13 Months post total gastrectomy

A lot of the Facebook group discussions talk about energy level, food and weight post TG… Also an improved look at life and getting out there tackling items on your bucket list. So here’s 13 months out and what my current view is on everything..

Energy level.. I’ve always been pretty aggressive with my schedule and manage to have a ton of energy. Though I still find that every once in a while if something disagrees with me, it’ll make me feel energyless for a good 10-15 minutes. If I’m at home, I just lay down or take it easy until “the fog lifts”. If I’m at work I can sort of walk it off.

When I get busy and am enjoying life, not feeling hunger is kind of bad. It’s super easy to lose weight when you don’t get that traditional feeling of hunger. And it’s hard to stop to eat with as long as it takes me to eat.
So after some vacationing, it’s time to go back to work so I can get back into my schedule and food routine.

Popcorn!! I can still put away some major volume of popcorn! Might not have all the nutrition, but sometimes a calorie is a calorie when you just want to hold your weight!! I was holding my weight well until our vacation, but I dropped some weight. It’s ok to eat all the time at your desk, but it’s harder to keep that up when you’re on the go. It’s also tough to eat every meal out where you feel bad for how slow you are, instead of just snacking away at your desk. My desire to “fill myself to the brim” every meal has gone away since I can usually hold my weight without the discomfort of getting that full. I hope to put some lbs back on in the next month and hydration has a lot to do with a few pounds here and there lost.

Vacation!! Remembering to stop your “busy life” and do the things that matter…my shout out to bucket lists. So we road tripped the family about 3000 miles round trip from Texas to the Grand Canyon and back. It was awesome and I’ve included pics below.

Scars after 1 year.. My scar looks amazing and I rock the two-piece bathing suit. The actual incision has faded so much you can hardly see it. I just claim my feeding tube and laparoscope incisions were bullet wounds because that sounds cool!!

Weight loss! My weight loss has stayed well controlled minus the vacation. This was not a lazy poolside vacation. This was a lot of hiking, an 11 mile Grand Canyon rim bike trip pulling a kid trailer and some eating in between all the cool stuff we did. My kids were exhausted! The only complaint I have is a desire to put on some more pounds… My shoulders look scrawny and my ribs show through too much. All in weight loss was from 126 to 114.

Life is pretty much busy and normal. I just get a reminder here and there that I don’t have a stomach.

Here’s some vacation pics.

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Today Marks One Year

One year since I proactively checked myself in for a surgery to remove my stomach because it was going to kill me. I underwent a surgery that had a crazy long recovery. And yet today life is darn near normal.

I eat healthy. I eat small portions. I eat slowly, and I chew thoroughly. Most foods have made it back into my diet, though some foods I’m more cautious with since they’re more cumbersome to chew or whatever the case might be.

I proactively start my gut with water, then protein. I make my small but perfect homemade egg muffin sandwich with cheese. I’m holding my weight well and able to run 3-6 miles 3 times a week, plus work full time and raise two beautiful children.

I focus on iron, protein and vitamins. I stay away from much milk unless it’s added to coffee or eggs for scrambling. I can do Greek yogurt now. I’ve added Cheerios as a snack for iron and vitamins. I’ve also been rocking a lot of expensive steaks because they are tasty, have iron and have protein. The best cuts of meat work cooked medium to medium rare because tendons and fat are hard to chew. The good cuts are easy to chew.

I can drink wine and beer. I have to watch restaurant margaritas because they must sneak sugar in them.

I always get a take home box from restaurants. But for lunch, the doggie box is just so I can finish lunch an hour later.

Sometimes I get tired, but most would expect that given my hours and everything I take in. I’m signed up for another half marathon in January.

Life is normal. I still miss my dad, but he’d be proud. My stomach will not kill me before my kids graduate high school. So my surgery has given the finger to my gene mutation, and I’m happy to have that option. It’s still in the back of my mind my kids have a 50/50 chance of inheriting this mutation from me. But I donate to non-profits that fund stomach cancer research in hopes that medicine in 20 years will give my kids even better options than what I’ve had.

So tonight, I’m thankful. I love life and seek out the adventures I’ve wanted for my and my kids. It’s awesome. I thank God for my extended lease on life. My scars have faded and most people’s response is, “Wow, they took your stomach out in that tiny incision!” My surgeon and MD Anderson are the best. And thanks to nostomachforcancer for research and networking folks together.

So that’s my normal life one year post op!

Frank Discussions between Stomachless Siblings

Yes, this post will explore some of the discussions my brother and I have had about how his recovery is coming along compared to mine. I have to say, no one’s recovery is exactly the same; but we did have the same surgeon & hospital here.

First difference, pre-surgery my brother read the directions correctly and drank half the bottle instead of the full bottle of the stuff that “clears you out”. Apparently I got rid of both good and bad stuff in my digestive tract, which we’re guessing is why I got thrush. Score one for my bro for reading directions correctly.

Second difference is he’s a boy & boys burn more calories. We both have high metabolisms, but just like when you exercise, the “calories burned” calculation gives men more calories burned for their exertion. My brother was tall and thin before surgery; now he’s tall and thinner. He’s actually slowly losing weight still because we’re thinking he needs 2400 calories a day. Having gone through gastrectomy recovery, my jaw drops thinking about that number. I struggled daily to push to a full 2000. I just don’t know if 2400 is possible. He’s at 4 months post op, but I saw most of my food portion volume gain around 6 months. At 4 months I could just eat a tiny bit faster. So we can only assume 2400 calories is the result of our family’s high metabolism and his gender.

Third difference was best quoted from him. Read aloud in a sarcastic tone: “Not everyone can have a gastrectomy and run a half marathon 7 months later. Some of us can’t add exercise at 4 months because all that extra movement means more food has to be eaten.” My brother loves me. He also knows I’m crazy, especially about running. And in most aspects of my life, I don’t tend to take no for an answer.

Fourth difference (might just be timing) is that if I eat close to bedtime and don’t prop my head/torso up for a while, I get bile creeping up in my esophagus….and it burns, is uncomfortable and wakes you up. My bro hasn’t had this yet, but his food volume hasn’t gone up enough yet. I’m wondering if he’ll have to watch out for this later on. Oddly enough, if I eat just oatmeal before bed, no reflux. If I eat most anything else (pirate booty, dry Cheerios, milk, chips, crackers…), I’ll have issues with bile. And I have no idea why…

Similarities include nutrition focus. Post gastrectomy it seems everyone is focusing on energy and nutrition. I still don’t feel full energy everyday, and sometimes after I eat something that disagrees, I’m down for the count for 15 minutes. Since I am trying to ramp up my running, I need to monitor my iron levels and general vitamins. I had iron-deficiency anemia during my pregnancies, so that is not new to me. I continue to strive for 60 grams of protein daily.

Our scars look pretty darn good. At a year out, my scars are fading. My brother’s scars are less red now and the feeding tube hole closed up completely a little while ago. We chat a lot about how it’s going for him. When people ask, my response is along this line…”He’s doing really well. He’s in the worst part of recovery where you’re tired of eating all the time, but you have to in order to hold your weight.” Then I describe calories and time…. “You know those lunchables, the small ones with just the meat, cheese and crackers? Well, that’s only 240 calories and after my surgery, it’d take me an hour to eat one. My bro needs 2400 calories, and when it takes an hour to eat a lunchable, you can imagine how often he has to eat.”

Those are my thoughts for the day. And also that June marks one year since my surgery. Crazy!!!

Small but Perfect II

So I get a bit focused on what yummy breakfast to eat after an early morning run. And again, the focus is on small volume but super yummy foods.

I’ve been savoring English muffins lately. So this morning, I made scrambled eggs, grilled the muffins with butter, topped off with a slice of tomato, a slice of mozzarella cheese, a dollop of grape jelly and a dash of salt… Voila! The perfect stomachless breakfast for me. On a side note, I do like an over easy egg as well, but scrambled is the only kind my kids like. So I make a big batch of scrambled eggs and reheat on busy mornings for 20 seconds in the microwave.

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On the exercise front, running is going very well. I just signed up for next year’s half marathon again!! My only battle now is laziness; getting up at 5AM seems to be the only way to incorporate exercise into my day. And I’m not much of a morning person able to hop out of bed! I never regret it when I do; it’s just the mental debate I go through while lying in bed and the alarm goes off so early.

I’m also trying to incorporate some Cheerios everyday in my diet to help battle what I think is a slight iron deficiency. (Cheerios have 45% of your daily iron. Not sure how much I absorb since my duodenum was bypassed and the majority of iron is absorbed there.) And I will try to take one iron supplement per week. I had noticed my nails bring more brittle than usual and believe it to be a sign of your iron level being low. I feel like I’m getting more energy as well. Will see how that goes.

Small but Perfect

I’ve found myself craving making complex tasty foods in the appropriate small portion sizes. I’d say it’s similar to Steve Dang’s post about beautiful food. (Shout out to Steve!) My food is certainly not beautiful, but it had all the wonderful flavors imaginable.

Here’s my hamburger slider with a creamy cilantro and a ketchup sauce, plus a slice of tomato and iceberg lettuce. I seasoned the ground chuck with Worceshire, garlic, salt and pepper. And I grilled the mini bun with butter…yum!

Here is my mini work of art! Specially sized for the stomachless crowd.

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How to Eat Chiptole Without a Stomach! 11 months post op

I do love Chiptole’s food, and I can now eat a hearty portion. The weather here has been amazing, and they have a patio, so count me in!!

It’s easiest to order the bowl so you cut the tortilla out. And the pork/carnitas seem to have always gone down the easiest. Also, the bowl is easy to take your leftovers and to reheat. Their portion sizes are giant!!

Since I can now eat raw veggies without them coming back up, I added the mild tomato salsa and a little bit of lettuce for some crunch!! I prefer black beans and go with the white rice. For calories, I go ahead and add sour cream and cheese….yum! I like the spicy salsa too!

Here’s what I ate and then took the rest home! All stayed down. No discomfort.

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Happy eating my stomachless friends. Remember, I’m almost a year post-op, so if you just had the surgery, this will be a bit much. This is just a sample of where I’m at 11 months after surgery!

Early Morning Susceptibility to Sugars

So you’d think that at almost 10 months post op, I would’ve figured out this whole post-gastrectomy diet thing. But my husband and I were discussing my sugar crash this morning…

It seems that for breakfast, I can’t have anything sugary at all. But later in the day I can handle some sugar. His argument is that when your body has fasted all night, it instantaneously absorbs whatever you eat in the morning. This morning I had my regular English muffin with butter and scrambled eggs plus a little jam. But I finished off 4-5 bites if my son’s Kellogg’s strawberry something sugary with milk and it threw me into a mild sugar crash for 10-15 minutes.

So that’s my assessment for today. I truly feel that my body had adapted really well so far. I can eat small meals, life is good. I’ve found that one protein shake in the morning with 2 scoops of muscle milk is the only big supplement I need with my kids multivitamin at night.

It generally keeps me at my crazy energy level (distance running included) and I try to eat well and incorporate some protein at every meal. Just watch out for the first meal of the day. Also water seems to get the whole digestive system going first thing in the morning.

So happy Sunday without a stomach. Clearly God didn’t want me to have a stomach. I’m not sure why, but He is good and my life is beautiful.

Marne

9 1/2 months post op

Eating just about everything!! As long as I chew a lot, most everything agrees!!

For my friend Steve, here are my grilled mahi mahi tacos with raw cabbage and fresh tomatoes with a cilantro lime sauce!! They were awesome and I could eat both in one sitting!! I forgot to take the photo until after I’d eaten the first one!!

And all this after some winery touring!

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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!