Going into surgery a month ago literally feels like another lifetime. As we prepare to resume our lives tomorrow, Kate and I did some reflection on some of the things that immediately stood out to us throughout our journey. While we could point back to many different moments, people, and circumstances that carried us through this time, I think this period in our life will be marked by:
This past week our pastor Dale asked me to record a video update for our church community on my recovery. I can’t begin to describe how amazing our church community has been to us throughout this whole experience. The overwhelming flow of love, support, cards, e-mails and Facebook messages really touched our whole family. Here was my message to our community:
Even beyond our church, our families and the network of friendships I’ve built throughout this entire journey from the No Stomach for Cancer/CDH1/Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer community, have been solid gold.
A New Lease on Life: Learning to Enjoy the Moment.
After a month of recovery and what I feel like is a new lease on life, Kate and I decided we wanted to do something fun as a family before we return to work tomorrow. So today we spent the day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Evangeline is almost 18 months old and had a blast running through the huge reef exhibits. The pure joy she had pressing her face on the glass and getting so scared when a big sturgeon swam up to her was absolutely priceless and made my heart glow with contentment. These little moments seemed to take on new meaning today. As I sat back and watched Kate and Evangeline observe the life and play of sea otters, I was filled with love for my two girls. I wonder how many moments I’ve missed like this because I was too busy thinking about what’s coming next, what I have to do next, and so busy worrying that life just passed me by. It sounds a little Viktor Frankl, but it really is true. I was determined on this last day together that no matter what, I was just going to enjoy the time with my family, snack well, and carry on. Overall, only after a month of recovery, I am really encouraged because it seems like I’m progressing well. Today I even had a really good lunch splitting a meal of fish/scallop and chips from one of our favorite seafood places, Phil’s Fish Market. Don’t ask me why, but if it’s fried, chances are, it’s going to go down well for me. Unfortunately, I ate the meal before I got to snap a picture of it, but I’m sure you’ve seen enough of my food adventures for a while.
Note to Self: Everyday is a new day.
The whole process of recovery for me has been up and down, up and down, but I have to keep reminding myself: everyday is a new day. After having three good days in a row, yesterday I had a terrible day. On those good days I was able to put on a half pound, but one bad day set me back a couple more pounds this morning (mostly water weight). It takes a lot of energy to remind myself that I do not need to get angry and frustrated, but to take it one day at a time. The past couple of days I’ve been cycling through the pictures I’ve taken this month on my iPhone and to see how far my scar has come in the past month has encouraged me. Even if I don’t feel like something is happening, I can trust that something is happening. I might not notice it day to day, but over a period of a week or two, I can really start to notice the progression.
P.S. BEWARE OF GORE… I almost didn’t post this, but, the reality of a total gastrectomy is the reality of a total gastrectomy, so skip to the end for the pictures of the scar, otherwise just stop reading.
Just a note: The heavy bruising that you see is from a medication that is given standard for all surgeries at Stanford to prevent blood clots called, heparin. It’s administered to you every 6 hours on the dot and feels like burning, literally. Waking up every 6 hours to get this shot was a pain in the butt (also literally… just kidding, I got mine in the tricep, but had to switch arms every time). After a weekend of our surgeons not seeing us, they noticed the heavy bruising on Monday and stopped the heparin shots immediately. I still have some bruising today, but it’s no where near the gladiator-esque wound I woke up to on day 2.