First Post Gastrectomy Race!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today was my first food-based holiday without a stomach, and every bite stayed down. If anything, the endless snacking that I associate with Thanksgiving is very conducive to not having a stomach. For the formal meal, I enjoyed a little of everything and my general portion size was pretty decent.

I participated in the local Turkey Dash 10K this morning. I’d say I’m very out of shape vs last year since I haven’t been keeping up with my usual training program towards my half marathon in January. But I’m super excited to say I rocked the race. It was my farthest distance since my surgery. It’s a small enough race and I’m just fast enough that I even managed to come in 3rd in my age group. I was absolutely elated! For comparison, last year I was in the 6:40 range. This year, I’ve slowly driven my pace back down to a 7:41. My husband and I chuckle that even with this surgery, I’m still fast enough to place in races.

It reminds me that your body can overcome and adapt quite well to this surgery. My eating is a bit of an odd circumstance, but I still enjoy watching a ton of cooking shows (irony, I know) and am still out there racing. With extra care and attention to my health, it is possible.

Have a great evening!

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.

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.

A little over 5 months post op

Post gastrectomy is a constant roller coaster. Generally right now, it’s going really good. My life is crazy busy in a good way, hence not much blogging.

The biggest challenge to post gastrectomy is how often you have to eat and how knitted into the fabric of society eating is. Meals are a bit of a roll of the dice. You can be marching along doing awesome all day and then end up spitting up your dinner because you didn’t chew it down enough. So you have to appreciate your victories and not let it get you down when a meal doesn’t work. This positive mentality is easier to put down in a sentence than to live out in real life.

I’m getting better at knowing what my body can and cannot handle. Apparently I can eat peanut butter M&Ms really well. I do have to watch sugars though, particularly when there’s no protein coupled with it. I think peanut butter M&Ms do so well just because the peanut butter has the protein. If I do eat too much sugar, I just feel like crap for 15-30 minutes until it passes. This doesn’t often happen to me now luckily.

I’m highly susceptible to caffeine. I drank an iced tea the other day that had caffeine and didn’t give it much thought. I ended up a jittery disaster afterwards. I had to eat some food to get past the jitters.

A few new additions to my diet:
Every type of almond
Grapes with skins (really cautious and chew a lot)
Tomatoes – cut off skins
Pineapple chunks
Pirate booty (I can shovel this stuff in my mouth and swallow it as if I had a stomach. It almost melts in your mouth.)

Major hydration victory: I can just about “chug” water!! I’ve also notice my portion sizes are expanding pretty well!

Running Victory: I was able to run 4.3 mi at an average pace of 8:01. So I’ve still got it. (Mostly I ran faster so I could get back for water sooner!) The run was everything it could be. I felt great, was able to hydrate well before and mentally needed the run to purge the craziness of the day out of my mind.

Life victory: I STILL beat cancer!