After months of tests and failed medicines, I finally had a gastrointestinal endoscopy (they send a light down your throat into your upper GI and take images). They confirmed what was hinted at in the beginning. I was diagnosed with gastroparesis (GP). This is a functional disorder where my stomach is slow to empty. The slow to non-emptying of my stomach was what had been causing my vomiting for all of those months. It can happen to anyone. It tends to happen to diabetics, anorexics, and just randomly. Because of my diabetes, I was fortunate to have a Dr. who was very aggressive in finding the problem, so I immediately started medicine that I still take to help me digest food.
I had accepted, though very defeated, that this was going to be a new struggle for me to deal with for the.rest.of.my.life. Everything I read said I will one day be on a feeding tube just to live. I was 21 and didn't want to think about such a sad, sick life. Wasn't diabetes ENOUGH? Why in the world was THIS happening to ME? Did I mention that depression and anxiety are a side effect of this whole big mess?!
Then HOPE slowly began to walk in.....
It's funny how our brains work. It's like we go through life pushing forward until one day the pieces start making sense much like a puzzle coming together. Things that didn't make sense before are now the critical pieces of the bigger picture. I remember when I told my endocrinologist the outcome and that the other Dr. assumed it was because of my diabetes. I will never ever forget what my endocrinologist said: "That doesn't make sense to me (he HAD been my doctor since my diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes when I was 7!!) because your diabetes is so excellently controlled. The good news is that this is a problem that waxes and wanes. You will have good days and flare ups (for lack of a better term)." The only problem was that there was such little known about this disorder that I didn't even know HOW to make it wane! Over time, I realized that the stress (ahem, relationship from hell) I had in college desperately needed to change. One day I walked away and suddenly, I began to get better. Getting rid of stress helps. Noted!
Fast forward to 2008. I had been working at my job for a year when I met a local doctor who specializes in neuroscience. He had just finished a training for us when I walked up to him, told him my story and without missing a beat, he told me that he thought my GP was from the stress of that relationship. Funny thing is, another counselor had told me the same thing back in 2004 when said relationship ended and I had needed help sorting the aftermath. I had stayed in the "fight or flight" stage over and over again for a couple of years. That type of stress shuts down digestion. When digestion shuts down for that long, your body basically forgets how to function. The diabetes didn't help. So I suddenly fit the pieces together to make a very messy puzzle with pieces of brokenness, sadness, and eventually joy. Because shortly after that relationship ended, I met Gene. Never had been around someone who was so easy to talk to, who listened to me, and held my hand as I walked through the rubble. He was a Godsend. He is the man I have prayed for since I was in tenth grade! The coolest part of our story is that when I ended that relationship, I focused on who God wanted me to be with. The same month I walked away, Gene got saved! We didn't even know each other!! Our lives crossed two years later! Funny how the puzzle pieces fit together. I'm so glad they did!
I haven't thrown up hardly at all since being with him. But, nearly every.single.day I battle with nausea (I swear I think I'm pregnant every month because of that dang nausea), acid re-flux, chronic constipation (I've even been to the ER for it. I'm full of, well, you know!!) and food fear and anxiety. "Will this make me sick if I eat it?" The medicine I'm on causes even more anxiety and horrible side effects. SO, for years I've been wondering what else I can do. THEN, it happened!! I found a new book written by a GPer who has devoted her life to studying and helping us who live with this daily. As I read it, tears fell because for the first time in TEN years, someone else gets it. Gets ME! Gets the crap that I carry in complete silence. I am happy to try all of the things she says because it makes perfect sense! In fact, I changed two things and today I was completely symptom free!! If the nausea continues over time, then I may have a device implanted in my abdomen that makes that go away. My stomach still empties slow, but I'll take slow over not at all any day!
I guess I needed to write this so that people can know what goes on in me every day. I have been in denial for so many years because I didn't have any hope. I finally have HOPE! The best news is that it typically doesn't get worse! Praise God for that!! So if you see me out or invite me over and you don't see me eating much, it's because I am having to eat way more small meals a day so that I can avoid medicine or at least only take it once a day. PLEASE whatever you do, don't make a big deal out my lack of eating. I promise I'm eating healthier!! If you're struggling with some sort of sickness, my hope for you is that you too find HOPE. Hope changes everything. Your struggle may be different, but I promise you're not alone. Just don't give up!