With M80’s and fire crackers still going off in our neighborhood, Kate and I were reflecting on this past year and she asked me, “many years from now, what do you think we will remember from 2014?”

In the words of the great Charles Dickens, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times. While 2014 was tumultuous to say in the least, it brought out the best of me and also the worst in me as an individual. It was a crucible for our marriage putting to the test our vows, our commitment to each other and it brought out the best and the worst in our relationship. In the past 12 months, we as a couple and as a family moved to a deep place of Kate and Steve-105surrender, trust, hope, commitment, joy and love we have never experienced before. Yet, at the same time, the barrage of complications, the slow sludging through the unknowns of life without a stomach and the dread of being chronically sick has taken it’s toll. 2014 tested the elasticity of our friendships, our support network, and our families which have led to some pleasant, unexpected surprises as we expand the boundaries our community. This was a year I would not want to repeat again, but I would not want to trade it for anything as I experienced both the trial and triumph that makes life worth living.

After 10 months, living without a stomach in some ways has been easier and in other ways more difficult than I could have ever imagined. The complications I have been struggling with over the past couple months have underlined the fact that constant adjustment is the new ‘normal’. There are days when I hardly remember I had a major surgery, and other seasons where I am reminded of the really annoying realities of being stomachless. The top of the list right now is not being able to sleep laying completely flat which makes every night like trying to sleep on an airplane. There is a sweet spot in the angle of my body that will keep me from getting bile reflux in the middle of the night, but the delicate balance in how I sleep makes me choose between neck, lower back, or butt pain. Waking up every couple of hours to adjust my body is reminiscent of those zombie-like days when Evangeline was just weeks old. Second on the list is trying to figure out why for past few weeks I have had dumping syndrome/reactive hypoglycemia (I can’t figure out which it is) at least once a day regardless of changing my diet. I can only imagine what other patrons in the grocery store think about a man who walks around like he is drunk and sweating profusely 45 minutes after lunch. The constant adjustments to my diet like lowering carbohydrates, boosting protein intake, and changing my snack schedule is inconvenient, but it is not the end of the world. For now, I’m making the slow switch to a low-carbohydrate diet which I think has helped with the dumping syndrome/reactive hypoglycemia, but I think the switch has left me feeling more lethargic.

Kate and I want to wrap up 2014 thankful for what the resilience and resolve this year has instilled in our faith, our marriage and our family. We are incredibly grateful for the deeper sense of community and friendship for all of you who have rallied around us, covered us in prayer, taken care of Evangeline when I could not lift more than 8 lbs, made us meals, and have been extraordinarily generous to support us. When we think of 2014 many years from now, we will also remember you. Finally, it is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so we’re going to let the pictures speak for themselves.

January 2014

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Preparing to say ‘farewell’ to my stomach

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February 2014

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The farewell stomach tour was worth every penny and every calorie

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March 2014

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If this is the last meal I’m going to eat, it was a good one.

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April 2014

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Thankful for my friends who have passed on friendly recipes for the stomachs.

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May 2014

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Small, but mighty portions. Hello appetizer menu!

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June 2014

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No reason to be afraid to cook

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July 2014

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Experimenting with the foods I can and can’t eat. Chicken, yes! Rice and noodles, no!

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August 2014

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For our friends who made us some incredible meals along the way

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September 2014

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Living without a stomach has made me a better cook

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October 2014

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Coffee makes the world go round

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November 2014

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I never thought I would eat a steak like this again. I can’t eat as much, but I can eat it, and that alone is worth being thankful.

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December 2014

I ended the year with a final motorcycle ride of 2014 waving goodbye to my stomach, a crazy year, and hello to what will hopefully be a year of good health! While 2014 was challenging, I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. Thanks for journeying with my family and me!

Cheers!

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-Steve

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One thought on “2014: The best of times, the worst of times.

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