It's hard to fall asleep. I don't mope or cry, I see friends, I research things to eat after surgery, and ways to take care of myself and feel well, but when I get into bed and relax a bit, I think "Holy shit. My stomach."
Usually, in the wee hours, I give up on sleeping and pick up the handheld computer next to my bed, and type something into Google like [gastrectomy diet -bypass] or [gastrectomy "quality of life"]. What I desperately want is someone my age, to whom "quality of life" means something I would recognize, to say "Hey, I did this, and your life won't necessarily suck."
Last night, I was reading messages in a gastrectomy support group, and suddenly there it was: a woman, almost exactly my age, found cells by accident, stomach removed--she sounds smart, and at least well enough to be leaving messages on the internet.
It feels intrusive to email a stranger about a trauma, but, like I say, the world is more full of love and caring than you'd ever guess. She responded, and responded, and responded to my questions. She put me in touch with a doctor who's an expert in this type of cancer, and most best of all, she sounds like she's truly thriving: she works, she goes to school, she's married, she travels, and she swims! Mercifull god, she swims! I'd been too terrified to even ask my doctors whether I'd be able to swim after the surgery; I couldn't stand to hear the answer.
Of course, she also told me that everyone's experience is different, and some people have a much harder time than others, and that, even in the best of cases, it's a long and brutal road back to normal life. But it is possible. More than anything I'd read, or anything anyone had said, the simple fact of her existence, and her extraordinary generosity in giving me a peek into it, made me feel like things might eventually be ok. Thank you.