The Mighty Logo

Why I Still Sit at the Table Even Though I Can't Eat Because of Gastroparesis

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Last week I visited my former German teacher to thank her for all that she has done for me. She invited me in, I gave her my present. Then her husband came in with three huge bowls of ice cream, the biggest one for me. Situations like that don’t happen frequently any more. Most of the people around me already know that I am living with a useless digestive tract and therefore can’t eat. It’s been a long time since I last ate, except for one bit of chicken and some sips of hot chocolate here and there.

I am aware this sounds sad, but it’s not all that sad to me, really. It seems like out of all my symptoms and limitations people find the inability to eat the cruelest. The truth is, the brain fog, the permanent dizziness and endless pain bother me far more. Before I started tube feeds, every day was a new battle. Somehow maintaining weight, while throwing up in horrible pain. I was merely existing. But then, I finally had energy again. I was finally able to follow school lessons again. I had fun, enjoyed life. All of that because my feeding tube took over the responsibility of eating.

I don’t cry all day wanting food back in my life. It does occasionally happen, though. Because food cravings are part of it, too. Especially in the beginning, I kept wanting foods I have never even liked before. I also had a long-lasting, but more understandable love for doughnuts. Eventually those cravings almost disappeared. My mouth stopped watering every single time I thought about food and I could sit at the table with 10 eating people not being jealous (for the most part, at least).

Why do I still sit at the table, you ask? In my opinion, having food serves two basic human needs: Nutrition and social interaction. In our modern society, the only time we really sit with our loved ones and listen to each other is usually while eating. My nutrition is being taken care of by tube (now parenteral) feeds, but I still want the social aspect!

So that day I visited my teacher, the ice cream was an offer to sit down and have a conversation rather than just wanting to nourish me. We had a conversation anyways, and I am not sad I couldn’t have the ice cream – I only feel impolite for letting it melt and go to waste. I have accepted that food is no longer directly part of my world, and that’s OK.

Getty Image by FotoDuets

Originally published: July 24, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home