It’s no secret. Mornings can be challenging when you have gastroparesis. Most of us wake up feeling pretty rough. Why?
Typically it’s because our bellies are still in digest mode. Gastroparesis causes delayed emptying of the stomach, so food simply stays in our bellies longer.
Most people, (you know, normal people without GP), wake up in the morning and their belly is empty. It has digested all the food from the day before and it’s ready to start eating and consuming food to be used for energy. With GP, our stomach often will have a great deal of food still left over in the morning.
As we know, our stomach utilizes our sleeping time to “go to work” on its contents. If you’ve ever had a flight to catch in the middle of the night, you’ve had to wake your belly up when it was busy digesting food. You may have noticed you felt EVEN WORSE – a 2am wake up call can often be a very difficult thing to handle when gastroparesis is running the show. It’s not your stomach’s fault….it’s just moving a little slower than everyone else’s and may require just a bit more attention.
However, I discovered something wonderful.
This blog is entitled, The Grateful Green, for one reason….I believe gratitude is the place to start feeling better.
We have to be grateful for every “moment” we feel good, as these moments create MOMENTUM. And we can build on one “good feeling moment” after another. I like to think of these moments stacking on top of each other…thus creating my day. (I can create my day with crummy moments or awesome moments – either way, they are going to stack on top of each other – and make my day complete. It’s my choice in how it all comes together – all by what I choose to focus on.)
There have been so many mornings when I didn’t know if I was going to make it to see a sunrise…I decided I better get grateful for every sunrise I was gifted with, if I wanted to make it a habit of seeing them regularly.
I don’t mean for that to sound morbid, I just knew I had to find a way to happiness and my way was through gratitude. Gratitude for each sunrise, for each moment I felt good, for each pain free minute, every second my belly started to wake up and make noises on it’s own, every rumble, every growl, every gurgle, every single thing about my health became important, and I celebrated…EVERYTHING.
I started making lists of things I was happy about.
- I felt some movement today!
- I heard a little noise come from my belly, this is so exciting?
- I’m going to try to eat 2 tablespoons of broth this morning instead of just one!
- I feel happy at this exact moment.
Now, I know what you thinking….really Jen?
You had to go to this level?
Yes. I absolutely did. And I’m so glad….
I found my way through this disease. And it all started with gratitude for the little, teeny, tiny things that were working.
When my entire system shut down – I had some decisions to make. Such as, when are we scheduling the surgery for the feeding tube? Ugh! (I just couldn’t deal with the thought of a feeding tube.)
I made a deal with my husband. If I couldn’t figure this out and get some positive momentum going in a few weeks…then I’d have to succumb to the j-tube. But as long as I didn’t lose any more weight, I was free to try and get a handle on this.
Now, I must say, I’ve never had an eating disorder before, or any massive illness that made me drop 70 pounds in just a few months, this was all new to me. I’d never dealt with my 5’3” frame weighing only 99lbs. This was a whole new world for me, and I was feeling my way forward.
I started eating cream of rice in the mornings and bone broth in the afternoons and evening…1 tablespoon at a time. Those were the only two things I could eat so I alternated them throughout the day.
That got the momentum started.
Then I started really taking care of myself (I added abut 4 specific things to my daily routine that changed everything. More on these 4 things in future posts.)
Then, a year a so later, I found a nutritional system that my body seemed to accept. Now, the momentum was firmly in place.
It’s been over nine months since I started getting some actual nutrition in my body. I have gained nearly 30lbs and I am at my ideal weight. Healthy feels good. Boy O Boy does healthy feel good.
I’d love to tell you that just doing a few additional things is what has turned my life around, but if I were honest, I would say it’s the work I’ve done on my mind. The work I’ve put into focusing on what I’m actually thinking about. I used to be a bit of a lazy thinker….
I’d find myself thinking about whatever popped into my brain.
I didn’t control what I thought about. If something happened that caught my attention, I’d think about it. That is how I rolled through my days.
I no longer do this.
I now decide what I want to think about.
Just because something happens that catches my attention, does not mean that I must spend any amount of time thinking about it. I see things take place, and I decide whether I want to let certain thoughts into my psyche.
I’m a bit of a thought Nazi.
You could even say I’m a “stuck up thinker”!
I only want to think about what I want to think about. Did ya get that?
Let me explain.
If I allow myself to think any random thought that parks itself into my brain, then my emotions get pulled all over the place. When you have an illness like gastroparesis, any crazy emotional stuff will send my belly into a tailspin, and this great little environment I’ve created within myself…will disappear.
So I have to be vigilant about what I think about.
This means, when I go to bed at night. I’m not worried about all the bills that need to be paid, the conversations that went wrong during the day, or the neighbor that appears to be ticked off at me. I’m not thinking about any of that stuff. Oh sure, I know all those problems are there….but, they don’t get my attention.
Instead, I’m laying in bed ready to go to sleep, and I’m running through a list in my mind of the best thing that happened today. I’m thinking about all the wonderful people I talked to, all the little moments with my belly that I can celebrate, the moments with my family that really meant something, conversations I had about my business that might further my progress. I do a brief “run through” of all the great stuff that happened during the day and I try to pin down the best thing that took place.
This is a wonderful little exercise, and was taken from Rhonda Byrne’s book The Magic.
Here’s the secret I uncovered….
If you end your day thinking positive thoughts. Thoughts that make you feel great emotionally….you will wake up feeling better than if you didn’t think these great thoughts.
I know that sounds crazy, but consider for a moment what it’s like when you think about all the crappy stuff that is happening in your life right before you drift off to sleep.
You don’t necessarily wake up ready to take on the world! You wake up and the first thing that registers with your brain is….how sick am I this morning? Sheeeesh!
This is a terrible way to start the day!
If your last thoughts before sleep are positive and happy, then you have a much better chance at waking up in the same state – positive and happy!
You could wake up and the first thought that goes through your head could be….”I think I’ll get up a few minutes early and have a cup of tea, before I have to rush into the shower.”
Do you see having just this one small calming thought, could change the entire trajectory of your day? Simply by starting your day off a little differently…instead of flying into the shower and inhaling a piece of dry toast as you run out the door….get up 20 minutes early, and coax some mint tea into your belly. Tell yourself what an amazing day this is going to be and cheer your belly on! Let your body know that you are not working against it today, you are on the same team, and today is going to be a great day.
It might surprise you to know, I actually come from HARD CORE REALITY.
I know all too well exactly what “living in the real world” means. And at this point in my life, the real world will always be there. But I’ve chosen to shape my world, to acknowledge what’s going on, and to focus on the things that are truly important.
Anyone can do this. Anyone can change how they think.
This post is a brief introduction into the power of changing your thinking. I will be going much deeper into this subject in further posts.
Until then, remember…give yourself a chance to feel good in the morning…go to sleep thinking thoughts that make you feel great.