“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” That is what Forest Gump claims. He apparently never met someone with Gastroparesis. When a GPer is handed a box of chocolates, you know exactly what you are going to get. You’re going to get…..sick. We have been handed the chocolate that is full of all the disgusting jellies and nuts that manufacturers ruin chocolates with. This is why I like to use a different analogy for the life of someone with Gastroparesis: life is like a train. (This is actually applicable to anyone, but seems to be particularly true for GPers.)
You are probably asking yourself: how exactly is life like a train? If you’re a GPer, you’re probably thinking “Yes, hit by a train”. However, I’m not talking about life being like getting hit by a train. I’m talking about life being like sitting in that train car and just puttering along like anyone else.
This whole concept of life being like a train started years and years ago for me. Someone (much wiser than me at the time) told me this analogy and I didn’t pay much attention to it. For some reason, it stuck with me and the older I have gotten the more I have found it to be true. Here is what was told to me all those years ago. Life is like a train. People will ride with you for different periods of time and people will steadily enter/exit the train car. People will also get up and move around within the train.
Hopefully, you are now on board with the train analogy. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun!) The key point to the train analogy is that people are headed in different directions and moving along different paths and at different rates. As people’s lives changes they enter/exit your train car. At any given point in time, the people in your train car are the people that are moving in the same direction as you, have similar goals/interests, and are moving at the same rate. As life changes, someone may exit your train car for no other reason than they are headed to a different place or at a different speed. You might someday see them again, but for the present moment in time the train car isn’t going to the same place.
You might also have people in your train car that move to another area of the train for awhile. You might not see them for awhile, but when they come back you have a lot to talk about. These are typically your childhood friends and family. In real life, you might not see each other often, but it is like no time has passed since you last spoke.
This analogy has helped me tremendously since my Gastroparesis has become worse. It is very easy to feel like you are all alone in that train car and the outside world is flying past you at an alarming rate. You may feel like there was a mass exodus from the train car so that they can escape the GP car that is about to go over the cliff into a severe wreckage. This is when it is important to look around and see who is still on the train with you. These are the people that are in it for the long haul. These are the people who will get creative with supporting your Gastroparesis fight. Yes, your car may have less people on it. I would argue that you now have more quality on your train and who wouldn’t rather have quality over quantity.
It is extremely important to remember that it is okay if people leave your train car. Yes, it hurts and is sad but it is a basic fact of life. People would enter/exit your train car regardless of Gastroparesis. Yes, more people may leave because of GP than otherwise would have, but the people who stayed on the train are in it for the long haul. They will be there for you no matter what.
So remember, people may move in and out of your life but that is okay. It is okay to let people go because you are headed different directions. Appreciate the time that you had with them, but prepare yourself to say hello to the new people entering the car. There may be more of them than you think. You might not have seen them enter while you were saying goodbye or while you were sick from the bumpy ride.