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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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!

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!

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!

Tomorrow A New Chapter Begins

Well tomorrow is the day, I will be admitted at 6:00 am to have my surgery completed and start this new chapter of life.

Today was a difficult day, but made so much better by my lovely co-workers.  They made me a geeky basket including a Tardis blanket and pillow, the Harry Potter movies, puzzles and activities and a wonderful cake as well. It was quite touching and their support is so amazing, my day wouldn’t have been as great without them.

I had my last junk foody meal today – a burger and fries, needless to say I got my fill of the foods I wanted to eat over the last couple weeks.

But I’ve been a bit anxious and was up at 3:30 this morning, it’s bed time now as we need to be up at about 4:45 to be out of the house on time.  Good thing traffic won’t be so bad first thing in the morning.

I want to thank each and everyone of you for your support over the last few months, I greatly appreciate it! May you all have a wonderful weekend and I will post as soon as I am out of my morphine fog.

Nicole