Addicted to Oatmeal!

I am loving oatmeal right now! To add calories, I put two creamers in and to sweeten it up, I add Splenda.

Oatmeal always goes down well and it’s good on iron content.

The packaging on the Splenda made me laugh though. Thinking it’s customers want to watch their weight, it has little phrases on the packet. Tonight’s said, “Eat meals frequently to stave off the munchies.” I’m kind of chuckling away. Wanted to tell Splenda that that is what I do all the time! 🙂

Have a great night!

Sugar crash!

Saturday night before dinner I had quite a few bites of some leftover carrot cake. This apparently was just too much sugar.

Since I’ve posted photos of full energy Marne after running my half marathon, it seemed appropriate to post the polar opposite sugar crash photo…a reality of life without a stomach sometimes!

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On a side note, my bloodwork came back and I’m still fighting my low prealbumin, an indicator for longer-term protein storage. From what I read about prealbumin, it’s stores for the last two weeks. My diet went downhill during our vacation, so I think this is to blame. I’m back into my healthy diet again, trying to bring those stores back up!! Plus I picked up my Creon prescription, so that should help. Omg, it was $190!!! It had better help a lot! And there’s no generic available.

Have a great night! And try not to eat too much sugar at once!

Brussell sprouts

I’ve been trying to eat healthier, so I added Brussell sprouts to the mix. I’d not really eaten these pre-gastrectomy, but they’re good for you so I gave it a go. I have to say, these are pretty tough for me post gastrectomy even 8 months post op. It takes an amazingly long amount of time to chew. So I ate 4 tops of the Brussell spouts and I threw the rest out. Hey, at least I can say I tried them. 🙂

Also I had mashed potatoes the other day…a very large portion. I have to say if mashed potatoes are really thick, you should stick with small serving sizes. I couldn’t drink water afterwards for an hour because I was so full. So, note to self on mashed potatoes.

Other than that, it’s been pretty uneventful and mostly life as usual. I can eat a very decent portion size now, just have to take it slow and chew well. In one sitting, I can eat a huge serving of spaghetti with meat sauce with a veggie side and fruit. I can also eat 2 slices of pizza at once. Sometimes I prefer 1.5 slices though from fullness. Every once in a while, some foods don’t work and I spit them back out. But that’s not happening very often..

Candy!!! I can eat cookies and chocolate…probably too much. And it’s usually without any kind of sugar crash. So for those of you chocolate lovers who might have a gastrectomy in your future, you should still be able to enjoy your chocolate!

My brother’s recovery is going well. Slightly different but similar to mine. He’s chowing down 700-1000 calories, is 3 weeks post op and is hoping to reduce his tube feeds soon. He feels full and can’t eat when the tube feeds start. I was completely unaware/not bothered when my tube feeds were running. Everyone reacts a little differently!!

Have a great night!

My Brother’s Surgery Date

Deja vu … Now I get to see a total prophylactic gastrectomy from the supporting family member perspective. So the whole family is back in the same surgery waiting area as they were for me, except this time I’m waiting and my brother’s surgery is in progress. We’ve been discussing how the process around the whole surgery isn’t as daunting now that I’ve gone through it and we all know what to expect. Though I think waiting while the surgery is going on is harder than being asleep during the surgery.

His stomach was removed around 2:50, so they’re waiting to confirm all the stomach tissue is removed before they put his digestive track back together in its new form. We got an update at 4 that the diagnostic work finished, so they should be putting him back together. Estimated total surgery time was 5ish hours (mine took 6 because I so desperately wanted a small incision). Like brother, like sister now. We will have matching scars to show off in no time!!

I love my brother. I wish my brother didn’t have to go through this same surgery. But I know my surgeon is the best. I know both of us will no longer die from stomach cancer; we will both attend our childrens’ high school and college graduations and weddings. This is our bump in the road to continuing on our beautiful lives.

I’ve successfully tried some new foods lately:
A raw apple with the skin on (plus peanut butter)
Grapes with skin going better
Cooked tomatoes with the skins
A bit of lettuce on a salad
Steel cut oats with flax seed (Never realized how many good things were in flax seed) and I add two little creamers and a Splenda to it. So tasty!!
Red curry with rice from my favorite Thai place
Popcorn!! (I can eat a bunch!)

Foods still not worth my time:
The “healthy alternative” lettuce and chicken wrap at work. The quality of the tortilla is like eating rubber. It’s overstuffed with iceberg lettuce. And it just doesn’t taste good. Mark that off of my food list.
Rubbery green beans

7 Months and 1 Week Post Op

Why thank you Mr. Bathroom Scale…that is 3-5 lbs I’ve gained back!! And I’ve even been throwing in a handful of 5-6 mile runs as well. My sit down meals are slow and patient to make sure everything goes down, but I continue to keep much larger portions down. And I know when to stop (usually).

Now that my body is letting me take in more food, I have to say my “new issue” is gastric discomfort if I get a lot of food down that’s higher fat. Aka I ate a bunch of French fries and a half of a hamburger the other day…my gut was mad at me. It’s kind of like that feeling you need to go poop, but I know I just overdid it. You just wait in discomfort for your intestines to churn through the food until you feel better. This doesn’t happen often to me.

My other continuing issue is when I accidentally put myself into a “sugar coma”. I’ve noticed I’m generally able to handle more sugars now than right after my surgery (like my body is adapting). But if I eat a huge handful of peanut butter M&Ms very quickly, I can induce a sugar, feel-like-crap feeling. It passes within 10-15 minutes, but sucks when it happens at work. If it does, I have to walk it off because I don’t feel well enough to concentrate on a computer monitor.

Generally my issues are around when I eat unhealthy. And this isn’t such a bad thing. I’m able to snack now enough that I am putting weight back on. And that even includes my much increased activity level, including my 5-6 mile runs 3x per week ( with the hopes I’ll be motivated enough to increase my running frequency).

To note, I can drink my cup of coffee every morning! Hooray!

My brother will have his surgery this Friday. And this weekend will also be my first half marathon stomachless. This race will be a shout out to my brother and his recovery! On a side note, to stay true to stomach cancer awareness, I’m even presenting at work this week. It’s going to be a wild couple of weeks.

Our church lesson this week was around perspective. We’re in Romans. I found this incredibly relevant to someone like myself with the CDH1 mutation. It’s easy to question why me or complain about the challenges associated with the surgery and recovery. But you have to keep perspective. I have options my dad didn’t have. I have a blessed life, wonderful family. I can live a completely full life with or without my stomach. And maybe this was meant to be my life challenge. There is a reason for everything, whether I know that reason now or not.

The relevant verse I had to stew on was Romans 5:3:
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope.

Have a great day!

Movie theaters that serve meals – a Stomachless Person’s Delight

We went out to a movie tonight at a theater that has a waiter who brings you your meal. This movie watching setup is designed for the stomachless crowd. You have an entire movie to slowly devour your meal. I give it 2 thumbs up and just wanted to share.

No rushing to eat a meal, all enjoyment while you watch the movie. Awesome night!!

Having the Opposite Problem of Almost All American Society

Post New Year’s at the gym is always the same, everyone back at the gym to burn off their holiday calories and vowing to stick with the gym for the new year. I say kudos for them getting back out there. I thrive when I exercise and every time I get out of shape, I’m reminded how much better I feel when I run.

But as I chat with people about the lbs they put on over their vacation or their attempt to burn off the excess calories they consumed, I can’t help but be reminded that a full gastrectomy gives you the opposite problem from most of American society. It is a constant, forced portion control (at least for the first year from what I hear). And pretty much everyday, I’m reminded how I have the opposite problem from everyone else. But as I complain that most of my pants are too big, my husband mentions most women would love to have my problem. My retort is that they also haven’t spent the last 6 months having to spit up their food when they don’t chew enough. 🙂 This surgery let me beat my cancer curse, so the food adjustment is a small modification. And I can proudly say I was able to put on a pound over my vacation!! This 6 month marker is truly another giant leap in gastrectomy recovery.

TV does get old when every commercial seems to be food or weight loss. Liposuction or a medicine to melt away fat. I think it’d be funny to join one of our work weight loss teams sometime where you maintain or lose weight over the holidays. I’d be a sure thing for maintaining weight, and I think later on weight loss should be pretty easy since I don’t truly feel that hunger pang.

I’m thankful to read the support groups because I know there is a group of us out there. It’s so helpful to share ideas and experiences. (It’s the Facebook support group to total and partial gastrectomy & nostomachforcancer). And I have to remind myself that weight does not equate to nutrition. I figure you can easily be overweight but deficient in vitamins, minerals, etc.

I didn’t run much over Christmas. I just took some much needed R&R. I decided I do need to get my leg strength back up before my half marathon, and it’s not going to be pretty! 5 miles today, weather was amazingly beautiful. My speed is ok, but my endurance is kind of lack luster. I’ll need some extra cheering on race day!!

Have a great, stomachless evening!

Wow, not bad at all!! Almost forget I’m missing my stomach…

I can just about eat normal now. I’m trying to think back to the last time I had to spit up my food, and I can’t remember. It’s been quite some time. Those accidental large bites that used to come back up before seem to get forced down now. I’ve visited many restaurants lately where I don’t know where the bathroom is because I didn’t have to make a mad dash to it!

My portion sizes have really been fantastic the last several weeks. This 6-7 month mark must be the wonderful hurdle I’d heard about. I ate 1-2 cups of angel hair pasta with spaghetti sauce and two meatballs. I’m able to drink liquids leading up to meals, though it still seems easier to give my gut a break immediately following a meal. I usually

    try

to wait 30 minutes after a meal to drink liquids. Though, I have been able to drink water with spicy foods during meals.

I still do my protein shakes and they still can tear you up a bit. I still think they’re tough on the gut, but if I have a chunk of time between meals on the go, they can still fill a void. I only mix in water. I can also consume foods faster now, so I have to watch out for too much sugar. The other day I had Greek yogurt with a few blackberries and some granola. I think the granola put me over the top. I call it my “sugar comatose”, and I’ll figure it out.

I can drink several beers if I want to. I can also enjoy coffee. Before Christmas, I went to a party serving soups and chili. I was able to enjoy a creamy turkey soup, then a glass of wine, followed later on my some chili. There was a big gap before the chili, but I was impressed how well it all went.

I can finally out eat my children. We frequently tell them that if they are eating slower than mommy, they aren’t eating fast enough…they love to play with food and not actually eat. I still find it hard to instill good eating habits in my kids since I snack a lot. And snack food isn’t usually healthy for kids. I’ve found almonds are a good choice because I tell them they can have some, and they usually turn it down. Aka make your snack foods gross enough to kids that they don’t want a bite! 😉

Weight loss for the gastrectomy patient; weight gain for the spouse. Now that I eat smaller portion sizes, it’s easy for my hubbie to eat my leftovers. He thinks he’s packing on a few extra pounds in part thanks to my surgery. We’re also getting older, so a little metabolism slowdown is possible too.

I’m physically at full strength. I’m jumping on trampolines with the kids, helping lift Christmas trees, climbing on counters, etc. I have my half marathon Jan 19 and am completely undertrained, but unconcerned. I’ve run enough races, I know I can do it. I might not PR, but that’s ok. This isn’t my year for that. I’m just relaxing and super happy to be on vacation from work!!

Here’s to a happy, healthy, stomachless 2014.

Surgery delays….

I wonder if the stress in preparing for a total prophylactic gastrectomy makes us more susceptible to getting sick. My brother’s surgery has now been delayed because he too came down with some bug. The doctors don’t want you going into this surgery compromised in anyway. So my brother will get rescheduled and go through all the “impending surgery” stress another time. I wished he wouldn’t have to, but I want him to go into the surgery full strength too!

For me, this Saturday marks 6 months post op. I’ve noticed significant improvements in the last month with my ability to almost chug water and most of my food staying down. I can identify my “too much sugar” crashes easily. Today I ate a regular Greek yogurt and poured on the nature valley crunchy granola. Apparently I devoured it too fast and the protein to offset the sugars was not enough. I can work through it; closing my eyes for a minute or so seems to work.

I tried some beef on a burrito the other day. It was horrible. The beef was over cooked and was impossible to chew. So I ended up flipping out the beef and eating the other ingredients. Next time, I’ll opt for chicken. I have been able to eat meatloaf, though I have to go slow and really chew it down. I usually chew so much that I can find the ground up pieces of fat and discreetly put them in the trash or on my plate to the side. But I was hoping the iron of the meat would help me out, along with the protein. I’m holding strong to my theory of protein, protein, protein. This is hard as a bit of a carb-a-holic.

On the running front, I did 6 miles before work yesterday. It went really well. I’m so tired by the end of the night that it’s insane, but most same people’s alarm clocks don’t go off before 5AM. I know I need a big post of food strategies and my surgery prep recommendations, but I’m being lazy. Will try to do that another night.

Have a good night.

Food as Work

At this point post gastrectomy, the best way to describe the day-to-day is that food is work. Junk food and sugary stuff can make you feel hypoglycemic and cruddy, but they certainly are easy to chew, swallow, and never come back up.

I’m at the point now where if I focus enough and eat constantly, I have the ability to gain weight. Unlike folks with stomachs though, I never really have the power to overeat. The best way I describe it is like when people gorge themselves on a big Thanksgiving meal, except I can get that full from a whole sandwich and side.

For my new stomachless life, I am choosing my foods on what I think I can chew and keep down, especially if it’s out in public. I think I even chew more at restaurants in order to not have to run to the bathroom to spit it out. These incidents are becoming less and less, but it’s still in the back of my mind.

This morning I was feeling a bit ‘gastrectomy lazy’, ie tired of my constant focus on food, protein, calories, etc. And since I don’t ever feel that outright stomach pang of hunger, I was thinking how easy it is to lose weight post-gastrectomy. Suppose at some point, you’d get weak enough that you’d want to eat, but skipping meals to go do something fun is pretty easy. Thank goodness almonds are picking up the slack for me.

I will say today was the first time since my surgery I actually had the desire to bake. I baked up some pumpkin spice muffins, and they were delicious. A bit sugary, but tasty. I’m finding my body is rather quickly adjusting to sugars in food. Of course, sugars offset by protein is better and important, but I’m able to enjoy my baked goods. Super sweet desserts throw me into my “sugar coma”.

In general, I’ve found my desire to cook has gotten better lately. It’s a challenge and motivation to have small children to whom you’re trying to instill good eating habits. It probably doesn’t help on the nights where I just want to down some peanut butter and call it good. So I’ve been making an effort…even baked up some acorn squash the other night. My kids will have no shot at knowing green beans for a long time though because that is still one of the most difficult items to eat, along with corn.

Foods!
I tried a soup with lots of good vegetables in it this past week (zucchini, carrots, etc) and was able to eat them skins and all without them coming back up. That was a welcomed event. I will continue to try to integrate simple veggies into my diet.

I will say that an unexpected food to go down well has been pork products, when cooked right. I’ve had some very tender pork loin that I was able to enjoy with no issues. And tonight had some pork ribs that went down mostly fine. Since meats just pack in the protein and iron, I know that’s a good thing!

I will end this blog with a reminder that people take for granted what they have. Now that I don’t have a stomach, I think about how great and convenient it is to have one. But again, it’s nothing unmanageable. With the CDH1 mutation, I’d rather miss my stomach than have my family miss me forever.