STEPHANIE’S PERSONAL STORY

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Hi, I am a 31 year old woman who was diagnosed with gastroparesis in 2008. I’ve suffered with digestive issues on and off from the age of 19, shortly after undergoing laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis and ovarian cysts. At the age of 28, after years of pain and discomfort, a gastric emptying test confirmed mild GP. At the time I decided to take a natural route and went on a gluten free diet, which for about six months seemed to change my life for the better. Unfortunately, this did not last and I began having severe symptoms including fullness and nausea, barely able to take in fluids. I ended up in the hospital having what seemed like every test in the book done, again diagnosed with GP.
 
With medication, rest and lots of family/friends support, I began to recover and a year later began a full time course in acupuncture school. I absolutely loved the program but traveling to and from every week (90 minutes away from home), missing my husband, not to mention the intense study schedule, was more than I could handle. By the end of the first year I had lost a tremendous amount of weight, in denial of my diagnosis and determined to live a “normal” life. However, my body did not keep up with my mind and again I ended up in the hospital, this time too malnourished to recover on my own.
After unsuccessful trials with another medication and a Botox treatment to the pylorus, I had no choice but to be put on a feeding tube. This is when it hit me…it was time to accept the situation and really focus on taking care of myself because I will not make it otherwise.
 
By accepting what I was going through as a part of my life, I was able to slow down and set priorities. I now focus on managing symptoms through diet, exercise and reducing stress. I’ve found other things to focus on in life while continuing to put self-care first. Though still on the feeding tube, my intake of food througout the day is increasing as I gradually work my way off. This doesn’t mean I don’t still have bad days but I have learned how to manage them by not letting the fear take over as well as figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
 
I began writing about my experience on a blog (
www.journeywithgp.com), learning more and more about GP and how many others were going through similar battles. In January I started a program through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a certified health coach, specializing in gastroparesis. I’m excited share and use my experience as a learning tool for others, to focus on the things we can do to help ourselves instead of dwelling on the things we can’t. I never would have imagined this would be my life at the age of 31 but it hasn’t stopped me from continuing to stay positive, hope for a cure someday, and in the meantime live the best life possible.

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