To the Condition That's Overstayed Its Welcome


Dear Gastroparesis,

You’ve truly overstayed your welcome! Our relationship is not only unacceptable, it’s become volatile. Please note that I will continue to fight your existence until gastroparesis exist no more. Gastroparesis, you’ve inspired me to become more vocal and broadcast how horrible you are. In the future, you will not be able to find anyone who will permit you to overtake their life like you’ve tried with mine. You may be winning the battles lately, but you will not win the war.

On February 17, 2013, I woke up in the middle of the night with a virus attacking my digestive system. At first we thought is was a stomach bug, but the symptoms continued for months and months until I ended up hospitalized. I constantly had no appetite, severe nausea, vomiting/heaving when anything entered my mouth, and awful abdominal pain. They diagnosed me with you, GP. Your name means “paralyzed stomach.” There’s no cure for you yet and only limited, unreliable treatment options. But GP, your final day will be here before you know it. The majority of the public may be unaware of just how debilitating you can be, but that will change with all of our awareness tactics.

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Due to my continued inability to eat or drink an adequate amount of nutrition, (I haven’t had a “meal” since diagnosis), I was forced to have a feeding tube. On May 13, 2013, a GJ tube, which feeds formula into my small intestine, was placed, and a backpack became my new accessory. At first, it was hard to accept, but God helped me gain peace, and I became comfortable with wearing the bag in public. I admit, a more comfortable and stylish bag did help some as well. Over the past two years, I’ve continued to have rough days but was able to function “normally” on most days. The past six months, though, have been extremely difficult for me physically and emotionally; my body has begun having trouble with tolerating enough calories via the tube. Surviving on less than 500 calories a day doesn’t give me much energy at all.

This current battle between me and you, GP, is ongoing. You might think you have or will win this one, but I’m still not giving up. I admit I was angry and upset at the beginning. I honestly thought I was fulfilling my purpose by being a teacher and loving mother, so why was my body keeping me from being in the classroom? I questioned God’s reasons for making me endure the pain and suffering of this debilitating disease. Was I not making him proud? Was I not following the path he desired for me? I honestly try my best to live my life with as much love, understanding and patience as I can. With many prayers and discussions with God, I finally discovered what I believe is another purpose for my life — at least I hope that’s what it is.

Through this storm, GP, you cannot match up to me when I have faith. I’ve made some wonderful friends, who I’m most grateful for. I believe this is proof that God always comes through by sending blessings and rainbows after, and sometimes even during, our personal thunderstorms. I believe God has never failed me and never will. The way I see it, my track record for surviving the most difficult times is at a whopping 100 percent — that’s pretty good odds for surviving this one, don’t you think?

Thankfully a wonderful bond was formed with two of my fellow GP warriors. We’re using social media, creating webpages, community pages, an advocacy group, Twitter movements, #green4gp events, letter writing campaigns to government officials, media, medical providers, signing petitions, making awareness videos, creating fundraisers, etc. all to support the GP community. We collectively formed a group called Gastroparesis: Fighting for Change.

We all have days when our bodies are stubborn and limit us, but we also have moments when we’re able to put up a fight for awareness, our health and our lives. We’ve formed a magnificent team that will destroy you, GP.

Man oh man, are we beginning to make some headway. I hate you, GP. You’ve been a thorn in my side, but I’m finding my way with the support of God, friends and family. That thorn that keeps causing me pain will one day bloom into a beautiful rose. I’ve come to the conclusion that I will no longer suffer alone; instead I’m going to share my story with anyone who will listen. I may just be one person, but together with other GP warriors, we will fight for change, we will fight for awareness, we will fight for research, we will fight for better treatments, and we will be successful. So watch out, Gastroparesis, we’re coming full force!

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