What It Really Means to Live With Gastroparesis
First off, let me tell you about my life with gastroparesis (GP). GP is known as “paralyzed stomach.” This means for some reason the stomach no longer has the ability to move food through and out of it. It delays the speed in which the intestines can move the contents. How does this affect me? I worked as a LPN (licensed practical nurse) for 10+ years until I could no longer do my job.
GP is waking up and heading straight for the trash can or toilet to vomit. Waking up every day with body cramps that feel worse than the flu.
GP is gambling my life by taking a medication to treat symptoms – not cure –because the side effects can be life-threatening.
GP is looking seven months pregnant just from three or four bites of food.
GP is never knowing when my bowels will move, either with help of daily laxatives or additional laxatives. Then I have diarrhea and often anal leakage.
GP is severe belly pain and often chest pain at an eight to 10 out of 10 on the pain scale.
GP is not being able to eat due to nausea from the smell.
GP is holes in my teeth and hair falling out due to malnutrition.
GP is many trips to get IV fluids for dehydration.
GP is being belittled by doctors who aren’t knowledgeable of my condition.
GP is losing all my friends because they don’t understand why I can’t go out.
GP is arguments with my husband because I couldn’t clean the house.
GP is losing my ability to maintain employment, resulting in fighting the state for disability, thus resulting in a stranger deciding my fate.
GP is losing my independence and having to move in with my parents.
GP is being told, “It’s all in your head,” “All you do is sleep,” “You’re just drug-seeking,” “If you’d move around more, you wouldn’t be so sore,” “You’re just lazy,” “If you’d go off some of those medicines (23 total), you’d feel a lot better,” “You’re worthless” and “It’s not that bad, you’re just milking it so you don’t have to do anything.” I hear these phrases almost every day of my life from the people who are supposed to support me.
Having no income is difficult with GP. I must depend on someone else to help buy meds.
In many ways, GP has negatively affected my life.
But GP has also made me stronger than I thought possible.
GP has made me some of the most amazing friends online who understand my battle. These friends are the amazing GP warriors who fight the same battle.
If I’ve learned one thing from GP, it’s Carpe Diem (seize the day).
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Thinkstock photo via Pimonova.