You put the GP label on – and you wear it.
I’ve had gastroparesis my whole life. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the diagnosis until 2014. I can remember laying in bed as a scared 6 year old, my blond curls drenched in sweat as I prayed and tried to make a deal with God.
“Lord, I promise to do all the dishes for the rest of the month and keep the kitchen sparkling clean….if you would just please, please NOT let me throw up tonight.”
And every night, I would haul my weak, sick little 1st grade body out of bed by myself, vomit as quietly as possible, (trying not to wake up my parents).
Then as I tiptoed slowly back to bed, my dad would softly call out, “you ok Bunky?”
To which I would whisper back, “I think so.”
Before you get diagnosed, it seems as if you are on this non-stop “quest” to uncover why you are feeling all these crazy symptoms. Often you can drive yourself and those around you crazy as you journey further down the rabbit hole of gastroparesis.
I know I felt like I was losing my mind. I seriously thought I was cracking up.
How could I be this sick? This is serious sick. This is “don’t play around”; get this fixed NOW, because this could be “the thing” that takes you out of this world…kinda sick. I know many of you understand where I’m coming from.
No question, we all could describe aspects of GP as that dark, hot, sick, confusing, uncontrollable, scary place that lives within us all, and may at times take over our lives completely.
How do we live with this?
How do we enjoy our relationships?
How do we progress our life?
How do we find ourselves again, in this new normal?
How do we identify with our environments and our friends?
How do we learn from this and allow our “GP experience” to teach us what we need to know about our bodies and our attitudes towards life?
How does your current life situation, gastroparesis included, help you discover the impact you are supposed to make on the world?
These are profound questions that would probably take alcohol and pharmaceuticals in order to endure getting to the “real answers” (both of which are not on my approved foods list…cue the violins).
Now that I have thrown all those BIG questions out there, here’s what I would like you to consider:
Once you received your diagnosis, “you have gastroparesis”, (and there’s typically a “and” in that sentence, because rarely do we only have GP. These diseases and motility issues seem to run in packs). Now that you finally start to get some accurate diagnosis(s), and you begin to figure out how to live “your new normal” within the rules that this disease creates for you…then what?
In the beginning it’s all new. You finally have a diagnosis!! Yay!! You’re not crazy!! But fast forward a few years…you’re still trudging along, dealing with this disease, and before you know it… you are wearing a “GP Label” on your psyche.
I don’t know about you, but so many times I’ll have thoughts running through my head like, “I’m so sick right now.” OR, “I can’t go with you, I have GP”, or “man I’m sick,” or “I’m going to eat my “4 bite lunch” and then I’ll be sick as a dog for a few hours, so come over around 4:30pm.” Or, “I know I shouldn’t eat the last bite, but it was so good…screw it, I’ll just deal with being sick.” OR, “how long until we get there, (45 minutes)…Oh dear God, I will never make it 45 minutes…don’t panic, don’t panic….just breathe Jennifer, you’re a grown woman…if you have to hang you skinny little bum out on the side of the road so your “4 bites of lunch” can rejoin the atmosphere…then you just let it fly, because cleaning poo off the front seat of your SUV – is NOT an option.” (Ok…I’m stopping with all the awful examples.)
Now obviously, we all think some crazy thoughts…but the underlying thought program/process that we are running in our brain is “I’m sick”.
I have to point out…this kind of “I’m sick” thinking will [over time] have a massive effect on your attitude and overall ability to live a functioning life.
I don’t mean to over simplify. If you have GP, you will have MASSIVE SICK moments and phases in your life.
However, when “I’M SICK”, is the dominant thought process that runs through our brains all day long, then according to Earl Nightingale’s famous quote “You become what you think about.” We could find ourselves feeling sick ALL the TIME. I don’t know about you, but every moment that I feel even “decent”…every moment that my belly feels slightly normal (thanks to my new nutritional system) is a cherished moment. I want as many “feel good” moments as I can stack up in a day.
Yet, if the dominant song running through my head is “I’m sick”, then my poor little inner cheerleader can’t possible deal with all those negative feelings and she runs and hides into a dark corner of my psyche, scared and silent.
I encourage you to think about “what you’re thinking about”.
If the underlying mode your brain and body is running in…is constantly feeding you with an “I’m sick” message – do everything in your power to change your focus. Just redirect those ‘I’m sick thoughts’ to something positive. Absolutely anything positive:
The first time you fell in love,
A moment in high school that you never forgot,
The smell of hot towels when they come out of the dryer….
Anything you can think of that will put your brain into a positive state instead of an “I’m sick but I can handle it” state of being.
Start slow and see if you can become aware of how often the “I’m sick” button gets pushed in your psyche.
Trust me, when you’re on your hands and knees vomiting 7-up and saltines, the only thing running through your head is “I’M SO FREAKING SICK”…and I get it. But it’s in those moments in particular where you have to get some control over your brain and force it to play a different song.
I may be barfing in a very unsexy way, at this exact moment, but I know that this clammy, shaking feeling will be gone in about 15-20 minutes. Instead of kneeling here gripping the edges of the toilet thinking about how sick I am, why not think about…
The first time my husband kissed me under the moon outside PF Chang’s Restaraunt. I was kinda shaky then, and my hands may have even been a little clammy. Oh I like this line of thinking so much better…yes, PF’s Chang’s, first kisses, and shaky hands under a gigantic harvest moon. It was like the Man on the Moon Himself was winking down at us saying…
“Yes! Finally, these two have met. Life will never be the same”.
I know I’m venturing way out on an intellectual limb – to try to abstractly replace my “I’m sick thoughts” with a happy memory – but that really is the whole point…we have the power to change what we think about. I choose to think about something gloriously happy, instead of my symptoms.
Be consciously aware of the thoughts running through your head, and when your inner GP voice is telling you over and over how sick you are…take charge and sweep that little voice out on it’s ass. You choose the thoughts you want to think. Period.
Now get busy thinking!
As for me, I have to get back to the memory of my awesome first date, 8 years ago in October under a PF Chang’s harvest moon….a toe curling first kiss. Oh so much better than any nasty GP symptom running through my body.
Here’s to thinking great thoughts – and – really chewing our food!
GP Inpirational Speaker