I’m a little over 9 weeks post total prophylactic gastrectomy, and it’s been quite an interesting journey.
In the last few weeks, eating has really gone so much better. I feel like more and more of my food is staying down more frequently. There’s been a few bigger bites I’ve taken that previously might not have stayed down which now seem to. I’m focusing on my goal of 2000 calories a day, fighting everyday not to lose weight. I’ve been basically stable on my weight since removing my feeding tube, but it takes all I’ve got to continuously eat. I’m able to go to restaurants to eat and enjoy myself. Food is so intertwined with social events that eating lunch, aka snack number 4, with friends is comforting.
I started this journey having gained 6 lbs, bringing me to about 123. (I’m about 5′ 6″ with a small frame.) The lowest weight I can remember was 113 after I ran my first marathon. I was comfortable losing weight to this number. It’s slightly lower than I prefer, but I don’t look like a fragile twig about to break in the wind. Interestingly enough, pre-surgery my PA wasn’t concerned about me gaining weight. She always just said, “We want you to be healthy.” So, pre-surgery, I really kept up with my running and tried to eat mostly healthy. Was only able to gain the 6 lbs doing that. I’ve lost that 10 lbs to date and am at 113. I’m not comfortable running yet because I’ve got to figure out how to incorporate running without losing weight. I’m getting a big blubbery as my muscles have dwindled.
The biggest foods I have issue with are sugars and high fat foods. Although, if I’ve had a meal with real, quality food that has protein, I can eat a cookie. I can have a half bowl of ice cream. I can have a mini butterfinger. I find I can do some sweets as long as I’ve had some quality foods beforehand. (I did eat a cookie one day & a doughnut another day, both uncoupled from protein and felt really cruddy for 10-20 minutes afterwards.)
My food volumes are going up. I ate half of a chopped brisket sandwich the other day, picking out the fatty pieces. As long as I chew, chew, chew, it’s ok.
I will say that eggs are really filling. I think of eggs as good protein and calories, but 2 eggs and one greek yogurt and I feel filled to the brim. This seems more so than other foods. My regular workday breakfast is 1/2 bagel with 1tbsp peanut butter and then 1 light & fit greek yogurt.
For me, nausea or generally feeling bad only occurs for 10-20 minutes after eating something I shouldn’t have. If I drink water right before eating, it seems to be ok; water immediately following food seems to make me feel bad. Sugars without protein or something too fatty like a McDonald’s kids cheeseburger make me feel crummy.
Hydration is tough. Since I can’t eat with my meals and I can’t chug my water like I used to, I have to focus on downing water. My current methodology that seems to help. Drink a giant water bottle starting immediately when I wake up. Keep focused taking sips as I get ready in the morning. Try to finish that water before leaving for work. I eat in the car en route, all so I can enjoy my coffee afterwards! Yum!
Getting enough water is probably the biggest habit change for me. I can’t just chug right before bed. I have to give myself 20-30 minutes to get the water down progressively before bed, rather than one giant chug right before laying down. It’s all about remembering to keep sipping.
Also since food makes me feel so full, it’s just tough to get water in while I’m focusing on calories. Food and water right now are two competing forces in my life, vying for that tiny new reservoir in my new plumbing.
How I Feel – No Longer the Sick Person
With my energy levels coming back, I mostly feel like my normal self. I can stop always thinking of myself as stomachless and take the focus back on ‘normal life’. I’m out swimming with my kiddos again and just jumping into playtime with them. The weeds in the yard were very happy while I was not 100%, but they have been battled as of this weekend. I have that extra energy to be out in the heat, pulling some weeds. And I’m back to my need to paint rooms in my house, currently my kitchen. Running has always been my stress relief and time to think, but painting and weeding are other outlets for me. (Yes, I’m weird. Plus I can eat/drink in between paint strokes.) The kitchen will get done with an hour here and there. (To my husband’s dismay at the length of time his kitchen will be incomplete and his feelings we should just hire a painter.)
I’m back at work with a normal routine again. I’m a little tired, but that’s ok. I’m running around with the family just doing life. And that was the goal of this whole thing. Beat cancer, enjoy life. The recovery period post-gastrectomy is but a bump in the winding road that is my life. I can’t help but think the cancer death sentence I had is now a fork in the road I have split off from. What are the possibilities for my newly lengthened life? Where will I go? I didn’t used to think I’d make it through my fifties with this genetic curse, but now I will. So I feel relief, the worst is behind me. And at that, the worst wasn’t that bad. Annoying, frustrating, discouraging me at times, but not that bad. Every meal might be a tiny battle for a little longer, but that’s ok. I don’t like to lose. I like to race, I like to win and I’m stubborn. Maybe these traits all helped.
All this being said, I will say as life gets back to normal and I focus less on me and my gastrectomy, it’ll be easy to lose weight. Will try to stay diligent.
Well, that’s all I have to share for now. At least, that’s all the things I think you might be interested in reading. (Yes, I ramble far too much and I know it!) I will try to post another food diary again because I think that’s most helpful to fellow gastrectomy patients. But then again, if you see my food diary, you might realize that I’m not as healthy as I aspire to be in my mind! ha!
Have a great day, it’s beautiful out there.