I’m going to try posting a lot in the next couple of weeks in order play catch-up. I want my blog to be up-to-date and cover every piece of the journey so it can be relevant and relatable for others in my situation. With that being said, here is one of the most relatable topics for my fellow soon-to-be-stomachless friends: the questions.
Q: “NO STOMACH?! HOW WILL YOU EAT?!”
Real Answer: The most simple way to explain the anatomy of the surgery is this: I will still be all connected in there. After the stomach is removed, my esophagus (the place where food goes after you swallow) will be connected to my small intestine (the place where the partially digested food from the stomach goes). Over time, my small intestine will stretch, creating a pouch-like pseudo stomach. Before that happens, I will eat many tiny meals throughout the day and will have to be careful about sugar intake. While it will be different than before, eating will most definitely still happen.
Hanna’s Answer upon the 500th time hearing this question: Every week, I will check myself into the hospital and I will be given an I.V. which contains all the necessary nutrients for human survival. I will never eat or poop again.
Q: “OMG you will be like SOOO skinny, won’t you?!”
A: It is predicted that a T.G. patient will experience weight loss of about 20% of their total body weight. During the 5 days directly following the operation, no intake of food or drink is allowed. For the next 2 months or so, eating hurts. Some people never have feelings of hunger again. So yeah, weight loss is a thing.
Disclaimer: Whether or not your friend/family is going to “look really hot” after her T.G. should not be a concern of yours. Please get your priorities in check before asking this question and pissing the patient off, okay? This is serious business, not a modeling audition. Also see: “Will you have a big scar?!”
Q: “WILL YOU HAVE A BIG SCAR?!”
Real Answer: Although as of recently, doctors are able to do the surgery laparoscopically (mimimally invasive), my surgery will be done by Dr. Sam Yoon at Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in New York. He is the same doctor that operated on my father and did a wonderful job. He does this procedure as an open surgery. He is also the best surgeon in the United States for T.G. I’m going to stick with that and deal with the scar.
Hanna’s Answer: A major internal organ is being removed from my body. Yes, asshole.
If you are a friend/family member of someone who is having a total gastrectomy, please, please, PLEASE use no stomach for cancer (link right here) as a resource to educate yourself about the procedure a little bit. It really means a lot to me when friends who have taken the time to learn about it can talk to me about more than how I will look afterwards, or can even step in once and a while and answer questions for me, (something my friend Shannon has already taken the liberty of doing on one or two occasions. Thanks, girl.)
Happy learning, people!