The Further Adventures Of Tracey Frankenbowel

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Tracey is about to embark on the hardest leg of her medical journey yet.

Last time we went to Brisvegas for a medical check up on Tracey’s progress, Dr Brown told her on her she could lose a little weight if she wanted.

The scales at the hospital confirmed what I knew – she didn’t especially want to. Eating whatever the hell you want and not putting on weight is enough for my girl.

Case in point would be her balanced breakfast on the way down – a couple slices of toast with feta, a dim sim and both halves of a cherry ripe. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that’s all the food groups covered. It’s only anecdotal, but I suspect having the tube down her throat for a month damaged her tastebuds.

These check ups are exciting. It’s nice to see the experts happy, and to have your niggling little worries answered, like her concerns her skin graft is starting to fail. He’s assured her it’s not.

“Are you going to the toilet okay?” Dr Brown asked instead. Obviously after all the cutting and pasting of her bowel, he’s eager to know if it’s doing its job and breaking stuff down to something you’d be keen to flush. “How’s it looking?”

“Really good,” Tracey assured him, nodding enthusiastically.

That’s quite the understatement. Sometimes she invites me in to stare at them if they’re especially outstanding. I realise how odd that would sound to someone who’s never been in her situation. I also want to assure you I do not take her up on the offer.

While a lovely nurse looked on, Dr Brown and another surgeon stood over Tracey giving her battle-scars a prodding. They examined her in the next room where they had a doctor’s table she could lie on while I looked up a website for special bandages the nurse had recommended. Tracey said they were massaging, kneading and stretching her belly like Italians making pizza dough.

“They said the looseness of the skin was a good thing,” she told me excitedly in the car. Her relief was palpable. It’s like thinking your car has a really bad leak, only to be told it’s a convertible. “It means it’s doing well.”

Plus they said her bloods were good, and the little bit of small intestine she has left seems up to the job of a much longer one. Go Frankenbowel!

Then Dr Brown surprised the hell out of us and started talking about the remaining one or two operations to fix up the bags, hernias and general aesthetics like it was all just around the corner.

“Do you want us to do the next operation before or after Christmas?” he asked Tracey.

Which is when my eyes went blurry. I didn’t even bother wiping away the couple of tears which ran down my cheeks, one of them resting on my lips. It struck me to do so would be in some way disrespectful of the pure joy that is happy tears.

It’s one thing to hope at some point down the track they’re going to see their way to fixing Tracey’s hernias and bags and belly in general, but to hear them talking about it like it’s actually going to happen…well, I just didn’t expect us to be having this conversation so soon. In fact, I had it in my head if they could just reduce her to one bag some day I’d be thrilled, but instead here they were going over the risks and benefits of doing the surgery in either one or two operations.

There was just this one little thing he wanted Tracey to focus on – loosing weight. I suspect he wanted it to happen last time, but didn’t account for my wife’s love of dairy and my compunction as a feeder.

Then he told us why.

“When we bring the two sides of your stomach together it’ll be easier if we don’t have to stretch it as far,” he said.

In the car I suggested she simply consider skipping a few meals during the day, like second breakfast, brunch and pre-dinner. She suggested Linner as well. Having six or seven smaller meals instead of the usual three big ones has become the norm.

So now we have an idea of how things sit and more tests and scans booked and a time frame for her next step to recovery.

“It won’t be like before,” he assured her. “You’ll find it’s really easy to drop a few kilos now.”

It’s saying things like this which really endears him to Tracey.

Naturally, I suggested for lunch we stop off at a Sushi Train on the way home to celebrate.

Also naturally, Tracey readily agreed.

Just as a couple of hours later when she suggested we go back for a few more yummy plates, I readily agreed with her.

Okay, so cutting out Linner on the very first day was always going to be a big ask.

It all has me thinking, having survived an aneurism, her bowel dying and kickass infections, this might be the hardest leg of her journey yet – a diet.

Short bowel or not, losing a mere 9 or 10 kilo in twelve weeks might be a little more of a challenge than it looks.

Still I guess, what with Tracey being a photographer, there’s always Photoshop.

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In your dreams, Tracey.

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Raising a family on little more than laughs.

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