The snow day today reminded me of where I was at this time last year. Very stressed about finding out I was CDH1 positive and trying to determine the ‘best’ time to have my stomach removed. I had my repeat endoscopy with biopsy a few weeks prior and was awaiting the result. On Feb 5, 2014 (another snow day) my mom and I braced a snow storm to find out my result of my repeat endoscopy. That day I was told that there was microscopic cancer cells in my stomach. It was shocking news but weirdly enough, a day of huge relief. I had to break the news to Brandon as he was snow blowing our driveway. Not very fun.
Fast forward to 1 year later. I don’t think of having Hereditary Gastric Cancer Syndrome on a daily basis. Since having my stomach removed, I rarely think about my increased risk for the other cancers (breast and colon). There are a few things that do remind me that I have the mutation though. Whenever I have to go for screening and when Brandon and I bring up the child discussion. A couple of weeks ago I was screened for lobular breast cancer and my MRI and mammogram came back clear. Phewf! I will be having these annually from now on. In March, I will be screened for colon cancer and you can bet that I am so excited for that procedure. Detox here I come….haha.
Last week, I visited my family doctor for my overdue monthly check up and I mentioned the fatigue I was feeling. I like to blame fatigue on nutritional deficiencies which may be part of the issue (I mean my body IS still adjusting from the weight loss); however, she identified that the fatigue is more likely from going too hard too fast. She also re-iterated that I need to slow down sometimes because the day the stricture was fully dilated was the day I started to fully recover from the surgery. It was both upsetting and encouraging to hear this advice. Encouraging because it means that where I’m at isn’t really my new normal and upsetting that I am way behind others.
After the snow today, I decided to shovel the driveway. This is something that I usually enjoy doing as it is good exercise and give me an excuse to get some fresh air. After shoveling the walk my arms were tired. It was very surprising because I thought I was more in shape. After shoveling 1/8th of the driveway, I was feeling a bit dizzy and out of breath. So two quick calls to my brother (thanks Chris!), I had the snow blower going and I was off to the races. But this was no walk in the park either. Half of my driveway is down sloping which meant pushing it up the driveway multiple times. In the end, I managed to do the whole driveway as well as learn how to use our snow blower. No Stomach, No Problem.
I am amazed about how frequently I eat and how little weight I gain. I always feel bad saying this but then I remember that I live without my stomach and I would have loved to keep it if it hadn’t tried to kill me. Again, Rachel 1: Stomach 0. For the first time last week, I actually forgot to eat lunch. The feelings of being hungry are very prevalent some days, and almost absent others. I continue to eat Kind Bars as a quick go-to snack. I also continually snack on nuts. Sometimes these can get boring. Thankfully, my co-worker shared this recipe with me for no bake protein bars and they are delicious and full of calories!
Get the recipe here
I supplemented the coconut with slivered almonds (more protein!) and used just a small amount of dark chocolate chips. I also added 1/3 cup of “raw meal” protein powder. I also needed a little more peanut butter than what was listed because of the raw meal. I will warn my readers that these are highly addicting.
In terms of my body image issues I have learned to accept my body and I actually really like it. Now when I look at old pictures of myself, I seem a lot bigger. It’s because I’m used to myself now. People say that I look fantastic and now I can accept it when they tell me. Telling myself that I looked good even when I didn’t believe it, has come to fruition.
Last post, I talked about the 90:10 rule. Another thing I have learned without a stomach is that everyone has a story. Most of my patients view me as a small but mighty physiotherapist. But few of them know why I have a thin figure. On the outside, you may look great. But on the inside, everyone has a story. Now when I see people in the group exercise classes at the gym, I start to wonder, what’s their story?
For those considering this surgery, living without a stomach is not a hard life. It’s just a different life, which keeps everything more exciting.