Dumping Syndrome

No one warned me about the Dumping Syndrome.  In my case, loose stools two or three times after I wake up is the norm.  I think the urge actually wakes me up.

I continue to feel lower back discomfort until I’ve emptied my colon.  The light-coloured, floating stools must be liberated on demand.  This excretion contains all the nutrients and fat that I had taken in the previous day that won’t get absorbed – one of the negative aspects of not having a stomach.  It isn’t customary for me to discuss some thing so private, but I have no shame in the aftermath of stomach cancer.

Once I stopped taking iron supplements, up to three a day at some point, going to the washroom happened also throughout the day.  Iron causes constipation, so it was more difficult to go to the washroom regularly.  Some days I would skip one dose to avoid the feeling of fullness in my belly and colon.  Otherwise, it was a great relief emptying my bowels the next morning.  You know that feeling you get after you haven’t been in a few days?  Well, I get that daily.  If I miss my opportunity in the morning, I feel uncomfortable until the next day.  Now I experience similar effects with my calcium.


It’s Spring Break for me too!  So I’m taking this week to be with my family.  See you next week.  Enjoy your week…. sorry, but I meant to say that Spring Break is next week, so there will not be a post until March 14.  Have a great day!


Running For Shelter

There are occasional nights that I awaken from an excessive burning in my esophagus – the heartburn I never had prior to the reconstruction surgery.  “Did I have too much chocolate?”

I can pretty much eat any thing I want any time of day – but there could be unpleasant consequences, without obvious consistency or reason.  If I choose a sweet dessert with lots of cream, I quickly learned that I could only have a small piece or to the washroom I would run.  Hot spices were never an appeal for me, so it’s easy to stay away from those.  French fries have to be a select few, since fried foods feel too heavy in my belly and limit other intake greatly.  Fried foods also make me feel a little sick, as though I’ve overeaten.  Forget the milk, the lactose intolerance will also give me the runs.  Using almond milk with cereal is the only option I’ve enjoyed so far.

If I have food that has been contaminated, only one half hour has to pass before I know it’s disturbing me.  Contamination wouldn’t be obvious, and I’ve also had bad experiences in the better restaurants.

My digestion begins immediately and is quicker than some one’s with a stomach.  “This is how I can judge a restaurant now.”  Certain sushi restaurants that I’ve eaten in prior to surgery are now off my list.  I can’t eat just any where.  But if I enjoyed the food, sometimes I’ll give it a second attempt.

The Taste That Keeps Going

I couldn’t wait until morning when every one would wake, and I could get out of my bed.  I wanted to be with my family, especially my little girl.  But even then, I had to wait until my bag was done dripping, so I could just disconnect it, and head to the washroom for my morning routine.  If I couldn’t wait it out, I wheeled the stand – borrowed from the community health center – that held the bag, right into the washroom a few feet away.

The first thing I would do is brush my teeth.  Not because I was worried about my morning breath;  but since my operation, I would wake up with a film all over my mouth.  Laying down flat caused this, so I began sleeping with a higher pillow.  The film felt thick like gelatin, clutching to my gums and tongue.  It prevented me from speaking.  I felt disgusted by this mysterious, tasteless jelly.  I brushed my teeth and tongue, and spit several times, but the jelly could be stubborn enough that it would not detach itself from my mouth.  Even if I’d wake at five in the morning, which was often the case, I needed to take care of that jelly-like feeling.

Occasionally, there would be coloured remnants in my spit from the previous night’s final tastings.  If I had eaten strawberries, there would be red in my saliva.  Usually I would forget that I had them, and wonder why I was bleeding.  Chocolate occasionally showed up in the morning too.

I’ve told my surgeon about this disturbing film.  “Could it be bile?”

“No, you’ve been reconstructed so that it doesn’t come up.”  The surgeon sketched one of his diagrams of my interior torso.  He explained how the duodenum, I believe it was, and where it was situated, prevented the bile from rising.  I didn’t feel completely comfortable with the explanation, but was assured he was.  I don’t think I ever got the answer to what the film in my mouth could be, if it wasn’t bile.  Other patients of this operation have questioned this disturbing new mouth jelly – also without a satisfactory response.  Maybe the doctors just don’t know what it is.


Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you.  Hope you give all your loved ones hugs and kisses!

Tick Tock

The ticking of the machine that released the liquid calories all through the night didn’t cause disturbance, especially on the days I felt overwhelmingly exhausted.  I am a light sleeper by nature and prefer complete darkness in the room, but the chemo and radiation effects would allow me to easily tune out the sounds and light around me, and sleep upon request – my body’s request.  Often, I’d fall asleep so quickly that I didn’t have time for my prayer, and would feel bad the next day if I didn’t remember saying it.

It was a miracle if I slept all night.  Some chemotherapies, or other medications administered during the treatment, are stimulants.  In my case, waking in the middle of the night was a common occurrence.  I’m not sure if the insomnia was caused by treatment or my mental state, but the on-off sleep habit was frustrating when I was feeling horrible.

If my mother heard me get out of bed, she would come in from her room, which was the furthest bedroom from mine, to check on me.  You could tell she was sleepy out of her mind, her eyes half-closed, her voice course but low, and her concern apparent.  “What’s wrong?”  She would ask, in her Italian dialect, as she stood dazed by my bedside.  Maybe she was also a light sleeper.  She told me years later that she felt helpless for not being able to alleviate my suffering.

Those sleepless nights were so long.  I couldn’t get up and walk around until I was tired, for fear I would awaken every one in the house.  Reading wasn’t a habit of mine, so it was far from my mind.  Even so, I wouldn’t want to disturb my husband’s rest.  My energy was so low despite the sleeplessness, so not much went through my mind.  I just wanted to get back to sleep.  Should I have forced myself to stay awake later in the evenings instead of running to bed by nine?