauge for food quality. The breaded, fried chicken strips I get from Sodexo that are fresh chicken, breaded on the spot & fried go down very well. Moist, easy to chew. I’d say BWW is frozen-fried, hence why it’s so tough.

No big loss, I’m growing more flexible for alternatives if a meal fails. I downed my almonds in the car afterwards. Problem solved.

Have a great evening and perhaps stay away from BWW chicken!

Tonight’s Dinner

At a wedding reception tonight and was a little leery about how dinner would go. I’ve never tried prime rib, but I gave it a go, cut little pieces, chewed a lot and it all went down wonderfully well!! Prime rib, cooked green beans, scalloped potatoes! Awesome!

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You should’ve seen how big of a slice that prime rib was. I made a huge dent, impressive!

Oh yeah, and that glass of white wine! Life is good!

Protein powder

So I got a little behind on shopping and had finished all my GNC Wheybolic protein (both vanilla and strawberry). Both flavors were decent; I personally prefer vanilla because it tastes less fake to me.

So in desperation I started using the pure protein vanilla creme I’d gotten at Walmart a while ago. Can you say disgusting?? So gross. The powder wouldn’t break up in the blender bottle, and when it did, it was super frothy and disgusting to drink. Nothing kills a drink like a small chunk of powder in the middle…

I took Friday afternoon off (awesome!!) and got back to GNC. I went ahead and asked for one that tastes less sweet. The wheybolic one is so “over sucralosed”, it was just too sweet. So I’m trying the GNC 100% whey one and it’s slightly less sweet. It breaks up in the blender bottle perfectly!

Overall my protein shakes seem to be keeping me healthy, but it’s tough to drink them without a plan. I do 8-10 oz lactose free 2% milk with 2 scoops of protein powder. I have to sip on it. I can usually drink half pretty quickly, then break 5-10 min and drink the other half. If I don’t give myself enough time, I just feel downright crappy. Maybe protein overload to the gut, who knows.

I’ve found that integrating my shake into my schedule works well. If I go running first thing in the morning, I drink water before the run to get the gut moving and me hydrated. Then right after my run, I make the shake. If I can drink half, then shower, then drink the other half, it goes very well. And that way, by the time I go to work, I’ve gotten in 300+ calories and 50 grams of protein! (And as an added bonus, no chewing required!)

I’ve also has that purple jar EAS one in the French vanilla flavor. That one tasted great and broke up well, but I’ve never found one in a big bottle. I always feel like I’m getting jipped if I can’t buy in bulk. If I find a big bottle, I’ll let you know

I will say that I’ve also run out of milk before and water works just fine with the protein powder. It’s actually lighter and easier to drink since it’s less calories.

So that’s my current protein assessment. Today’s been a fun day so far. And I even had a few minutes to post my protein assessment!! I’m sure there’s other ones that break down well. I’ll try to add info as I try them out.

Almost 4 Months Post Op

So next Monday marks 4 months post surgery. I’d say life has gotten crazy busy lately, in a good way. I keep focusing on lots of protein with my meals and it seems to work. Life is pretty normal (my usual level of crazy), but definitely normal. You might say “normal with minor food modifications”.

I am able to keep up with life having my “spit cup” on hand at work and in the car. I can consume larger volumes of food now, and I push myself in hopes that it’ll continue to improve. I stay away from most raw veggies and heavy, thick breads. (But don’t fear because I can enjoy those foods when I crave them.) I strip the skins off stuff because it’s still not guaranteed those won’t come back up. Example foods I can usually do after stripping off skin: sausage, tomatoes, deli meats, grapes (spit out skins).

My biggest focus continues to be protein. It’s interesting to compare diet notes with a coworker whose child was just diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. As long as her son has foods with some protein in it, it’s ok. But anything that’s sugary without protein doesn’t work. It seems to be the same for total gastrectomy patients.

Last week, our office lost one of our own employees to stomach cancer. This very nice man left a widow and 2 teenage boys after bravely battling his cancer for several years. He was only 52 or 53. It shocked me to hear his story and how eerily it sounded like my family’s exact story back 15 years ago. It reminded me how hard people fight this cancer and how lucky I am to be able to proactively beat it, even if I do face some minor life adjustments. My prayers go out to him and his family.

One thing on my mind lately… I beat my stomach cancer. Then I walk by people smoking, and it boggles my mind. I’m fighting to stay healthy and live a long life, so I can’t understand why people still smoke when they know the results. For as crazy of a decision as my total gastrectomy seems to most, I think smoking might be crazier.

On a running note, I busted out a measly 3 miles Monday morning before work. It went well, but I tire as the week wears on (me and 5 AM don’t always jive). My pace is still not up to where it was, but every run goes better. I no longer feel my incision tugging during a run and don’t feel like I have to be cautious with it anymore. My goal is to get a minimum of 3 runs in during the week (should really be 3 weekday runs, plus one weekend run). I’ll settle for squeezing in 3 this week. (Glad I only signed up for a half marathon.) Last Saturday morning, I managed a little over 5 miles. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it! Hubbie asked me if I was going to be able to do the half in January. My response, “Oh I can do it. Might not be pretty, but I’ll get it done!”

I’m planning to leave early tomorrow to hit the gym before work. Note to self, remember amphipod water bottle thing, else it’ll be dreadmill time for me!

Have a great evening.