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When Gastroparesis Feels Like a Prison Cell

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Out of all chronic illnesses I’ve been diagnosed with, for me gastroparesis has been the most difficult by far.

For those who don’t know, gastroparesis is when your stomach is unable to digest food. Some people can digest more than others with this disease, and some can’t digest at all.

I used to have the lesser of two evils and was unable to digest some foods but not all. But now my illness has progressed so far to the point where I can’t have a soda without puking. I started out at 164 pounds and am now down to 143. Nausea meds have stopped working, motility meds have failed and I’m going days on end of not eating. I’ve been to the ER from passing out from such a lack of nutrition.

I’ve been told I look so good skinnier even though my body is being forced to be skinny without a choice. I have no self-control of what my body does or does not look like. I’m not able to eat when invited to a social event, not able to go out to lunch with friends, not able to have clothes fit. I haven’t been able to get up without getting dizzy, let alone walk upstairs or complete daily activities. I haven’t had a substantial meal without puking for a year. I would do anything I could to have that back.

When this chronic illness is at its prime, nothing you eat will go down. And my illness has reached its prime. No Halloween candy, no sweets, no meat, no chips, no snacks, no Thanksgiving or Christmas meal without a substantial consequence. You begin to condition yourself to associate something that’s supposed to provide you with nutrients as a type of poison. Many doctors aren’t willing to help unless you are starving. It’s truly sad that the bodies of people with gastroparesis have to reach the point of survival mode to get any treatment.

Even though for me this illness is by far the worst, it has taught me never take something as simple as food for granted. For anyone struggling with this debilitating disease, I hope you can find a moment where you can eat and not pay for it. I hope we all can find that moment because sometimes it can seem so far away.

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Stock photo by Milan Markovic

Originally published: November 9, 2016
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