What I Do to Avoid Feeling Left Out Because of My Gastroparesis

In society people get together, more often than not, over a meal and drinks. Many of us with gastroparesis feel left out because going to happy hour or a restaurant in general is something many can no longer tolerate, as the mixed smells intensify our already ill and nauseated-feeling stomach.

I have lost count of the numerous times someone, friends or family, get together to celebrate a birthday, a holiday, an out-of-town visitor, the list goes on. My sister’s birthday was fast approaching and the plan was to meet at a restaurant to celebrate. As many times before, I had to decline, through tears, as the entire family knows I can no longer go to a restaurant.

“Put one of those hospital masks on,” one person suggested, as if the smells couldn’t get in. “But they cook in the kitchen so all the smells are in there, not in the dining area,” another piped in. My head was reeling, my heart broken — there must be a way.

It took a lot of heartache to finally realize I was the one who had to come up with creative choices because I was the one missing out and no one understood or perhaps were in denial. Either way, I needed to be a part of this celebration because I was tired of feeling left out.

There is a way! I thought. I contacted my father (as the dinner was a surprise for my sister) and asked him, if he thought everyone would be willing to come to my house, after dinner, and I would have her birthday cake waiting for her here. He said they would. So while everyone was at dinner, I set the table with all paper goods and put out some balloons and other decorations. The evening was not only successful, but I was able to enjoy being with everyone to celebrate without getting more sick from food smells!

If we truly stop and try to be creative, I think we can be included in most gatherings. You will, occasionally run into situations where the group is too large and they don’t really want to come to your house, they want to linger where they are going. That’s OK, too! Why? Put on your creative cap and make yourself “the Greeter” which is exactly what I had to do when my nephew came into town. I got to the restaurant before everyone else did and I stood close to the front door but far enough away, so as not to become ill. I greeted everyone who arrived and spent some quality time outside with them, before they went inside for their meal. It was a little more difficult leaving knowing they were all in the restaurant and I wasn’t, but at least I got to see everyone and felt better about not completely missing out on the entire evening.

I’m not saying my way is easy; I’m merely suggesting there are ways around these situations if we think creatively, and I think you’ll feel so much better for having done something than to completely miss out altogether.

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Thinkstock photo by g-stockstudio

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