Back Pain is a Pain

30 going on 130…

On the 26th February, I was doing some work on the computer when I started to feel pain in my lower back. This isn’t completely unusual for me since I was diagnosed with degenerative discs in my lower spine almost 10 years ago, but this felt different and more bothersome. I tried adjusting the chair, sitting on cushions and using a pillow for lumbar support, but nothing was helping. Lastly, I (stupidly) elevated my legs up onto the cabinet at the side of the computer desk. Since this alleviated the pain, I ended up sitting like this for some time whilst I continued with my work.

When I got up from the chair, I could barely stand up. I figured I’d just aggravated a muscle or something and took a hot shower before going to bed. When I woke up the next morning, I was in agony and my back looked like this:

I was completely locked to one side. (This also happened a few years ago after hiking up a mountain in Bergen, and it took a few sessions with my chiropractor before I was walking and standing up straight again.) This time was different as I had pain radiating down into my left leg like small electric shocks with every slight and sudden movement.

My first port of call was obviously my chiropractor, but unfortunately it didn’t help. I was still in agony and still locked to one side.

The following day, I went to see a Doctor, who diagnosed me with Muscular Scoliosis, and gave me a prescription for co-codamol and Nozinan; a strong anti-psychotic that is also used for pain relief. I couldn’t even sit down at that point and walking was a challenge, so I was advised to lay down and walk around the apartment every few hours to keep mobile.

The following day I went back to my chiropractor, but an hour or so after leaving, my back was skewed again. So I decided to try something different and booked a session with a Naprapath.

I explained my medical history and told him my core muscles were most likely weak from two open surgeries, and that I also had degenerative discs. Due to the pain radiating down into my left leg, he suggested that it could be a herniated disc.

He used a number of techniques – electrical current treatment and acupuncture on the area that had tensed up (that was causing scoliosis), along with massage and chiropractic adjustments. I started to feel a huge difference just after the first session, so I continued seeing him for further treatment.

10 weeks later and still dealing with pain, I was referred for an MRI. This confirmed that I had mild disc herniation, disc degeneration and Modic changes in the bone.

It’s an ongoing issue, and even though it’s been 15 weeks, I’ve been told that it can sometimes take 9 – 12 months for prolapse to resolve on its own, and that I shouldn’t be too hasty with surgery. I’m trying to incorporate different back exercises into my workouts to help strengthen the different muscle groups, but have to be careful not to aggravate the nerves by stretching or lifting too heavy. I still can’t sit without it causing pain, but I am able to do more than I could in March – and slow progress is still progress. 🙂

Regret?

Something I need to address, is the feeling of regret…

I often look back on the fall of 2016 and wonder if I’ve opened a can of worms or embarked on a rollercoaster (all feelings I’ve mentioned before, depending on how I’m feeling that day, both mentally and physically).

Sometimes I will joke with friends if I have an AMAZING plate of food in front of me, by saying something silly like how “I wish I still had a stomach”, which usually makes said group of friends feel uncomfortable… I wish they didn’t feel that way. After all, it’s only my dark and daft humour. I definitely don’t “wish” that… After all, I know I made the right decision.

Something I found difficult was what was said to me around Christmas time. Someone that I have a close relationship with saw me, and after a few drinks, got chatting with me about how much weight I had lost (at that point I was at my lowest weight at around 49/50kg after my second surgery). They confided in me that they had noticed, and then proceeded to ask me if “I had regretted” having my stomach removed. I was shocked. I didn’t regret it, and it’s still something that I don’t. At the end of the day, I was the one that opened “pandora’s box” by opting for genetic testing, and thus found out I had cancer upon the first screening… (This is why it annoys me that my medical notes have now been changed to “Prophylactic Gastrectomy”. There was nothing “Prophylactic” about it… The cancer was already there and I had surgery sooner rather than later because of this.)

I was naive to think that it would be all smooth sailing, and that I wouldn’t lose so much god damn weight, but the cancer was already there. Should I have ignored it and carried on as normal? One thing that I’ve learnt over time is that cancer does not discriminate. Regardless of your diet, lifestyle and age; the big C does not give a shit. I figured that out soon enough in our family, and after joining the CDH1 Facebook group, I found out even more so how ruthless it is… This group has helped me in so many ways, in ways that I can not begin to explain. The members have become an extended family to me; people across the pond in so many different countries that I feel connected to because we all discuss the elephant in the room, and how it’s affected our lives… Through this group, I’ve discovered that this pesky mutation and cancer has taken people much younger than me… So whilst I’ve never regretted having my stomach removed, I want to express the fact that I never did, and never will. Yes, there’s been obstacles and hiccups along the way, but nobody ever said it would be easy. I’ve had the most central part of my being removed; my storage tank, the thing that gives me fuel. But this very thing, would have killed me if I were to leave it be.

So no. I have NO regrets…

Late Dumping Syndrome

Back in March, I wrote a post about Dumping Syndrome

Signs and symptoms of dumping syndrome generally occur right after eating, especially after a meal rich in table sugar (sucrose) or fruit sugar (fructose). Signs and symptoms might include:

Nausea, Vomiting, Abdominal cramps, Diarrhoea, Flushing, Dizziness, lightheadedness, Rapid heart rate

If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also Late Dumping Syndrome!

Late dumping syndrome starts one to three hours after you eat a high-sugar meal. The signs and symptoms develop that long after you eat because your body releases large amounts of insulin to absorb the sugars entering your small intestine. The result is low blood sugar. Signs and symptoms of late dumping syndrome can include:

Sweating, Flushing, Dizziness, lightheadedness, Weakness, Rapid heart rate

(https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dumping-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20371915)

About last night…

After putting up the Christmas tree and beginning to get into the festive spirit, I decided to make B and I some “gløgg”. I had bought the bottle from IKEA the previous week and was already a little weary of the high sugar content after analysing the label, but figured I would be okay if I had a small cup and drank it very slowly. Oh, how I was wrong…

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The Culprit – 100ml: 79kcal and 19g of sugar

Over an hour later, as I was getting into bed, I started to feel clammy and warm. Next, came the dizziness, confusion, shakiness and heart palpitations. I immediately grabbed the squeezable honey; my “go to” item, to help raise my blood sugar as quickly as possible. For the next 30 minutes or so, I squeezed small amounts into my mouth and waited for the symptoms to fade away.

🍯🍯🍯

My first episode, around a year ago was frightening. I’d never experienced anything like it before and wasn’t even sure what was going on! I cried, and to this day I can’t explain why. I wasn’t sad, my head just felt completely jumbled up. It was a bizarre experience and I couldn’t really speak or do anything. Luckily, we figured that it was a drop in blood sugar and squeezable honey came to the rescue.

I have to be careful not to overdo it with the honey though, because on one occasion, I accidentally gave myself (early) Dumping Syndrome (after a Late Dumping episode) from consuming far too much! 🙈 Sometimes, you just can’t win!

Trust Your Gut

On Monday 22nd October, I awoke to pain in my abdomen in the lower left side, a pain that I’d never felt before. It was in a specific area and felt tender to touch. In the early hours of that morning, I had wolfed down half a Big Mac (a stupid thing to do when you no longer have a stomach), so my initial thought was that there was something “stuck”; an obstruction. I figured I would just stick to liquids that day, but even drinking was causing pain. So I made my way to the emergency room…

I explained my situation to the Doctor that examined me, and he too suggested that it could be an obstruction – a partial one since I was still able to drink fluids and use the bathroom. I was referred to emergency room at the main hospital for further investigation.

After waiting some time, I was examined by two different Doctors that asked a lot of questions regarding my medical history. Despite me explaining that the pain got worse shortly after drinking and that I didn’t think it was a stricture (the pain happened 5 minutes or so after drinking, which I figured meant it was slightly further down than the anastomosis – where the oesophagus and small intestine is joined together), the Doctor said he wanted a second opinion from a Gynaecologist.

At this point it was after midnight and I had been at the hospital over 9 hours. I hadn’t eaten anything for almost 24 hours – I was exhausted.

I sat down with the Gynaecologist and explained the type of pain I was having and pointed to the area that was tender. Immediately she said that the pain was too high to be anything gynaecological related, but that she would examine me anyway to rule this out.

Everything was normal as expected, so I was referred back to Akuttmottak and was admitted. The return journey was much more exciting! The transporter walked us both to the basement and we got onto a golf cart!  She drove us through the underground tunnel that connects both Haukeland Hospital and “Kvinneklinikken” (I had no idea these two buildings were connected).

Nothing much happened over the next few days. The pain was still there, I felt nauseous constantly and I struggled to eat and drink. On Thursday, I was sent for an X-ray with contrast.

After drinking copious amounts of barium liquid and laying in various positions, the radiographer could see that everything was moving through my intestines normally and that there was nothing stuck. He explained that the part of intestine that was causing pain had quite a few twists and turns. Since I was able to eat a bit more than previous days and was feeling a little better, I got discharged the following day. At this point, the surgeon (that had operated on me last year) suggested the pain could have been a number of things. That it may have been something that was stuck, and had since passed, that it could be bacteria from food (without stomach acid, it’s easier to get sick from food), or it could be adhesions and scar tissue from the first surgery – something I’d never heard of before.

Over the weekend, still in pain, I stuck to a soft diet but tried to consume as many calories as possible since I’d lost weight that week. As the days went on, the pain became excruciating. Shortly after eating, I would be laid down on my side, crying in agony. I took painkillers, but nothing seemed to help. On Wednesday 31st (5 days after being discharged and my 10th day in pain), I saw my Doctor, who referred me straight back to Akuttmottak.

That night, I was referred for an ultrasound. Apart from a few small gallstones in my gallbladder, nothing else was found and the cause of the pain was still not diagnosed. The next step was a CT scan.

Two days later, a few hours after I’d had the CT scan, I was told that I had high ileus and suspected adhesions. At this point, they couldn’t rule out a hernia, and that the only way to diagnose and hopefully fix the problem was through surgery. Since my last surgery was open, this one had to be open too as it would be too risky to do it laparoscopically. From that moment, I had to begin fasting and prepare for surgery. After the surgeon left, I sobbed uncontrollably. Although I was relieved that I finally had a diagnosis, I was devastated to hear that I had to go through another major surgery.

On Sunday evening, still on the waiting list for surgery, I was allowed to go home for the night. Although I still couldn’t eat much without being in a lot of pain, it was nice to relax at home and get a proper nights sleep.

After shortly arriving back at the hospital on Monday morning (my 15th day of pain), I was told that I was going down for surgery. I quickly texted B and my mum, packed away my things and down I went.

Upon arrival, I spoke with the anaesthesiologist and discovered that the surgeon was one of the three that had performed my Total Gastrectomy last year. This was a relief to me, as I felt safer knowing that it was someone who knew how everything looked inside!

A couple of hours later, I was woken up and moved to the recovery ward where I spent quite a few hours. Despite them giving me anti-nausea medication prior to surgery, I was dry-heaving constantly. They gave me various drugs over the space of a few hours, and nothing seemed to be working. Since water was making the problem worse, they gave me an ice lolly, which seemed to settle things… It was probably the best ice lolly that I had ever tasted!

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A few hours after Surgery

That evening, the surgeon came to speak to me and explained that the surgery had been a success and that they had found adhesions. Basically, it had formed a string that had wrapped around part of my small intestine – this explained the pain shortly after eating, the tender and swollen area of my abdomen and why food was coming back up. Luckily, there had been no permanent damage to that part of my small intestine. After the surgery, I was allowed to eat normally again and noticed very quickly that the surgery had fixed the issue since I no longer had pain after eating and drinking.

The pain from the incision however, was very difficult to cope with this time. The epidural wasn’t working well and the pain medication wasn’t helping. After trying different regimens, they gave me morphine, which helped a lot.

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Scar Update (Left before surgery, Right after surgery)

So now I’m going through the recovery stage again… Lifting restrictions for 6 weeks and no exercise – only walking. Although the problem was fixed, abdominal surgery (whether it be laparoscopic or open) carries a risk of developing adhesions so they could form again. But I have to remain positive and hope that they don’t. 😇 🍀

 

Stomach Cancer Awareness Month

November is Stomach Cancer Awareness Month 💜

Did you know that there are 1,000,000 new cases of stomach cancer diagnosed globally in 2018?

Unfortunately, Stomach Cancer doesn’t get as much recognition or funding compared to other cancers… My original plan was to raise money this month by doing a sponsored hike, but those plans are on hold this year due to health reasons. Right now, I need to focus on getting better. 🍀 Instead, I will be making a donation to both #nostomachforcancer and Dr. Parry Guilford’s research. To find out more about his research and ways to donate, check out this link.

Hopefully together we can help to raise awareness, and hopefully make a difference.

💜

1 Year Stomachless

It’s crazy to think that this time last year, I was laying in the operating room having my stomach removed. The past 12 months have flown by so quickly – it feels like it was only a few months ago since I was in hospital.

It’s been a challenging 12 months – both physically and mentally. I felt somewhat prepared, but in hindsight, nothing can truly prepare you for such a life changing procedure.

Recovery
In Recovery (26.09.2017)

In the recovery ward, not long after being awoken from the procedure, I told B that I was glad that I’d done it – and that still stands. I’ve never felt an ounce of regret, after all, I’m cancer free. But there are times that I wish that I still had my stomach, and moments where I miss that “rumbly tumbly” feeling (since I never feel hungry anymore), but I guess this is normal.

Despite gaining 9kg prior to surgery, I’ve gone on to lose 23kg; both body fat and muscle. Prior to surgery, I was fit, healthy, strong, and had a bucket load of energy. Now, I feel like a completely different person and it’s taken me some time to accept that it’s still going to be a long road ahead, “a marathon, not a sprint”, as B often says to me.

During my recovery, people have told me not to lose any more weight, which is difficult for me to hear since it’s easier said than done and I’m trying hard not to. I know it’s not meant maliciously, but it still hurts. There’s been days that I’ve stepped onto the scales and bawled my eyes out after seeing a lower number glaring back at me. Prior to my knowledge of having the CDH1 mutation, I was striving to lose a couple of pounds through diet and exercise, and had even tried things like “Slim Fast” shakes! Fast forward to a couple of years later, and I’m adding butter and cream to my morning coffee! It’s funny how things change…

I’ve also had people tell me that I look well, especially those that haven’t seen me for some time, and of course this is a positive boost. But a lot of the time, how I look on the outside, doesn’t reflect how I’m feeling on the inside. People assume that I’m well and fine, but I’m just not there yet. If I plan a full day out now, I need the following day to recover (sometimes two days). Some days I need to take a long afternoon nap, because I get lethargic easily and can’t focus on what I’m supposed to be doing.

This year, I’ve been away 3 times: spent a weekend in Poland, 2 weeks on Fjørtoft and 3 weeks in England. During my visit to Fjørtoft, I ended up being admitted to hospital because a viral infection had spread down my oesophagus, making it difficult to eat, and in England, I was very sick for 9 days and struggled with malabsorption as a consequence. This is just a crappy reminder that I’m nowhere near where I want to be just yet, physically.

Mentally, I’m also not where I want to be. Prior to surgery I had a few counselling sessions to help me deal with the whole situation and prepare me for such a big surgery. Back then, my anxiety stemmed from the procedure itself and anticipating being under sedation for so long. In hindsight, I was probably afraid of dying. In the months that followed, I felt better – I was alive and recovering well. What I hadn’t prepared myself for was my “new normal” after surgery, and the other tests that I would have to go through – Breast Cancer screening, the other side to the CDH1 coin for us ladies. Despite holding off for a while and trying to figure things out on my own, I decided it was time to go back to counselling.

Anyhow, despite a few hiccups and bumps along the way, I’m proud of reaching this milestone. I’m aware it’s still a long road ahead (much longer than I initially anticipated), but milestones should be celebrated! So tonight, I’m going to drink a glass of bubbly, and take my stomach Plusheez out for a beautiful Italian meal! (and B of course!)

1year
1 Year on (26.09.2018)

bmd

10 Month Update…

On Thursday 26th July, 3 days into my vacation on Fjørtoft and exactly 10 months since my TG, I was admitted to Ålesund Sjukehus, after going to the Emergency Room.

I was only one day into my vacation when I woke up with swollen tonsils and had difficulty swallowing. This got progressively worse over the next two days, making it difficult to both eat and drink, and to even swallow my own saliva. It’s been 10 months since my surgery and I am STILL losing a lot of weight (25kg lost), so being unable to eat or drink properly is a huge problem for me. I held out as long as I could, taking ibuprofen in hope that it would help reduce the swelling, but nothing helped.

We called the emergency room, explained the situation to them and was told to come in.

 

(First, we had to take the ferry to Brattvåg and drive from there)

The Legevakt was much smaller than the one in Bergen, and there was only a couple of people waiting to be seen, so I was seen by a Doctor very quickly. He checked me over and explained that my tonsils weren’t big enough to be causing an obstruction, and referred me to the hospital as the symptoms I was describing were similar to that of a stricture.

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Upon arrival, I had a blood test that revealed elevated leukocytes and CRP levels – indicating a sign of infection. After a long wait in the triage area, a Doctor came to see me and explained that since I didn’t have a fever, but had swollen tonsils and had had a cough and cold for a couple of weeks, that it was most likely a viral infection in my throat that had spread down into my oesophagus.

Around midnight, I was taken for a chest x-ray, and then taken to the ward to get some sleep.

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View from the Hospital

The following morning, I met with a surgeon that performed an upper endoscopy. There were no signs of a stricture, but my oesophagus was covered in white spots. They took a few biopsies and explained to me that it was likely a viral infection that had spread from my throat. They also told me that they would write to my GP in Bergen to be referred for a CT scan since I was still losing a lot of weight.

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Bjørnar reading my last rites 😀

After waiting an hour for the local anaesthesia to wear off in the back of my throat, I was allowed to try and eat something. I started off with tomato soup, then a banana. Both went down fine with little pain. After eating lunch, I was discharged and could return back to Fjørtoft to enjoy the rest of the sunshine.

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The closest I can get to horse without having an allergic reaction!

After a lot of rest, fluids and paracetamol, my throat is feeling much better and I can eat “normally” once again. However, in the past two weeks I have lost 2kg, and have had two episodes of hypoglycaemia – caused by late dumping syndrome. I’m less than 2kg away from being classed as underweight, and have been referred for emergency help at the hospital regarding my weight loss and diet.

So despite me looking well on the outside and being told by others that I look well, inside is a struggle. I feel physically drained very often, I get nauseous and uncomfortably full very easily, and feel that I look too skinny and bony.

Hopefully, I can enjoy the rest of my time here on Fjørtoft and gain back some of the weight that I have lost… 🤞

 

Checking the Tatas – Part Two!

Read Checking the Tatas – Part One!

Before leaving the hospital after the biopsy was taken, I was told that I would receive the results within 1-2 weeks. On the 18th May, I was informed that the small lesion was a fibroadenoma (as they had suspected), but that there were ALH cells present also (atypical lobular hyperplasia). I was therefore referred to a surgeon to discuss next steps.

On the 29th May, Bjørnar and I met with a breast surgeon. He explained that because of my increased risk of developing lobular breast cancer, combined with the finding of atypical cells, they wanted to remove the fibroadenoma along with some of the surrounding tissue. He explained the procedure to me and told me that it would be done using local anaesthesia. He also set me up for the procedure the following week.

A couple of days later, I received a phone call from the hospital asking if they could use a new method during the procedure. The difference would be that they would use a small piece of steed called a “Magseed” instead of a thin wire, to mark the lesion for the surgeon. I did a little bit of research and confirmed that this was ok to use. They said the only difference was that there would be more people in the room since it was a new method. 🙈

07th June

The first thing they needed to do was to implant the Magseed into the lesion. Since it wasn’t palpable, the Doctor used ultrasound to find the lump. Before making the incision, they used local anaesthesia and then implanted the Magseed. Luckily, I didn’t feel a thing!

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Waiting for Surgery…

After waiting some time, I was called into the operating room and was prepped for surgery. Since they were going to use an electrical knife, they attached an earthing cable to my arm. Then, using a metal detector-type device, they located the Magseed, but explained that the lesion was very deep and close to the muscle. Usually, they like to make the incision around the areola for cosmetic purposes, but explained that this would be difficult for them due to its location. Therefore, the incision would need to be further up. I said that was fine (hell, I have a large scar on my abdomen anyway, one more isn’t going to bother me). Then, they put a sheet in front of me so that I would be unable to see the procedure taking place.

Early on, I began to feel extremely dizzy and shaky. The nurse felt my head and said that I was quite warm, so they tipped the table backwards slightly, and placed a cold, damp flannel on my forehead. On a few occasions, they had to administer more local anaesthesia because I started to feel some pain – this happened as they cut deeper. Throughout, it was strange seeing smoke and smelling burning flesh, but I tried not to think about it too much!

Overall, the procedure took around an hour. Before leaving the room, I noticed a specimen jar on the table that contained the lesion. It was the size of a grape!

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Taken before the local anaesthesia wore off!

Since I don’t know much about atypical lobular hyperplasia, I reached out to No Stomach For Cancer, to ask if there was a connection to the CDH1 mutation. They forwarded my question to a member of their Scientific Advisory Council for insight, and below is their response:

“Lobular hyperplasia has a link to Lobular Breast Cancer and CDH1. Women with CDH1 pathogenic variants have ~40 % cumulative risk of developing LBC by the age of 80. In summary lobular hyperplasia is the intermediate lesion in the progression from a normal breast lobule and an invasive lobular carcinoma. Please see below a figure demonstrating the proposed progression of Lobular tumours.”

image001.png

Of course, hearing this made me feel quite uneasy. But knowing that I will be having annual ultrasounds, mammograms and MRI scans due to having the CDH1 mutation, helps to make me feel more at ease.

Results

On the 4th July, I received a phone call from the surgeon, informing me that the tissue was benign. This was a HUGE relief for me as the waiting period was the hardest… I’m just glad knowing that I will be monitored annually to keep an eye on things, and hope that the ALH cells don’t progress to anything more in years to come. 🤞

Maybelline

Tattoo Brow

Shade – Medium Brown

After over-plucking my eyebrows throughout the entirety of my teenage years, (seriously, what the hell was all that about?!) I have been left with ridiculously thin eyebrows. Be warned girls, they don’t grow back so go easy with the tweezers!

Anyhoo… The likes of Cara Delevingne and Emilia Clarke have encouraged us ladies to have and want bushier, fuller brows.

Most days, I use an eyebrow palette, so I was looking forward to trying Maybelline’s “Tattoo Brow” – especially since it says on their website that it can last up to three days!

I found the gel difficult to apply with the brush, so I used an angled eyebrow brush (the one I use with my brow palette) to apply the product carefully.

I used the shade “Medium Brown”. The gel looks a lot darker – black almost! But don’t worry, it actually turned out the right colour.

Once it had dried (15-20mins), I peeled it off gently. I’m glad this stuff isn’t like those charcoal peel off masks! My brows would be long gone!

The gel drys fairly quickly, but overall, the application and drying time is longer than using a brow palette. But this is great if you have extra time. I don’t recommend rushing this during your morning makeup routine

I’m not sure if this tints the hairs, as my brows are black, but it tints the skin. At some point I would like to try a darker shade as this is too light for me. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing it it stands the test of time!

Tattoo Brow

Day 3 Update: The tint is still here! I did apply an extra layer shortly after writing my review. To ensure that the tint lasts up to three days, pat dry the brow area after showering and avoid using cleanser on this area.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Beauty Headers-superstay

Shade – 65 Seductress

I’m all about matte liquid lipsticks! I have a wide selection already, but I usually stick to the same brands. I have read a lot of good reviews about this stuff, so couldn’t wait to try it!

First impressions were great. I love the bottle and the matte effect on the exterior (I’m a sucker for packaging). The scent of the product was lovely too! It smells of caramel. YUM!

Before applying the product, I used a sugar scrub to exfoliate my lips. The applicator made it easy to apply. At first, it felt a bit cakey and sticky. Once I rubbed off the cakey bits, the product felt a lot better on my lips.

Superstay

Compared to other brands I have used, this felt much more hydrating! It doesn’t completely dry out, but is still drink-proof, food-proof, but most of all, kiss-proof! Perfect!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Maybelline-colossal

The Colossal Big Shot mascara is amazing! It’s perfect for evening wear as it’s very thick, giving the lashes a lot of extra volume and added length.

The brush is great, as it allows you to apply the product evenly and quickly.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Maybelline-sensational

I love the Lash Sensational mascara too! It made my lashes look a lot longer. I feel that this product is more versatile as you can use it both day and night, whatever look you are going for. I’m not usually a fan of these type of brushes, but this one is great as it allows you to apply the product evenly to both the upper and lower lashes, and the thin bristles separate them to prevent clumping.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

My review and opinions expressed here are my own and based on my experience with these Maybelline products. I am not affiliated with the brand nor do I endorse them and they do not endorse me. I am not paid for my review.

Pain in the…

About last night…

At 22:15, I had some mild deep abdominal pain (right side under my ribs). Initially, it felt like sore muscles but I couldn’t sit comfortably anymore so I got up to get ready for bed. In less than five minutes, the pain went from 0-100 and it felt like I had been winded; kicked both in the ribs and my back (but only on my right side). I was writhing about on the bed in pain – unable to breathe, or talk. I’ve honestly never experienced pain like it.

B called the hospital, and I took 10mg of morphine so that I was able to get up and walk outside for a taxi (I still have some tablets left over from my surgery). Luckily, the morphine really took the edge off!

A surgeon came to examine me and suspected it was a gallbladder attack. Gallstones are common in gastrectomy patients due to rapid weight loss. They gave me 2 shots of Buscopan (one in each ass cheek) to help stop the spasming in my gallbladder. They explained that stopping the spasming may help the gallstone pass through the bile duct.

Resting bitch face + Pain + 10mg Morphine 🙈

I feel like this may only be a temporary solution 😕 I guess time will tell.

Next Steps – Checking the Tatas!

In January, I began my next stage of cancer screening. Since I’m at an increased risk of developing lobular breast cancer (thanks to this pesky CDH1 mutation), I have been advised to have both annual mammograms and MRI scans from the age of 30. When I met with my gastro surgeon back in November, he decided to send the referral sooner.

In females with a known CDH1 gene mutation, the risk for developing lobular breast cancer by age 80 has been estimated at 42%. In the general population, lobular breast cancer occurs much less frequently than ductal breast cancer. However, lobular carcinoma is the type of breast cancer that can be associated with CDH1 mutations, and it may be difficult to diagnose (much like hereditary diffuse gastric cancer). The same type of cancer cells, called signet ring cells, can be found in both lobular breast cancer and diffuse gastric cancer.

https://www.nostomachforcancer.org/about/hereditary-diffuse-gastric-cancer/lobular-breast-cancer

Initially, I was sent for a mammogram and ultrasound. I was a little bit apprehensive prior to the appointment. Partly because I had others telling me that the mammogram was painful, but also because I wasn’t looking forward to getting my baps out in front of a total stranger (or three)! 🤦

Anyhow, the mammogram itself wasn’t bad at all – uncomfortable but bearable. It took a little bit of time for the Nurse to position each one into place on the plate (if done incorrectly, the scan picture isn’t good enough and has to be repeated), but the scanning part was over very quickly. I did however, experience some sharp pain in my left breast for some time afterwards, but this was only temporary.

During the ultrasound , they came across a small lump in my left breast (probably the cause of the pain after the mammogram). They explained that these are usually benign and commonly found in women my age. Instead of jumping the gun and doing a biopsy, they referred me for an MRI to get a more detailed scan.

2.5 months later (after I got tired of waiting and decided to email the hospital to chase up my referral), I received a letter from the Radiology department with my appointment date… Friday 13th 😨

mri

I guess the build up to the appointment was worse than the actual appointment itself. I’d had an MRI many years ago, so I knew what to expect regarding the awfully loud sounds. But my episode of anxiety during my CT scan last year (thanks to claustrophobia and the burning sensation from the contrast) made me nervous. I also had the added stress of having to lay on my stomach for 30 minutes (what if I get bile reflux or my breakfast decides to creep back up?) I was even (irrationally) worried incase a metal object had been accidentally left inside of me during surgery, and would be ripped out during the scan! 🙈 Anxiety is a bitch like that… You get all kinds of irrational thoughts running through your head.

Anyway, the scan itself was fine. My boobs were placed into individual slots and my face into a hole so that I could watch TV – “Poirot” of all things, with Norwegian subtitles. At least it gave me something to focus on! I was even given headphones so that I could listen to the radio, but the sounds of the machine drowned everything out. Instead, I just tried to imagine the weird sounds were some techno bangers and had myself a mini rave!

I received a call 4 days later to inform me that they hadn’t found anything of concern from the MRI, but that they wanted to take some biopsies from the lump that they initially found in January.

On Monday, I went to the hospital for my appointment. Before the procedure, the Doctor explained to me what they were going to do and gave me two shots of local anaesthesia. The first needle stung quite a bit, but it got to work fairly quickly so I didn’t feel the second one, along with the incision they made. Luckily, I didn’t feel the biopsy needle either. I was however, feeling really dizzy and thought I was going to pass out at one point. Not sure if it was caused by anxiety, the local anaesthesia or a combination of the two. After the first biopsy, I looked down and it was a bloodbath! My chest was covered in blood, which only made me feel worse. So for the remainder of my time there, I just made sure to focus on the ceiling. They checked the sample and decided to take a second biopsy just to be sure.

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Luckily, the bruising and pain afterwards was very minimal. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’d seen others with MASSIVE bruises after their biopsies! So now I play the waiting game, one I’ll never get good at and just hope that all is normal and that this is the last of invasive tests for 2018. 🤞🍀

Warsaw 🇵🇱

Earlier this month, Bjørnar and I travelled to Warsaw for the weekend to explore the city and spend some time with our lovely friend Magda.

A return ticket with Wizz Air, from Bergen to Warsaw Chopin (with no luggage) only cost us 680 NOK each! (Around £62) Bargain!

We arrived at around 7pm, so our first evening was a chilled one – catching up whilst enjoying some wine, food and polish beers.

Our love for graphic design meant that we HAD to visit the Neon Museum, located in the Praga district. A small, but nonetheless, visually exciting exhibition of beautifully restored neon signs from the Cold War era. The array of designs, colours and typography were inspiring, and at only 12zł entry (27,50NOK / £2.50), it was worth every penny.

Something I noticed quickly during our trip, was how easily I got tired out. My back muscles would cause intense pain (despite wearing appropriate footwear), which then had an impact on my abdominal muscles. I’m just not cut out for all of this exploring just yet! That, combined with the fact I need to eat very often, meant that we had to take regular breaks. On the plus side, it gave us a great opportunity to enjoy some polish cuisine and drinks!

Our first stop, was a floating bar on the river, where we had a drink whilst soaking up the sun.

Then we headed to Nadwiślański Świt – a restaurant close to the river. I opted for a delicious shrimp appetiser, and managed to scoff most of it! Magda and Bjørnar had Gnocchi with Beef Cheeks. It sounds unusual, but the meat was really tender and delicious. B also sampled a few Belgian beers, from a brewery called “Grimbergen”… Since it rains a lot here in Bergen, we figured this seemed like a more fitting name for the city!

After a walk beside the river and another drink in the sun (and a quick jump on some little trampolines in the kids park 🙈), we made our way to The Heavens of Copernicus Planetarium (Niebo Kopernika) to watch “The Dark Side of the Moon”; a laser show tribute to Pink Floyd. The music combined with the psychedelic visuals and lasers was an incredible experience!

To end our Saturday, we headed into the city centre and made our way to Bar Warszawa, where we enjoyed pierogi – both Russian style and Polish. I’d tried the Russian style pierogi before, but the (Polish) meat ones were to die for! They reminded me of the filling in a Cornish Pasty. 😋 This was washed down with some 8% Polish Porter (I’m a sucker for dark beer, can’t handle too much fizz these days!)

Whilst eating and drinking, we had front row seats to a a live performance; a talented trio called “Ferajna z Baru Warszawa”, that played old “folk” Warsaw music from the 1920s and upwards. If I’d have had a few more porters in me, I would have been up dancing! I loved it!

After a well deserved lie-in on Sunday, we headed to the Chopin Museum. It’s free admission on Sundays, but make sure to book tickets in advance as it gets busy 😉

I don’t know much about classical music, but after visiting the Greig museum in Bergen, I felt inspired to visit the Chopin museum. Both music and art history interest me a lot!

During our visit, we were able to listen to some of his compositions, and learn a lot about Chopin’s life and musical career.

Interesting Fact: Although he only played 30 public concerts in his life, five of these were in Britain during an ill-fated visit there for seven months in 1847. For a sick man with tuberculosis, the wet and windy weather of Scotland and England was hardly going to be good for him. He did, though, play for the new Queen, Victoria and Prince Albert; the Queen, who rarely spoke to anyone, actually spoke to him twice.

https://www.cmuse.org/frederic-chopin-facts/

The museum itself was beautiful! I later found out that it is also known as Ostrogski Castle; a Baroque style mansion, that was destroyed by the Germans during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, and rebuilt between 1949 and 1954. Rumour has it that the the cellars below the bastion are supposedly home to a Golden Duck, a mythical creature from one of Warsaw’s legends! 😉

Afterwards, we went for a late lunch/early dinner at Oliva Restaurant. Again, I only had appetisers but they were delicious! I had olives and chicken liver pâté on bruschetta. They even had some coffee bean infused olive oil, which was AMAZING! I slightly regretted not having luggage allowance, as I really wanted to buy some to take home with me!

To finish off our day, we took a walk into the thriving city centre, this time before dusk, and headed to the Old Town Square. We went to Bazyliszek Restaurant – a traditional Polish Restaurant. I sampled some Polish Chardonnay from Kraków (who knew that Poland had their own vineyards?!) which was alright! We tried some Żubrówka black vodka (it wasn’t actually black, it’s filtered using charcoal apparently), Soplica cherry and Soplica raspberry. We also enjoyed a delicious cheese platter! Quite possibly my favourite type of platter!

After arriving back at Hotel Tomalska, we enjoyed a little bit more polish vodka – (hazelnut Soplica), before retiring to bed. I definitely wasn’t ready for an 08:30 flight – especially since Wizz Air had decided to sit us over 15 rows apart! (No way was I paying extra fees just to change seats! Cheeky buggers!)

One of the great things about Warsaw is how easy it is to get around. It’s well connected with trams and the underground – but failing that, you can also get an Uber! Thanks to my discount code, the ride to the airport was only 3.59zł / 8NOK / £0.75 😂

Uber share code: x3st6k

It’s safe to say that the trip was a major success! We were both slightly apprehensive about me travelling 6 months after surgery, but I managed it quite well. Warsaw was a beautiful city and has a really good vibe about it. I would love to visit again soon, to do a little bit more sightseeing, learn more about its history and enjoy more delicious food!

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Last but not least, we want to say a huge thank you to Magda for being such a wonderful host! ❤

We had such an amazing time and look forward to seeing you again soon!

TG Recovery – 6 Month Update

Has it really been six months already?!

Food

One of the biggest things that I was surprised to discover, is the variety of foods that I can consume. Eating is different now (I have to take my time, take care to chew and eat smaller portions) but I’m not living off soups like I thought I would be! My favourite investment is a cast iron casserole dish. I’ve been using it to cook a lot of delicious meals for Bjørnar and myself. Things like stews and casseroles are fab, as the meat becomes nice and tender. Dumping syndrome is a bitch (since I wrote about this recently, I won’t go into too much detail) but I feel lucky that I can still eat chocolate. I still have to be careful not to overdo it though!

Hunger

Ahh yes… The “rumbly tumbly”. I never realised how much I would miss this feeling! It’s strange not feeling hungry anymore. It’s surprisingly easy to go without food when there’s no nagging reminder telling you that it’s time to eat.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve started to feel a new type of hunger! I can only describe it as en empty sensation inside – in the area where my oesophagus was connected to my small intestine. It could be psychological/phantom hunger, but I’m welcoming it with open arms and hoping it’s here to stay!

Weight Loss

This was inevitable and something I felt somewhat prepared for. I fattened myself up good and proper before surgery – I actually gained 9kg! 🙈

However, the weight loss has wreaked havoc with my emotions. There are times that I feel defeated when I step onto the scales and see that the number has fallen yet again. It’s a bit crap when your skinny jeans have become baggy jeans, and your engagement ring is too large to wear… I have an app on my phone that reminds me to eat every 2 hours (6 times a day) and I was also using myFitnessPal to track my calorie intake, but found it all overwhelming. So for now, I’m just focusing on my eating routine by following the schedule. I will focus on the calorie counting once I have the regularity in check.

19kg loss since 26.09.17

Hair Loss

As soon as I hit the 2 month mark, I suddenly experienced a LOT of hair loss. This went on continuously for 3 months. I would often cry as I removed the huge clump of hair from my brush every day. Since it was the most noticeable around my hairline, I cut in a fringe to help disguise it.

B12 and Iron

I already knew that my body would no longer be able to absorb B12 from food and supplements, but I was not expecting my values to drop so suddenly. My values went from the upper end of the scale to the lower end in the space of 3 months. My cognitive function felt massively reduced. I was misplacing things, becoming increasingly forgetful and finding it difficult to do work. I was given weekly B12 shots for 4 weeks, and felt a huge improvement just after the first.

As for my iron, I’ve been taking Floradix daily (that I started in the weeks leading up to my surgery), so I was surprised to see that the value had dropped so drastically. After doing a bit of research, I found out that iron is absorbed in the duodenum and since food and supplements no longer pass directly through mine, my body has difficulty absorbing it.

Gym/Exercise

I’ve only been to the gym three times during my recovery. I still don’t feel well enough to be at the gym alone yet, as I get dizzy very easily. I’m hoping to get back into a routine so that I can build up my strength and increase my muscle mass, as I have lost a lot since surgery.

One of the things I find difficult since surgery, is my intake of protein. I have tried various different protein shakes, but I haven’t found one yet that doesn’t cause me any problems.

Scar Update

(Left: 6 Weeks | Centre: 3 Months | Right: 6 Months)

My scar is looking good! The redness has faded a lot, but the top part is still a nuisance. If I wear a bra, it gets irritated and becomes more swollen and itchy. I tried silicone gel and silicone sheets to help flatten it, but neither worked. I keep applying Bio Oil and hope that in time, the top part will flatten out without intervention.

For the most part, recovery has gone better than I had expected. It hasn’t been a walk in the park, some days are truly difficult and sometimes my emotions get the better of me. Even though I often feel ill after eating breakfast, and struggle with episodes of hypoglycaemia and dumping, I’ve never felt an ounce of regret. ❤

Dumping Syndrome

Most mornings, I start my day with a coffee followed by a smoothie. My usual favourite consists of 1 banana, a handful of strawberries, almond milk and a few generous dollops of coconut milk (the thick stuff from a can).

It’s my favourite because not only does it taste delicious, it is also lactose free (that’s a whole new issue altogether now), contains a decent amount of calories and goes down a treat!

However, I’ve recently started to feel a bit funny after drinking my smoothie. Breakfast has been followed with a side order of heart palpitations and dizziness.

It would pass after a short while, so I persevered. After all, I don’t have many breakfast options these days and smoothies are my “go to”.

But today was a different story altogether. Shortly after the palpitations, came the most painful cramping sensations (think menstrual cramps but in your intestines). It felt like my innards were on fire whilst being repeatedly squeezed. The pain not subsiding, I crushed up half a morphine tablet in my mouth, washed it down with some juice, curled up in a ball and waited for the pain to drift away.

The joys of dumping syndrome…

Signs and symptoms of dumping syndrome generally occur right after eating, especially after a meal rich in table sugar (sucrose) or fruit sugar (fructose). Signs and symptoms might include:

Nausea, Vomiting, Abdominal cramps, Diarrhea, Flushing, Dizziness, lightheadedness, Rapid heart rate

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dumping-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20371915

It’s certainly not the first time I’ve experienced dumping. A few times I’ve overdone it with the cookies or a dessert (although it doesn’t take much to overdo it) 🙈 but the frustrating thing with this episode is that I’ve been drinking the same smoothie for a while now with no problems, up until this past week.

Days like today remind me that my body is unpredictable…

So I guess it’s back to the drawing board for breakfast ideas!

18 Kilos Later

On the morning of the 26th September, before heading to the hospital, I stepped onto the scales to find out what I weighed. The number glaring back at me was 76.8kg – the heaviest I had ever been.

Fast forward to today: 20 weeks later and I’m now 58.8kg…

For a long time, my weight was 67kg. I ate well, worked out 4 to 5 times a week and enjoyed the odd treat here and there. But like most women, I wanted to lose a few pounds. In fact, my goal weight was 62kg. However, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get the number any lower.

If only I could go back in time and say to myself, “be careful what you wish for”…

I step onto the scale weekly, sometimes fortnightly, and log both my weight and calorie intake in MyFitnessPal.

After surpassing 62kg, each time I logged my weight, the app would congratulate me with a colourful confetti filled screen; a harsh reminder as to how quickly and easily the weight was slipping away.

In recent weeks, I felt like I was doing well – eating regularly and exceeding my daily calorie intake. So naturally, I was disappointed to find that yet again, the number had continued to fall.

Winter has made it easy to hide my weight loss (even from myself) under big cosy jumpers. That was until today.

I decided to try on my bikinis to see how much my body had changed. First, I tried on a top. My boobs (that now resemble two half-deflated old party balloons) could barely hold the bandeau up. Then, I tried on the bottoms. My once peachy, round derrière, was no longer. The bottoms were hanging off me! I took a long hard look in the mirror, and that’s when it really hit me.

In all honesty, it made me feel like shit. 👎

I texted B and he was quick to reply, reminding me that “this is not a sprint, it is a marathon, and to get to where you want to be, it will take time and dedication”.

He’s totally right. ❤

For a long time, all I wanted was to lose weight, and now I would do anything to stop and start gaining. It’s funny how quickly our priorities and focuses can change – whilst still putting pressure on yourself.

I need to remind myself that it hasn’t even been 6 months yet, and my body is still adjusting.

All I can do for now is to keep doing what I’m doing, eat a little bit more, try to increase my protein intake and start exercising regularly. I might not be able to do much about the chest area, but I can aim for an ass that will turn heads again! 😜

 

Jul i Bergen

Bergen Julemarked

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I’ve always been a fan of the little Christmas Markets. I love looking around the different stalls, buying gifts, sampling some delicious food and enjoying a mulled wine or two. So when I found out they were finally launching one here in Bergen, I was thrilled!

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect if I’m honest. When I read that there would be gløgg for sale (mulled wine), I just assumed it would be tomtegløgg – store bought, alcohol free and overly sweet. Instead, they had proper mulled wine AND a fully licensed bar – located inside a large, heated indoor tent that had comfortable seating! Yes, I’m easily pleased! Before doing a bit of shopping, we enjoyed a lovely cup of mulled wine on one of the sofas.

At the Julemarked, there were a few large tents that housed a variety of stalls and shops. I don’t handle the cold very well anymore (gone are the days of going on a night out without wearing a coat!) so it was nice being able to go from stall to stall in the warmth. We purchased a few Christmas gifts, sampled and bought some delicious cheese and then went back to the bar tent for some beer tasting. My favourite was the 7Fjell James – Dark Christmas Ale. ❤

 

Christmas in Bergen

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I wasn’t quite ready to travel home for Christmas this year, so I made the decision to spend it here in Bergen.

Since Norwegians celebrate Christmas on the 24th, I was looking forward to two days of food and festivity!

24th Julemat

  • Forrett – Risgrøt
  • Hovedrett – Svineribbe, Surkål, Svinemør, Sossiser & Poteter
  • Dessert – Karamellpudding

25th Christmas Food

  • Starter – Duck Pâté on Toast
  • Main Course – Pork, Roasted Parsnips and Carrots, Pigs in Blankets & Potatoes
  • Dessert – Strawberry Trifle

We originally planned to have turkey on the 25th, but we decided to save it since there was so much pork (svineribbe) left over from the day before!

The highlight of Christmas had to be the much anticipated viewing of “Tre Nøtter til Askepott”. For those of you that don’t know what this is, it’s a Czechoslovak/East German fairy-tale film from 1973, that’s broadcast every year on Christmas Day in Norway. Instead of subtitles, the film is dubbed in Norwegian – with only one male voiceover for the various characters. At first when he spoke, it sounded like he was commentating over a sports game! However, once I got past that, it was a really enjoyable film. 😊

A Tough Pill To Swallow…

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After a Gastrectomy, it’s important to take certain supplements to help prevent deficiencies and other issues. After finding out that I’m unable to absorb calcium carbonate without a stomach, (I have degenerative problems in my lower back so the last thing I need is osteoporosis) I went online to search for calcium citrate as I couldn’t find any in the local pharmacies. I wasn’t exactly spoilt for choice, so I ended up buying some vegetable capsules.

Since my surgery, if I need to take any tablets, I break them up first into several pieces before washing them down with liquid. Partly out of fear that they might get stuck, but also to increase the surface area so that they work quicker. Since I couldn’t do that with the capsule, I decided to empty the powder contents into a little bit of orange juice and drink it. EURGH! It tasted vile! No matter how hard I tried, I could not get it down. So I gave it up as a bad job.

I decided to reach out to other members of the stomachless community to find out if anyone else had taken capsules after surgery. The response was very positive, so I decided to give it a whirl.

After finishing my morning coffee on Sunday, I drank a little bit of water and put a capsule in my mouth. I then took a few sips of water to wash it down.

Immediately, it felt stuck.

I started to panic.

I felt pressure in my chest where it was stuck and I rushed to the bathroom where I regurgitated the liquid. I took a few more sips to try and push it down, but everything, apart from the capsule, came back up and the “stuck” feeling remained.

After a short while, I told B what had happened and he began searching online to find a solution. He suggested drinking something warm to help melt the capsule, so I sipped on tea. The liquid kept coming back up. After a while, it started to go down and stay down, but I STILL had the “stuck” feeling in my chest. I also experienced extreme nausea where my mouth began to salivate. I started retching but nothing happened. My body was trying to be sick, which felt weird and was impossible without a stomach. As a consequence, I pulled a lot of the muscles in my abdomen 😦

Over the course of the day, things started to settle and I was able to drink a full cup of tea and eat a bowl of soup. I still felt the pressure in my chest, but just assumed part of my oesophagus was inflamed from where the pill had been stuck.

The following day, the “stuck” feeling was worse than ever and it was painful to swallow my own saliva. I could barely drink, so I went down to the Legevakt Emergency Room, where they referred me to the main hospital.

A few hours later, I was sent for a Gastroscopy. During this procedure, I learnt two things.

  1. The pill was STILL stuck in my oesophagus (it had split into two pieces and both parts were stuck)
  2. The reason it had gotten stuck was because I had a stricture! (They couldn’t even get the gastroscope any further because it was too narrow)

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 15.48.45
Image taken during Gastroscopy – One half of the pill can be seen stuck in the oesophagus. It’s clear to see how narrow it had become!

After they removed the pill, I was admitted to hospital and had to wait for a slot to undergo a procedure to dilate my oesophagus.

After spending two nights in hospital, they allowed me to go home on Wednesday evening so that I could get a decent nights sleep! I was told to fast from midnight again and that they would call me as soon as they had a slot available.

On Thursday afternoon, I received a phone call asking me to come back for the procedure. My surgeon was part of the team that did the dilation – it put me at ease seeing a familiar face! Even though I was awake during the procedure, they gave me some sedation intravenously so the whole thing was a bit of a blur! I’m not sure how narrow my oesophagus had become, but a gastroscope is 9mm wide and this was unable to fit through the stricture. They carried out an oesophageal balloon dilation to widen it to 19mm.

26133478_10156054697456079_1702486274_nLooking back, I’m just glad that I didn’t take the paracetamol tablets that were offered to me the day after surgery! I told them that this would be too difficult for me to swallow, so they gave me it intravenously instead. I even asked for a prescription of dissolvable paracetamol when I was discharged from hospital, as the regular tablets are so large and round in Norway!

 

They said I may need another dilation in the near future, but if it wasn’t for the capsule getting stuck, I wouldn’t have known that I had a stricture in the first place! I’m just glad that everything is sorted, but for now I think I’ll stick to taking liquid supplements!

 

Pathology Results!

So today I met with my surgeon and received my results!

During my gastrectomy, they removed 27 lymph nodes from my abdomen. I’m pleased to report that all of these were clear! (Surprised at how many were removed – I’m actually curious as to how big/small they are!)

In my stomach, they found 2 foci of adenocarcinoma measuring 4mm each.

The margins were great too, meaning no gastric mucosa was left behind where they made the join.

YAY!

🎉 🎉 🎉 🎉

I was so relieved! Now I know for certain that everything was removed during the surgery, putting my mind at ease.

 

I showed him my incision, to which he confirmed was a keloid scar. 😕 If anybody out there has any suggestions/home remedies for this type of scarring, please let me know! I have ordered some silicone scar sheets and gel in hope that this will help, as I can’t even wear a bra at the moment because of it! 🙈

Anyway, the next step thanks to this lovely CDH1 mutation is annual MRI screenings for lobular breast cancer. (People with the CDH1 mutation are at an increased risk of developing gastric cancer and lobular breast cancer) This is recommended from the age of 30, but my surgeon has referred me now to get the ball rolling much sooner. 😊

 

 

Incision – Update

🔪🔪🔪

Proud to show off my battle scar! Healing nicely after a few hiccups along the way 🙈 The top part kept splitting open so it’s a lot redder than the rest.

I don’t think it looks bad to say it was done almost 6 weeks ago!

One Month Update

Weight lost from the 26.09 – 26.10 = 7.7kg 

My new plumbing! Before and After

Gastrectomy-Before-and-After

Photo taken from: https://www.nostomachforcancer.org/

It’s been one month since my surgery and I’ve experienced a few hiccups along the way. I anticipated problems from my new “plumbing” but not the issues I’ve encountered…

  1. Problems with my incision
  2. Debilitating back pain

1. A few days after writing my last blog post, I ended up at the legevakt (E.R) and hospital for over 8 hours… I had been experiencing some stinging pain from my incision and couldn’t physically see what was going on since it was still covered with a steri-strip that I was told not to remove. Since it was a Sunday, we called the legevakt, and they told us to come in.

When I had my surgery, they gave me intradermal stitches and no staples – so I did not need to have anything removed. 

After a long wait, I was seen by a Doctor that examined the area. He could see that there was an opening in two different areas (at the top and above my belly button). After cleaning up the area, he called the hospital and spoke to one of the Surgeons. He wanted to see the incision, so off I went, freshly bandaged up to the hospital.

He thoroughly checked the openings and explained that they were superficial, so only the top layers were open. He explained that this was normal and often seen in young, active patients. He scrubbed the areas to make them bleed more before closing the areas with steri-strips, and was told to continue doing this over the next week if I saw any blood or leakage on the bandage. But since I’m a wimp when it comes to pain and blood, Nurse B watched the Surgeon so that he could be responsible for this task!

After being checked over by my Doctor a week later, the two areas were still slightly open but said that it was looking good and prescribed me some antibiotic cream to apply a few times a day. Luckily, this did the trick and healed the two problem areas nicely! 🙂 Hurray! I was so relieved! I was initially told that if it didn’t close up on it’s own, they would have to stitch up the two areas, which would mean cutting deeper and into the scar tissue. Ouch!

 

 

2. My other gripe has been back pain. I knew I would have some pain after surgery since I have degenerative discs in my lower spine, but this has been a nightmare. My back was bad to begin with, most likely caused by a combination of things; the epidural, lack of mobility and my back muscles overcompensating for my core. In the first few weeks, I would wake up multiple times in the middle of night with agonising pain and tense, solid back muscles. Then, after not being able to shave for a few weeks, I stupidly decided to shave my legs in the shower… What a huge mistake that was. After standing in multiple flamingo-like bent-legged poses, I had well and truly screwed up my back. Now, I can barely sit down (if I do, I can’t walk properly afterwards and I get pain radiating down my left leg) – so I’ve been spending most of my time propped up in bed or laying down.

I’m just hoping that I’m able to go and see my chiropractor soon as the problem is not resolving on it’s own.

Food-wise I’ve been trying all sorts of things! Pasta with tuna mayo, cheese on toast, jacket potato with homemade chilli, pizza… The list is endless! When my mum came to visit, we even went out for pizza on her last night, and I managed to eat half of a kids pizza! (It took me about an hour to do so, but that’s fine!)

My first outing since my surgery!

Up until the weekend, I had a great appetite and would crave almost anything. But now, even typing the above makes me nauseous. I’m not really sure what’s changed and I’m struggling to overcome it at the moment as the nausea makes it difficult for me to eat or want to eat. I’ve found that chewing peppermint gum relieves the nausea, but only temporarily. I’m just hoping I can overcome this hurdle and find some solutions to this so that I can get my appetite back.