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!

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Planning for the Future

Two years ago my family was presented with the news of a rare genetic mutation that causes stomach cancer. It was shortly after the passing of my maternal Grandma, she succumbed in her mid 80’s from complications of diffuse gastric cancer. I feel grateful that she was able to know her great granddaughter, whom she advised me would be a handful – and boy was she right!! I have read of many other people affected by this mutation that haven’t had the chance to get to know their grandparents and I feel so lucky. I know and cherish the fact that my Grandmother made an effect on her because it has been 2 years since her passing, and every other week she says she misses GG. It breaks my heart that she is gone.

With this mutation one has a 50/50 chance of passing on the mutation. You get 2 sets of genes one from each of your parents, the one from the mutation carrier can go rogue at any time. This mutation leads a female bearer to have up to an 83% chance of Diffuse Gastric Cancer by the time they are 80. This also increases the chances of Lobular Breast Cancer to roughly 40% to 60% life time risk as well. Scary odds when taking a look at the history of the mutation and the inability trace when cancer can show up. The percentage for males for Gastric Cancer is 67% by the age of 80.

Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer (HDGC) is highly undetectable even with routine screening, and is commonly caught when the disease has progressed to stage IV. My mom received the news that she was a carrier in May 2012 and I in July that year as well. I felt that knowing was a no brainer so I can prepare myself and do what is needed to be here for a long time for my daughter who is so young. Before knowing my results I had that gut feeling (no pun intended) that I had the mutation and was fully prepared for the news.

Since January 2013 I have had 3 endoscopies and they have not located any sign of disease. My mom has had lobular breast cancer (before the mutation was known to our family) and went through surgery, chemo and radiation. She has also had her prophylactic gastrectomy this past October and they found nothing, I strongly believe this is due to the chemo that she had a few years back; though it’s not proven. I don’t know if I am playing with fire; but I feel at this time, it is the best option for my family and me to wait a bit.

The last little while I have thought more about surgery and when a good time for me is. I want to be healthy and I want to be strong before going into this, and I know that the younger I am (hopefully) the easier of a time I will have of healing. I think I have decided that surgery will follow in approximately a year. Having a prophylactic procedure there is a bit more involved and planning is required but that will come in time and in approximately 8 months I will need to contact the surgeon to say I am ready.

That’s a lot of time to prepare myself for the new journey I will be embarking on. In the mean time, I plan on keeping myself busy gardening, reading, crocheting, maybe playing ball and working of course.