10 Months Post Total Gastrectomy

Things are going as expected. I can’t believe it’s been 10 months since my total gastrectomy.  I have lost a total of 45 lbs. However, I can still race Triathlon and beat my old times! Next stop – IronMan and Marathon.

However, I haven’t been training as much as I hoped due to soreness after workouts. I also have lost a bit of weight so I’m trying to figure out how to keep the lbs on. My goal is to run the half marathon in January for the Charleston Marathon event.  I’ve run it before (with a stomach) and really want to beat my old time but the lack of training certainly will impact me.  We will see.

If you want to hear about certain topics, request them via Twitter –  https://twitter.com/GoWithoutYoGut

Stay tuned!

Stomachless Ironman 70.3

Hey Ya’ll

I have an exciting announcement! I’m going to be racing in an IRONMAN 70.3 Triathlon.

Event Details:
IRONMAN 70.3 – Wilmington, NC 10/13/2018
1.2 Mile Swim
56 Mile Bike
13.1 Mile Run
Goal time – sub 5:30:00

Today is my birthday and I’m really excited about this race and the support of all my family and friends as we try to raise money and awareness for No Stomach For Cancer. I have yet to do a race like this without a stomach and I’m sure it won’t be easy. Please join me in fundraising efforts and share this page!

Donate Here

Or the link below:

https://give.everydayhero.com/us/support-no-stomach-for-cancer-and-join-me-as-i-race-ironman

Keywords:

Ironman 70.3 triathlon cdh1 hdgc stomach cancer

No stomach for cancer

Total gastrectomy

6/21/2018 – Twenty-Four Weeks Post Total Gastrectomy

Ya’ll – I did another Triathlon.  Here is a picture of around mile 2 of the run.

June 17 2018 – Charleston Sprint Triathlon Race 2

This sprint triathlon is a 600-meter swim, 12-mile bike, and 3-mile run.

I hope you don’t mind the dorky picture. I get a bit loopy during these events.

It was hot and I couldn’t catch my breath on the run. I felt like I had nothing left to give.  I wanted to quit but fought through it. My goal was to post my best time ever but I came up 20 seconds short of my personal best. I DID, however, improve my time by 23 seconds from last race. I was motivated to fight for a personal best after I met so many sweet people in Tampa that encouraged me to keep improving and fighting to get better.  They told me it encouraged them seeing me doing triathlon and improve my times. The next race is July 29 and I’m already excited!

I’m trying to increase my training, while not losing weight.  It’s not easy. I weigh 161 lbs and my body fat has to be in the single digits. I weighed 202 prior to surgery. It’s pretty crazy. I don’t want to go any lighter because I know my training load will increase if I do the Ironman 70.3 in Wilmington in October.  I have until July/August to figure it all out – assuming they don’t sell out the event.

The Ironman 70.3 is exciting, but I’m hopeful I can also run a Marathon by the end of this year and hopefully a full Ironman (140.6 miles) in November of 2019. I want to use those events to fundraise for No Stomach For Cancer as they help fund research for CDH1 gene mutation.

I hope you will stay tuned and keep reading along as I figure this all out. I need to focus on staying healthy and fueled so I can keep training.

6/9/2018 – Twenty-Two Weeks Post Total Gastrectomy

I feel very blessed. I attended The Spotlight on Gastric Cancer event which was put on by No Stomach For Cancer and Moffitt Cancer Center.  I was able to meet many former cancer patients and several fellow stomachless friends.  It blessed me because we all have different stories, but we all have/had similar struggles.  I was reminded how difficult the “early days” were.  They had no rules. We all have those “crazy” stories. But – we are still here! We are happy, healthy, and full of life.  We have lost family members, but we are motivated to help others through the difficulties of this disease and live the best life possible.

I was also able to meet with several doctors and surgeons.  There are great people dedicated to learning and sharing their research to try and offer more treatment options for cancer patients.  I would guess, over 100 patients, former patients, caregivers, and professionals joined the event.  We heard from several experts in the industry. Topics covered were:

  • Laparoscopic Total Gastrectomy
  • A new technique where they introduce chemo during surgery. This seems to be very new and they are still doing research.
  • Immunotherapy
  • The importance of choosing an experienced surgeon
  • Pathology reports and techniques used at Moffitt
  • Diet and vitamins after a total gastrectomy
  • A theory that we should consider treating H. pylori prior to symptoms
  • Patient testimony

Giving Hope

I have a few conversations with people who read this blog. I never know who reads this, but they said it blessed them. I need to stay more involved with posting as I remember reading these types of blogs when I first learned I had CDH1 gene mutation.  Reading those blogs helped me prior to surgery and the first few weeks after surgery.  I’m hopeful I can be more consistent. If you need to reach me, you can always reach me on twitter. https://twitter.com/GoWithoutYoGut

Closing thoughts:

I met several strong, inspiring people this weekend. One impactful moment was listening to a mother who was diagnosed with stage 4 gastric cancer and was given a 4% chance of survival.  She fought through several (seven I think) rounds of chemo and radiation.  Not only did she make a full recovery; she had a successful TG.  And because she had the CDH1 gene mutation, her own two daughters, her sister and her niece, all of which were CDH1 gene mutation positive, had successful TG’s all within a few months. It was very special and inspiring to hear their story.

I also was able to meet a fellow stomachless friend who also suffers from celiac disease! That was cool. We exchanged numbers and I hope we can keep in touch as we share a similar journey.

Y’all are brave. I encourage you to share your story as you never know who it will encourage.

How to Train/Exercise Without a Stomach

A fellow stomachless friend reached out to me asking me about how I got back into training. So – I wanted to share how it worked for me. Keep in mind that everyone’s recovery is different. I would encourage you not to get frustrated, go slow, and stay patient.

I had my total gastrectomy on Jan 6th and ran my first mile Feb 16th and finished 4th in a Sprint Triathlon May 20th.  It’s also worth mentioning, through over 10 events, I scored my 2nd best time.

I sound “braggy”…. But – the reason I share this is because I remember early January feeling much doubt and not sure if I would ever run again. So, I share this to provide hope that you can still live a fantastic exciting life without a stomach.

Please don’t take this as gospel – meaning – this isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Everyone is different. Go slow and listen to your body. When in doubt, take a day off and rest. Also – please note that recovery is much more intense post opp. Example – I used to work out 6 days a week. Now – I can currently work out 3 days a week or so.

After about two weeks after the surgery, I started walking a mile or so every other day. Then, I would walk a mile, two days in a row, followed by a day off. Then 1.5 miles, or 2 miles. I would then increase the speed of my walks. I would build up to about an 18min/mile pace, then 16min mile pace, then 14 min mile pace. I would walk slow for a mile, then speed up to 14min mile pace (feels like your speed walking) and I would do that for a mile or so, then slow back down to normal walking pace. After you do that for a few weeks, you should feel like you either need to keep doing it, or you feel like it’s too easy and you’re ready for a jog. Make sure you warm up well – then job for a few minutes. Feel your body. If it hurts, go back to walking, if it doesn’t, keep jogging for a mile or so. They key is to take it easy and don’t overdo it. Your body will respond very well if you lightly train and take recovery days seriously. I kept it that way and in no time – I was up to running 4 miles (April 3rd). My pace is much slower, but it feels so amazing to go out and run knowing everything we have been through.

Swimming was a bit uncomfortable for some time. Since I had open surgery, the healing takes a while. It wasn’t until April 20th that I was able to swim 1,500 meters without pain. It’s still tight when I first start swimming, but it feels fine after a few minutes of warm up.

Nutrition during training:

I struggled with drinking water early on. Strangely enough, once my heart rate goes up and I sweat a bit – I can drink much more easily. I don’t even really think about it when I drink while training. Same is true with my sugar drinks while training. They have not given me issues assuming I “need” them due to hard effort. While you introduce “nutrition” on your longer sessions, be cautious and don’t overdo it. Perhaps sip on your drink one day at home to ensure it will sit well.  Your body will also change quickly.  Example: I used to drink Gatorade G2 the first few weeks after surgery.  Now – it can’t drink it as it makes me run to the bathroom. Not sure what changed – but it’s a no go. Gatorade Endurance gives me no issues, but I only drink it during training sessions.

My goal is to do a full Ironman in the next couple of years. Stay tuned for more details during the journey! If you have questions – message me on Twitter https://twitter.com/GoWithoutYoGut

5/20/2018 – Seventeen Weeks Post Total Gastrectomy

Hey Ya’ll. I just finished a Sprint Triathlon. I came in 4th out of 26 in my age group. Crazy – I posted my 2nd fastest time! That means, I beat out 9 other Triathlons where I had my stomach.  I’m beyond happy with the race as I gave hard effort the entire time. I’m looking forward to completing a few more of these and further increase my fitness.  I’m toying with the idea of doing a full Ironman in the next few years. Stay tuned!

4/24/2018 – Fourteen Weeks Post Total Gastrectomy

Hey Ya’ll.
Thanks for following. Things are still improving day by day.  I’m looking forward to increasing my training schedule as the summer days approach and hope that I will come with an increased energy.
I have lost a total of 34 lbs but I believe I’m leveling off. I try and get my calories in but it’s tough at work because I can forget to eat when I’m working.
Overall, I’m really blessed. I know people who have had such a worse time and all I can say is that I feel blessed. I don’t deserve the good health I have been given, but I’m extremely thankful. I do believe much of the success goes to the following:
  1. Faith
  2. Choosing an experienced Surgeon and going to a center of excellence
  3. Working with No Stomach For Cancer as they helped me through that process
  4. Family and friends.
For those readers wondering, “what’s it like 14 weeks out”, I’m still having the following issues:
  1. It’s hard to fall asleep most the time. This makes the next day pretty rough in the morning and especially in the afternoon. I struggle to stay awake starting around 3 pm, but then can’t sleep at night.
  2. Fatigue – mentioned above – but around 3 pm on my “bad days”, I feel like I can’t keep my eyes open. It’s like someone attached weights to them. It’s a bummer but I’m working on it.
  3. Reflux. Ugh.. will it ever end? It’s getting better – but still, have an episode once a week or so. I still have to figure it out. It’s happening with “normal/safe” foods.  I hope it ends soon.
  4. Fitness – I used to work out 5-6 days per week so I could compete in triathlons and other endurance events. The best I have done was 3-4 days per week and it was brutal. I have dialed it back to working out whenever I feel like it.  I lost so much muscle that when I work out now, I’m sore for at least two days. Thus – I’m trying to “ease” back into training but Triathlon season is only 4 weeks away and I’m still pretty weak. What can you do…
Talk to you soon!

4/7/2018 – Twelve Weeks Post Total Gastrectomy

My first week back at work went very well. The night before (Sunday), I had reflux from 2am-3am.  I was worried that it would make my first day rough as I didn’t sleep well. However, it went pretty well overall. I packed 5 granola bars and a few Gatorade (G/2 – which is lower sugar). Also – my company has a Starbucks on campus, so I was able to get 2 oz of Espresso once I got tired. I really like that. 🙂
I’m starting my triathlon training again. Boy, it’s not going as well as I had hoped. I get tired very easily and I’m sore for days after a tough day.  I also noticed that I get affected by colds/allergies/sickness much easier. For example, I have had “drainage” and a cough for almost 3 weeks. I suspect it’s because of my immune system isn’t as strong as it used to be. I wanted to come back this triathlon season and win races to raise awareness for No Stomach For Cancer and how much they helped me. However, at this point, I’ll have to race to finish, rather than race to win.  Oh well – maybe next year.
Lastly, last night I had horrible reflux. The worst ever. The taste was so bad I was gagging and dry heaving which kind of scares me since I have yet to vomit without a stomach. After it all settles down following some crackers and water, I have heartburn the following day and that awful taste in my mouth.  It’s a bit discouraging as I don’t know why it all happened.
I have a feeling that these things just “happen” with life after no stomach. I just hope it doesn’t happen very much.
Hopeful for a great week!
Connect with me on twitter: @GoWithoutYoGut

3/27/2018 – Eleven Weeks Post Total Gastrectomy

I know it’s been a while since I have updated.  I’m sure this won’t be the last time there is a large gap in time between updates.  Things have been going pretty well, however, for those of you who have done this know, no day is safe.
Blood sugar crash is much scarier. I feel weak and as if I have the flu. I become very slow in thought. I sweat and get hit with intense hunger.  I know that I typically need 15g-20g of carbs to recover and the ride will be over in 15-20min. However, I have the sudden appetite for 1,000 calories and 250g of carbs. I have to be very careful I don’t overeat during this time.  If I do, I get horrible cramps. It’s a mistake you will not want to make again.
Outside of those, I get reflux from time to time. The remedy for me is gluten-free crackers and a little bit of liquid.  Coffee during the day and water during the night.  Just be careful not to eat too much. Take small bites and chew like you just had surgery.  During reflux, it feels like everything get’s stuck in your esophagus so if you eat too much, it could be a bad mixture.  Eating during reflux seems counterintuitive but it has worked every time. So, along with my blood sugar management snacks, I now take some reflux snacks too. I’m basically always taking an entire days worth of snacks with me because I never know what the day will be like.
I had the kids at Wal-Mart the other day while my wife was meeting with a friend. My nearly 3-year old was being very energetic.  All the sudden, I felt really tired and weak.  I took a second to check how I feel. Yup, I’m sweating. I could feel my blood sugar was low. I suspect, the high sixties or low seventies.  I grabbed a Gatorade and started sipping. Before I left the store, I was on my way back to normal.  It was a bit crazy though. I forget that I’m in charge of my kids and I have to be prepared for these situations so I can stay coherent and keep the kiddos safe. I never really thought about it before.
I return to work on Monday. To be honest, these 11 weeks have gone by way too fast. I think it will be hard to go back but I feel like this is a step I have to take in order to get back to the new normal. I have lost a total of 33 pounds and it’s not easy to keep weight on.
Last night, my wife and I went out to eat at a restaurant that has a serious Gluten Free (GF) menu. The food and service were great! We were reflecting on this journey and there are parts of it that do not seem real. I can’t believe we did this and I’m thankful that I no longer have Cancer.  It was/is a tough journey, but it was worth it.  I know others who have had a much more difficult time with recovery. Thus, I’m very thankful. I feel as if God protected us and I certainly did not deserve it.
Wish me luck going back to work!

2/11/2018 – Six Weeks Post Total Gastrectomy

Six Weeks! I can start working out again…. hopefully.
I was told by Dr. Yoon I can run six weeks post-op.  My incision area is still a bit sore and tight so I’m not sure how running will go, but I would like to give it a try. I have been walking a good bit. My best walks thus far were one for 4 miles at a 19min/mile pace and one for 2 miles at a 16min/mile pace. Major napping needed after.
I’ll also start some light weights. I have lost a lot of muscles and do I don’t want to overdo it.
Here is what’s new:
  1. Low blood sugar: I had my first low blood sugar moment. I ate a poached egg, gluten free toast, butter and a strawberry. 1.5 hours later I notice I’m feeling weak.. Like I’m getting the flu. Then I start sweating. So I stand up and realize I’m super dizzy.  I checked my blood sugar and it was 59. The lowest it’s ever been. I called a family member who has T1D and she explained I needed about 15-20 carbs and it should last only 15 minutes. The problem was, I already had poweraid and some crackers and was at about 35 carbs.  The feeling did go away after 15-20 minutes but it wasn’t fun. Then, I got super hungry. Like – pre-surgery hungry. I couldn’t stop eating. I have no idea how I kept going. Eventually, I stopped. Good thing too because I did get some mild cramps.. I assume from eating too much/too fast.  I heard that living stomachless can cause random drops in Blood Sugar (BS), so I’m glad I bought a kit and was aware of that. Knowledge is power yall.
  2. Reflux – ugh.. I still get random reflux. Especially if I lay down or if I eat something that gets stuck. Microwaved leftovers are the worst. The microwave dry’s out the food and it get’s stuck in my esophagus. It’s a bad feeling. It feels like your chocking on air.. then – you get reflux.  It’s like foamy spit that doesn’t end for 30min – 3 hours depending on who knows what.  Lastly, after it’s over, you have heartburn from the whole thing. I’m trying to figure out what’s causing it but I’m not a fan.
  3. Running – I ran a mile. Yay! 10:30 pace.  Felt pretty good. I walked 20 min to warm up. I later needed a nap.. very badly. Also – I’m sore. Already.