If you have gastroparesis, (and why else would you be reading this post), then you know it’s easy to let your thinking reinforce your feelings.
What do I mean?
Let’s say on a typical day you feel sick 95% of the day. Now, the couple minutes of relief you get (this moment can vary for everyone, but lets hope you’re awake and conscious when it happens so you can enjoy it), this relief is important. Some folks never have even a moment during the day when they don’t feel nauseas, and relief is a distant memory.
But regardless of how crappy you feel. How much you’re throwing up, how hard the sweats are hitting, how bad the pain is thrashing you – if you keep a constant verbal banter going in your mind that says,
“Boy, I’m sick.”
“Man, I’m really sick.”
“I am so darn sick.”
Here’s some more of my favorites:
“I’m so sick I can’t see straight.”
“I’m so sick I can’t think.”
“I’m so sick I can talk right now.”
“I gotta lay down, I am really sick.”
“The sound of your voice makes me want to throw up.”
“That TV is so loud it’s making me sick.”
“I can’t stand this smell, it’s gonna make me hurl!”
“I am in so much pain.”
“Holy crap, this hurts SO bad.”
“I AM SO FREAKING SICK!”
This is the internal conference call that is going on between my gut and my head all day long…well, this used to be my dominant thinking, I have since changed my ways.
Now when my body starts feeling awful, I do a quick little “check in” to make sure it’s not serious…like – my belly is shutting down we have to go to the hospital NOW) – this doesn’t happen anymore because I have figured out how to live with this disease and kick ASS!
I could shout it from the rooftops!
I have figured out the “WipGirl Way” of creating an awesome life in conjunction with gastroparesis. Shocker! (More later…)
There is no “one thing” I do that is magic. I do a bunch of stuff – stuff which I will share with you on this blog. Gastroparesis is typically idiopathic, meaning, doctors don’t know why it has showed up in your body. And the great thing about that is…it can leave just as easy as it showed up!
In my case, however, I was born with GP.
Yet, my gastroparesis wasn’t diagnosed until I was 40 (two years ago). I’ve lived my whole life trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I’ve lived my whole life trying to understand my fragile little system and why it was so messed up compared to everyone else.
To think that I have been hospitalized over and over, had every test imaginable during my life, had family members thinking I had an eating disorder (nope), other family members convinced I just needed to work out and drink more water, and then those doubters who had no idea why I always seemed to have so many problems and surely it was all in my head. A “gastric emptying study” would have answered all these questions. Who knew!
– A gastric emptying study is the test most often used to diagnose gastroparesis. There are many other ways for gastroparesis to be diagnosed that I have not listed here.
And while I was thinking I was losing my mind because I was seriously sick, and had some serious pain – not just “gee this is painful”. I’m talking about “OH MY GOD, get the car we have to go to the hospital NOW!” kind of pain.
While all this was going on, my body would go from massive weight gain and bloating (180 lbs) of big and uncomfortableness, to a few months later being malnourished with my bones jutting out of my shoulders and my hips. My all time low being 99 lbs in 2013. (I’m 5’3” tall.)
This life of mine has been quite a rollercoaster.
In 2013, I was fighting for my life….weighing in at 99 lbs and no clue how to spell the word gastroparesis, let alone think it would be “the label” placed on my chaotic little digestive system.
I was feeling like I was dying and still did not know what was wrong with me. I was in the hospital, and finally my attending physician ordered the correct test and…Boom! – gastroparesis was served up on a plate for me to deal with head on.
Now I’ll save all the details of what happened next, and bring you back to how “our thinking” affects this disease.
…So we get to feeling rough (yes, we must have a sense of humor, maybe “dog doo” is a better descriptor for you), so we get to feeling like a giant massive pile of “dog doo” and the first thing our minds do is jump all over ourselves telling us how sick we are.
We go from the bathroom, to the chair, the couch, the bed, your desk if your at work, the car, wherever…. we tell ourselves just how bad we feel, just how sick we are, how much pain we are in , and we frigg’in ride that topic like a rented mule.
We dig our heels in and make sure that just in case we didn’t feel all these horrible feelings deep enough….we are going to drive the point directly into our soul, so we are totally clear…WE DON’T FEEL GOOD!
Are you seeing my point here folks?
By the time we have whipped our psyche into submission, we are laying on the bathroom floor wondering if life is ever gonna get better.
Well…allow me to be the voice that helps you turn things around – we have to STOP thinking this way. This kind of thinking is making us feel worse and worse. This kind of thinking can take a mild flare-up and turn it into the worst flare-up of your life.
If I’ve learned anything over the years of living with these symptoms it’s this,
- Don’t Panic. Check in with yourself, but don’t panic.
- If you have to go to the hospital because things are getting serious then go. But until you reach this conclusion, and even upon making the trip to the hospital…don’t panic. When you loose control of your emotions your GP symptoms will skyrocket. You will find your pain increasing drastically and you will be at the mercy of experiencing all the other surprisingly horrible symptoms this disease can dish out.
- Don’t fight it.
- It just needs to be said…when you have gastroparesis, you’re probably gonna throw-up…A LOT. Don’t fight it. Just relax and let it come. Do your best to control your breathing and as the vomiting process is taking place tell yourself “this will be over in just a little bit”. You’re going to be ok. You’re not going to die from throwing up, (even though it sure feels like it…and I’ve been close to death quite a few times…but vomiting has yet to actually take me out of this world).
- In addition to vomiting, you are going to feel pain. Pain is part of the process we all go through with gastroparesis. **Our bellies do not process food efficiently causing bloating, fermenting, seizing up of the belly muscles, earth shattering cramping (can’t breathe, can’t breathe), heart palpitations that roar up from, what feels like the center of the earth, to pound viciously through your chest cavity. Sometimes your belly will just quiver and shake violently, unable to function, both of you at a complete loss for what to do. (I struggle when this happens.) I’ve learned the key to dealing with massive amounts of pain is to detach yourself from it. I don’t take any pain relievers for my belly because they have a tendency to make things much worse for me. I just have to deal with this pain the old fashioned way – straight up and sober.
**There are oodles of GP symptoms, I have only listed a few here in this post.
As you are going through these challenging moments, your brain wants to echo what it is feeling. It’s trying to say “DANGER, DANGER…this is really bad”. It’s important for you to realize this is normal, and this is your moment to take control of your thoughts and gently guide your inner psyche to a tender place where you can guide it.
Acknowledge that you don’t feel well, but don’t allow the inner voice to dominate your thinking and intensify your pain. Don’t allow your inner voice to dive into your nausea and make sure you understand every detail of what is going on in your belly -AND- exactly what kind of speculation it may come up with as to what could be happening.
In the beginning, when we first get our diagnosis, we start observing ourselves like a time bomb. I just ate something that didn’t agree with me, does this mean I may be in for big trouble tonight? God I hope I don’t have to go to the hospital…what if…? And our brains just go on and on with thoughts like this.
Are you feeling me here people?
This is really important.
When you can start to get a handle on how your brain deals with these symptoms, you can start to control just how bad your symptoms become.
It all starts with simply paying attention to what we think about.
As we are driving across town, what thoughts are rolling through our mind?
As we are brushing our teeth, what is the main theme that we seem to be focused on?
When you’re dealing with an incurable chronic illness, your belly is going to be at the top of your mind ALL the time – and that’s ok. But those thoughts need to change format.
They need to be something like this…
I had a rough morning, but I’m planning on helping my body feel great this afternoon.
I’ve got “feeling good” on the brain and my body is going to have to catch up to my thinking today!
Things are looking up, this last few minutes has been darn good.
Little by little I’m feeling better.
I have tons of affirmations I use to help my body feel better. It all starts with your thoughts. You choose how you want to react to what’s happening in your body. You choose the attitude you will have today, regardless of how you feel. You choose how you affect those around you, will you leave a positive impression on their day?
It’s ok to feel bad. Feeling bad isn’t bad –
it’s just a temporary state.
Embrace the nasty feelings and send them love. Tell all the yucky-ness in your body that you love it. Tell your belly that you love it. Fight these awful feelings with love.
Disconnect from the pain and think of things that make you happy; your kids, pets, spouse, vacations, family, wonderful moments that make your toes curl with happiness. This is how you disconnect from the pain and awfulness going on inside you.
This disease is a major force in our lives. I’m a tough cookie, I can take control of my thoughts and refuse to be led down the path of feeling like a victim (ie: statements like, “I am so sick”). I will take this disease in stride and find a way to flourish with it. We are only as small as we think we are, and today…today I choose to feel BIG feelings; feelings of happiness, love and gratitude.
Peace to all.
Remember – chew your food much longer than you think you need to. Your belly will thank you!
How do you get your mind off the pain and nausea? Please leave me a comment…I’d love to pick up some new tricks and share it with our 2500 readers.