The time has come! I am heading back to work next week. Yahoo! When you speak to friends and family you haven’t seen in a while, one of the first questions you are asked is, “how’s work?”. Since I haven’t been working, the question that usually comes up is, “how’s recovery?”. Although I don’t mind talking about my recovery to my friends and family, I am really looking forward to returning to a ‘normal’ life. Most of my friends are working and if they are not, they are on maternity leave. Being off work was necessary but I couldn’t help but feel like I was too young to be off work on sick leave for such a long time. I often joked that I was enjoying retirement.
I will be returning to work on modified hours, working three evenings a week – four hours each. My employer has been so supportive and they aren’t in any rush to push me back faster. I am thankful that I work in rehabilitation and we deal with gradual return to work all the time with patients. When I have returned to a full schedule, I should be working three 8 hour afternoon/evening shifts a week. It will be a challenge, but a challenge that I am ready and willing to accept! I will post updates next week if I’m not exhausted. Haha
Last week, I went car camping for three days (car camping is where you have a car with you on the campsite so it’s not quite roughing it). I ate more on this trip in one sitting then I have throughout my recovery so far. The picture below is an example of one of my breakfasts. It was half a slice of ham with an egg, a piece of cheese, and a tomato on top. Tomatoes are great to pair with a lot of foods because they are moist and bring lots of flavour to whatever you are eating.
Thirty minutes later, my plate was empty. I was both was excited and amazed. I have decided that I must push myself a little in terms of portion sizes so I can stretch out my new stomach. It may leave me feeling uncomfortable for a short period of time but in the long run, it will be worth it and soon I should be up to a small dinner plate of food. The food successes continued throughout the rest of the trip. On the way home, I was able to eat half a sandwich on a kaiser bun with lettuce, tomato, and loaded with cold cut turkey. I only had a minor carb crash but it was worth it.
I have also started to drink my fluids closer to a meal than before. I used to wait thirty to forty five minutes to consume any liquids pre or post meal but now I am getting more bold and drinking them as little as fifteen minutes after a meal. I go slow to avoid a dump but so far so good.
I tell my mom that this prophylactic surgery is not for the weak. It was a choice for both of us and we chose to believe that the alternative would have been far worse. We chose to have our stomachs removed. There was a 17% chance that we would have avoided death from stomach cancer in our lifetime. I may have been able to keep my stomach for another 20 years like my mom but you never know what would have happened in those 20 years. I have 11 good reasons why removing it now was a good idea. The mortality due to this surgery is very low but the morbidity (long term health consequences) is high. The most obvious being weight loss (10-15%). Others include permanent alterations in eating habits, and diarrhea, dumping syndrome to name a few.
But this recovery has been largely a mental game. There are good days and bad days. My recovery = majority of good mental days. But, if you are not an optimistic person, I believe recovery would be VERY difficult and it would be very easy to fall into a deep depression. I have managed to stay strong during this recovery but I cracked earlier this week and had a good cry at the dinner table and felt pretty good afterwards. I don’t like to admit to crying but I have to show that I too am human and be an honest blogger. Eating slowly, feeling full and looking at my dinner plate to see a lot of delicious food that I wanted to eat but couldn’t eat was the breaking point. After a nice pep talk from Brandon, I realized that this is only temporary and in another three months I’ll be that much further ahead.
So in true Rachel spirit, my goals for September are:
1) Have stricture stretched out to at least 15-17mm by the end of the month (next stretch is due in the next two weeks. I’m awaiting a phone call)
2) Be fully discharged or close to fully discharged when I follow up with my surgeon on the 24th of Sept. Fully discharged is scary but means I am doing well enough to not been seen again.
3) Return to regular part time working hours
4) Do not drop below 105lbs
5) Go to an all you can eat buffet. Just Kidding!!!