What’s your new normal?

It just occurred to me that the two year anniversary of my prophylactic total gastrectomy has come and gone (September 12), without a thought, until just now. I’m recalling the time before my TG, when I was still in the investigation stage. What should I expect? How will my life change following TG? Will I still be able to…(fill in the blank). Hike? Play racquetball? Enjoy my wine? Lattes? Forget about that – what will happen to my quality of life? Will I be tethered to the nearest bathroom?  Will I feel good, like I do now?  Or will I become sickly and fragile?  Will I regret having surgery?  Will I regret not having surgery?  Will I still have a life?

I was scared. Seriously scared. Frankly, the things I was reading were not very encouraging. I got lucky though. I found, or in some instances was found by, some very special people who had been down this road before me. They had words of support and encouragement to share. “I’m doing really well…don’t worry, you’ll adjust too…it’ll be ok…you’ll find a “new normal…a new normal…a new normal”

The fact that my anniversary has come and gone with little regard speaks volumes to me. It must be a new normal. My new normal.

The early months were certainly challenging. But now? Thankfully, little has changed. I still hike. I still play racquetball. I’m fully enjoying my wine and my lattes. It took awhile, and not that it’s a good thing, but I’m back to inhaling my food again – the result of growing up with three brothers I’m sure. I can’t think of a single thing that I used to do that I can’t do now. Well, ok, I can’t eat a half gallon of ice cream in a single sitting anymore, or coconut pops by the box.

I don’t obsess about my weight any more. After losing 20% of my pre-surgery weight, I’ve been holding at a steady, healthy weight. No more emotional battles with food. Food just is. I really enjoy eating – if I can remember to do it! Feelings of hunger are a thing of the past. It just doesn’t happen. When I’m out socially, and someone says, “Is anyone getting hungry yet?” or “Whose ready to eat?” I realize that days could go by before it would matter much to me.

While I can still do it, I’ve totally lost my motivation to work out. Weight management got me to the gym before. Now my husband has to drag me there, kicking and screaming all the way… I’m too busy! I have things to do!  He’s right though, and I know that. I need that strength training – muscle mass and bone density are so important, especially now. I need that cardio – for my heart health, and for my mental health.  We both know that!  I keep trying.

Dumping syndrome and all of the nasty symptoms that I experienced early on are rare occurrences now. My iron levels are better than ever in my life.  I can take iron supplements now without suffering those nasty side effects. And I think my husband really enjoys jabbing me when it’s time for my monthly B12 shot.

My uncomfortable scar has smoothed out now, thanks to a single treatment of steroid injections in the dermatologist’s office. It continues to fade, as does the memory of my TG. I hardly notice my scar any more, and I rarely feel it at all.

I’m thinking more about breast cancer risks, something I never thought much about before HDGC.  I need to learn more.

There are times when I’d love to be able to chug a great big glass of water.  In fact, I’d just like to be able to drink a glass or two with a meal.  Oh well.

My new normal…it’s pretty darned good if you ask me!

~ Karen Chelcun Schreiber

What is YOUR new normal? We want to know…

4 Responses to What’s your new normal?

  1. Cecily(Wilson) Guiney says:

    My two year anniversary was also on October 23. I am doing well . I am still struggling to gain weight . I only gain about 8 ounces per month. I don’t have the dreaded dumping syndrome. HURRAY for that. I still get very tired especially in the afternoons but all in all life is good. I am delighted to say that I do enjoy food again which is wonderful and sometimes I do overeat which can cause some pain. I have to remember to eat small portions and to eat every 2 hours. I get monthly B12 injections and I take 2 chewable calcuim per day. I do not regret for one minute my decision to have the gastrectomy Life is good without a stomach and without having to worry about that dreaded cancer. All the best to everyone.

    • ron stone says:

      hi, i am a year out from my tg, am 73yo, had it done prophylactically for cdh1 gene…i am doing well with weight and calories, thank goodness, but i am experiencing ongoing fatigue and little energy…am on b12 and iron, etc. i have always been very active and this factor keeps me depressed and wondering if i will ever feel “normal” again.. did you ever feel this or know of anyone who has? i do walk 2-3 times a day…. someone suggested adrenal issues? thanks for any ideas etc.. ron

      • hope2c83 says:

        I have been looking for another person over 70.(I figured they had all died) I don’t know how I missed you. I am 71 and 6 weeks post-op. before surgery I ate very healthy, walked 5 miles a day, and never took a nap. The reason I was looking for an older person is because we may need diffrent nutrition than a younger person. My Dr. seems unconcirned. When did you start to check levels? I have all the nutritional info. but just wondered if there was more to know. I am walking 2 !/2 miles a day at half my normal speed. I’m only 100 lbs. so I dont want to burn calories. I have about 5 really good haous a day. I’m wondering if fatigue and little energy is just the way it will be. I will let you know if I find out anything as maybe we just aren’t absorbing the nutrients we need. Carol

  2. Karen,
    My 2 year anniversary is coming up now too…Oct. 23rd.
    I’m pretty used to my new normal. I’m 25 lbs. under weight. I get really sleepy
    after I get home from work & sometimes dose off. Other than that, I’m pretty
    used to my new me. Although, since we moved to Florida and I’ve gone back
    to work full time…I seem to be having more dumping syndrome episodes in the
    afternoon. Seen as how I can only link it with the lunch I had earlier…My only
    recourse is to keep some candy bars on hand and sit down & relax for a few
    minutes. It’s working out just fine. My only other issue is, I believe I have a small
    hernia, just above my naval? In my business, this would be considered a comeback
    and it would be expected that I would do the work for free! Gee, I wonder if I could
    call Stanford Hospital and have them schedule me for a free, hernia repair OP?

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