Gastroparesis is a life changing disease that affects 5 million Americans without a cure and very limited treatment options. It quite literally means that your stomach is paralyzed and does not digest food properly, if at all. This can lead to a whole host of issues that make it difficult to function in day to day life. Those of us with Gastroparesis are subject to random flairs which include any combination of the following: severe stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, the inability to eat for days which results in the need to have IV nutrition, and the dreaded “brain fog”.
GPers (as we affectionately call ourselves) must be constantly aware of the food that we consume and are quite limited in our diet. Imagine how many social activities revolve around food and now imagine the stress that goes along with not being able to consume the food at these functions. How do you explain it? Will people understand? Should you bring your own food? Will the restaurant say something if you bring in your own food? These are all questions that go through our minds. By educating our friends and family we are able to reduce our stress level with the above questions, but they never fully disappear.
The “GP Brain Fog” is as frustrating as any of the other aspects of Gastroparesis. There is not a way to fully describe this. The best example is that your brain has completely deserted you for a period of time. While you are battling the brain fog you are only semi-aware that it is happening. You feel like you are stuck in park and cannot move. Once you are out of the fog, you realize that you have lost days of your life and hope that you haven’t made any important decisions!
Needless to say, all of the above leads to difficulties professionally and personally that are sometimes sad, frustrating, comical, and rewarding. My battle with Gastroparesis started when I was a child but only recently became life altering. I am attempting to continue my career, running, snowboarding, yoga, camping, traveling, socializing with friends & family, and much more in spite of GP. Many others are fighting the same fight and I hope that by sharing the highs and lows of my adventures that I may help someone else with GP to find the courage to keep fighting and to help people develop a better understanding of the day to day life of a GPer.
However, I must acknowledge all of my GP brothers and sisters that are fighting the fight solely through feeding tubes and IV nutrition. Their Gastroparesis is so advanced that they are not able to consume any solid foods. I fight this fight and share these stories for them!
For more information on Gastroparesis please visit IFFGD (International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disrorders) http://www.aboutgastroparesis.org
** Please note that I am not a medical professional. A medical professional should be consulted before trying anything that I am attempting! **