17 People With Gastroparesis Describe What It's Like
When gastroparesis enters your life, the world may feel like it’s been turned upside-down. Having a condition that makes eating food extremely painful (to say the least) means every mealtime can feel like a battle with your body. And of course, in a society that seems to revolve around food, the emotional side affects of gastroparesis can also be tough — especially because friends and family may not fully grasp what the condition is.
To help give those who know someone with gastroparesis, or those who are newly diagnosed, an honest look at what life with the condition is like, we partnered with G-PACT to ask our Facebook communities how they’d describe what living with gastroparesis is like. Their answers reveal how life with gastroparesis can feel like a roller coaster and the importance raising awareness so loved ones begin to understand the impact of the condition.
Here’s what they told us:
1. “You’re either not able to gain weight because you can’t absorb the nutrients in your food, or you end up not being able to lose weight because it takes forever for food to leave your system, and both are very much unpleasant.”
2. “Living with gastroparesis is tiring and can become quite an emotional and physical roller coaster where you’re constantly trying to catch up with yourself and just feel better. This has undoubtedly changed my whole life.”
3. “Let’s get right down to the awkwardness that is GP: Whenever you go someplace new, you immediately scope out the location of the restrooms in case you have to make a sudden dash to throw up.”
4. “You suddenly realize just how large a role food plays in social settings. ‘Let’s grab coffee sometime,” popcorn at the movies, hors d’oeuvres at meetings, birthday cake on your own birthday.”
5. “You have to learn how to plan and enjoy social activities with friends when you can’t eat. I had no idea how much of our social life revolves around the ability to eat until I couldn’t!”
6. “It’s like waking up one morning with the stomach flu and it never, ever goes away.”
7. “It feels like you’ve swallowed a bowling ball any time you eat something.”
8. “It’s getting super full after taking one bite. It’s being jealous of people who don’t have to put any thought into eating. It’s being afraid and in love with food because it causes you so much pain but it tastes delicious.”
9. “You must keeping trying new things while accepting that it may come at hefty cost. At the same time, you constantly weigh each physical exertion, or activity with its worth, as you know it could very well take you days to weeks to recover. Despite the disease being incredible unpredictable and without a cure, there is always a ‘silver lining.’ Sometimes, you just have to change your perspective and reorganize your priorities to find it!”
10. “It’s like playing Russian Roulette every time you eat a meal.”
11. “Living with gastroparesis is like eating a huge Thanksgiving feast and then having to eat another equally huge meal on top of that. But you feel like that when you haven’t eaten a thing; it is that constant.”
12. “It’s like having a shadow over you all the time, but no one else can see it. Your life is divided between the toilet and the real world, your bed and the real world, your couch and the real world. And most days gastroparesis is your whole world.”
13. “My stomach hurts without food, after I eat, and after I drink. After a day’s work and my toddler, I do not have energy for anything else. My social life is nonexistent. Whether it’s a small or large impact, gastroparesis affects every aspect of your day. It’s very tiring.”
14. “Life is like a roller coaster that you can’t ever get off. There are ups and downs and twists and turns, and sometimes you vomit.”
15. “It’s like never knowing anything. You never know how you’ll feel when you wake up, or throughout the day. You never know if you will keep the plans you made for yourself that day. You never know if you’re going to be able to eat that day or not.”
16. “It’s starving when you’re surrounded by food because you know one bite feels like shattered glass in your stomach.”
17. “Gastroparesis means finding new things and ways to enjoy interacting that aren’t focused on food. GP means finding your tribe of people who understand, truly, that life is unpredictable, loving you anyway, and helping to navigate the ups and downs. GP doesn’t define me, but it’s definitely a part of me.”
What is living with gastroparesis like? Tell us in the comments.