Page 17 - Family Help
P. 17

Life after an oesophagectomy or gastrectomy

                  emergency stop. Have a couple of practice runs first! Equally important is that you
                  must be in a frame of mind that makes you feel safe and in control.

                  Eating and eating out
                  There is absolutely no reason why you cannot return to a full social life including
                  dining out with family and friends, so long as they understand that you can only
                  eat small portions and need to eat and drink separately. You should have been
                  given a card, the size of a credit card, which you can carry in your wallet or purse
                  which can be shown in a restaurant explaining that for medical reasons you
                  require a child’s portion. They are available in English only or English backed with
                  Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. (If you did not
                  receive one, please call OOSO and ask for one – contact details are at the end of
                  this booklet.)

                  It may take a while to get back into a normal sleeping pattern. In order to ensure a
                  good night’s rest, taking a painkiller just before going to sleep would be a good
                  idea. In the early days, an afternoon nap is common, however, it is advisable not
                  to sleep much beyond 4:00 pm as it may otherwise interfere with your night sleep.

                  Because of medication that is given, some patients experience hallucinations or
                  dreams, but these will tail off after a while. If they persist, please consult your GP.

                  Psychological effects and support
                  For some, it is an overwhelming experience, from diagnosis to treatment and
                  adjusting to the effects of the surgery. If you find the emotional reaction to what
                  you have been through is a problem, try talking to family and friends or your GP,
                  or a member of OOSO, each of whom has been through a similar experience and
                  can relate to your experience. If you are struggling with your emotions and
                  adjustment, it is important to speak to your Nurse Specialist.

                  Relationships and sex
                  The invasiveness and enormity of either an oesophagectomy or gastrectomy
                  cannot be overstated and inevitably it can alter our relationships with others.
                  Feelings for our closest family may be enhanced and the patient may need extra
                  love and reassurance. It is normal to feel anxious about having sex but give the
                  patient plenty of time if they feel uneasy about resuming sex. There is no reason
                  why sex cannot be possible and as enjoyable as before.

                  Review with your surgeon
                  You should be seen by your surgeon within a few weeks of your discharge from
                  hospital. If you experience any concerns, please contact your Nurse Specialist – it
                  is natural for you to worry about cancer recurring but in time your confidence will
                  grow. If there are problems in between appointments, then contact your Nurse
                  Specialist or Surgeon. They will always be pleased to see you earlier.

                  Three to six months after surgery
                  We are all individuals but somewhere within this period you should be able to
                  tackle more exercise. Perhaps swimming, as it is very good exercise for all ages.
                  Take someone with you to give you confidence and the benefits will soon show.
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