It’s one year ago today that I had my total gastrectomy. It’s my stomachiversary, or nostomachiversary, depending on what you want to call it. Oh how things have changed!
I still remember the day I was told there was a large tumour in my stomach, and that the whole stomach had to be removed. Jo and I sat in the Surgeon’s waiting room and cried. I had no idea of what to expect or how my life would change. I didn’t even know that such a thing was possible, and yet, it was about to happen to me.
I remember that day a year ago. Jo walked with me to the door of the Surgery Prep room. She held me tight and said “You’ve got this”. I remember hoping that it was true. All the time leading up to that moment I had her beside me, through all of the chemotherapy, and all of the bad news. This I had to do on my own. I was terrified.
I remember the kindness and professionalism of the anesthetist and nurses as they prepared me for surgery. The wave of nausea that hit me as the needle went into my wrist, the discomfort as the epidural went into my spine. I remember focusing on my breath.
I remember waking up, the front of my body stapled back together, high on a cocktail of fentanyl and the epidural, trying my best to amuse and entertain the nurses in the recovery room.
I remember a week of being tied to a hospital bed with tubes coming from nearly every orifice, my arm and my neck. Three days nil by mouth, then another two on clear liquids. Eleven days before I could poop.
I remember getting home from the hospital, and insisting that we walk to a friends house who lived around the corner. I remember having to take multiple rests on the way, and on the way back.
I remember weeks and days of patiently exercising and doing yoga, gently at first, then getting stronger and stronger, until I was stronger than I was before the surgery.
I remember that I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my friends, my family, my employer, but most of all my amazing wife Jo. Thank you so much!