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!!