GP Adventurers

Fall 2013 Gastroparesis Adventurer

sarah2 sarah1

Sarah Morrison Guthrie

Sarah inspires me so much.  She has completed her masters, completed half marathons, and has an AMAZING attitude.  Gastroparesis might have been a bump in her road, but she refuses to let it define her.  She continues to inspire others by finding a way to continue to find the adventure in life!

Below is Sarah’s story in her own words…

In July 2011 I was in the middle of my second semester of graduate school studying to become a Physician Assistant. The Fourth of July started as a great day- got up early to cheer my husband and some classmates during a race. Shortly after my husband crossed the finish line I started to feel sick and asked him to take me home. I had no idea what the “stomach bug” would turn into.
I had severe nausea and vomiting that has never ended. I was diagnosed “quickly” in August 2011 (6 weeks of symptoms) by my very astute primary care provider- he knew to order the gastric emptying study. He confirmed that I had idiopathic gastroparesis and shipped me off to a specialist. The amusing tidbit- the specialist had lectured at my school in July during the first few weeks of my illness!
I continued to lose weight and struggle as the second semester finished and third began. I became intolerant of all forms of oral intake- including water- and found myself hospitalized at the end of September for a full week. I can attest- a hospital clear liquid diet is the worst! The decision to start TPN was made. I had lost over 25 pounds in 10 weeks.
A Masters of Medical Science (Physician Assistant) degree is considered very challenging as one must learn the bulk of medical school education in half the time. There are few breaks and tests happen constantly. As a lock step program, dropping out would mean restarting my degree. I left the hospital on Sunday and returned to school Monday morning to take the exams I missed while in the hospital.
2012 had me starting my second year of my master’s and having gained some of the weight back. It was decided to have a port placed in March 2012 for the TPN. TPN got my strength up and I was able to keep attending my rotations. Most people had no idea I was sick- or that every night I was plugging into 2 liters of nutrition.
Summer of 2012 brought the first glimmer’s of improvement- I was able to move to a liquid diet and get off TPN. I took my freedom from TPN literally and flew with classmates to Haiti and served a medical mission trip. It was challenging as I had to import Ensure but so worthwhile!
That same summer I decided to participate in a half marathon. My husband (who has been incredibly supportive) has been an avid runner for a few years and I wanted to tag along. Not being a runner myself, I chose to walk. So in October 2013 I completed my first half marathon in 3 hours and 30 mins!
I had to have minor foot surgery in December 2012 which meant I have had to delay my second half marathon. I will be completing it this October! I am also signed up for a full marathon for March 2014.
I finished my degree in May 2013. I weighed my lowest weight to date- 114 pounds. I was unable to maintain my weight on the TPN but since the descent was much more gradual, I have so far avoided a feeding tube.
In May, to celebrate my graduation, my husband and I traveled to Australia. I love to travel and have worked hard to make it a priority. We got to pet koalas and snorkel a the Great Barrier Reef.
I have actually found some food I can now eat and have managed to gain a few pounds back. This is great news as I am working in the demanding field of Vascular Surgery! My hours are long but as I joked with my GI- at least I know I can keep going for quite a while without eating!
The chronic nausea is still a daily problem but the vomiting has improved with a strict diet that is tailored to my stomach. Like many GP patients, I have found some foods, even some “GP friendly”, don’t work for me. I cannot eat soy, tomato, anything green, anything with more than a few grams of fiber and no red meat. This is a pretty steep change from my very carnivorous diet in my past!
Thank you Geri for inviting me to participate in your blog this month. My only advice to people with a chronic illness- don’t let it define you. It is a part of your make up but it shouldn’t be the only focus in your life. Balance is critical.
Facts:
Age of diagnosis: 29
Years of GP: 2
Accomplishments since diagnosis: medical mission to Haiti, finished a half marathon, graduated with my degree, traveled to Australia, returned to work full time
Favorite GP food: mashed potatoes and Coke (the real ones!)
Marital status: married 4 years
Husband name: Dave
Children: none
Pets: dog Belle and cat Lily
Hobbies: quilting
Favorite quotes: “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb
 GO SARAH!!

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 July Gastroparesis Adventurer

Jessica

Jessica Linville

Jessica is truly an inspiration to me.  She has what I like to call spunk!  No matter what life throws at her she keeps a smile on her face and finds a silver lining.  Gastroparesis has been no different for her.  For example:  After a family trip to Las Vegas, Jessica was able to joke about how her jeans were sawing her in half due to living life and eating normal food with her family.  I’m in agreement that the jean sawing is worth letting loose and living life once in awhile!  These types of stories is what makes Jessica our July Adventurer!

Another reason that Jessica is an inspiration is that she puts her whole heart and soul into her day job with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Despite the fatigue that can come with Gastroparesis, Jessica keeps working to put together successful events for CF.  She is passionate about her work and doesn’t let GP slow her down.  Yes, there are days that she struggles like the rest of us, but she refuses to give up!

For Christmas, her husband gave her a Gastroparesis Survival Kit which shows what a fun attitude both of them take towards battling GP!  They are definitely in this fight together and it is further proof of how absolutely amazing our caregivers are.

Thank you Jessica for always looking at the positive, continuing to do what you are passionate about, and for being an inspiration to us all!

GO JESSICA!!

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June Gastroparesis Adventurer

Stephanie

Stephanie Torres

Stephanie has been an inspiration to me!  She has been changing her diet, exploring acupuncture & yoga and starting to see her health turn the corner. 

Below is Stephanie’s story in her own words:

Prior to GP I was very active hiking, yoga, biking, and a lover of food/wine. In fact, even had a small nutritious gluten free catering business and read cookbooks like novels! In 2008, after about 3 months of serious digestive troubles and down to drinking broth for meals, I ended up in hospital and diagnosed with GP after undergoing every test in the book. Because of previous food intolerances I was accustomed to dietary changes but no fiber, fat or raw vegetables, seriously?! I returned to work part-time to help recover and with lots of support and domperidone, regained my weight and energy, though still very careful about eating. In January of 2009 I enrolled back in school, completed degree with pre-requisites and applied to the master’s program for Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle. Over the years acupuncture has played a role in my life, starting in my early 20’s when diagnosed with endometriosis. The last 6 years it has been a huge relief of GI discomfort as well as helping to stimulate appetite and lower stress levels.
In 2010 I was accepted into the program and began the adventure of a lifetime studying this ancient form of medicine. My passion for learning, however, was not enough to save me from the stress of being a full-time medical student, not to mention traveling back and forth and working to maintain a happy marriage. The week I returned home after the first year I crashed, ended up in the hospital and eventually on a feeding tube to get me back on track.
Lesson learned: Self-care is the MOST important piece to living with a chronic illness! Once I started to feel better, I wanted to help others learn to take care of themselves so I went on to get certified as a Health Counselor (this time studying from home!). I’ve learned a lot from working with others not only about giving advice but taking it for myself as well.
What keeps me sane and provides more good days than bad include daily breathing exercises (oxygen can do wonders for our mind/bodies), what I call “my friendly diet” (MF friendly since we are all so different!) which includes small portions of lean proteins, well cooked veggies sometimes pureed, coconut oil as an easier to digest fat source, occasional hot cereal grains soaked overnight, and as much H2O as I can sip throughout the day. What I avoid are most dairy, most FODMAPs, gluten, refined sugars, and most recently coffee (sub green tea).
Acupuncture as well as working with Dr. Matsen, ND (www.eatingalive.com), and a few supplements play another role in feeling well. And, not to forget the adventure in us that must live on! For me this includes yoga, walking outdoors when possible, short bike rides, and small amounts of strength training a few days a week. Of course, there have been stretches when this was not possible but don’t ever give up that the time will come again. On those days I still keep myself on the “upside” with good books, funny movies, positive connections online with those who “get it” and as much support I can get from loved ones including my pup Luna.

GO STEPHANIE!!!

2 comments on “GP Adventurers

  1. Unfortunately my husband was diagnosed with GP, his condition is not that bad for now but his doctor said that, soon he will be throwing up whatever he eats. His last gastric emptying test showed his stomach speed of 142 mins and this time it increased to 162 mins. I know that anything above 120 mins is bad. I was so depressed, my only hope is his warrior’s attitude. He is a very positive man.
    While googling about GP I came across this amazingly inspirational blog. Life doesn’t end here, we have to live on that too on our own terms. I can see through these blogs what is in store for us, but I also see a way to fight back and survive.
    I would love to get some tips on acupuncture, stomach massage and yoga/exercise for gastroparesis patients.
    Thank you so much for these posts, they give us strength.

  2. I just wanted to thank you for being here!
    My husband was recently diagnosed with diabetic GP
    It just came out of nowhere about 7 weeks ago and has changed both our lives instantly.
    I am trying so hard to find a diet solution for him. He was totally misdiagnosed at first treated for severe constipation, and told to eat only oatmeal. It is a wonder he even survived that week and a half. I was so stunned to find out by my own research that is the opposite of what should be “attempted” to eat.
    Anyway, we are at the beginning of our adventure, it is just good to know someones out there.
    Nobody really gets what is happening to him, and how debilitating it is. He has been off work for 7 weeks. He was hoping to go back to work(delivers propane), but I think he may be retiring soon instead.
    Thankfully he has his earned his pension and can retire.
    I can’t imagine what the future holds, my goal is to help him feel better.

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