The unsung benefits of having a total gastrectomy

It’s been eleven weeks since my total gastrectomy, and I’vespent most of that time whining about all the disadvantages associated with nothaving a stomach. I reckon it’s high time I pay tribute to some of thebenefits.

The biggest boon has been weight loss. Of course, this won’tapply to folks who had no problem with their weight prior to surgery, butfor someone like me, who’s spent most of his adult life carrying around anextra 15 or 20 kilograms, it’s kind of awesome.

I’ve been rooting around in my wardrobe off and on over thelast couple of months, digging out duds that I haven’t fit into in years(lucky for me men’s fashions age a bit better than women’s). I’m currentlywearing a pair of dark blue jeans with a 32-inch waist that I bought myself as areward a couple of years ago after losing 10 kilograms—then proceeded never to wear,having already regained some weight by the time I got the pantlegs hemmed. Italmost feels like getting free jeans.

I also treated myself to a sweet skinny person belt; one ofthose ridiculously expensive, already broken-in brown leather belts that come in nothing but small sizes and can be found only in high-end clothiers like HoltRenfrew. (I picked it up for 80 per cent off at HR Last Call, and it still qualifiedas the most expensive waist-cincher I’ve ever bought.)

Then today, while riding up our building’s elevator, I happenedto catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror while stretching. My sweater lifteda bit and I saw a profile of my midriff. It looked good. Not Calvin-Klein-underwear-ad-good, but nice enough for a guy who once suffered sore abdominalmuscles from sucking in his belly too deeply and too long while schmoozing at oneof his wife’s company’s fancy Christmas shindigs.

What’s more, while attending the birthday party of a friend’s sonyesterday nearly a dozen people I hadn’t seen in months told me that I lookedgreat. I can’t remember the last time anyone uttered those words in mydirection—save, of course, my lovely and generous bride, who has offered themeven in times when I haven’t necessarily been deserving of them.

Weight loss and associated perks aside, another benefit ofhaving a total gastrectomy has been cash savings.

Both restaurant and grocery bills have dropped noticeably sincethe surgery. The simple truth is that I eat less, and what I consumetends to be pretty cheap. For example, my lunch at the High Park cafe today consistedof a wholly satisfying $4 French onion soup, and the supper I’m eating right now is a single slice of pizza.

Plus, I’m pretty sure I’m spending between $10 and$20 less per week on junk food. I still eat things like chips and chocolate onoccasion, but a single 50 gram bar of chocolate, for example, now serves as three separatesnacks.

But perhaps the most unexpected benefit that has come withhaving no stomach is that I feel great.

I went to the driving range today, worried that my incisionsite might not dig all of the turning and exertion that goes along withswinging a golf club a few hundred times. Even pre-surgery an extended trip tothe range would leave me sweaty, sore, and a bit exhausted.

Surprisingly, I breezed through a couple of large buckets ofballs with nary a break. Better still, I felt like I could have kept right ongoing had my wife and daughter not arrived to pick me up.

I’m going to chalk up my new physical stamina to two things:The weight I’ve lost and my post-op diet, which is a far cry healthier than mypre-op menu. Simply put, it’s the result of eating better.

So, basically, I’m feeling really good these days. Or at least better than I did prior to surgery.

I do, however, feel a bit bad for total gastrectomy patientswho spent their lives treating their bodies as temples before their surgery.They don’t have any post-op benefits to look forward to.

What’s more, they’ve lost out on their big chance to letthemselves go. They’ll never know the satisfaction of, say, trying to finishoff one of the Bishop and Belcher’s Big Belch appetizer platters—which consistsof six cheese sticks, ten hot wings, eight chicken fingers, five potato skins, three slices of cheese toast, a basket of onionrings, and a huge serving of fries—all by themselves.

I may never again be able to have a go at the BigBelch, but I’ll always have the memory of that one fateful evening that Igave it my best—and the night spent sleeping on the bathroom floor that followed.

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One thought on “The unsung benefits of having a total gastrectomy

  1. This might seem odd, but I’m truly envious. The more I read the more apparent it becomes to me that a stomach is a vestigial organ suited for times of hunter-gatherer scarcity. Your evasion of cancer will extend your life but so will your low-calorie diet. The rest of us can only hope to achieve this by strenuous, painful abnegation, and personally I’ve never been very good at denying myself food.I would recommend stocking up in case of a global food shortage, but until then, you are ideally suited for living in a world of industrialized plenty.

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