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…