My total gastrectomy is scheduled for tomorrow, September 12, 2019. I found I have checked off most items on my stomach bucket list, and those that I haven't, will have to wait until I am recovered enough to enjoy them from seahorse land. I feel content with everything I have stuffed into my mouth. Surprisingly, I haven't gained any weight since I started the list, but my cholesterol levels sure have noticed.....whoops. Anyway, I am ready for surgery tomorrow, and feel I did my stomach bucket list justice for sure. Here is a summary of what my stomach and I have been up to (warning, way too many food pics ahead, so hope you aren't hungry):
Barbecue driving tour of the U.S.A. - December 2018 - Andy and I drove out the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland for my first visit with the clinical team conducting CDH1 research. We traveled through 13 states and we ate and saw lots of sights along the way. I decided the best barbecue of the trip was, surprising to me, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Impromptu trip to Redlands, California - December 2018 - Andy had an interview out there, and I needed to get out of cold MN for a moment. We stayed for a few days and enjoyed the sunshine and dry desert air, along with some food of course!
Restaurant Alma tasting menu - February 2019 (valentine's dinner) - I didn't take any photos of this stop on the bucket list, I know....crazy. Probably because the restaurant was very dark, but also because Andy and I were having so much fun and enjoying ourselves, that I didn't want to distract from it by pulling out my phone every five seconds. I highly recommend this place, check it out!
Honolulu, Hawaii - March 2019 - Where to begin. We took some of the money we had been saving up for a down payment on a bigger house, and traveled to Hawaii instead. We were exhausted from cancer treatments, work, school, and looking at SO MANY homes without winning any bids (dang sellers market). We decided we would stay put in our current home (not like we are suffering or anything), and take a break/trip instead. This was also just before Andy started his new job. So, we were celebrating! I told my oncologist I was taking a week off of chemo, he approved, and we were off! We basically stuffed ourselves with amazing food and relaxed on the beach every day. It was AMAZING, and exactly what we needed.
Meritage tasting menu - April 2019 (Andy's Birthday) - Yummy french inspired restaurant in downtown St. Paul, MN. Loved this place so much, we have been back several times for dessert and drinks! SO MUCH BUTTER!! (probably where my cholesterol started going off track)
Grad Party Celebration complete with 3 dozen cupcakes custom made by one of my favorite restaurants, The Buttered Tin - May 2019 - Homemade picnic style food is the best, even when it is 40 degrees Fahrenheit and raining. Thanks mom and dad for helping out with the party, and to everyone who came despite the weather!
Checking out the new Allianz Field - Minnesota United FC Soccer Stadium, and all the new foods and brews!
Dessert at Meritage before Gogol Bordello concert - May, 2019 - went back for the opera cake. That's all I have to say about that!
NE Social - June 2019 - back visiting the old neighborhood for a much needed haircut. When in northeast Minneapolis, one must eat and drink at a NE staple, right?!
Travail 90s inspired tasting menu "Homage" - June 7, 2019 ( Our 11-year wedding anniversary) - we received a generous gift from wonderful friends to try this place out. We treated ourselves, and enjoyed every moment!
Twins game & being tourists in our city - June 2019 - first twins game of the season. I will have a brat and beer please! Also, tried MN Nice Cream for the first time. It was wonderful and the place was very charming. The lady at the counter kept asking all the customers, "would you like glitter on that?" Excuse me?!
Hazels Brunch - July 2019 - What can I say? I love this place, always have, and always will. Trick we learned the hard way, if you are going to brunch on the weekend, make sure to get there at or before the doors open for the day. If you don't, you will be waiting for a table and they don't take reservations. Also, they only make a certain number of caramel rolls each day, so first come first serve if you catch my drift ;)
Chicago city tour - July 2019 - met new friends, who immediately felt like old friends. Did all the touristy stuff, and ate lots of yummy food along the way. One of my favorite moments was when we were catching the train out of the city and as we were walking by the Dunkin Donuts in the train depot, my friend and I looked at each other, nodded, and went and bought a half dozen donuts and decaf coffee for the train ride at 11:30pm! (come to think of it, I didn't really take pictures of food this trip, but here are a few pics I shared on Instagram for your enjoyment).
Buttered tin brunch/lunch - multiple visits - like I mentioned previously, this place is one of my favs. Whenever I get the chance to go here with friends for lunch, I go! Thanks for the gift card Leslie!
Multiple visits to CHS field - the Saint Paul Saints baseball team stadium- always a good time, and good food to boot!
Demi tasting menu - August 11, 2019 - OMG, this night was one of the most amazing nights I have ever experienced. If you don't know the story, this place is really hard to get into. They have a very small number of seats available, high demand, and they open up reservations on the first of the month each month for the following month of dining. It sells out almost instantly. Well, Andy took it upon himself to write to the restaurant, tell them my story, and let them know August was the only chance for me and my stomach to attend. They responded and gave us seats at the Chef's table!! From the moment we arrived, they treated us like royalty. They were giving us gifts that others were not receiving around us. And, to top it off, at the end of the night, they came out, handed me a specially made cinnamon/caramel roll with a personalized card, and said, "we heard cinnamon rolls are your favorite, so we made this for you." WHAT?! They must have read my blog or looked at my instagram, because no one told them that! And, it definitely wasn't on their menu. It brought tears to my eyes that they were so caring and thoughtful. I hope to go back one day and be their first stomachless patron....they said they would welcome me back with open arms, so we will see!
These last three will not have pictures uploaded. I am on NIH free WiFi at the moment and just too tired to upload the seemingly millions of photos from these experiences....
food truck festival and girls weekend - Aug 2019 - a couple of my closest childhood friends came down to spend time with me and my tummy. It just so happened that weekend that there were lots of events going on in St. Paul, one of which was a food truck festival. We laughed, ate, drank, and had an awesome time.
State Fair - multiple visits - Aug 2019 - yeah, so I attended the fair 6 out of 12 days.....Not full days or anything. Just a several hours each time. It was so fun. I also shared the experience with wonderful friends. SO MUCH FOOD!!
Travail Kua Tasting menu - August 24, 2019 - went back for Travail's Mexican theme menu, Kua. It was amazing. Enjoyed so many laughs and flavors. Thank you so much M and K!
Andy and I have tried many new places, and ate desserts everywhere we could. Sugar is likely to be something I won't be able to tolerate after surgery, or at least not in the quantities I am currently used to. The list above is not inclusive of all our food experiences, and does not include all the foods I have been making and enjoying at home either.
As you can tell, we have fulfilled my every food wish, and then some. I feel like I have done my stomach justice, and I am at peace with whatever happens food wise after my total gastrectomy. I know I will still enjoy food, and I know one day I will return to my foodie status, but for now, I am happy, my belly is happy, and I look forward to this next chapter. I am trying to think of this surgery as a reset button. Like a forced cleanse. All the food will be out of my system, then I will slowly reintroduce them one at a time, and hopefully be able to focus on quality, not quantity.
As I sit here finishing this post, I am looking forward to the future. I truly feel this surgery will give me the chance to move on from all this cancer crap, and relieve the constant fear that I will be another gastric cancer statistic. Tomorrow morning, I will be rolled into surgery, and come out one organ short. I have no doubt the journey forward will be challenging, but when I look back at what I have already been through, I know I can handle it. Life from here on out will be different, no better or worse, just different. And, I can live with that.
See you on the other side,