Post op week 5 update – Maintained weight!

Today marks the 5th week post op.  I think things really turn the corner for people after the first month.  I can see now why some people can return to work after 4-6 weeks post op.  For me this is not the case; however, I have started return to work talks with my employer which is exciting!

So here’s the break down for this week.

In terms of eating, I still have issues with ‘spitting up’.   It always makes me feel like I’m a bird ready to feed its young.  It’s not pleasant to see or do so you have to put some humour into it.  I will still take it over vomiting any day.  Food often feels like it gets ‘stuck’ just above my suprasternal notch.

If I leave it, sometimes it goes down but often it does not which leads to an inflammatory reaction where mucus is formed around the bolus and it starts to feel like I’m choking.  So usually, it’s best just to get rid of it and try again ten to fifteen minutes later. It happens about 1-3x a day.

On the brighter side, I found some great snacks made by Wellness Foods that are easy to digest and are low in sugar, high in protein and fiber.  I discovered them at the local Bulk Barn which has recently become a staple store over the past two weeks.  For the past two weeks I have been carrying around  “Simply Protein Crunch – Banana, Caramel, Cashew nut” since it gives me a hit of sweet without dumping.  I have also tried the “Simply Bar – Lemon Coconut” without any issues.  The bars break down to nothing when you chew them (similar to rice krispies) and they are easy to swallow and digest.  I have picked up a variety of other Simply bars and will try them out.  The bars are about average for a protein bar.  However, I have decided at this point, if I can eat it, I am going to buy it.   It’s all about maintaining weight right now.

Yesterday I started to experiment with the smoothies that are listed on the No Stomach for Cancer webpage.  I tried the Super Protein Power Smoothie with great success. It is nice to know there is something I can make and carry around with me to keep me fueled.  I hope to make a few of them and eventually try them all.  I didn’t use any Ensure though because it’s too sweet for me.

In terms of activity,  I no longer require my mandatory daily naps. In fact, for the past three days I have skipped it.  I am also able to stand in one spot for a longer period of time before I become winded.  When I’m sitting at rest, I don’t even feel my incision anymore.  I look forward to when all of my incisional tightness has subsided.

My back pain is subsiding as I continue to re-build my core.  I can’t do much but what I have been doing has been helping.  I tried to do a simple pelvic tilt today.  Surprisingly, it took me a few times to even figure out how to do it again and when I did do it properly, it was painful.  So I will leave it for another week.

I followed up with my family physician regarding my need for B12 shot and my blood work all came back normal.  This is great news. I know that eventually I will require a B12 shot but it’s nice to know that I’ve maintained over the past month with all my levels.  On another great note, I no longer experience heartburn, hives, irritable bowel, or stomach aches (obviously!) all of which I have been having for as long as I can remember.

So that’s about it for week five.  My life is slowly but surely returning to a new normal.  I am both looking forward and scared to learn about my pathology report on Wednesday.  I am 99.9% sure that I will have cured myself of stomach cancer but there is always that 0.1% chance that it spread to my lymph nodes.

Happy Canada Day weekend and Canada Day!

 

 

 

 

 

Four weeks and two days – Turning a new page

Last Thursday and Friday, I had pretty bad food days and was feeling frustrated about eating. However, this past weekend made up for it all. I don’t want to jinx anything but last weekend was so good, I have to blog about it.

On Friday I mustered up the courage to get into the car and go for a short drive. I managed to drive to the local shopping plaza which is five minutes away. Although I felt like I was going really fast, I glanced down at my speedometer to see that I was only going 40kms/hr. Good thing I was just in my subdivision at that time. I held off driving for the first four weeks because I felt like I didn’t have enough strength in my core to perform a quick turn to avoid a potential accident. By the time I arrived at the plaza, I felt like I had just completed a big work out. Who knew turning a steering wheel could take so much energy? Needless to say, I was pretty happy I was able to drive.

Saturday morning started off with my usual summer routine – garage saling. It is something that started doing last year to help fill our empty house and I have found many awesome treasures doing so. Getting in and out of the car as well as walking short distances in multiple bouts over a period of 3-4 hours is great rehab. I have been going with my mom or my mother in law because they can drive as well as help me carry my goods since I still have lifting restrictions. Even though I was wiped after that, it was great to get back into some of the things I was doing pre-surgery.

Saturday evening, we had a bunch of friends over for board games and I was able to last from 6:30-11:30pm at the table. Board gaming nights are great because you can snack the whole time on junk food and no longer feel guilty about it.

Because of all the adventures from Saturday, I thought I would be in big trouble for Sunday. However, yesterday morning I woke up with minimal incisional pain and felt almost as if the surgery didn’t even happen. Spirits high. Energy near normal. I am not sure what sparked this but I was super excited.

So what did I do? I went with my mother in law to Value Village. Why? 50% off all clothing and accessories. Who could pass that up? For a mere $27 dollars I was able to purchase – 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of capris, 1 summer dress, 1 pair of shoes, and 1 summer shirt. Since my size keeps changing, it is great to pick up inexpensive clothing that I won’t feel bad about donating if they don’t fit by the fall. If you can’t tell already, I’m all about bargains and getting the biggest bang for your buck!

After Value Village, I was able to accompany Brandon to the local shopping mall to pick up a belated Father’s Day gift. I spent most of the time chilling out on the chairs as he ran around picking up the goods. Brandon is such a great sport – he carries my purse around when we go out together. I can’t just leave it in the car because it usually contains food for me to snack on while we are on our adventures. Again, best husband ever!

Finally, in the evening we had his family over for Father’s Day. I was able to eat the my whole meal without any issues. I was amazed. It consisted of home made BBQ ribs, potato salad, orzo salad and hummus. I wish I took a picture because it was great. I was also able to eat some of the dessert which was a lemon meringue pie baked by my mother in law. Oh yeah, plain old water is back on the menu!

All and all, my weekend was fantastic. It was the closest weekend to a normal weekend I have had over the past four weeks. The only catch is that I lost 2lbs because I was not able to keep up with my eating and I was doing so much activity. I now sit at 110lbs. This is something I need to work on. I especially need to get it down pat before I return to work because my job is like exercising all day.

Today, I booked my first appointment with my family doctor to discuss a possible B12 shot as I am now four weeks post op and likely need a top up. Next week, I follow up with my surgeon and to get my pathology report. Bum Bum Baaa!!

Post op day 27 – Throw back Thursday

Thursday May 22nd, 2014 – This was the last meal with my stomach – Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas.  See below.

imageAt the time it seemed like a great decision and it was delicious.  I regretted this decision two days later when I experienced the worst pain in my life due to gas build up in my abdomen.  I failed to remember the advice from the pre-op nurse, “eat a light meal before surgery”.  Good thing I didn’t go to the Mandarin!

Fast forward to post op day 26.  This is what I thought I could eat for my afternoon meal.  It was lunch #1. I eat like a hobbit now.  Breakfast, then two hours later, second breakfast.  Two more hours pass and it’s lunch, and then second lunch and so on.  Some of you may be wondering, will it always be like this?  The easiest answer is yes.  But life can get in the way and as you recover it is easy to miss meals which then results in weight loss.

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Left over grilled chicken with grilled veggies and macaroni salad on a small bread plate.  I have learned over the past week that left over grilled chicken breast is not a good choice. I eat my food with a three strike knock out rule now.  If it gets stuck on first attempt, I blame myself for not chewing enough.  Stuck again, I blame myself for eating too fast.  The third time it gets stuck, I remember to not eat it again for at least another week or two.  After thirty minutes, I was able to eat all the grilled veggies and two macaroni noodles.  The eyes are bigger than the stomach…..well in this case, small intestine?

I have spent the last week trying to decide what to blog about this week and I have decided to put more detail about the actual recovery (diet, activity, etc).  I found that comparing my progress to other CDH1 bloggers helped to normalize my recovery.  I know that everyone is different but it still is better than having nothing at all.

Going into surgery, I believed my best friend next to the surgeon would be my dietitian.  I was wrong.  Although the dietitian was helpful for basic information like adding calories to meals, overall, much of the advice I have been given has not been helpful.  I learned this early in the hospital when I decided to take a lactaid pill before drinking some milk on the dietitian’s recommendation.  The next half hour I paid for it by having intestinal gas cramps for the next thirty minutes.  When inquiring about how fast I should be eating one cup of my beef consume I was told that I should be able to finish it in fifteen minutes.   At the next meal, I attempted this and paid for it again.  Most of the answers I have been given by the dietitian is try it out and see what happens.  It is not the dietitians’ fault for giving this advice, it’s just that there isn’t a lot of research out there on post prophylactic total gastrectomy recovery.  In my opinion, it’s something that is hard to give advice on unless you have actually experienced it.  The best advice has come from reading other CDH1 blogs as well as speaking with my mom who had the surgery just over 4 years ago.

I’ll just put a disclaimer here that I am not a registered dietitian and that this advice is just based on my own personal experience.

Here is a list of foods/drinks that I have found easiest to eat over the past two weeks being at home:

  • Cashews – full of iron and protein.  Very portable and easy to just much on
  • Activia Yogurt – filled with probiotics and protein.  I have also combined this with some orange juice and froze it to make yogurt Popsicles for a quick snack.
  • Cream of Wheat – also has some iron.  Mix it with lactose free cream as well as milk (or almond milk)
  • Hummus – I dip saltine or ritz crackers into it.  I have also dipped grilled veggies into it.  I loved it before surgery and I love it even more after!
  • Kozy Shack Tapioca pudding – It has a higher sugar content so don’t eat too much but great for a sweet treat
  • Split pea soup
  • Pizza and potato chips
  • Cheese and deli meats
  • Liverwurst
  • Potatoes
  • Frozen Banana “iced cream”
  • Water with a shot or two of orange juice

Here is a list of big wins for me this week that I would not necessarily recommend but I was super excited about to put back on the menu:

  • Lettuce and Spinach in a salad – No more constipation! Haha
  • Peanut M & M’s – YESSSSS!!!!!!
  • Tiramasu
  • Iced Coffee – made with cream and almond milk

These are foods/drinks that caused me issues:

  • Left over grilled chicken
  • Ensure Plus
  • Plain old water

In terms of pain management, I decided to stop taking Tylenol on Monday.  I stopped for two reasons.  I don’t like taking medication and I had been taking it for three weeks non-stop.  It was great because it helped me move but I also started to over do it in week three.  I decided that my pain level was enough to tolerate without medication and it would be a good indicator of overdoing it.  I am a big advocator of movement but I am also someone who will over do it and at this point the Tylenol was hurting versus helping.  I have been able to continue doing as much as I was able to do before with the Tylenol so this was a big win for me.

I still have odd pains around my abdomen every now and then which I attribute to nerves regenerating.  I am also numb about 5-10mm on either side of my incision.  I have a 70mm diameter circle that is numb to the left side of my belly button.  I have been working on helping the nerves regenerate by rubbing my hand around the numb areas as well as using a soft blanket on the sites for about 2-3 minutes a few times a day.  I have not started any scar tissue mobilization as areas are still healing and the surgeon recommended I wait until follow up (July 2nd) before I start to friction it or use any therapeutic ultrasound to heal it.

When it comes to activity I continue to make great gains.  This is my first week home without Brandon and I am doing well.  My mother in law and mom have been able to take me for outings as I am still not driving.  I was able to tolerate a trip to value village to look for some new clothing.  At this point it’s not worth purchasing brand new clothing because I’m still losing weight and I don’t want to have to replace it again in another few months.  Trying to find my size was an adventure but I figure I now hover between a size 3-4.  I used to be size 6.  Moving the clothing on the racks was difficult but I managed.  I always take a shopping cart with me on outings because I am able to last longer.  I currently sit at 112lbs.

I am feeling well enough to feel frustrated that I am not allowed to lift anything heavy.  It is amazing how many things you lift that are over 10lbs in your day.  I am looking forward to having my lifting restrictions removed so I can start to seriously strength train my core.  Which leads me to my next point, I have started to wake up with back pain and if I am walking for a prolonged period of time, I also have back pain.  Yesterday, I started to do some gentle Transverse Abdominus/Multifidus training while lying on the couch.  I was able to do 2 sets of 5 heel slides before I was fatigued.  Lame.  I think in a future post I’ll talk about my personal post op rehab as I feel that my physio knowledge has lead to such a fantastic recovery thus far.

Standing in one spot continues to be difficult.  I still find myself breathing apically when I am standing upright and need to remind myself to diaphragmatic breath because I can get light headed.  Flexing forward always improves breathing and now I fully understand why this is the resting position for people with respiratory issues.

I still require 1 hour naps daily to regenerate.  I am getting around 8-9 hours of sleep a night which is great for healing.  I am dizzy and light headed anytime I go from sit to stand.  The first few steps after getting up I always have gas which feels like a burp ready to come up but doesn’t.

There are activities that I have been missing this week like rollerblading, swimming, and going to the gym.  But, life is good. I don’t regret my decision.  You have to make the most of the cards you have been dealt.  I will get back to those things in good time.  Just think, 27 days ago I looked like this:

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Post op day 20 update – Almost 3 weeks!

It has been a few days since I last updated what has been going on in my life. To be honest, it hasn’t been that exciting but I know some readers are probably starting to wonder how I’m doing so here’s my weekly update!

I continue to make gains as each day passes. The progress does not seem as rapid as they have over the first two weeks but Brandon keeps reminding me to look at last week and where I was compared to this week. This time last week, I was psyching myself up for the Relay for Life and only two days out of hospital.

In terms of activity, I have been working on building up my endurance. Yesterday, I was able to do a short walk around the neighbourhood. It may have only been around the block but I was happy with that. Although going for walks is difficult, my breathing always improves following the walk as well as the tightness around my incision. Gotta work on that fascial mobility!!

Some of the movements I still find difficult are:

1) Sitting up from a fully reclined position – it is easy if there are arm rests but if there aren’t I’m left to roll onto one side and then push up.

2) Standing in one spot – I seem to become winded extremely fast. I have used energy conservation strategies like using a shopping cart at the stores or leaning against posts or rails.

3) Moving from lying to sitting – I usually am light headed and need to wait 10 seconds before I stand up

4) Rolling to either side in bed – I predict this will be better in another week as my obliques continue to heal.

5) Sneezing and Laughing hard – I sneezed 1x last week and decided to try avoid it at all costs for the next few weeks. So when I feel a sneeze approaching, I put my finger under my nose and it stops it. It’s a good trick and it works! I learned about the neurophysiological response during my cardioresp course in physio school. Thanks Alice!

Activities I’ve been able to complete over the past week:

1) Go to the movie theatre – I saw Malificent and X-men. Yahoo, up next 22 Jump street (although I’m terrified of laughing too hard so I may have to give it another week).
2) Do small errands with Brandon – small grocery shops, banking
3) Have some friends over for a 2 hour visit
4) Go to a local Buskerfest downtown for 1 hour (with sitting breaks of course!)
5) Eat dinner with my family at the dinner table – up until last Sunday all my meals were eaten in a reclined position on the couch.
6) Watch my baseball team play a game

I’m not driving yet because I feel I am not strong enough to turn the wheel quickly should I have to avoid an accident. I also do not think I’m quick enough to check my blind spot. Next week Brandon returns to work so my driver will leave me. I should be a lot better by Monday to make short trips around town.

In terms of pain managment, I am still taking Extra Strength Tylenol. I am trying to decrease the dosage but the numbness surrounding my incision is starting to subside and I can feel more. There’s no point sitting in a lot of pain if you can take something to calm it down. I have to keep reminding myself about this because I don’t like to take a lot of medication.

This has been my sweet set up for the past week at home

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My recovery couch has been priceless. I am SOOO happy we replaced our old couches before surgery. I have had countless naps on this couch. I don’t even know if I would have been able to even get off of our old couches due to the sagging factor.

When it comes to eating, I am doing well but I sometimes over-do it. This leads to a bloated and uncomfortable feeling in my intestines. I haven’t quite figured out when I’m full yet. I over did it with a stomach so it doesn’t surprise me that I continue to over do it without one. Haha. Over the next few days, I am going to work on eating less so I can avoid that feeling.

Two days ago, Brandon and I went to McDonalds. I ate a french fry wayyy too fast and was in trouble. When food gets ‘stuck’ in your esophagus it is not a pleasant feeling. It’s like a bolus of food is pressing on your trachea and it won’t go down. If you drink any liquid – it will further block things up. So you are left to just sit and endure, try walk it off or visit the rest room and try spit it back up. Sorry for the gross detail, but it is reality about life without a stomach. Usually spitting it up is the quickest and gives instant relief.

I have been lucky enough not to experience dumping syndrome yet. I also have been avoiding sugary foods. I really miss ice cream so I may give it a shot next week while at home and see what happens. I heard if you eat protein before sugary foods you may not get dumping. We’ll see. Worst comes to worst, I’ll give my body a good cleanse.

It is frustrating not to have enough energy to do what you want to do but that is all part of recovery. I have to keep reminding myself that I am only 3 weeks out and I had a major surgery.

So that about sums up my week. I hope you all have a fantastic upcoming weekend and Happy Father’s Day to all you dad’s out there!

What do you do all day?

Most of my recent blog posts have been made prior to 8am and this is mainly because I wake up super early these days.  I believe it is because my pain medication wears off around 5-6am every morning so it wakes me up.  I still am taking Tylenol regular strength throughout the day.  I try to be a hero sometimes and avoid it but when I take the Tylenol, I can do more and moving is good for healing.   I have noticed a pattern though.  When I move TOO much, I need to take more. So it’s all about finding a happy medium.  I feel pretty good during the days but I keep dreading night-time because it is still semi-difficult to maneuver in bed as well as I usually wake up with some sort of pain in the morning. I am sleeping now through most of the night though, which is good! Progress 🙂

I know that I’m getting better each day because I’m starting to get semi-bored at home.  Some people have been asking me, “What are you doing at home?”. To be perfectly honest, if I’m not napping, I’m eating or drinking fluids.  I fully understand why people who are post total gastrectomy say that eating is a full time job.  I try to do other things while I am eating or drinking in order to slow myself down.  If I eat too fast, the food gets all jammed up between my esophagus and jejunum and it doesn’t feel very good. I relate it to those cartoons where there is a slide and many characters are going down it. Suddenly a fat guy goes down and gets stuck and jams up the slide.  Finally, a few more characters go down and eventually dislodge him and they all go down the slide.   It takes me about 45 mins to complete a decent sized meal.  This morning I ate a full piece of mortadella cold cut, a hard boiled egg and a slice of cheese.

It’s a catch 22 right now. The more I move, the more I need to eat or I lose weight. It is hard to keep up.  Eventually I will level out but I know that many people continue to lose weight while they recover at home.  I need to eat to gain weight – such an odd concept for me to accept still.  I ate food all throughout the Relay on Friday and I still lost one pound.

So that brings me to my next point. I liked eating before, but now I love eating! It’s an adventure every time. Will it go down easy? Will I get dumping? Will I get a blast of energy after eating? How much can I eat today? I consider myself super lucky because I am able to eat most things right now with not too many issues.  I don’t want to jinx myself though!!

My favourite things to eat right now are: Yogurt, Cheese, Potatoes.  Brandon has been making me various cold beverages and yesterday I was able to drink an iced coffee (1 cup of light coffee) made with some honey and lactose free milk.  I also take a multivitamin every morning as well as a calcium/vitamin D supplement.

When I look back to two weeks ago – I was lying in bed at the hospital in the step down unit.  Still no food or drink.  Sleeping half the day.  Fast forward to 16 days later – I need one or two 1 hour naps during the day, I am eating solids, I am able to go out and do small errands with Brandon.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what another week will bring.

 

 

 

Relay for Life Success!!

Did I over do it last night? Most Definitely. Was it worth it? You betcha! Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat.

All of my recovery at the hospital and at home has been leading up to the Relay for Life that occurred last night. On the way up to the Relay I was feeling a little fatigued but super excited to see everyone. My co-workers had gotten ahold of a wheelchair for me so I wouldn’t have to expend too much energy before I did my big walk. One of my friends pimped it out with boa’s and flowers. It was the most rocking wheelchair at the relay for sure! I don’t have the pictures yet but when they come I can update my post.

As soon as I arrived, I called for my wheelchair and my friend came running with it to pick me up. I could feel the excitement in the air. As I wheeled closer to the tents where our company was set up, I started to see co-workers who I hadn’t seen in the last couple of weeks. Even though I have only been off of work for two weeks, it sure felt like a lot longer.

Everyone was excited to see me and asked about my recovery. I was just as excited to see everyone. To my surprise, my company had created a large No Stomach for Cancer banner that was hung in front of our company tents. It was amazing and I loved it!

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I took part in the ‘Survivor Photo’ for the relay and was chosen to release one of the four doves. It was an amazing experience and I am so lucky to have been a part of it. I was also able to talk to some survivors briefly as well and it was so inspirational. I also was able to eat some of the survivor dinner which consisted of pizza and pasta. I snacked on it during the opening ceremonies (they occur just before the start of the relay). I am sure that dinner helped me with what was about to occur next.

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I was actually a little nervous to do the first lap. The past two weeks have been building up to this moment. My goal was to walk the whole 1st lap. When the lap began, I felt like this giant surge of energy and I was able to do the whole thing without getting winded. I was really surprised and super happy about it. The positive energy from everyone around me kept me going and I was even able to do the whole lap on the outer track! I finished near the back of the pack but it was all good!!

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Surprisingly, I was able to last from 5:30-9:30pm at the Relay. It was the longest time I have been out since being discharged from the hospital. I felt really good at the time but wondered what I would feel like today.

So today I feel pretty good, I have incisional pain but I consider it more like incisional extreme pulling. It’s like I have done 1 million sit ups and the muscle just won’t release. I plan to do my best to take it easy today but I am a do-er and it’s really hard just to sit. I cannot believe how well I am recovering! I am sure it’s due to all the great support and positive energy surrounding me. Thanks everyone!!

X-Men and mutant genes

I had a fairly full day yesterday. Brandon and I decided that I was at the point where I could go to the movie theatre. I have been itching to see the new X-Men movie since it came out on the day I had my surgery.  Brandon and I really enjoy going to the movie theatre and we usually see the blockbusters on opening day.

We decided to see a matinee.  I thought this was good in case I got into any gut troubles and needed to go to the washroom.  It wasn’t busy at all and going in the afternoon was good because I have more energy during the day vs. the evenings.  Brandon explained to the person working at the snack counter that I just had my stomach removed and there would be NO way I’d be eating even the smallest bag of popcorn they had. So the employee was nice enough to give me just a cup full of popcorn with butter on it.
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Unfortunately, I was unable to eat any of it during the movie because I had some gut issues about 15 minutes into the movie.  I couldn’t find a comfortable position because the chairs didn’t recline and that’s how I’ve pretty much been sitting for the past few weeks.  Eventually I found a sweet spot but in the process, I think I shifted around some gas created at lunch time and had some abdominal cramping.   Luckily it didn’t last long and I was back in the theatre after 10 minutes.

During the movie I got thinking.  Wait! I have a mutant gene too!  I may not have super powers but I now posses the ability to not vomit.  I can eat throughout the whole day and not gain any weight!  I will always look toned because my body will continually burn any excess fat storage for energy.  Life is good.

Before we went to the movie, I went outside and laid on the grass while Brandon finished up the fence around our vegetable garden. It was nice just to chill outside.

Our veggie garden!

Our veggie garden!

Getting on the ground was a little bit of an issue but I managed. I find if I contract my left obliques it feels like my innerds get sucked underneath my ribs and it is a really weird feeling.  As I heal more, I am confident this feeling will subside. Another odd feeling happens when I walk too fast or hit a bump while riding in a car.  It feels like my insides are jiggling around. I’m sure that is exactly what is happening as my intestines adjust to life without a stomach.

All and all another great day completed. I was a little afraid to go to the theatre because it would be one of my first big public outings but it was good.  I need to push myself just a little bit each day so I can recover faster.  I still don’t move very fast and I still get winded after simple activities.

Before I went to bed I did two sets of ten bilateral calf raises, and one set of unilateral calf raises in hopes that would help my night time leg issue.   I also drank a full glass of water one hour before going to bed. Huzzah! I think it worked because I woke up this morning without restless legs. Yay!

So today is the BIG day. Relay for Life. I am really really looking forward to seeing all my co-workers and challenging myself to walk the full lap of the track. Thank you all for your donations again. I have raised over $1200 for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Stay tuned. Updates to follow 🙂

 

You should see the other guy

First off, I just wanted to thank everyone who donated to me for the Relay for Life. I was able to reach and surpass my fundraising goal of $1,000 for my walk on Friday.  I am still accepting donations until Friday for those of you who would still like to donate.

Yesterday, I managed to complete everything on my to do list for the day.  It was exciting that I was able to take a full shower. I was fairly winded afterwards but I managed to do it.  Looking at myself for the first time in a full sized mirror was a little bit of a wake up call though.  I used to have an athletic build, now I look more like a big head on a small body. Haha.  I think it just takes some getting used to.  When I picked up my cheese from the cheese shop yesterday, my sister in law (who also works there), said I looked good and that I was more like ‘celebrity thin’ now.  I’ll take it!

After some humming and hawing, I’ve decided to post a picture of my incision that I took yesterday. I am really sorry for all those reading who do not like graphic images.  I didn’t look at my incision for about three days after surgery because I was afraid.  However, when I did finally look at it, I was amazed at the precision and artistry.  I have subcutaneous stitches that will dissolve over time.  Above the stitching is a special surgical glue that seals the outside incision.  No staples! I AM going to rock that bikini next year.

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My core is pretty much shot at the moment. From the image you can imagine why.  Most of the muscular disruption occurred on the left side.  There is a large incision through my left internal/external obliques. On the right side there is a smaller one.  Those are the only muscles cut during the surgery.  Rectus abdominus is just pushed to the side.  I am doing my best to stand up straight when I walk but most of the time I feel like I am going to tear in half…haha.  But I know a thing or two about fascia and it’s good to stretch it a little over time, so that is what I have been doing. I have already started gentle lumbar active range of motion movements.  I’d hate to be stuck hunched like Quasimoto!  The most comfortable position to sit in is a reclined position but also the hardest position to get up from if you don’t have any arm rests!  That’s where Brandon comes in handy.

Since I’ve been home, I have done fairly well with eating. I was told that Ensure is good to increase your caloric intake but I keep getting minor cramping whenever I drink it. Other than the Ensure, I have been trying to eat anything I can get my hands on….and fingers crossed…so far so good.  I am not doing as well with drinking liquids.  Today, I am going to try focus on re-hydrating myself.

This may be too much information, but I haven’t had a bowel movement since May 23rd.  That would be exactly 13 days ago.  I am both terrified and interested to see what will make an appearance. Today, I will also focus on eating foods to get my colon going (pears, kiwi, diluted prune juice).  Who ever thought taking a dump would be so exciting?!?!?

The past two nights, I have woken up early in the morning with a big urge to just move my legs. I am not sure if it is restless leg syndrome or what, but it’s annoying. It has resulted in me getting up and walking around the house. It helps temporarily. I don’t get it during the day.  I hope it goes away once I’m up and moving more.

So that’s my blurb of the day.  Hope you all have a wonderful Thursday!

Selfless Plug for Relay for Life/First BIG outing

On Friday, I will see many of my work colleagues and friends for the first time after surgery.  It is going to be a big evening for me that I have been working towards since my surgery.

I will be walking the survivor lap of the relay which is one full lap of the track.  I’m guessing is about 400 meters.  It will be my longest distance walked to date.  I am doing it as a personal goal but also for all those people who I met in the hospital who are fighting cancer.  I know I will be only two days at home before this event happens but I promised myself I would be there and I AM going to be there.

If you would like to donate to me, please click the link below. You have until Friday 5:00pm to do so.  I am trying to raise $1,000 and I am $140 away!

The proceeds raise money for the Juravinski Hospital Cancer Centre (JHCC).  As quoted on the web page, “This year, JHCC teams will be fundraising to help purchase a new state-of-the-art MR simulator and the required renovations to house this specialized equipment in the Cancer Centre. This new imaging treatment tool will improve the radiation treatment program for patients and families in Hamilton, and across the region.

Rachel’s Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life Page

Thank you!

 

 

Home Sweet Home

I am home! Home! Home! Home!  Yay!  This morning, I awoke to the sun rising, not to a nurse waking me up to get my vitals, not to a person vomiting down the hall, and definitely not due to a noisy roommate.  It was wonderful.

Yesterday morning, I managed to wash my own hair over the bathtub as well as get dressed and pack up some of my stuff. By that time I finished, I was wiped and needed to rest.  The doctor came in around 10:00am and told me I was clear to go home. I asked her a few wound care questions and what I my restrictions were.  We were all very happy that I was going home today. Meanwhile, Brandon had already started his journey to pick me up in the van at 8:30am.  He arrived at 11:00am.  The gardiner expressway was a mess due to accidents and construction.  It was no big deal though, it’s not like I was going anywhere.

Brandon and I waited until 12:45pm before I could leave the hospital. The nurse still needed to see me to remove my last line (the one that connects you to an IV should you need it), as well as give me discharge instructions.  The porter came at 1pm and we were off.  I stopped at the pharmacy on the way out of the hospital to fill my prescriptions because it would be the worst to get home and then need pain meds and have nothing!!  I took a morphine before we left the hospital because I knew it was going to be a potentially long ride home.

As we were leaving I snapped this quick picture of my room.  Note the white rabbit on my bed. It’s name is “Splint”.  It was a gift from my brother but a lifesaver.  I slept with it every night to splint my abdomen and also used it whenever I went traveling in the wheelchair. Bumps are the worst.  It is currently sitting under my keyboard as I sit reclined on my recovery couch.  You are NEVER too old for stuffed animals.

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My accommodations for 12 days

As I got into the van, I reclined the chair and put Splint on my lap and buckled us both in.  It must have looked really funny but honestly, I could have cared less because I’m being held together by stitches at the moment and if we had hard stop, I’d hate to see what would be left of me. The ride home was pretty slow but we made it and I was in my own home by 3:30pm.  Navigating the four steps to get into my house was an adventure but I did it. My legs have atrophied really bad and I really need to get moving more, but one step at a time!   Getting into my own bed was also a difficult task. Since I sleep on the left side of my bed and most of the surgery was on my left side (left obliques cut), I am super hesitant to move that way and it resulted in me crawling into bed and then somehow rolling over.  During the process Brandon asked, “are you okay??”.  I must have looked like some sort of beached whale.

My family dropped by around 6:30pm with food. My mom had spent all day cooking for me and left me with all of this food and then some. Best mom ever!!  My brother told me that I had lost so much weight that I looked like a preteen. Thanks dude. Haha.

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Mom prepared this plate for me. Grilled veggies, potato salad, and ham.  Believe it or not, I managed to finish it all by the end of the night.   It all went down and a lot easier than the hospital food.

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I also had a visit from my mother in law. She has been taking care of our house and my rabbit during this whole time and I am super thankful for that.   I was able to come home to a spotless clean house thanks to her.

It was a big day and I was wiped by the end of it.  I now know why everyone talks about lack of energy post total gastrectomy.  It’s frustrating but I understand why it must be this way and I must remember not to push it too fast. I keep my hospital bracelet on to remind myself to take it slow.

So I have made three big plans for myself today.

1) Take a shower – a REAL shower!!

2) Go downtown to get cheese from McGuires Cheese – I am soooo excited. Cheese!!!!

3) Catch up on Game of Thrones with a few friends

I am itching to see friends and family.  I am looking forward to the next two months recovering at home. I know every day is better than the one before.

Carpe diem!