9 Months

Oh my goodness, so much I have missed over the last few months. My apologies for being so delinquent (but we will touch on that a bit later)

Time has gotten away from me way too quickly with my daughter in school, and the many activities that she’s in and trying to manage work, a social life and eating and sleeping (which I have been doing a lot of lately.) I have taught myself to knit, have done many puzzles and generally have been taking things rather easy physically, no circuit exercises yet but hopefully a routine will come into play soon.

The last few months there have been a few ups and downs, I got my first illness after surgery that lasted for three weeks, and it kicked my butt (it’s been going around and the average time it seems for someone to feel better is nearly a month.) I lost 4 pounds in the month of December, due too being sick and putting my back out.  I felt so terrible because it was all ears, nose and throat and it hurt to eat/drink. So between being drained from being sick, to my food intake not being sufficient really set me back on feeling better. It was a really long road to recovery.

Other then that my food intake has been better, I wasn’t being as good as I should have at tracking it. But there have been really good days at over 2000 calories and not so good days at 1200, the last few weeks have been great for food (granted I am sneaking some fast food in there but everything in moderation right?) I have been reaching my goal of 1800 calories every day. I now takes very little time to plan my meals and snacks as I am generally choosing better items.

My snacks would most often consist of some if not all of the below on a daily basis:

Hummus and Pita
2 servings of fresh fruit (bananas, grapes, melon, berries {when they don’t cost a small fortune})Nuts
Cheese and deli meat
Crackers
Peanut Butter (1 tbsp and usually with the crackers or on it’s own 🙂 )
Salsa or Bruschetta and Chips

My consistent choice of food has helped me gain back 3 of the 4 pounds I lost in December and has kept me stable at 107.5 pounds for the last few weeks. I am very  much looking forward to leveling out weight wise and getting back to the gym and being able to not worry too much about losing a bunch of weight with exercise.

I saw my surgeon 10 days ago, he is happy with my recover so far. I am healthy looking and am not gaunt. I am no longer having food stuck (which has only happened about 2-3 times since August) and I can eat mostly any thing and a good size serving of food at one time on a really good day!

Back in August after I started feeling better I started a Direct Selling business, to try and help myself meet more people, to learn more things about myself, and to get out there in general (try and have a social life of some sort.) I was doing alright with it to begin with and then I just started to overwhelm myself. I was setting too lofty goals for activities and not enough time for rest I was pushing myself to hard. Exhaustion was setting in, bed time has been really early lately and even after 8-10 hours of sleep feel like I could still sleep for days. I haven’t been able to sit down and commit to many goals or prior engagements as I feel a bit of depression tugging at me. I thought I had gotten the needed rest over the Christmas break, but I tried to get back into things and did it to myself again between boxing day and now. I realized I need to take a step back, I need to make more time for me, quiet time, relax and appreciate the moments time. Time for my family and especially time to recoup and get myself back in a good head space.

I have been over whelmed and it’s been building so much that I started having anxiety over it all, emotionally I have seen better days. It’s been a culmination of struggling to eat, and having the required energy to put a couple nutritious meals together; trying to do too much every day; not setting unrealistic goals for myself and trying to blow everything out of the water. It’s wanting to get back to the fast paced nature of what used to be, being sick for 3 weeks or having an unbearably sore back for 2 weeks and requiring medications and appointments to help fix it all. It’s the helplessness of it all, that I was losing control and I felt I had to keep going to try and salvage something out of it; but I shut down.

I am taking a step back from it all, getting back to the live one day at a time mentality I am finding is really important. I need to make the most of this and by putting too much on my plate too soon is a detriment to not only myself but my family too.  I can’t wait to feel where planning things a couple weeks in advance isn’t going to work because I don’t know how I will be feeling. It will come with time, maybe a little or maybe a lot but it will come. I think I will start meditating.

Patience is the only thing that I want to ingrain in you, give yourself the necessary time to level out, to assume a routine that you are comfortable with and that never go beyond that extra limitation of who you are and where your boundaries lie. It’s important that you take the time you need for yourself, and grow from it. It’s a struggle, emotionally, physically and psychologically and it will take time. Love yourself, let the caregivers/family/friends around you love you and enjoy every day. This is no less than a learning experience for all of you, patience will help you overcome any challenge!

One day at a time, just one! (For now)

From my family yo yours wishing you a Happy New Year, and may 2016 bring you health, love and happiness!

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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!

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!