5 Months Post Op

I am 5 months today post op. The last 5 months have been the shortest and longest at the same time and they have not been without their struggles.

I have been feeling much better in regards to being able to eat without having food stuck and having to go to the bathroom at every meal. That has been such a relief. I have not been eating as much as I should be due to work limitations and I have had some taste bud issues over the last week or so and everything I eat tastes gross. I am trying out some new things to eat on a regular basis like chicken salad on crackers, new protein shake ideas. Right now I am not doing my self any favors. It’s been a lot better than it was and I have been trying many new foods to increase what I am able to eat and hopefully gain a few new options. I know that I need to do better, I am trying but there are days where I am struggling with everyday life and that doesn’t help at all either as I don’t get close to my calorie requirement of 1800 each day on the bad days. I find I am extremely tired physically and emotionally from work in the evening and don’t have to energy to make lunches and end up not bringing enough to work. I am down a total of 32.5 lbs so far, which is about 22% of my original body weight and still due to lose about 12 more lbs.

My vitamin and mineral levels so far have held stable and the b12 sublingual tablets are working well. Happy dance for no shots!

We are trying to live each day as there are not many left enjoy each moment and make the most of it. Trips out to the Rocky Mountains to hike the trails and see the beautiful sights. This winter will probably not allow me to get back out on the ski hill but there are other activities that I will be looking forward to doing like skating and maybe a hike during the warm chinooks we get so frequently.

Over the last 5 months I have realized many things; I have not been treating myself very well, I am not making the most of my life, I need to branch out, be happy and do more for myself. I need to take chances with life and that is just what I plan on doing. This process has enlightened me and it has given me that sense of morality that I previously hadn’t discovered. Thankful is not enough to explain how I feel about everything that has transpired over the last two and a half years.

I wish you many days of happiness, health, love and laughter!

16 Weeks Post Op

I am still amazed at how quick the time has gone by since surgery, but I really should know better as having a child makes each day go by even quicker, and getting older has shown that as well. It has been a difficult couple of months back at work and trying to assume some normalcy to life; it has not been easy though I am making slow progress through my recovery.

The last month I went back to full time hours at work and it’s been difficult to adjust still to the eating because my schedule is so erratic each day. I never know when my breaks are going to be and what task I am on each day, it makes it hard to set up a  schedule to eat. My caloric intake has been inconsistent as well, but better than I had imagined it would be at this stage. I am happy to report that my barium swallow came back normal, I will not need any dilations or further exams and don’t need to see my surgeon for three months. It has been roughly a year since my last one and I am very thankful to not have to have an endoscopy again in the foreseeable future.

I was hopeful that the redness in my scar would have reduced a bit and that it would have decreased in width as well, but with time I am sure that it will calm down. I need to remind myself that it’s only been three months and that I need to calm down as well. I have started to take time in the evenings after my daughter goes to sleep to do very little physically and to take time for me. I am starting to stock pile some crocheted items and I have started to teach myself how to knit as well and am looking forward to others enjoying the things I make.

My weight is still dropping off, but I can stabilize for 1-2 weeks and then all of a sudden an average of 1.5 lbs disappear off the scale. I wonder when it will stop but I know that I can expect around 10 lbs more to be lost with my 30% totaling in at approximately 40-45 lbs. I am comfortable in my mind with how I am, and how I look, yet with the sudden loss of weight I know that it can bring on mixed feelings and self image issues. I know that my body will change after all is said and done and my weight has finally settled and I start gaining (minimally of course) I will feel different. I have felt ribs shift, and skin loosen and I will be glad when I can start back at the gym to tone and put on some muscle.

Earlier this week I fell down some wooden stairs to my basement, I cracked my lower spine and my left shoulder in the tumble. I probably should have taken a day off work to recoup but have irritated it, now another thing to let heal. I already felt gimped a bit with the aches and pains of the inadequate abdominal muscles.

Well it’s one month until the children go back to school and life gets crazy again, hopefully I can keep up with Chloe and all the activities we have for her.

Hoping you have a wonderful remaining weeks of summer! All the best to you!

3 Months Post Op (A couple Weeks Late Posting)

I just want to say that I cannot believe that 3 months has passed already.  It has absolutely flown by, and I am so glad of the positive improvements that I have been seeing over the last few weeks, though I have had some setbacks.

Monday four weeks ago I sure as heck didn’t plan on spending the 8 hours at the Hospital. It all started Saturday evening coming home from a bachelorette party, not feeling so great already and I start sneezing… Nearly 10 times and I am still having an issues. It hurts throughout my belly near the incision to begin with, on the last one I hear a pop in the left upper side of my belly. I thought the pain would go away like it had before, however it progressively gets worse into Monday where I was in so much pain I was crying. So, sitting in the waiting room for that long not being allowed to eat or drink was very difficult. For someone without a stomach waiting is not ideal. I started to get a headache and feel extra weak! At the end of it, I found out it was strained muscles. I spent the next week resting at home. I was also told I need to start some ab exercises to build on my core muscles.

The following week I started at full weeks of work. I can say that going to back to work full time has been extremely hard.  I have struggled with eating enough and with having enough energy at the end of the day to accomplish the tasks I need to and take care of my child and I. Eating has been a struggle as I work in a call centre and I am on the phone for most of the day, and it’s highly inappropriate to eat while on the phone, which means I am taking “personal time” which I am thankful that my employer isn’t harping on me about. It’s also hard when one is having a bad eating day and everything I eat bugs me. The work environment I am in isn’t ideal for obtaining a steady routine.

The last 5 weeks have been interesting I have had some losses but I feel more wins.

I can now eat bread at no more than one slice at a time.
I haven’t been retching as much as before (I have my bad days where food doesn’t want to stay down but they are less frequent than they were at the beginning.)
My B12 levels are stable with the sub lingual dose of 1000 units per day. (Yay for no shots!!)
I have recently eaten a whole vegetarian samosa, a mini Crunch ice cream bar, and had a bit of white wine.
I have been able to do more lengthy walks without having weight loss.
I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin now, a lot more confidence.
I had enough stamina to go to a rock concert (and the base and vibration feels a lot different in the belly than it did before.)

Unfortunately my hair continues to fall out at an alarming rate; I am getting more blood work to hopefully resolve why I can’t use a brush or it would be full by the time I am done)
I am extremely sensitive to sugar natural or refined and require a half an hour rest to get my body back to normal if I am having a bad episode.
As a precaution (and it was ordered in early June) I am having a barium swallow this week (I am not at all looking forward to this but I need to take care of myself and if there are issues they will be able to sort me out.)
My energy levels after a full day of work is terrible, I don’t have it in me to do the household chores or even cook without having at least an hour rest to regain my strength.
To name just a few…

My scar is still raised and very red, still itchy and in a little pain some times if I bend or twist in the wrong way but I go see my surgeon again in a couple weeks so maybe he can advise if I need to be doing something other then using Vitamin E oils and massage on it.

I have had many people ask about the surgery and such, and I tell them about weight loss and they always say “I should get that done!” My automatic response: This is nothing that you want to go through, the side effects, the eating issues, and the mental struggle to change the way you do things because you don’t have a choice is very challenging. The seem to (hopefully) understand that this wasn’t to lose weight or anything it’s to save me from getting stomach cancer.

The last three weeks have been rough emotionally and physically, I am currently acting as a single parent, and the struggles of being the only one to make sure the house is clean, the lawn is mowed and grocery shopping and cooking are done has been an extra strain on us. We are trying to work things out and are currently taking it day by day; and thankfully my parents have been amazing support for my daughter and I.

But here’s to hoping for easier weeks and no issues found in the barium swallow test. I am just looking forward to long weekends and days off over the next 4 weeks to try and reduce my stress levels.

Well bye for now,
Nicole

7 Weeks Post Op

Today we are sitting at 8 weeks post op, and each week brings new food and new challenges.

I have now been on solid food for four weeks. Trying to find different things to eat so I don’t get sick of the usual fare is challenging. I have been able to increase my calories to about 1300-1500 and it was getting easier to add to that each week.I am finding foods that are easier to eat and high in protein and am trying to stick to those, but I know I haven’t been eating enough vegetables the past little bit.

My original return to work plan was 4 hours a day for 2 weeks starting on May 28 and then full time there after. I have been absolutely wiped every day; and trying to conserve energy and not push myself too much as I am afraid of losing more weight rapidly, I had also been on solid food for what would only be two weeks at that point. I had my return to work pushed back one week to allow myself some more time to learn the foods and get into the groove of eating on a schedule and finding what gives me the most sustainable energy.

Day one back to work was pretty tough; I was exhausted after the first hour of being there but I stuck it out for another hour and a half but needed to go home to nap.  My short term disability worker and I made a decision to cut the hours back and make this return slower. So we dropped my start to 2 hours for the first full week and add 2 hours each week thereafter. Well, week one is done and the energy level took a hit. I found it very difficult to go back to work because I don’t have to opportunity to stuff my face full of food all day long to continue to get the same amount of calories I was when I was home. I have been napping as well (which I wasn’t doing at all in that last week at home much) which has thrown off my eating too. Mentally I know I am struggling to get back to my old productivity level, I know it takes time but it is definitely a bit frustrating. I am constantly trying to remind myself to be patient and not push myself too hard to quickly.

I also saw my surgeon on June 5 as required by my short term disability worker, to have the assessment completed and an update made to my return to work. 100 questions later I had a new work plan and am being scheduled for a barium swallow test. Which I am super sad about as I didn’t feel that the retching was that bad because I am still learning and trying to pace myself.  Fortunately (or unfortunately I am not sure yet) my appointment is on July 23.

Overall though I feel alright, just tired constantly. I still have some incision tenderness and it’s widened and red but I am putting the vitamin E on it and hoping that helps a bit with some consistent use.  But I am not super worried it’s a wicked scar, that shows that those of us who have them are warriors! I am also finding that eating is becoming a huge chore, and that I am really going to need to meal plan and stick with it like never before so I ensure I get enough protein and other nutrients. So far I have lost about 21lbs and am now feeling that I should have done that much sooner, it was just a perk of the peace of mind I now have. I haven’t had to go shopping because I was a bit of a hoarder and had kept some of my pre-baby clothes that fit again. Just picture me jumping for joy!

I have been trying to have some quiet, meditative time lately as I really was struggling with the thought of going back to work so soon with some of the troubles I have been having. Last week I finished a beautiful Thomas Kincade light puzzle (of which I am missing a piece, but I think our new cat stole it so it’s bound to be around here somewhere,) this week I decided to go on youtube and finally teach myself to knit and indulged and started playing a video game. Other then that the last few weeks have been about resting, eating and increasing my activity bit by bit by going for short walks and doing the grocery shopping and puttering around the house.

Today, I had my MRI and boy was it uncomfortable. I had some concerns going into it, and it did get quite sore by the end of it. Thankfully the hospital where I had it done has an upgraded machine and it only takes about 25 minutes to complete. I am glad that it’s over for another year. Now just waiting for the results from that and gotta get some blood work to check the B12 and the sublingual intake to make sure it’s sufficient. Yay scanxiety for another week or two.

I am hopeful that in the next few weeks I won’t have any major issues eating and with energy levels. I know it’s a long, slow road and don’t rush it!

Almost 5 Weeks Post Op Update

I can’t believe it’s been nearly 5 weeks since surgery, how time flies.

Last Friday was a busy day I saw my family doctor to get a base line for my B12, and am starting to take the quick dissolve tablets today (Tuesday) as I just got my blood work done this afternoon. Here’s to hoping that I don’t have to revert to the shots and the absorption orally is sufficient to allow me to continue this. I also received my pathology report. Good news, they didn’t find any cancer cells…phew one less thing to worry about now!! Here’s me doing another happy dance! However in my stomach they did find small foci of intramucosal hemorrhage and erosion and occasional tiny foci of mucosal necrosis. At this point I would like to chalk it up to 5 endoscopies with multiple biopsies. But I will follow up with my Surgeon just for curiosities sake and report back once I know more…

Needless to say I am relieved. I know that I made the right decision and that I don’t have to worry about getting stomach cancer any more.

I received an unexpected call from the dietician on Friday as well; she was asking how things were going and I told her that my appointment with the surgeon was moved a week and that I was still on a full fluid diet (I also fessed up to sneaking a bit of solids because I was getting real tired of soups and pureed things.) She said she would call/page my surgeon to see what he thought and would call me back.  A half hour later I get great news that I can start eating solids…I cried a little (as you can see I am an emotional person though I think anyone would be when they can start eating some normal food.) I ate chips the last couple days (I know bad calories but I am down to 128 lbs from 147 lbs so far) I had to eat something crunchy and I am really looking for different textures to satisfy the need of the palate.

Otherwise, I have been trying to fill my diet with easy to chew fish and chicken, well cooked veggies, puddings, yogurts, smoothies, still a bit on the soups because regular food freaks me out; but I have been able to eat peeled hot dogs and chicken apple sausages; bananas with peanut butter, pasta and scrambled eggs with cheese. It’s getting easier and I try something new each day.

I have no regrets about having the surgery, don’t get me wrong I have moments when I am hugging the toilet retching for the second time in a day (like today) because I didn’t chew something enough or ate it too fast and I think what have I done. Though I quickly remind myself that this is a learning process and it will take time to do things right; don’t despair.

I have been having a hard time getting a good calorie count, especially on the full fluid diet but now eating solids the most I’ve been able to reach is 1100 so far. It’s a work in progress as I have to avoid bread as it gets stuck EVERY SINGLE TIME and will have to make an adjustment to be able to intake milk products so I am not calcium deficient.

It’s hard to get enough nutrients and feel energized, as the healing process it takes a lot out of you and I am still trying to pace myself and not get discouraged or over do any activity. I am still pretty tired often and waking up after a nap I find my entire body is pretty sore and takes a while to get straightened out again. Though doing some walking to get groceries or just a stroll makes my back sore, so I’ve booked a physio appointment for next week, and we will see how things improve from there to try and get some relief.

Overall, things get easier bit by bit, just don’t lose hope that things will get better. I know this is a long road at about 12 months to really get back to the way they used to be, but I am one month down and the skies are a little bit clearer and closed to riding the beautiful old school cruiser bike I got for Mother’s Day and I can’t wait to be able to ride it.

My Mom and Dad came over this past weekend and planted/weeded my garden for me. Thank goodness for them, Rob and Chloe, without their support I wouldn’t be able to do much of anything. They are my rocks and without them I don’t know what I would do! I am so thankful! And for all you lovely people and your kind words thanks to you as well! A great support group is important!

I hope you all have an amazing evening and until next time all the best!

Home Sweet Home

I want to start off saying sorry for the disjointed last post, being in a morphine fog will do that to one…

Well I am finally home; after 14 long days of being in the hospital I can finally get back to some semblance of a routine.

Last week was pretty tough, I was able to move from clear fluids to pureed food easily on Tuesday though Thursday, but on Friday they moved me to a post gastrectomy diet. Needless to say that didn’t turn out well. I ended up wretching Friday night going to bed feeling some what better but on Saturday morning after toast (which was tolerated well on Friday) the pain in my upper abdomen grew exponentially. It was cold sweats, tons of pain, and general uneasiness. I was in rough shape, lost all colour and thought that I couldn’t take it any more. I have NEVER been in that much pain in my life.

I ended up having a CT (in which I think I got 250ml of telebrix down instead of the 2L they gave me) and x-ray that night, showing inflammation in my new connections, which was the cause of not being able to get anything down. I was put back on no intake of anything for another couple days to allow the swelling to go down.

On Tuesday they let me start back on clear fluids which went good, since nothing was vomited up. *Happy Dance* Wednesday my Doctor bumped me up to full fluids and advised that’s what I would be on for nourishment for 2-3 weeks to allow continued healing.

It was nice to be sent home on April 29, it was happy though emotional because of the few crappy days and the compassion and warmth the nurses and nursing assistants showed during my stay.They do such a tough job and cannot be praised enough for what they do every day!

I had enough stamina yesterday to go to the grocery store after being released and picked up what is needed for the next few days, no sugar added ice cream and popsicles, broth, canned soups, yogurt, juices, protein drinks (so far the only one that I found that’s tolerable and doesn’t make me want to vomit more is the Carnation Breakfast Essentials – Chocolate) pudding, and apple sauce. I have a new appreciation for looking at the labels, because prior to this I really didn’t! It’s so important without a stomach that you get enough protein and watch closely your sugar intake.

The next two weeks until I see my surgeon I hope will go fast. The liquid diet will be difficult to reinvent each day and make sure I am getting enough calories, protein and other nutrients to prevent extreme weight loss and lack of energy.

The first day so far hasn’t been too bad, made from scratch cream of potato soup (that we had to blend to smooth) with my mom and relaxed. We will see what adventures the next week brings.

Wishing you all happy and healthy days!

5 Days Post Op

Well it went off without a hitch and I was in my room around 6 pm. 

The epidural is only working on the right side but the pain management team here is taking good care of me. It’s only been at a 2-3 level. On Friday, the day after surgery my pain pump stopped working, those were nearly the worst couple hours of my life! I was so close to tears and was exhausted the entire day because of this. I still got up 2 times and walked on Friday. 

Saturday was a much better day, had a few visitors walked the halls 3 times and my pain pump didn’t crap out. 

This infor is TMI for the men but I felt would have been good information Prior to getting in here…I didn’t realize that surgery could make a lady have her monthly cycle early..not great! 

The hydro morphone makes me itch and meds can be given every 2 hours to my relief. But it doesn’t really help that my incision is starting to itch like crazy! 

I have been walking but not enough sometimes it’s really important that as the days go on you are walking every couple hours to ensure bowel activity stays. 

Today I get my swallow test and hopefully start with a liquid diet then tomorrow epidural and catheter out (which is super annoying for me because I have never had one before) but YAY!!! 

I was really scared about pain after the surgery, and how it was going to cope. But it’s been not as bad – everyone eesponds differently to pain and meds but I am glad for the ease. I Feel quite tight throughout my belly sometimes and it’s uncomfortable but not unbearable. 

Be prepared to be woken up every hour for the first night (the nurse practically stays in your room until morning) and so long as everything is going okay it drops down to 4 hours after that. It’s usually clockwork they come in (and if you are what I call lucky) you might wake up right before they get there. 

Well it’s tiring you will spend a lot of time in bed but again make sure you are getting up 

The incision

  

my coworkers bought me puzzle doesnt fit on the try but its a difficult one

 

My coworkers are amazing they sent me off with some games, cards from each of them, puzzles and a doctor who blanket and pillow. Also some nail stuff for at home. I had a great day on Wednesday because of them! 

Will update with the swallow test results and getting back to eating. 

Have a great day!