Check out my new post on my new blog:
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New post is up: https://anomalyadventures.com/2016/09/10/therapeutic-writing/
It talks about the therapeutic value of writing and that there are some interesting topics coming.
Check out my latest post on Endometriosis Surgery and how the mental battle with Gastroparesis resurfaced.
Hey everyone. Sorry that it has been so long since I have last written. However, I do still read all of the comments that come through and try to respond as much as I can. (Even if it is super delayed. Will you believe me if I say that the GP elves take me hostage? No? Well, it was worth a try!)
It still boggles my mind how a little blog that was made as nothing more than a creative outlet for everything I went/go through with Gastroparesis has developed such a following. There are still new likes and followers each week. I’m glad that my writings have helped so many people not feel alone.
Lately, I have been battling my Endometriosis more than my Gastroparesis. I have also really missed writing and having the creative outlet. As such, I decided to create a new blog that is a catch all of everything. There will still be Gastroparesis stories, but there will be many other things as well.
Please hop on over and check it out. http://www.anomalyadventures.com
Yes, I am FINALLY making good on my word to start writing again. Gastroparesis awareness is something that I am passionate about but I admit that I needed to step away for a little while. It can get frustrating and tiring fighting and advocating for something that is so difficult for people to understand. Another reason that I stepped away for awhile was to plan my wedding! Yes, that is actually me and my husband on our wedding day in the photo posted above.
As anyone with Gastroparesis knows, there is only so much that can be accomplished at a time without a good old fashioned nap! Naps are a glorious thing for anyone, but it is even more glorious when you have a chronic illness. In fact, naps become a downright necessity. (Sorry for that tangent!) Given that we were planning a wedding and making a TON of decorations, something had to give in order for me to survive. My health has been holding up well, but when I tank, I tank HARD! I still have times where it is like someone switches a light switch off. One moment I will be fine and the next moment I can barely walk from exhaustion. Add some stress to the mix and it is a recipe for disaster.
In addition to our wedding, we also hosted a big family picnic the night before. We had A LOT of relatives traveling long distances to attend and we wanted to see them as much as possible. To be honest, the picnic was more stressful than the wedding. I had been pushing myself pretty hard in the weeks leading up to the wedding and at some point during the picnic the light switch turned off. I was exhausted, dizzy and couldn’t really eat anything. I felt like a zombie at a couple of points.
Thankfully, I made it to bed early and felt better the morning of the wedding. (I’ll admit some Zofran definitely helped!) My 2 bridesmaids and my mother really kept the vibe calm and relaxed. I’m so thankful to them and how well the understand that Gastroparesis is so random.
I will say that Gastroparesis actually played a role in making our wedding day magical. It was an outdoor wedding with the reception in a pavilion. We had yard games and s’mores planned. Shortly into the reception we were greeted with a torrential downpour. We laughed it off and kept the party going. So much of a chronic illness is, as the saying goes, learning to dance in the rain. Well, we literally danced in the rain! A chronic illness like Gastroparesis teaches you to just roll with the punches and make the best of any situation. You learn very quickly that you can let things that you can’t control dictate your mood. Only you can dictate your mood. Yeah, sure, have a moment to think “this really stinks” but then let that moment pass and remember that where there is rain you will find a rainbow!
I found the rainbow that is my husband and I hope that you find your rainbow too!
I haven’t written in awhile because I have taken some time to once again focus on myself. I’m beginning to find that it is important to once and awhile give yourself a time out to focus on yourself. It seems that I appreciate this even more since battling Gastroparesis.
Over the past few months, I have continued to focus on my food selections and exercising. I am happy to report that it is paying dividends, not only for my physical strength but my mental strength as well. I’m really starting to feel like I am getting my life back and am here to say that there is hope. So NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVE UP!
Over the past few months I have taken time to reflect on where I am now and compare that to where I was last year (especially last spring). I can’t even believe the differences. In fact, you probably wouldn’t even know I was the same person. I feel like I’m being given a second chance in life and intend to make the most of it. Part of that includes letting everyone with Gastroparesis know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It takes A LOT of trial and error. A LOT of hard work. A LOT of NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVING UP! But I am living proof that it CAN get better.
Yesterday, I ran a 5K with my best time since high school. I’ve also been focusing on strength training, and today I was able to deadlift 135 pounds. So it is possible to come back from Gastroparesis. Yes, I still have bad days but the bad days are getting fewer and farther between.
I’ve also started to become at peace with how some people chose to treat me while I was at death’s door. They are the people who have to live life treating people that way and saying the types of things they said. I am only torturing myself more by hanging on to the hurt. I finally realized that letting go of the hurt is not letting them off the hook but freeing myself from the last bit of pain that they have caused me. Good riddance to them and am happy to now have myself surrounded by people who survived the storm with me because if they can help me through the horror days of when Gastroparesis was at its worst then they can help me through anything.
So keep your chin up and keep fighting, because there are better days ahead!
Also, stay tuned. This time away has developed some ideas brewing in my head, I just have to figure out how to implement them.
Love you all and thanks for following this blog, even though I took another hiatus!
So you hear all these things about these amazing super foods that are so great for you. Which for a “normal” person is probably true, but when you have Gastroparesis you have no idea what you are getting yourself into. One of the super foods that we keep hearing so much about is avocado.
Well a few weeks ago, on my adventure to becoming gluten and refined sugar free, I found a great recipe for buffalo shrimp with a side of avocado. I have had all of the ingredients of the buffalo shrimp before and knew that it would be safe. THANKFULLY I can still have hot sauce. I really don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t have my hot sauce. I’ve given up coffee, sugary treats, bread, pasta so I think I can keep at least one thing! The shrimp is also okay, but not something I would eat all the time. It’s a nice change up about once per month as a special little treat. So the only untested item on the menu was the avocado. (Insert an ominous piano sound from a cheesy movie.)
Normally I am extremely diligent at researching the nutritious facts of everything that I eat to look for warning signs. However, the avocado is a super food and a fruit so it should be fine. For whatever reason, the fat content never even crossed my mind. Let me just say that thank goodness I only ate two small slices (probably no more than a quarter cup). Within five minutes, I experienced the worst stomach cramping of my life. Having Gastroparesis means that I have experienced my fair share of stomach cramps, so these being the worst is saying something. I couldn’t even stand up straight. I immediately said that we are going to the Emergency Room now. Usually I spend half the night writhing in pain before I admit that I need to go to the Emergency Room. Not this time. I wanted to get there ASAP.
This is where I need to derail from the avocado situation and discuss my experience in the Emergency Room waiting room. Waiting rooms are always an interesting experience, but I have never wanted to vomit on someone so bad in all my life (with the exception of my third grade teacher but that is a story for another day). My fiance and I are in the waiting room. I am in yoga pants, an old shirt, slippers, glasses, uncombed hair in a ponytail, doubled over in pain in the ever so comfortable chair. I am also constantly getting up to excuse myself to the restroom to vomit. The older woman (about 60ish) across from us was dressed to the nines along with her husband who was also dressed quite nicely for being in an ER at 9 pm on a Thursday. This woman kept looking at me as if I was a drug addict going through the detox shakes. After one of my trips to the restroom, she rolled her eyes, gave me a disgusted look, and turned sideways in her seat so that she wouldn’t have to look at me. HELLO?! Sorry that I didn’t get the memo to wear my Sunday finest to the ER while I am vomiting and feel like my stomach is going through a ringer washing machine! She was so rude that I seriously contemplated vomiting on her fancy boots, but I really needed to see a doctor an couldn’t get thrown out.
Now…back to the avocado. I kept my fiesty Irish roots in check and was eventually taken back to a room. Thankfully the doctors in this ER are familiar with Gastroparesis, so I didn’t have to go through the hour explanation of what it is. The doctor recommended some morphine and nausea medicine and an IV of fluids. Believe it or not, the morphine did absolutely nothing for the pain that these two slices of avocado were inflicting on me. All it did was make me ask for my dog and ask where she was. My poor fiance was sitting in what appeared to be the most uncomfortable hospital chair of all time and I was asking for my dog! (On another side note, we had to ask for a chair for him since there wasn’t one in the room. He was initially standing for awhile.) Eventually the doctor ordered some special medicine for me for muscle spasms. It had to be delivered to the Emergency Room so that took quite awhile, but it worked.
So after about 4 hours in the Emergency Room, we were on hour way home. And now every time I see or hear about avocados, this is what I see:
Avocados might be a super food for most but it is super pain for me!
One thing that I still struggle with is viewing myself as strong. When you go through such a lengthy bout of sickness, your brain has been reconditioned to always be on alert for triggers. You are afraid that if you do too much physically, then you will get sick. You are always trying to conserve energy so that if a flair up hits, you will have enough energy to get through it.
Gastroparesis affects you on so many levels and those battle scars are still there even when you start feeling well. I have spent the past year and half on a journey to reclaim my health and my life. I have been determined not to let Gastroparesis win. It may have won some battles, but it isn’t going to win the war. Fortunately, I have found a way to manage my Gastroparesis the majority of the time so that I am not too limited in my day to day life. My diet is crazy, but I can work, visit with friends, and exercise.
Exercise is still where I battle the GP elves that are running around in my head. I still struggle with viewing myself as strong. I still struggle with pushing myself to my limits, because in the back of my mind I am still afraid of getting sick. The days of laying on the bathroom floor, going for IVs, and living off smoothies is not that long ago. (Actually, less then 12 months ago.) All of it is still fresh in my mind and I still worry that I will do something that will trigger me back into that state. A state that I have worked EXTREMELY hard to move away from.
However, I have been fortunate enough to find an amazing gym with an amazing trainer who is really helping me have a mental breakthrough in viewing myself as strong instead of sickly. (All of the trainers are amazing, but one in particular really seems to “get” me.) The gym focuses on kettlebells and she always encourages me to go with a heavier weight than I think I can do. When I pick up the weights, the nagging little GP elves tell me that I can’t do. They tell me that I’ll get sick and it will take weeks to recover. I pick up the weight, tell the GP elves where they can go, and focus on getting through the workout. With every rep and every rep of the workout, I think in my mind, “take that GP”. “Take that GP. You won’t run my life. This is for all the others struggling. I will win this war. So you may have won a year and a half of my life, but you don’t get any more.” Viewing Gastroparesis as a tangible enemy seems to make me fight and train harder. I want to crush GP into the ground more than Rocky and any of his opponents!
Through all of this, I am here to tell you that it is possible. I competed in a lifting competition called “BOLT” which is 10 minutes straight of pressing a kettlebell over your head. The goal is to see how many repetitions you can do in those 10 minutes. This Gastroparesis girl lifted a 10 kg (approx 22 lbs) kettlebell over her head 120 times in 10 minutes. Which means, I lifted 1,200 kg (2,640 pounds) in 10 minutes!!! Who would have EVER imagined that.
Below are real photos of me (the first one ever) as proof:
This is proof, that you can begin to feel better if you have Gastroparesis. Don’t fall into the gloom and doom cycle. (Yes, you will have days of depression but the key is not to get sucked into it.)
A HUGE thank you to my amazingly wonderful trainer (you know who you are) and to my cohort counting my reps that pushed me through those last few reps (you know who you are). Your encouragement and support means more to me than you realize! THANK YOU ladies!!
Well…here it goes. I have REALLY been mustering up the courage to type this post. The root issue of this post is what has been my mental barrier with writing on a consistent basis. However, I feel that I need to get it out in the open. Out in the open like everything else I write about with Gastroparesis. Today’s topic (which is the hardest thing I have written about to date), the guilt that comes with feeling well the majority of the time in spite of your chronic illness.
This is how I feel. I feel like I am hiding behind a curtain because I don’t want to make anyone feel bad or frustrated that he/she is still struggling with Gastroparesis symptoms. I still have days that I struggle. I’ll still get random muscle spasms that show through the twisted expression on my face. However, I have found a way to feel well 95% of the time. (Let’s hope that I didn’t just jinx myself!) But with feeling well comes an extreme amount of guilt. The guilt of knowing how many others aren’t feeling well. I want so badly to help everyone return to a semi-normal state in life. I don’t want the fact that I feel well to make others think less of themselves. I don’t want others to think, what am I doing wrong? I don’t want others to think, it’s not fair. Here are the facts: you are doing NOTHING wrong and it isn’t fair. It is okay to mad. Heck, it is okay to be furious to the point you want to throw things at the wall. (I sure as heck did, but didn’t have the strength to left a finger.)
It’s this unfairness that causes the guilt. It is such a hopeless feeling. However, the side of this equation that I keep forgetting to look at is this: if I can get better then there is hope. There is hope for all of us. There is hope that needs to be shared in the Gastroparesis community. We need to stop focusing on the gloom and doom and start focusing on hope. Yes, it is NOT easy. Yes, during my darkest days I did not want to hear a word about hope because it seemed impossible. However, I there is hope. You need to know that. You need to believe that. You need to fight your butt off for it.
I don’t want to give false hope to anyone and I definitely don’t want to stray anyone from the advice of his/her medical professionals (doctors, acpunturists, nutritionists, health counselors, etc.) But I will say this, I have found a few key elements which have helped me tremendously and I recommend them to you.
1) Acupuncture. I will swear until the day that I day that acupuncture gave me my quality of life back. My acupuncturist is extremely humble, but he worked so extremely hard to get my digestive system back in order. Many people with Gastroparesis have found success through acupuncture.
2) Cutting out negative, non-supportive, self-centered people out of my life even if they are related. This is just good advice for anyone. If the person drags you down and sucks all the energy out of you then he/she is an “energy vampire”. Ditch them. It is hard but in a few months time you’ll wonder what took you so long.
3) Cut the chemicals out of your diet. If you can’t pronounce it then don’t put in in your system. Eat clean and natural. I’ll save the GMO soapbox for another day. PS…This includes Caffeine & refined sugar!
4) Eliminate stress. This is probably the hardest item on the list because this is the most out of your control. However, the more stress you eliminate the more relaxed your body gets.
5) Keep moving. Even if it is only 3-5 minutes a day of walking in place. Keep those muscles moving because they help in digestion.
6) Probiotics & Digestive Enzymes. I notice a HUGE difference in how I feel when I forget to take these. If you are interested in brands, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
There you have it! My 6 keys to hope! (I will not say success, because we all know that Gastroparesis is a moving target and we all define success differently.) However, I cannot stress enough…KEEP HOPE ALIVE!!!
What I have learned through this is this: I shouldn’t struggle with posting about feeling well. I need to post about feeling well to show others living with Gastroparesis, that it is possible to reclaim your life!
If you are doubting, or saying “Millie, you really have gone and lost your mind this time”, I will give you a sneak peak at tomorrow’s post. It will be about how last year, when I started this blog, I could barely find the strength to wash my hair. However, yesterday, I ran 6 miles, took a 2 hour break, and then competed in a kettlebell lifting competition. I lifted 10 kilograms (22 pounds) a total of 120 times in 10 minutes. So if you do the math, I lifted 1200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) after running 6 miles. soooo….THERE IS HOPE!!!
I love you all and thank you all from the bottom of my heart for following this blog!
Wow! How fast a year goes by. It is hard to believe that just over one year ago I started this little blog because I couldn’t find anything that talked about the day to day life of someone with Gastroparesis. I felt that it was important to provide this insight so that others would know that they are not alone. I felt it was important for family and friends to be able to read about what a GPers life is like, because lets be honest. GPers get sick and tired of talking about it and repeating it to different people. Our energy is limited and we don’t want to waste it talking about being sick.
I wasn’t sure if anyone would even read this blog outside of my parents (Hi Mom & Dad! Thanks for always supporting me and being there!), my fiance (Hi! You still don’t realize that I wouldn’t be where I am today without you!), and a handful of friends (Hi there buddy who sat on a burrito!). However, much to my dismay I didn’t realize just how much there was a need for a blog like this. The messages I have received over the past year have been extremely touching. I am especially touched by the parents of teens with Gastroparesis who follow this blog. Their teens do not want to open up and have told me that the blog helps them understand better what their kids are going through. It never crossed my mind that these parents would need a resource. I have received messages that have brought tears to my eyes and remind me how important it is to keep writing. (YES, I NEED to write more regularly than I have been lately.)
The LAST thing I expected was for this little blog to reach over 80 countries!!! It’s reached 83 countries to be exact and the image below shows just how much of the world 83 countries is. The darker the color the more times the country has been reached. Who knew so many people from Canada, UK, and Australia would be following this blog. So I’d like to say hello, cheers, and good day to all of you!!
This blog and helping others with Gastroparesis have given me a purpose out of all of the garbage that comes with Gastroparesis, so THANK YOU to everyone for following and reading this blog and helping to spread positivity.
As I reflect on the past year, I am truly in utter shock as to how much my life has changed. I will be writing about this throughout the week because last year at this time I would never believe I would be feeling as good as I do (most of the time) today. I would have never thought that I would complete 3 half marathons between then and now. I would have never thought that I would by lobbying for Gastroparesis in Washington DC between then and now. I would have never thought that I would have raised over $1,400 for Gastroparesis research between then and now. (HUGE thanks to the friends that donated.) I’ll be honest, I had a hunch I would be engaged between then and now. 🙂 I would have never thought that I would be able to work full time between then and now. I would have never thought the friends that I lost and the friends that I gained between then and now. I would have never thought that I would eat solid food between then and now!!!!
So 2013 might have started out fully in the gutter but wow did I show it and Gastroparesis a thing or to!
THANK YOU AGAIN for following this blog and supporting positivity in the face of trials!!