Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Food...the good the bad and the ugly!

I'll bet most of the people reading this post will know where I am coming from with this one!

How many times since diagnosis has someone asked you, "Well what DO you eat?"

For me the answer is simple, "nothing" is my reply. This is quickly followed by, "Well, you MUST eat something!"

I have lost count of the times this has been said to me. I came to the conclusion that people react this way because they simply can't imagine what that might be like, so I thought I would try and explain.

No, We have not lost the ability to chew, swallow and ingest food. There are no obvious physical changes such a lumps bumps or obstructions. You can't see gastroparesis by simply taking a picture of our insides. But that doesn't mean it isn't there!

We have to learn to override one of the the strongest natural urges of the human body. You don't just eat with your mouth, you smell it you see it... you want it!

Living with gastroparesis means that instead of feeling contented and energised after eating, we feel so ill that we sit there hugging the sick bowl vowing that  we'll never touch food again! Many people describe this feeling as "permanent stomach flu". Personally, I think that doesn't even come close.

For us to be able to function at all we have to adapt to a whole new way of life. Balancing medication and nutrition is a real challenge from mild to severe cases... it doesn't matter, we are all unique.

So from day to day, we plan our activities around our regimes, avoiding or restricting food to enable us to function at all.

Imagine how it feels to be so sick that you starve your body in order to have a better quality of life? It's not out of choice... it's necessity. Give in to your urges and all hell lets loose! So please don't offer us things, or ask us why we're not eating...

We love food, but it doesn't love us!

Monday, 10 June 2013

Acceptance?

Coming to terms with chronic illness is the hardest battle we face. Some days you feel like you could conquer the world and the following day you just want it to swallow you up!

I go through cycles of emotions that I didn't even know existed before, from optimism and hope to total despair. Part of the "acceptance" process is acknowledging these feelings and understanding where they come from.

I have spent so many hours laying in bed wishing that things were different. In the beginning... it consumed me... until I realised that I was allowing this illness to beat me both mentally and physically. Then, I began to look at it differently. I can't change what has happened to my body, I can't force it to work as it should... but I CAN choose the way I deal with it.

Learning to live with chronic illness is like shovelling snow when it's snowing... but it never stops. Our emotions are just as relentless so you need to learn to pace yourself and allow time to make angels in the snow instead!

Firstly... its OK to hide under the duvet when you need to. Your feelings are perfectly valid and you shouldn't feel guilty for needing to hide sometimes. Don't beat yourself up for it... take the time, get it all out and move on to the next day. Bottling things up and putting a brave face on it is a NO NO, because if you don't allow yourself that time, it builds up, you get exhausted and your symptoms are harder to deal with.

Feeling like you are missing out in some way and resentment are very common, after all most of us had a healthy life of our own before we were hit with gp! It's very hard to keep up with friends when you don't get out much and hearing their stories can bring you down, but its important not to cut yourself off from the real world either. We all need a little "normal" in our lives!

So I'd better get to my point... Acceptance is about acknowledging that you HAVE gastroparesis and your life is different now. It doesn't mean accepting that this is forever... after all none of us know what's round the corner! Live the life you have NOW and stop looking back to what you feel you have lost. Friends will come and go weather you are fit or healthy... at least you now know that the friends who are still around...are worth hanging on to!

Find the positives, let go of the past, and look to the future with hope and courage... you are stronger than you know... you just need to find it. Put down the shovel and lay down in the snow xxxx