“But how do you eat?”
According to her Youtube channel’s introductory video, this is a question that Jessica MacKenzie is frequently asked after revealing that she no longer has a stomach.
“I have to teach myself how to eat again,” she said. “You have to take really small bites, and it’s really tedious. It takes me like an hour to eat an Eggo-waffle, which is kind of pathetic, but you have to chew your food a lot.”
Jessica MacKenzie’s father, Bob MacKenzie, expressed that he has been doing well since his gastrectomy and can now eat a larger variety of food.
“Life without a stomach isn’t so bad; you eat a lot of small meals,” he said. “I used to have a lot of acid reflux before this and I don’t get it anymore, so in some ways I can eat more of a variety of things than I could before.”
Not everyone recovers as well as Bob MacKenzie has, however. His sister Debi has found it harder to maintain a healthy weight and has recently been put on a feeding tube.
As for Jessica MacKenzie, her recovery has been steady.
“She has been handling it like a trooper, she’s been fantastic. She’s strong,” Bob MacKenzie said. “For me, it’s been the greatest thing seeing her mature because of this. It’s given her a different perspective on life and other people and some of the things they’ve gone through.
“Physically, she’s doing fantastic,” he added. “In that way, she’s always been tough, but now, she needs to get structured and hopefully that will come in time.”
After a gastrectomy, small meals must be eaten throughout the day to maintain a healthy intake of calories.
“A normal person would be watching their calories, but I’m watching to make sure I get enough,” MacKenzie said.
Through all of this, Jessica MacKenzie’s goal has been to remain optimistic.
“I try to keep up a positive attitude,” she said. “A lot of people tell me that I inspire them, so I don’t want to be all pessimistic. I want to help people by sharing the journey.”
MacKenzie made videos every day while she was in the hospital after her surgery and posted them to her YouTube channel, SendJessToEllen. She created the channel so that others going through similar ordeals could see what to expect after a gastrectomy. Her main goal, however, is to spread awareness about HDGC and she believes that obtaining an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show would give her opportunity to reach a lot of people. She has also kept a blog at www.indigestibly.com and tweets from her Twitter account, @NoBellyNoProb.
“It’s so grumpy, my blog,” she said. “I’m having trouble finding the words to say right now. Writer’s block is the worst.”