It’s been a long recovery, but Rose Schwarz is feeling a bit better and enjoying life without daily nausea and vomiting, after having stomach removal surgery in Calgary in April.
Before the surgery Schwarz suffered from gastroparesis, a disease that essentially paralyzed her stomach, making it unable to digest food. The disease also resulted in much nausea and unexpected vomiting throughout the day.
On March 24 she and her family held a fundraiser for their trip to Calgary to have stomach removal surgery and the community generously gave around $7,000.
The money just barely covered the costs of travel, food and accommodation for the family that had to stay longer than anticipated in the city due to complications Schwarz endured.
The slight 40 kg woman gained 20 kg of fluid after the surgery due to extreme swelling.
“I felt like I was going to burst from the time I got up until I went to bed. The pain was so intense,” she recalled, noting her legs carried the majority of the fluid.
The pain was difficult to handle and it took about six weeks for her legs to get back to their original size.
Adding to the complications was an unfortunate opening of a three-cm deep hole in the young woman’s abdomen shortly after the staples from her surgery were removed.
Her mother Tani Schwarz remembered the ordeal as being hard to handle.
“It was a really hard time for all of us,” she said.
The pain and complications were difficult to get through, but Tani said improvements were seen amidst the ordeal.
“Right away her electrolytes were way better, better than in years. Her kidney function tripled … all these positive things were happening,” Tani said.
The most positive thing in Rose’s mind was the ability to eat, for the first time in years, without throwing up.
She ate tiny packets of cream cheese and peanut butter and sipped small amounts of juice in the hospital — the first food she had been able to eat and keep down in about 10 years.
In order to keep her pain under control, she was put on a strong painkiller that came with its own set of problems.
Once discharged from the hospital and home again she started to wean off the painkiller and the withdrawal symptoms caused nausea and vomiting again.
Dealing with that withdrawal this week she said she was still tube feeding and feeling a bit down.
“Rose is a little bit depressed and frustrated that after going through all of this you think, ‘oh, finally I’m in the clear,’ but because of the complications and the medication to deal with those complications, it’s a set back for sure,” Rose’s step-father Gary Gilbert said. “Although there’s light at the end of the tunnel and we do think things are eventually going to calm down and the body’s going to get used to it and we’re going to get off the withdrawal symptoms. I think Rose is very happy that she hasn’t thrown up like she was since the operation.”
She said she is not feeling well right now, but knows things are getting better and she wants to thank the community for their support and generous donations to make the surgery possible.
“The outpouring of support both mentally and financially have really given Rose a second chance at life and we’re forever indebted,” Gilbert added.