Today marks the 4th week since I went into surgery and this week seems like I’ve turned a little bit of a corner in my recovery. I’ve also discovered that I need some new pants! I feel like one of those people in the weight loss commercials who put on their old pair of pants only to show that you can fit a whole other person into the waist line. Well, it’s not that dramatic, but new pants and a new belt are in order. In total, I’ve lost about 31 lbs since surgery which has dropped my waist from a 34 to about a 32. I think the last time I was 175 lbs was when I was 12. No joke, I was a “husky” kid. Let’s just say until high school all my pants had an elastic band in the waist line.
I will say that shopping for new pants without a stomach has some benefits. First of all, it’s a lot of walking which was good for me. Second, when it came to snack time, I cruised around the food court, tried two samples of chicken and I was full. Snack? Done. Thirdly, I’ve never bought pants from the Gap before, and now I fit their demographic. “Gap, Inc… the land where 32 x 32 jeans are plentiful.”
This week I made some major strides in my nutrition. Following the advice and encouragement of a couple of my fellow gastrectomy friends, I’ve been slowly getting new “stomach” under control. I’ve learned that I can’t eat anything before 10 AM. So I start the morning off with a protein shake. Around 10 AM I have a small snack which right now is peanut butter in a pack or a really small breakfast. Breakfast consists of a little hashbrown and little scrambled egg. Kate and I have been splitting all of our meals which has saved us quite a bit of money. In solidarity with me, Kate’s been trying to stick to my diet. On a side note, portion sizes now seem huge. Part of me can’t believe how much I could go to town on food before my gastrectomy.
Lunch seems to be my best meal this week. For lunch I’ve been trying to get back into a rhythm as much as possible and not getting gun shy when it comes to re-trying foods that didn’t go well a week ago. New to this week, which was a huge success: Turkey sliders. Perfect Steve Dang sized portions. Sure I only eat half of one and it takes me an hour and a half, but it makes me feel normal again! It is funny though, because when I asked for a box our server looked at my plate wondering if I even ate anything! Sure these are turkey sliders, and I only ate half of one, but I’m still a man, buddy! I wish I could do ground beef, but for whatever reason, beef does not go down well for me.
I still remember that March 5th was my last steak, but for now chicken and turkey go down and stay down so I will take it. Dinner on the other hand has been rough. I don’t know why, but I’ve been struggling with simple things at dinner time including soup. I’ve been trying different methods to get my intestines ready to eat, including a handful of peanuts to get the digestive process going and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. My working theory is that part of the struggle comes from the fact that by lunch I feel like I’ve been eating all day so I skip on my snacks. By dinner time it might be a few hours since my intestines received any kind of food and I need to re-warm myself up to it.
I try to follow up dinner with another snack which I treat like dessert. However, here is one mistake I will never make again… I was going to make myself a chocolate milk with sugar-free chocolate syrup and lactose free milk… only there was one problem… I confused “sugar-free” for “fat-free” and I literally thought I was going to die. I had my worst case of “dumping syndrome” where I had terrible stomach cramps, threw up a bunch, rode the D-Train (TMI, I know, but true) and felt awful for a couple hours. The entire time I was drinking the chocolate milk I was wondering, “MAN! THIS TASTES SOOO GOOD” so I drank it fast. Now I know, if it’s too good, it probably is and I need to recheck the label. Kate snapped this picture of me after I was able to peel myself away from the toilet.
The good news is that I’ve started to work from home. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a youth pastor who works with high school students and last week I had all the sophomore guys over for a night of board games and video games. We had a full house and it was fun, but afterwards I had to sleep it off for a long time. My energy level is not what it used to be, but then again, I’m only 4 weeks out of a major surgery so overall I think that I’m doing pretty well for myself. Next week I plan to go into work a few hours everyday and head home when I start to not feel well. All the encouragement from our friends, bloggers, and family have really helped me to keep my chin up and keep moving forward. There will be a day when I will stop thinking about how many calories I’m eating, how much protein and “will this make me spit up?”, until then it looks like I’ll just have to take it one day at a time.
Just a word of advice for others: I’ve been keeping track of all of my calories using an app on my phone called Lose It, which helps me to keep track of all my calories. Why keep track of my calories you ask? It helps me anticipate how much weight I’m going to lose per week and also keeps record of my fat/carb/protein intake. It also informs me about how many calories I need to intake to maintain my weight. On average a 3500 calorie deficit equals about a pound. So last week, for example, I was under my calorie intake for the week by 10,089 which equals a little over 2.5 lbs and that’s about how much I lost last week. It has been helpful for me to see where I’m at and push myself a little more in the nutrition department. I’ve also been supplementing my diet with gummy men’s vitamins as well as gummy calcium chews which are a lot easier for me than swallowing horse pills.
I’m also thinking about starting a YouTube channel with all of my little recipes I’ve been trying for post-total gastrectomy patients. I’ve got to perfect them still, but wanted to create a channel for people with total gastrectomies. The closest recipes I’ve found have been for diabetics and gastric bypass patients which really aren’t the same for us. My friend Rachel has a blog where she will start posting recipes so I’m looking forward to trying all of it.