The faculty of making stupid discoveries by accident. The name of my first Fantasy Football Team. Neither of which have anything to do with this blog. I just like the word. Deal with it !!!!!!
Eating Issues after EC Surgery
This past weekend brought some eating issues that I am having to light. During my surgery for EC, my esophagus and 2/3 of my stomach were removed. What was left of my stomach was then stretched up and reattached to the little (2 inch) stub of my esophagus that remained for the sole purpose of having somewhere to reattach my stomach.
Right after surgery I had a problem eating, food would get stuck, and about every 3 months I would go see Gastro guy and he would stretch out the place where the reattachment occured. This is called the anastomosis. It could only be stretched a little at a time – to try and stretch it too much could result in a tear, which would not be a good thing. Little by little the anastomosis would stay open on its own, scar tissue stopped growing and I have not had to have a stretching for over 2 years now.
However, because I do not have a conventional esophagus and/or stomach, problems still remain when it comes to eating. A “normal” stomach can hold approximately 1 gallon of food when it is fully extended. (Bet you didn’t know that !) When you overeat a most uncomfortable feeling occurs whereby your stomach feels like it is going to explode and you wish you hadn’t eaten so much LOL. I remember those days well. My stomach holds approximately 8 ounces fully extended and because it now sits in between my lungs, not only is it very uncomfortable, it also makes breathing difficult. I never knew how much air I ingested while I ate until my insides were rearranged. When a person with insides in place eats and ingests air, the air goes into the stomach and moves around finding space with the food. Because my stomach is literally a tube, the air has no place to go. It gets trapped by food and the only way for me to get rid of it is to lay down and let the food fall to one side so that the air can make its escape back up. This causes some embarrassing moments; but belching is the only way for me to get rid of the air that is trapped. It also could cause a major problem by my food aspirating into my lungs causing choking. It wouldn’t be too bad if I could just let the air expell in it’s own time, but because of the way the new plumbing is set up, this isn’t possible; being too full causes breathing difficulty. The air in my “stomach” trying to expand and trying to breathe by expanding my lungs and well, it gets to be really painful at times.
Additionally I have no way to tell if I am full until my food starts to “back up”. It is always a dilemma whether to take that next bite or leave it. And it always seems to happen when it is something really good that I am eating LOL. In spite of myself I am finally to a place where I can leave the last bite. I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a home where you ate what you put on your plate. I do have a new solution for this. When I set the table now I put a smaller plate at my place. It is the “salad or luncheon” plate that matches my dishes. So far no one has noticed that my plate is smaller, except maybe Bosco and he isn’t saying anything because if he rats me out then no more food for him. And I know, it is a bad habit to feed him at the table – but it the only way I can clean my plate sometimes, even the smaller one.
Eating in front of company has its own set of problems. I am lucky in that most of my friends know what I have been through and still love me and put up with my little idiosyncrises. Most are used to seeing me, at one time or another, get up from the table and head for the washroom, gasping for air – but those who have never had the “pleasure” tend to look a little dismayed when I have to bolt. They also look perplexed when everyone around me continues on as though nothing is happening. When I finally return someone will ask if I am ok and the table goes back to doing whatever it was doing before I left.
I used to live to eat, but now I eat to live. It is a far cry from the days when my plate held a little bit of everything that was on the table. I now have to pick and choose what I am going to eat at any given meal. Food was my comfort zone, my friend. All-you-can-eat buffets lost money when I was there. Now, they smile with glee, knowing that they will at least show a little bit of profit from mytable. I have come to the conclusion that I could be very happy living on fruit and vegetables, but I know that I need protein so I try. But in all honesty, meat holds no allure for me anymore really, it is very easy to pass up on that steak and reach for the salad instead. And I rarely eat dessert anymore, by the time I am finished my main course there is no room for anything else. However, I have been known, from time to time, to scarf down my dessert before dinner, but it has to be something that I am craving…lemon merangue pie will do that, as will anything with coconut.
I know that complaining is not going to change anything. And I also know that I should just be glad that I am still here to complain. I often joke that just once before I die I would like to be able to sit down for dinner, eat a piece of steak larger than a matchbook, more than 1/4 of a baked potatoe and a healthy amount of caesar salad. However, should that happen I know that I am not long for this world.
For anyone who has ever suffered eating issues I feel your pain. The only real eating issue I used to have was eating too much and eating the wrong foods. These are still issues, but for different reasons. But as I have said in the past, everyone has their burdens to bear and this is one of mine.