18 Miles Strong

This morning was my 18 mile taper run, the first reduced long distance run before the race. Next weekend, we dial it back down to 14! I tagged along with a nice group of runners to enjoy a cool, misty morning. Now, I’m onto Christmas cooking, a little chicken noodle soup for lunch, followed by The Santa Clause movie night with friends and neighbors.

I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

What Does Life without a Stomach mean to me? 1.5 years post-op

Life is moving on. What else does being stomachless mean to me? It’s kind of like this quiet journey I’ve overcome in life. It’s been a check for myself from God to remind me of what really matters and just how lucky I am for everyday I live in good health.

I do wonder what it would be like if the CDH1 gene had been found in the early 90s and what that would’ve meant for my dad. I think how lucky I am that medicine has come so far that I can live a normal life and have beat this familial cancer that took my grandma, father, aunt and others. My brother is still frustrated trying to keep his weight up with his high metabolism and the need for 2500+ calories per day to hold his weight. He will be a year out from his surgery in a few weeks, and constantly eating gets very, very old during that recovery. But his dedication, focus and determination are holding his weight. He will be able to gain weight soon, I know and I pray. At the end of the day, we both understand this is the long recovery journey and that it is worth it.

My everyday is much simpler now. I don’t have to get so crazy about snacks. If I do run 5-6 miles in the morning, I’ll make sure I add more snacks that day so I don’t lose weight. I don’t really get that hunger pang, but I do feel weak or realize when my hands start to shake because I haven’t eaten enough. I can drink alcohol, can eat most everything in moderation. I still struggle with fatty simple carbohydrates, ie any crackers, potatoe chips, etc. I can eat them, but not a whole lot of them. The same goes for sugars… I can have sugar, but I have to moderate my intake of sugars.

I need iron and protein, and that is clear from how I feel. The more I focus on those (and B vitamins), the all-around better I feel. So my day-to-day is an attempt at healthy eating, but that certainly doesn’t always happen. I find it CRITICAL to start my day off with protein, so I lean heavily on scrambled eggs to start out. And I still love oatmeal. I can eat a GIANT portion of that (10% of your daily iron intake) and feel really great, not too full, not crummy, just really good.

So long as I’m eating well, I have lots of energy to keep up with my family. I’m motivated again to cook and enjoy the foods. Now that food isn’t such the central focus in my life, it’s more enjoyable. Although spending a year ensuring you eat snacks all the time almost makes you TOO focused on foods. So when you can consume regular portion sizes again, you have to actively reduce snacks because you are consuming a lot. My husband commented I’m now eating more than a lot of people and my portion sizes are bigger than some folks. I still have my high metabolism for sure. And yes I get no sympathy for that, but it was definitely a challenge during the first year of recovery plus my running habit. 🙂

My goals for 2015 include healthy eating, more home-cooked meals, a regular workout routine (been getting lazy), remembering to give my children drinks during meals since I don’t drink and eat at the same time, finding a general practitioner to watch my vitamin levels and trying to be a less snappy wife and mom. I do think my imbalances with nutrition have led to me to be more easily frustrated and more likely to snap during the day. I’m working on this, and I think balanced nutrition is a critical element.

So, that’s life 1.5 years post-gastrectomy. I had the pleasure of meeting someone 9 years post-gastrectomy the other day. He’s completely normal and just picks and choses what he eats in a sitting. He commented that he asked the waitor to take his water away during a meal because that night he was going to have wine. And when there’s only so much space, you just have to make choices what you will consume. The waitor did give him a funny look, but most people don’t think like someone without a stomach.

So that’s all for me for now. I might not be a regular blogger now that life is busy and less about recovery. But I made a promise to myself that I’d maintain this blog for the long haul since there was a lack of folks posting about multi-years post gastrectomy.

Taco soup dinner is ready, so I’ll upload photos later.

9 months post op & My latest 10K

I’m about 9 months post op now and am continuing on well with life. Life is normal; food is still constantly on my mind. But I haven’t thrown anything up in a while (aka food getting stuck) & my portion sizes are improving.

I’ve been able to put on some weight lately because I do look very thin. And I can run multiple times every week, 4-6 miles each time. I’d say my energy is good, but not 100%. My vitamin D levels are normal, B12 is high and protein stores (prealbumin) dropped lower again. I continue to work to incorporate protein into every meal…Greek yogurt, protein shakes, chicken, beans, etc. I plan to ask my nutritionist to do another follow up on my bloodwork to see if there’s any improvement.

For my friend Steve, I was even able to enjoy shrimp & avocado sushi. I enjoyed some jalapeño poppers for an appetizers and took half the sushi home to enjoy at lunch the next day.


My 10K last weekend was rough. The weather here was 70s and humid! And since the race didn’t start until 9:20, it just got hotter. I had to walk almost every mile for a few seconds and drank a sip of water at each water station. The race usurped all my energy that day. Hydration is key!!

So that’s 9 months without my stomach!! Have a great day!

An excuse to get some new pants

My weight is very stable now, and I think I can gain some pounds without as much work now. That leads me to my blog title… I need some new pants.

I got a few belts a few months ago, but most of my work pants look like they’re far too big (the belts are helping). This is another topic that you don’t get any sympathy for because you have the problem most people would love to have.

It’s ok because I have an excuse to go out and get some new clothes. I’d factor that into your post-surgery expense list!

Have a great day!

6.5 months post op

Odd blog title, I know. But I wanted to blog my latest, and it’s about halfway between 6 and 7 months. I’d say it’s still going very well. I’m pretty happy with my current weight. It’s been stable for several months now. I even gained a pound! I think it’s a slow fade from high school thru college and 2 babies…you slowly put on a pound here or there without noticing. I’m probably the same weight I was in high school now. (Just remember, I wasn’t considered overweight going into this surgery, but I was at my top non-pregnant weight.) I would be ok putting on a few more pounds here and there if it happens just so my shoulders aren’t so bony and my ribs aren’t quite so visible.

I’m totally back to my old ways of getting lost in DIY stuff in my house. I took off for Christmas for a stay-cation, and I have a tendency to take on more projects than I have time for. Immediately post surgery, I didn’t have the energy to do that and it just took so many snacks to keep up with weight. But now, I’m able to revert to my crazy ways, to the chagrin of my hubbie sometimes. I can chew on a mini bagel with peanut butter or eat some eggs fairly quickly for breakfast. Then some water, followed by my protein shake (I’m still drinking muscle milk because it’s a bit more fat and calories with the protein. I only mix it with water because milk is just too much.) I’m able to get big projects done without my meals having to dominate my day. This is so awesome!!

It is still hard to get as much protein as I know I need. This seems critical post gastrectomy. It’s the only deficiency I had my last blood draw, and I’m curious if it’ll be low again. The plan is to run my bloodwork after my half marathon in January. I try my best by keeping up with a protein shake and almonds. I still eat peanut butter M&Ms (call if my downfall, but at least there’s some protein.)

The only times I have trouble with food getting stuck is when I try to rush my eating. And when I’m in DIY project mode, I never rush because I bring the food with me. I take a bite and chew away while either painting, installing faucets, or ‘fill in the DIY blank’. Now, I beat cancer and even get to learn about plumbing and electrical!

I generally know what foods work for me and what types of foods don’t work. Vegetables have to be well cooked and then they’re fine (soups are great for that! Minimize the broth you swallow because it’s filling. I’m able to drink the broth now, but when I start feeling full, I just eat the main soup contents.). Frozen breaded meats don’t work; if chicken is fresh breaded and fried, I’m ok. The clearly healthier option of marinated, baked chicken goes well and heats up pretty well. I can do any mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, etc. I like puréed foods for its pre-chewed factor, but it’s not necessary. The hardest thing is going out to parties where you don’t know what food will be there or analyzing a restaurant menu for what you perceive will be best to eat. I’m doing so well that no one would know I don’t have a stomach unless I told them. They just think I have a lot of self control to eat small portions…if they only knew! Ha!

Bile reflux is gross. I only have trouble with it when I do the wrong thing…eat food 5 minutes before going to bed. I think I learned my lesson last night. I never had much heartburn except with the last month of each of my pregnancies, and bile reflux seems similar to that to me. It’s completely preventable for me though, so I have to say it’s all my fault for my own bad decision.

My scars are looking better and better. They’re pretty minimal and I’d say I am tempted to cover them up with a tattoo. Who knows, I’m kind of chicken though.

God continues to strengthen me through all of this. If I ever wonder why I have this gene, I am reminded over and over that I’m blessed to know in advance. No chemo, no radiation, a curative surgery.

Better portion sizes!!

So I’ve noticed I’m able to eat decent-sized meals. Today I ate half a gyro wrap with a side of hummus and enjoyed some pita chip appetizers. For dinner, I was able to eat 2 bean tamales and a cup of taco soup. These last two weeks, I can really eat a meal. It’s been really awesome. As long as I just drink water before (since I’ve gotten into such a snacking habit), I’m able to eat a good-sized portion.

As long as I don’t drink water during my meal and don’t go crazy with appetizers, I can eat a meal. This is major progress!!

I’ve been slacking on my running a little bit. Mostly feeling tired lately and being too lazy to get out for my run. My hope is I’ll get up to 8 or so miles before the half marathon and just gut it out. (Yes, that was my hilarious pun) Hopefully that’ll work!! Too much going on to squeeze everything in and not run myself into the ground.

Have a good evening.

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!

Running NYC Central Park!

There’s a new term I’ve read about called sightrunning. It’s where you tour a city just by running it. I did that this morning and wanted to share. It was beautiful and I was motivated to get the full 5 miles in. Wore my Boston marathon shirt but felt like a bit of a nerd running so slow while wearing it. Oh well, I’ll use my “I don’t have a stomach and am out of shape” excuse. So if you’re having a bad stomachless day, remember the good days come too.

I will say being stomachless touring through NYC can be frustrating at times. I’ve only had 2 meals fail, one worse than the other. The first one, I needed to “spitup” and was looking for the bathroom frantically and then found out it was locked. That was not cool. The other place, I found a bathroom but wasn’t able to eat anything further. All my other meals have gone fine. Again, it’s just when I get excited about how tasty some food is and one bite goes down too big. But I am able to slowly eat and enjoy all the flavors of my food here.

If anything, this city is well designed for the stomachless because you can always get a snack on just about every corner. So the constant snacking works out well. I’m a total sucker for the roasted almonds.

Here I am in Central Park.


Vitamins and Supplements

I realized I hadn’t spoken to what vitamins/supplements I’ve taken post surgery. Well, here goes…. Generally, I think it’s best to get nutrition from food, but I think multivitamins fill gaps. And since my focus now is on calories, not necessarily quality, it must be more critical now. On the flip side, I’ve also heard it just makes our pee expensive.

I will preface this post with a link to a very disturbing article about the unregulated supplements industry (I don’t think this is as relevant to multivitamins, but the article was disturbing). My takeaway is if you’re in the US, make sure it says ‘FDA approved’. The rest is unregulated. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/25/bodybuilding-supplement-designer-matt-cahill-usa-today-investigation/2568815/

So before my gastrectomy, my monster multivitamin pill would wrench my gut if I didn’t take it with a meal. So, I’d slowly grown into the habit of just taking 2 of my kids’ gummy vitamins. Seems to work for me now. And initially the thought of a big pill to swallow with new gastric plumbing was quite horrifying, so it was better than nothing.

So I was using my protein shake to ensure my vitamin intake beyond the gummies. I figured it has an array of vitamins in it as well to top up what I’m missing, but of all the things I eat, I’ve recently noticed I feel cruddy/slightly nauseous afterwards. I might try some other brands and see how it goes. I’ll post about that later what I figure out. Now that I haven’t done protein shakes the past few days, I worry I might fall short on protein or vitamins. Hopefully another shake will agree. And with time, I can do the bigger pills. (If you’re wondering, I can get down tablet ibuprofen and other small tablet OTC medicines ok. I just have to be careful it stays down because I’m cheap and don’t want to waste them. I was told to just stay away from the extended release capsules because our meds don’t stop in the stomach so we don’t need the delay.)

Onto B12 specifically… My doctors said my cells had enough B12 stores since I’m healthy to last 6 months. I’m the theory of let’s get it started now because I need my energy. I’ve started taking “sublingual B12 drops”. (read: under the tongue) Actually tastes good (far better than that horrible thrush medicine). Though it is red, so brush teeth afterwards. If you haven’t read up on gastrectomies and wonder why am I talking just about B12… B12 is the only vitamin that is solely absorbed in your stomach. So you have 3 choices post op for B12 supplementation. Drops are OTC, the cheapest option & no shots! Hooray!!

Vitamin D and Calcium… We asked what the long-term health concerns were about not having a stomach. Our surgeon quickly responded long-term worries were just about having enough Vitamin D and calcium. Just like concerns for old age. Ugh!

Ok, those are my feelings on vitamins. Have a good evening.

Wicked Date Night

Just keep trying. That’s the motto today. It is going well for me, and I want that to be an inspiration for others.

Tonight, kids have a babysitter and we’re off to see Wicked. Decided to try Olive Garden for dinner beforehand. I’m admittedly unmotivated about the thought of food, so I told the hubbie to pick and laughed saying he would get more enjoyment out of the whole thing so he should choose. Cue remark, “Oh great. Is this what eating out with you will be like for the rest of our lives?” I had a smart remark back of course. But we went out to eat and quite enjoyed it. Was scared I didn’t want to puke in public and chewed so slowly. Patience paid off. I slowly ate & nothing came back up. I think people probably think I have an eating disorder now when they wait on me. Lol

Here’s how it went.

Short wait, so got a Blue Moon. I loved wheat beers before and still love them now.


Then my first venture at lettuce! It was a tiny portion but so tasty in all that dressing!


Had one bruschetta with 1-2 tbsp spinach artichoke dip. Then I got my half toasted beef ravioli, half mushroom ravioli with marinara (They were so kind to make up my meal as differently as I requested vs the actual menu.). They were both so yummy, though toasty takes more chewing. With all that food, I was able to eat 2 mushroom raviolis and 1 toasty beef. Ate a 3rd mushroom ravioli in the car to the theater because I like improvisation & that’s how I roll! I figure why not in a city that at one time had the highest number of restaurants per capita in the states!

And here was the rainbow on the way in town…

And final photo, I promise. Here we are at intermission!! Much needed fun night out!


So, my life without a stomach might be frustrating sometimes, but it’s also so wonderful!

Have a great night!