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Why I'm Asking You to Paint Rocks for Gastroparesis Awareness

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I’ve said over and over but, August is gastroparesis (GP) Awareness Month! This an important month because now many states officially recognize August as GP Awareness Month. Our goal every year is to raise awareness, and this year I was thinking of ways to catch people’s attention and encourage them to learn about gastroparesis who may not have heard about it before. So came the #GPdoesntrock project.

I thought of the idea and originally it was just going to be something a friend and I would do, but then I got to thinking – if I got other people to join in, the more the better! The idea is paint rocks with #GPdoesntrock somewhere on them, then place them in public and hopefully someone who has never heard of GP finds it and look it up.

We need as many people this year to learn about it. Plus, after I painted a few rocks, I must admit it was actually kind of fun. I have my trusty sidekicks who I can go to and we bounce ideas off each other. My friend Ashley and I came up with the phrase #ifightforDalia. Dalia did all she could to raise awareness, support other people with illnesses, giving speeches at conferences – all while fighting her own battle. We want Dalia’s legacy to live on.

For those of who don’t know what gastroparesis is, it translates in paralyzed stomach. Meaning our stomachs don’t digest food properly, leaving it sitting there for a really long time before going to the small intestine, or vomiting the undigested food. GP varies patient to patient, but common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, pain, bloating. It’s basically like a stomach flu that never leaves. Those can lead to malnutrition, unwanted weight loss, vitamin deficiency, organ problems, dental problems, hair loss, even starving to death. It affects way more than just your stomach. In extreme cases people need feeding tubes or IV nutrition called total parenteral nutrition (TPN).

I, personally was in TPN for two and a half years. I went 11 months undiagnosed, bouncing around from doctors all over the East Coast. TPN saved my life.

When finally got my diagnosis, I had already lost a lot of weight, leaving me unhealthy. During that time I had no energy and couldn’t even go grocery shopping without getting so worn out. After starting TPN, I put weight back on and slowly was able to build back strength.

I was lucky enough to be able to come off of TPN after I transitioned into a vegan diet. My gastroparesis is still pretty severe and something I struggle with everyday. Some days are better than others, and I’m grateful to be off of TPN, but I don’t think people realize who hard it actually is. I still throw up, I still feel nauseous, my stomach still gives me bad pains but I’m grateful to be off of TPN.

So, if you happen to come across this article because you found a rock, or knows someone who did – then share any information you’ve learned, and maybe you’ll be taking part in helping us find a cure! “Like” The GP Doesn’t Rock Facebook and Instagram to see pictures of rocks people created and to check out some gastroparesis stories.

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Thinkstock Image By: lada_sher

Originally published: August 9, 2017
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