The Unintentional Extreme Taper

For my job, I had to pick out what week worked best to go away for a training course. I happily chose the week before the marathon since I thought it would be easiest to attend during the low mileage taper week before the race. There wasn’t much depth to my thoughts beyond mileage.

The week before training, I realized just how terrible my idea was. For the training, you have to stay at the hotel where the training takes place. It started at 5:50PM Monday night, finishing at 4PM on Thursday night. I realized I would be at the mercy of other people when it comes to what and when I eat for almost 4 days. In preparation, I packed 8 bags of nuts and prayed for the best.

The first night, we had some extremely dry fish. I was able to sop it up in some sauce and swallow it without it getting stuck in my throat. I thought, “Ok, so far, so good.” This was a healthy meal option, and I should be good to go. After dinner when we went back to training, my muscles started hurting and I started to feel sick. That evening turned into a sleepless night filled with the worst food poisoning I can ever remember experiencing. As this was happening, I was thinking, “Of course this would happen the week before my marathon.” The next day, it took until after lunch before I could hold any food down.  The word to describe that day was ‘weak’.

The remainder of our days were filled with set meal times and lengths. I had 30 minutes max for every meal. It was a stomachless person’s nightmare. When you did get to a meal, you weren’t sure what the food quality was regardless of how much you could actually consume during the meal time. I only ran one day for 3.5 miles. You could call this the ultimate taper before marathon day.

Jump forward to today. I am recovering from my exhaustion and weakness. I have spent the past few days shoveling as much protein and water as possible into my body. My husband said I lost a noticeable amount of weight this past week.

So, this is it. The night before, I sit here and blog while eating a banana with peanut butter. Have I done enough to recover my body and mind so that I can race well tomorrow in the heat and humidity?

For me, tomorrow will answer whether mind can truly win over body. My training had gone well up until now. I’ve spent my last days recovering my body through food, fluid and rest. Will it be enough? We’ll see tomorrow.

If you’d like to track me, the race has the instructions here:

Here is where I representated #StomachlessRunner2017 on their graffiti wall

and me alongside the long 26.2 mile route ahead of me tomorrow morning.

Chevron Houston Marathon – 10 Days Before Race Day

What a fun and exciting time before a marathon. I’ve finished my time-consuming, daunting long weekend training runs already. I’m just coasting on my shorter distance runs, playing with some faster paces to see what my body might be capable of. The tough training is now behind me with only the race itself ahead. I’ve built in extra pounds (119-122 lbs) to burn during the race. I’m downright giddy.

This year’s marathon was meant to be. Yesterday afternoon, it all started with an IM from a coworker. She saw me on a FB posting by the Chevron Houston Marathon with the title “10 Days to Go!”. Sure enough, there I am! This was a shot taken from my half marathon finish last year. So now, the girl who runs without a stomach has become one of many cover faces for the race! If only I could get the marathon to share my story to advocate for gastric cancer awareness.

So, let’s go do this!  Right now, the forecast is looking like it might be really hot. Current weather forecast models predict a 63 start temp. That might make for an extremely hot race. Then again, this is Houston. If you just wait 2 hours, the temperature might drop 20 degrees. We have spent the “winter” running our A/C one night, then running the fireplace the next. Fingers crossed we are blessed with a nice little cold front before race day. And if worse comes to worse, I will run with a sports bra and show off my sweet gastrectomy scar. Shout out to Dr. Paul Mansfield for one of the straightest and most beautiful little scars ever!

My family has blocked off the morning to support me. My husband has thoughtfully helped me build my strategy. We believe that mentally I should stay with the 3:30 pacer. My left IT band is causing me some concern, and I don’t know how well it will hold out. If halfway through the race I am feeling strong, I will always have the 3:20 pacer as my rabbit to catch. Bear in mind, 3:21 is my PR. Let’s go negative splits next Sunday! Here is the medal awaiting yet another milestone in post-gastrectomy life, motivation to cross that long-awaited finished line.




It’s Time to Run a Marathon without a Stomach

January of 2016, I finished my 3rd half marathon post gastrectomy. In the excitement of race day, I decided to sign up for the full marathon in January of 2017. Halfway through 2016, I was starting to doubt my decision. With 5 marathons under my belt, I am well aware of both the time commitment and calorie burn required for the 4-month training schedule prior to race day. How am I going to actually do this? The answer is friends.

Over time, I have met many running buddies just as crazy as me. Actually, some of them are even more dedicated than me. They might even run 4 miles before a 5AM run. These are inspirational people with a passion for running and a healthy, active life. It was these same running buddies who have inspired me to run the full marathon. They have been there at 5AM on Saturday mornings, shoes laced up and ready to put in the long mile runs together as a team. This morning with their camaraderie, we completed our longest distance pre-marathon day of 21.8 miles. With that milestone, I can say I have trained through the toughest distance run required prior to race day. We will taper our long runs down to 18 miles next weekend, then it’s just maintaining a more normal running week. I am now both mentally and physically prepared for race day. My goal time is 3:30 still, my same goal with my stomach. We’ll see if I can break that time on race day.

Back in July, I got another “nudge” that I was meant to race the full this year. I  opened my monthly update email for the race, skimmed it for any interesting information and deleted it. Later that day, I get that same email forwarded from my husband with an email chain to him saying “Is that your wife?”. Of the 25,000+ racers from Jan 2016, someone randomly selected my photo to throw into the email banner. Yes, that is me on the left. If that doesn’t mean I was supposed to race this year, I don’t know what does! Race day is Jan 15, 2017, and I will not be taking the left turn for the half marathon.

For race logistics, I’ll tell you about energy gels and water consumption. I am able to eat gu while I am running with no negative side effects.  For me while running and actively burning calories, I never encounter even a semblance of blood sugar problems. Without my stomach, the gu is absorbed more rapidly during the race, providing a near instant energy boost. Whereas when I had my stomach, the energy boost was delayed 10-15 minutes. I plan to take 3 gus during my race and utilize the water stops. I do find that it is harder for me to drink water during races. Plain water continues to be one of the most frustrating food/drink items to consume on the typical day. Everyone with stomachs has the luxury of gulping down their water. I very patiently pinch the cup so it doesn’t slosh all over me, then keep running while taking sips to get it all down.

I am about 3 1/2 years post surgery, and have been able to gain weight. I describe to friends that I am fat and happy. I will never forget how weak I was when my weight bottomed out at 103 lbs (46.7kg). Going through TG recovery gave me a new appreciation for a strong, healthy weight. This morning, I mentally noted how impressed I was to eat a small plate of eggs within 3 minutes. In my early post-op days, I had some very bad experiences with eggs getting stuck in my throat and taking many hours to get down. I can enjoy sweets in moderation now, and I can eat a good portion of a meal at dinner in the same time others finish their meal. This doesn’t mean I have the capacity to finish the meal, but I can eat the leftovers later. I still depend on snacks, and have to take special care to prioritize eating on days when I burn a lot of calories. I found a box of prepackaged nuts for on-the-go at Costco with salted almonds, unsalted almond, and salted peanuts. These plus peanut butter crackers tend to be blood sugar savers for me on busy days. I’m not sure what people think during a work meeting when I bust out peanut butter crackers like a little kid, but I’m not bothered.

And since it has been so long without a post, I was going to share a few highlights from our year. We took a family vacation to Seattle, so here I am off the Puget Sound.

Kyle and I needed a couples vacation to rest, relax, and recharge. Thanks to our wonderful family back home watching our kids, we were able to visit the beautiful beaches in Aruba.

And none of this is possible without all the support from my loving husband.

Have a Merry Christmas, and I will post my post marathon highlights.

A Beautiful Race

Sunday, Jan 17, the city of Houston hosted the Chevron Houston Full Marathon and the Aramco Half Marathon. It was a beautiful day with perfect running weather, no breeze, 40s-50s during the race, and a clear blue sky once the sun rose.Half Marathon marne

I was yet again blessed to participate in the half marathon. I was extremely disappointed with my race results last year because of my iron deficiency. This year I am in full health. But as I stood in Corral B unable to start in Corral A with my friends, a little part of me was kind of bummed out. Luckily the pre-race excitement was the main emotion I felt as I stood there just smiling about the day.

So, God always has a plan. I started talking to the fellow runner randomly beside me in the corral. His name is Andy, and I learned he was about to race in his first ever half marathon after having open heart surgery within the last year to repair a 100% blocked vein to his heart, commonly referred to as the “widow maker” since most people don’t survive the blockage. He had trained for the half marathon with his teenage daughter who is a cross country runner. But the morning of the race, she was in a wheelchair because they recently discovered she has something called POTS (Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome)

My jaw was hanging open just listening to his story. Starting, as well as racing this half marathon, clearly was a giant milestone in his life. These races are more than just feet pounding the pavement. For me, as well as so many others, the race is a line in the sand or a triumph we’ve accomplished. I didn’t race with him for more than a few miles but was able to look up his results afterwards. He crushed it exactly the way he wanted to. The human capacity to overcome obstacles and soar with even more appreciation for life is amazing.

One of the big reasons I started this blog in the first place was during the hours of searching online for post-gastrectomy capabilities. I couldn’t find any resources sharing about their abilities in athletic adventures. I went into my surgery following a marathon PR since I wasn’t sure if my running career was over or not. This year, I feel like screaming to the world, “I’m back!!!!!!!!!!”. Once I sorted out what vitamin supplementation I need to do and packed on quite a few extra pounds, I was able to run just as well as I have run with a stomach.

My husband and children waited for me near the finish line. They also met a man whose young daughter had just survived ovarian cancer. They felt blessed just to share stories with one another and what this race meant for the people overcoming their personal obstacle. He took the photos I posted as I was squinting to see and wave at my ever-supporting, wonderful family.

Half Marathon marne 2

I ran my half marathon in 1:39:15. This was only a minute off from my best half marathon time (with a stomach). My running days are far from over, stomach or not.

A Day in the Life of the Stomachless Runner

You’d think that 2 years out, there’d be nothing to blog about. But everyday is new and different. Today I was reflecting on my day…all in all quite a pleasant day, but with quite a bit of gastric discomfort, mostly a result of my own poor food choices.

It all started out in the morning. I managed to keep the motivation to get up early and get out the door for a run this morning! Hooray! I’m in a life phase right now where my running needs to happen long before normal people wake up, otherwise it doesn’t happen or gets in the way life and family. And since I’m usually tired, I sleep as long as possible, fall out of bed, throw on some running clothes and get out the door. Of course, one of the dangers of running first thing in the morning is the lack of bathroom stops that are actually open! (I know many runners who have stomachs who have the same dilemma, so maybe this is purely a runner’s issue…)

The night before, I did not eat well. I had a piece of fried chicken with a scoop of potato salad and some fruit. I wasn’t at my house, and my water cup was cleaned up by the time I was ready to drink again. So when I got home later, I tried to catch up on my thirst, but it was a bit too late. When I woke up in the morning I was clearly dehydrated, so much so that I went ahead and drank a half bottle of water quickly. (I know better before an early morning run…)

So I happily get my legs warmed up with the first mile and then my gut just kind of wrenches. It’s the kind of discomfort that actually makes me stop to walk because it’s so uncomfortable. I made the decision to go ahead and turn around and book it home. Good plan!

Then I got to drink some water, felt better and went on with my day. I’ve been a bit obsessed with coffee brewed via a French press. I do believe it might be the best cup of coffee ever! And I’m pretty sure that since cutting my stomach out of my body, I am more obsessed with good, quality foods when I have time and control over it. So my coffee with cream and stevia was unbelievable as usual.

I ate a sausage, egg & cheese kolache at work. Then late morning, I ate some leftover rotisserie chicken and a banana with peanut butter. Late afternoon, I ate a mini turkey and cheese sandwich on a bread roll. I prefer to just eat at my desk all day long, since it’s easier on me to just work and eat at the same time. It’s a stomachless person’s dream.

Here’s a few tips and tricks I’ve learned (and need to remember for myself):

  1. Eat oatmeal before bed, but not too much.
    1. It seems to help ward off middle-of-the-night bile and slow your digestive track for your early morning run
  2. Don’t drink a lot of water before bed.
    1. This seems to be the main culprit behind the bile that wakes me while sleeping
  3. Be hydrated the night before so you don’t have to drink water in the morning before a run.
    1. Your digestion seems to wake up after you wake up
    2. Running seems to wake up digestion even more
    3. and drinking water seems to get it moving even faster
    4. The above is the perfect trifecta for a trip to the restroom
  4. Exercise
    1. I feel better when I’ve gotten exercise 3-5x per week.
      1. This might just start out as a simple walk early post total gastrectomy. You can get back to what you want further out from surgery
  5. Blood sugar
    1. Your stomach was a buffer between what you put in your mouth and your digestive tract. Once you say goodbye to your stomach, ratably supplying your body with food is up to you to manage.
      1. Your blood sugar can drop low if you haven’t snacked, much the same way your blood sugar can spike when you eat too much sugar.
    2. Always keep a protein-packed snack somewhere nearby for when your blood sugar unexpectedly drops. When I notice my hands start shaking and feel ‘off’, I immediately eat protein. I tell my kids, “Mommy has to eat right now. I’ll be with you in a few minutes.”
  6. Start your day with protein
    1. If possible, eat eggs for breakfast
      1. If you eat out for breakfast, watch out for the “fake egg” places that serve what they call eggs but have so much grease it surprises you
      2. I had a lot of trouble keeping down scrambled eggs early on, but now they are a “go-to” food for me.
  7. When eating meals with others, use context clues for how long it’s “supposed” to take normal people to eat
    1. At this time, just get a to-go box and finish the rest 30min to an hour later
  8. When eating out, prioritize what food on the plate you eat first
    1. Protein first
    2. Fruits and veggies
    3. Simple  carbs last (typically become the leftovers you take home)
  9. The further out from surgery, the less you need to snack, but…
    1. Big meals can be uncomfortable
    2. You can have spikes in blood sugar
      1. Up – when your body is digesting that giant mass of food
      2. Down – before you eat again
  10. Be positive
    1. When I run marathons, I’ve realized (to quite a big extent), your brain tells your body what it can do. Keep this spirit in post-gastrectomy life. Everyday won’t be rainbows and flowers, but push through and remember the big picture. Mind over matter.
    2. Go and see the world. Travel now. Love on your family. If you want to see or do something, plan it and do it. No more indecision. Don’t put it off any longer.
  11. If you drink water near a meal, water before a meal seems easier than water after a meal.
    1. It’s almost as though your digestive tract doesn’t want you to accelerate the food through your gut with water.

Summary list of go-to foods today

  • Egg
  • Pistachios, almonds, peanuts
  • Salmon
  • Cheese slice
  • Peanut Butter
I hope this list and these thoughts help you. Small, frequent healthy meals are best for feeling good. I still enjoy ice cream and sweets without too many issues. I just watch my portion size and it seems to go ok. I can tell when it’s “almost too much”.
Here are a few photos from my trip with the family this summer to Alaska. Such a blessing to be able to share such a beautiful place together. Alaska was designed to remind us just how big and beautiful the world is.
DSC_0287 20150720_190352127_iOSHave a great day! Can’t believe it’s been almost 2.5 years since my gastrectomy!!

But You Don’t Look Like You Had Cancer

Blogging is a great way to reflect on where I’ve been, where I’m at and where I’m going.

At this phase in recovery, a lot of people around me in life don’t realize I don’t have a stomach. And when I do mention it, I feel like I’m weird for even having said anything. Lately I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain my circumstance when necessary in the ‘condensed elevator speech’ version that doesn’t make me or them feel so awkward.

So a few weeks ago, I was lucky to be able to attend No Stomach for Cancer’s Spotlight on Gastric Cancer event in Philadelphia with Dr. Parry Guilford as the keynote speaker. It was an awesome conference with great insight into the future of the medicine for CDH1ers. I learned about a possible future cancer prevention pill which would attack mutated e-cadherin. This means that in 15 years, CDH1 mutation patients could keep their stomachs and live!!

I got to meet my fellow stomachless blogger Rachel and her energetic stomachless mom!!

On the way, a lot of people from Houston were flying to Philadelphia for the larger conference hosted by the American Cancer Society. I’d bet most people heading there were researchers or worked for the pharmaceutical companies.

When a man on the plane asked me a simple question, here’s how the conversation went:

Him: “Oh, why are you going to Philadelphia?”
Me: “I’m going to a gastric cancer conference.”
Him: “Oh, are you in research?”
Me: “No.”
Him: “Oh, then you’re a doctor!”
Me: “No, actually I’m a patient.”
Him: Look of astonishment, turning to feeling a bit awkward for having asked the question.

I am fairly young. I consider myself to look pretty healthy, somewhat athletic, and maybe too skinny. So when people see me, they don’t think I look like someone who had cancer or who is missing a stomach. How do you explain your circumstance to people who feel your physical appearance is incongruent with what you’re telling them?

Here’s conversation two, as I was picking up my young son from after-school care:

Son (while nonchalantly playing with a toy): “Yeah, my mommy doesn’t have a stomach. Yeah, she had it removed so she could have me.”
Older girl classmate: Look of absolute confusion. Looks toward the teacher for an explanation.
Teacher: Look of even more confusion. Looks at me, looks confused back at the confused girl, looks at my son who thinks everyone knows you can live without a stomach.
Me: Awkward laugh.. “Yes, he’s telling you the right thing. I don’t have a stomach. I had my stomach removed. It wasn’t so I could have kids though”
Teacher: Still confused. “What?”
Some silence
Me: “It was because of cancer.”

I don’t feel like I had cancer. My gastrectomy got all my cancer out before it became a problem. It was curative with no chemotherapy. I don’t feel like I can “claim” I had cancer, but quite frankly it seems to be the simplest explanation that most people can get their head around. And everyone knows that cancer sucks.

And the conversation I have at work every week or so. Most stomachless folks will smile as they read this because I’m sure they can relate.
person: “Can I come to your desk to discuss XYZ topic?”
me: “Sure thing. I’m here.”
person (sees remainder of food I need to finish at some point): “Oh, I’m so sorry. You’re eating. I can come back.”
me: “Oh no!! Just ignore the food. I kind of just eat all day. I promise it’s not a problem.”

Maybe I’ll get better at explaining my circumstance as time goes on, but for now it’s just a bit strange when it comes up.

Onto regular life, as I continue to supplement iron multiple times a day (with vitamin C to increase absorption), my strength continues to grow. I’m able now to work out 4 days a week, and I think I’m holding to gaining weight. (Yes, my scale actually broke, and I haven’t replaced it.) The current routine I’m trying out is an attempt to include my love of running with some more strength classes. I run 5-6 miles 2x a week, then take a bodypump class and a boot camp class (which is more like athletic conditioning). I can tell I’m gaining muscle strength; I don’t have a trainer to tell me what I’m accomplishing in body composition, but I can tell. And during my workouts, I can tell that my strength is growing. I’m able to lift more, sprint harder, complete the entire class without feeling like giving up. This is a great place to be at now. I’ve notice my growing strength is really helping my running pace again, much to the chagrin of my running friends who have to push to keep up with my increasing pace. Haha!!

My regular pants from before my gastrectomy fit me again. 6 months post surgery, I had lost so much weight and muscle mass that I was swimming in all my clothes. Now I feel like I’m back!

On the food front, a blog commenter Jeff mentioned I focus on food more now. I’d have to agree. Ironically, my gastrectomy has made me more appreciative of good, quality foods with lots of flavors. If you can eat good quality proteins, add all the flavorful elements and feel good afterwards, it’s a big win! You appreciate everything that tastes good, makes you feel good and stays down. Not many people have had to go through an extended phase of not being able to hold food down, so they can’t quite appreciate what it means to eat food and keep it down.

On the life front, I’m happy. My CDH1 diagnosis focuses me on what truly matters in life. I don’t think about it everyday, but it sits in the back of my mind. It gives me a good reminder to push away what doesn’t matter. I strive to strike the right balance between God, family, my health, and work. So long as I keep my iron up, I seem able to keep up, although a bit hectic at times. I try to remember everyday to build up the people around me and remember they too have a story. People and true relationships matter. And everyone has a story.

One final note to articulate just how everyone has a story. I met some new folks for a group run last week. One guy was faster, so we ran ahead for a great run!! I chat while I run and got onto the subject of not having a stomach. (The good thing about distance running is I had plenty of time to explain my story!) We were talking about genetics, its link to cancer, medical protocol and more. As we were talking, he mentioned how odd it was to hear my story. He then proceeds to tell me that his mom was diagnosed with esophageal cancer many years ago. She was told she would live 1.5 years without surgery, but with surgery could live 3 years. He pushed his mom to have the surgery because he wanted his mom with him for the full 3 years. After the surgery, his mom had so many complications that she passed away within one year anyhow. He felt guilty. He said, “I think about my mom a lot when I go running.” I said, “Yeah, I understand. I think about my dad a lot when I go running too.”

Everyone has a story.

Let’s Talk Iron Deficiency Anemia

It’s been a while since my last post, and life is busy as ever. I can hold my weight and have been focusing lately on hydration, quality foods and exercising. I do eat all the time, both a blessing and a curse. I’m still the skinny girl who indulges in the candy and seems to always be eating, but is still skinny. (This generally makes people mad!) As my life has moved forward, some folks know I have a stomach and others do not. It seems like too long and complex of a story to explain to most people in a short time.

My kids make fun of me for being such a slow eater. But honestly, forcing our family to take time to eat and enjoy our food isn’t a bad thing. It might take me a while, but it forces quality family discussion over food. I could think of worse things to happen. I’ve been attending the kids’ Valentine’s parties, planning a skiing vacation and keeping up with life. Life is still full of so many blessings, it is just wonderful.

The one big reminder I still have about not having a stomach is food getting stuck. As long as I chew well and try to never rush food, I’m fine. I try to stick to this theory. But every once in a while, I eat too big of a bite and it gets stuck. I salivate like Pavlov’s dog and go spit somewhere. Not very attractive, I know. But it’s one of those things I can deal with. It doesn’t happen often, and when it does, I just stop eating until I can tell it has passed. What’s interesting is that my brother never has this. If a food doesn’t agree with him, he experiences gastrointestinal discomfort more so than having to throw up.

Girl Scout cookie season has arrived, and I’m currently testing a question: “How many thin mints can I eat in one setting before I sugar crash or get dumping syndrome?” So far, I’m able to consume like 12 cookies and still be ok. It’s craziness. I think four thin mints have 8 grams of sugar, so that’s pretty impressive. I never could’ve managed that much sugar early post surgery.

Now onto the main topic… iron deficiency anemia! Woohoo! Are you as excited as me?

Anyhow, I went to see my surgeon, and they did a general blood screen. My gastrectomy by-passed my duodenum, where I have read most of the iron is absorbed into your body. This puts me at risk of anemia. I had been feeling incredibly tired and when I ran, it felt like my muscles just weren’t responding the way I am accustomed. I also looked up symptoms, of which I had pretty much everything: cracked corners of lips, sore tongue (think tongue on fire after eating incredibly spicy food), pale skin (paler than my usual pasty white), some mental fogginess and bad skin. I felt like the walking example of iron deficiency anemia, so I started adding an extra daily supplement of ferrous sulfate (This was a leftover over-the-counter supplement which I had taken during my pregnancies). I started feeling better and am still continuing feeling better even today. My energy levels are coming up, and I don’t feel exhausted all the time. My blood screen came back after 1.5 weeks of daily additional supplementation and I had a 9.1 hemoglobin count. I’m not sure exactly where you should be, but the pretty chart had a trend line with a reference point of 12. I assume you should be above a 12 to be in good shape. You could see my hemoglobin trendline just plummeting….into exhaustion.

So now I’m adding the daily supplement for 2 months to see if I can get back on track. The trouble with nutritional deficiencies is remembering just how long it takes you to get this deficient and then how long it will take you to get back. The struggle I have is the act of actually taking the supplement. When I take the full iron supplement, I don’t always feel good. It’s almost like a “sugar crash” feeling where you just want to go and lay on the couch. But I found out that if I cut the pill in half and take it in two separate, smaller doses, I don’t feel sick.

So far, my energy levels are up, my muscles feel like they’re starting to give me a bit more in my workouts, and my skin is starting to clear up. I will be continuing to watch this trend. My guess is after my iron is at acceptable levels, I’ll need to figure out exactly what a “maintenance volume” might be. Would it be 2 supplements per week or just 1? I will have to find out!!

On a side note, I completed my second half marathon without a stomach in January!! It was not my best time by any stretch of the imagination, but I got it done! I was tired at the start and didn’t have a running buddy. I FaceTimed my children 5 miles in, which made a lady running by me think I was crazy and talking to myself. 🙂 I was pretty bummed about a 1:54 finish time, but my surgeon bailed me out with good excuses. He said running with iron deficiency is like strapping weights to your arms, feet and then throwing a backpack on for good measure. The iron in each blood cell is what transports the oxygen to your muscles and takes away the carbon dioxide. If you have a deficiency, it’s like pulling a sub compact car up to transport passengers instead of the planned megabus. It’ll take twice as much blood to accomplish the normal oxygen delivery. So my excuse for this year’s half marathon will be iron deficiency anemia. I plan to correct this problem and try again next year!! (I’m already signed up.)

Sometimes it’s just about looking fast!

What’s better than a pre-race selfie?

So that’s a few thoughts about 20 months post gastrectomy. Thanks for following the blog!

Pretty lucky, Pretty Normal – 18 months Post Total Gastrectomy

So, the Houston heat is finally on its way out. And I made it out this morning for a run. It was foggy and probably 99.9% humidity. So much moisture in the air that water droplets formed on my eyelashes while i was running. I was jogging in the dark with streetlights to light the pathway, thinking I’m pretty lucky. Here I am, doing life, getting my quiet time in the morning, just running the block. (A little voice in the back of my mind was also thinking my pace has slowed since I’ve been taking it easy.)

I am still able to keep up with life. My concerns now are the same as anyone. Am I spending my time the right way, with the people in my life I love? Am I focusing on what really matters? Am I taking care of myself: extra iron, plenty of protein, enough sleep, exercise, time for rest and relaxation?

Life at 18 months is good for me. I do snack all the time because if I eat too fast or too much, certain foods can make me feel bad.

Foods I take my time with (consume half, wait 15 min, consume 2nd half):

  • greek yogurt
  • 6 oz glass of 2% milk
  • lunchable
  • really fatty foods – think nachos with loaded greasy queso

Foods that just go well

  • Spaghetti with sauce or meat sauce
  • Lasagna
  • Non-processed homemade meal (meat + veggie + starch)

Foods that go ok, but chew well

  • hamburger
  • tomatoes or veggies/fruits with skins

Hit or miss foods

  • Reheated chicken (no clue why I’ve had problems with this. It’s the reheating…
  • Rice – Can go ok or can get stuck
  • Chugging water really fast – just gets stuck (this is when I forget I’m missing a stomach)
  • Raw bell peppers
  • Pickles – the skins

I’m sprucing up the blog a little bit, adding categories and trying to focus on what will help fellow CDH1ers or folks who have had or are going to go through a gastrectomy. Since life at this point is so far from gastrectomy, I’ll likely focus on food, exercise, health & living life to the fullest.

Have a great night!

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!

My First Stomachless Half Marathon

It was a glorious success!! I took 3 Gus during the race and took water at each water stop. The Gus were much needed for energy and caffeine since I don’t shovel enough food in fast enough beforehand!

I ran 1:39:55, 7:37 min/mi. Clearly the removal of my stomach has not substantially impacted my pace! Awesome!! It was a beautiful day for a race. I felt really great my first 10K but was pushing my energy for the last 4 miles or so. I will need to continue to gain some lbs so I have some extra fat stores to burn during these races.

After the race:

Either way, today was a post-gastrectomy success; a race in honor of my brother’s journey to recovery and all my fellow stomachless friends out there! It IS possible.

Have a great evening.