Lessons Learned From not Eating

It has been 10 months since I have eaten anything. (If you are new to the blog, check out THIS post, as it explains the history behind the madness).  This has been a challenging trial, to say the least. There are many things I have learned about myself, as I have had to endure this. I have also noticed things about the world as I have observed places and experiences that involve food. Spoiler: It’s everywhere.

I was throwing up all day every day in the first part of my recovery. I just thought it was a normal symptom due to having 90% of my small intestine removed. Unfortunately, after about a month of vomiting, they discovered through a CT scan that there is an obstruction (blockage) in my remaining intestine. The two pieces of intestine that were reconnected closed up, creating a blockage with little to no room for anything to pass through. Anything I was trying to eat had nowhere to go and would just come right back up. It was the most miserable month of my life.

I sadly realized that I would have to go without food before they would open me back up to remove the obstruction. My medical team has agreed that the best way for me to get my “food” right now is through a central line that rests at a vein near my heart. The best way I can describe it; is like an implanted IV on my chest. It is inserted through my neck and comes out my chest. I used to have a PICC line that was on my arm, but as the months have progressed, I now have it in a different location. Every night I hook myself up to a big bag of liquid nutrients and run it for 14 hours. Many people think that I feed myself through a special tube into my stomach, but I do not have the ability to handle “tube feedings” at the moment. However, I hopefully will in the future! 

 At first it was difficult to just be in the same room as food. When my family sat down to dinner I would go upstairs until they were done. I had such a hard time fixing Samantha food that I would make it at record speed just so I didn’t have to look at it. That first month I didn’t want to go anywhere where food was being served. I quickly realized there is no escaping food.

Food is everywhere.
I know this sounds obvious, but I truly did not really consider this before. America is definitely known for its abundance of fast food. At times it feels like I can’t even drive down the street without seeing at least ten billboards for all things greasy, fried and delicious. We recently went on an 8-hour road trip and the highway was scattered with pictures of fast food. If you ever need to know how many McDonalds there are from Orlando to Louisiana, let me know!

Something that I quickly came to realize is that there are very few social activities that don’t involve food. Every church function, girl’s night out, party or gathering was heavily centered on food. I also realized that almost all our date nights involved going to a restaurant or having a treat afterwards. It has been difficult, but I have still gone out to eat with family and friends in order to not let this control my life. As I have watched others indulge, I have realized how much I myself, love food.

I have always loved sweets and snacks. It was common for me to put the kids to bed and have a late night treat to reward myself from the stresses of mother life. Almost everyday my schedule involved a Diet Coke during Samanthas naptime. I love to cook, bake and try new recipes. Tasting my creations is so rewarding and I love sitting around the dinner table with my family. My negative association with food stems from not eating the healthiest things. I love fruits and vegetables, but I will admit that I was not examining or tracking my calories or ingredients. I also came to realize that I have an emotional connection to it. If I were stressed, bored, unhappy, celebrating, etc., food was involved. I believe this has added to the difficulty of abstaining from food for so long.

It’s been eye-opening.
Where I once thought of food as a treat and something to indulge in, I see it as a way to sustain life and to fuel your body. I thought that not being able to eat would make my cravings center around junk food, and while I do still crave in-n-out and movie theatre popcorn, I have found myself longing for salads, fruits and vegetables. It is as if my body knows what it needs in order to sustain itself in the long run. My body craves nutrients and vitamins that I used to get by eating.

This has been a big learning experience, and my whole mindset has changed with food.  I have learned so much about nutrition as I have had to have this special “diet”. I have learned which vitamins and minerals are needed to sustain life, how much of them I need to get, and just how important nutrition is! I hope that one day when I am able to eat again, I will want to fuel my body with wholesome food that will continually heal my body. Being 29 years old and feeling like a 70 year old has made me yearn to feel healthy, and I know good foods will be a key component in my nutrition when I am able to eat.

And hey, when I am trying to keep myself positive I just remind myself that I have finally lost all that weight I was having a hard time losing. Ha! Hardest diet ever…I do not recommend.

I have just gotten my surgery date scheduled for August 14th. This is where they will remove the obstruction and repipe my intestines so that things will be able to pass through. Although my anatomy will never be normal, hopefully I will be able to eat a few things after! We are very excited about that.

So many people have been helpful and caring in this process. People have regularly brought over food for Peyton and Samantha so I wouldn't have to spend more time in the kitchen. They have had us over for dinner, and Peyton has always tried to be very quiet with his eating/snacks. I so appreciate everyones helpfulness and understanding in this crazy situation. The other day Samantha even told me that her ice cream wasn't very good, in order to help me feel better. I am lucky to be surrounded by so many caring individuals. 

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