Getting the Goods: Great Gifts for Gastrectomy Patients

Almonds

It’s the season of giving. For people who have lost a stomach, many changes are in order for their everyday lives. It can be a very difficult time both physically and mentally. Here are some ideas for gifts that are especially helpful for those who have undergone or are soon to undergo gastrectomy.

While everyone loves to nibble on sweets and treats, especially during the holiday season, gastrectomy patients have to restrict their sugar intake, if not avoid it altogether. So think twice before giving the standard chocolates, candies or a plate of cookies. While you can certainly opt for sugar-free varieties, there are some better choices out there.

Go nuts! Snacking on nuts helps to get needed calories and the protein boost is a big plus! Almonds and peanuts are the best options, but any variety or even a mix is a good choice. Consider sprucing them up with spices and seasonings, just be wary of the sugar in store bought varieties or recipes. Also, some are unable to tolerate spicy foods after surgery, so be cautious of that as well. Try some of these recipes from Eating Well.

Gift IdeasGinger and peppermint have a long history in folk medicine as being helpful for an upset stomach, er … well, maybe we should just call them digestion aids. Mild nausea is an almost daily occurrence for some post-gastrectomy. Many people find relief by chewing on peppermint candies or gum. Also, Altoids makes a Ginger lozenge and small pieces of candied ginger can also help stave off a sickly feeling. While it’s true most of these products contain sugar, the serving size is so small that for most people that little bit isn’t enough to cause problems. Check with your patient though, to make sure even small amounts of sugar are tolerated.

Cozy pillows of all shapes and sizes make great gifts for people recovering from surgery or soon to go under the knife. When I came home from the hospital I found myself needing to use a variety of pillows to prop myself up and keep at my sides to maintain some sense comfort.

PillowsA wedge pillow is essential for sleeping as it mimics the way a hospital bed inclines the upper body and may help to prevent bile reflux, a common complaint for gastrectomy patients. I’m 17 months post surgery and still use mine every night! Other good options are neck rolls, smaller square pillows and even a body pillow to keep from rolling onto the side while sleeping.

Many people find homemade smoothies and protein shakes a great source of nutrition. A mini or personal blender is a quick and convenient way to whip up a tasty treat that packs a lot of much needed nutrients. Look for one with a few different cups that have lids for travel and storage; and having non-motorized parts that are dishwasher safe is a must to minimize extra work. You can include some recipes. We a few that have been adapted for gastrectomy patients! Scroll down to nutrient Dense Foods. Favorites include the Super Protein Power Smoothie and the Berry Blast Shake.

Specialty lotions and creams are more than just a gift of luxe. Vitamin E is a must to help heal and minimize the scarring from surgery. In addition, gastrectomy patients can often find themselves with very dry skin due to malabsorption or mild dehydration. Consider giving a small basket with high quality or medical grade moisturizers. Eucerin, Mederma and Dermesse are just a few brands out there. And our family loves the True Blue Spa line by Bath and Body Works.

VitaminsVitamins as a gift? Well maybe not, but with all the supplements gastrectomy patients need to take, why not a gift card to a nutrition specialty store such as GNC or Vitamin World. From multivitamins and Calcium to protein shakes and bars, there’s something for everyone at shops such as these.

Electronic devices are growing in popularity largely due to their portability. You can’t work on your desktop while you are resting in bed, even a laptop can be cumbersome. But the versatility of e-readers, tablets and smartphones allow users to have quick, easy access to books, games, the internet and various Apps. Each product offers different functions and features, so you might need to do a little research to find just the right product for your patient.

iPadWith the growth of these electronic devices, gift cards are a popular way to let recipients pick and choose Apps that suit their new lifestyle. Whether it’s a food journal or symptom tracker, these Apps are a great way for people to organize their recovery and adjustment to their New Normal! Apple offers iTunes gift cards for iPhone, iPod and iPad users and are ubiquitous at check out kiosks and wherever gift cards are sold. For Android users, check out Amazon’s AppStore Gift Cards.

It is often said that giving a bathroom scale as a gift is a big no-no. But for someone who has to monitor their weight so that they don’t lose too much, it can be a very helpful and welcome item indeed. There are many kinds of scales these days, including digital models and ones that have memory to keep track of changes.

Some insurance plans cover nutritional assistance but many do not. If someone you know is unable to get coverage to see a Nutritionist or Dietician, consider setting up an appointment for them with a Gift Certificate or Card. To find a professional in your area, just go to your favorite search engine and type in “nutritionist + town and state/province/etc.” And it can’t hurt to ask around and seek a referral from a friend or neighbor.

Why not give them back a stomach!? While medical science has yet to perfect the stomach transplant, the folks at I Heart Guts have found a way to construct a soft and cuddly replica of many bodily organs, including this plush stomach. This cute gift can also double as a mini pillow!

Pampered ChefAnything to minimize time spent in the kitchen preparing meals is a huge blessing for practically anyone, but especially so for those who are recovering from surgery. Pampered Chef has an array of gadgets that aid cooks of all levels. Independent consultant Karen Brosnihan has offered to donate a percentage of the proceeds for all sales that come through this website. So whether you’re looking for a gift to give or something for yourself, check out Pampered Chef and start your shopping today! Also, if you click on the red Support Us tab above right, you’ll find more ways in which some of your shopping dollars can support NSFC.

The gift of time is inexpensive, completely heartfelt and especially helpful for a friend or loved one after gastrectomy. Cooking meals, helping around the house or running errands are only a few things you can do to reach out and give something both greatly needed and much appreciated.

In these times of over-commercialism of the holiday season, many are opting to give to charitable organizations. Consider a donation to No Stomach For Cancer in honor of someone who has prevented or cured their stomach cancer through gastrectomy or in memory of someone who was lost.

Keep in mind that everyone is different in how they adapt to life without a stomach. Physical, mental and emotional needs vary from person to person and with each individual over time. Just knowing that there are others who care and are supporting us makes all the difference in the world!

Teresa Feeney
Thanks to my family and Internet friends who helped me with the content of this article!

About Teresa Feeney

Teresa writes about her experience with gastric cancer and gastrectomy, plus other unrelated things, both here and elsewhere on the web. She lives in Pennsylvania.
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