Nursing school is hard enough as a healthy person

Brittany Kendall

I am 22 years old. I started nursing school in June of 2018. Nursing school is hard enough as a healthy person.

I got a kidney infection in the end of November of 2018 for which I was hospitalized for. That began a severe struggle with my health. I stopped being able to hold down any food (even water). After multiple hospitalizations, one of them lasting a month.

I was officially diagnosed with severe gastroparesis in April of 2019 after I had lost 60 pounds and my gall bladder removed. They couldn’t control my nausea and vomiting with any diet or medication, so I ended up with a surgically placed J tube. I have since been hospitalized 3 more times, not including the ER visits from passing out at clinicals in which I was not admitted.

I currently have not kept down anything I have ingested for about a year now, despite the gastric pacemaker I had placed in June. Despite the 4 surgeries I have had this year, the accumulated 2 months of the last year I have spent in a hospital bed because of this disease along with kidney stones and an ovarian cyst that burst, and the malnourishment that keeps me exhausted most of every day, I graduate nursing school in 38 days with a 3.9 GPA.

I also accepted a position on my dream unit (an ICU) for after I graduate. I am still learning to live with my feeding tube and still struggle to remain positive. I have my days where I cry and want nothing more than to be able to enjoy a glass of ice cold water and gain some weight. I still have hope that, one day, I will be able to get rid of my feeding tube and keep down something. I am so excited that I am going to graduate with my BSN despite my bad luck with my health. This has been easily the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Thank you for letting me share.

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Gastroparesis, a debilitating and destructive chronic condition

Natasha Jones

I suffer with Gastroparesis. A debilitating and destructive chronic condition that has ripped me apart. I have lost my sense of self, my ability to have a job, my brain function is slower, my body is in pain every minute of every day, I can’t be spontaneous, I take bouts of medications all day every day, I feed through a tube in my nose into my bowel, I will soon have surgery.

The treatment options are abysmal. The motility medications rarely work and often make us worse. The only pain medication available is both addictive and slows down motility but we have no other option. The anti-sickness medications rarely work unless administered through IV but a lot of us do not have access to that.

I’m only 25 and therefore my specialist refuses TPN. TPN itself causes a huge amount of issues. There’s no one looking for a cause, and there’s no cure. We are tubed, stuffed with medication and left to rot at home. We see specialists twice a year due to overwhelming lack of funding. There’s no mental health support and none of the therapy treatments apply to our condition. We are shoved aside, blamed for our condition, accused of lying, accused of drug seeking, accused of starving ourselves. All this is soul crushing. We get treated so poorly, despite the fact that we have an organ that doesn’t work properly.

Imagine if it was your heart, kidney, lungs, you’re treated properly. You’re treated with respect. But when it’s your stomach? You’re left to deal with it yourself, like being thrown to the gutter. It’s absolutely appalling. We are dying, slowly, we are getting more sick, slowly, we are in pain, all the time, we deserve better! Across the whole world we deserve better. We deserve recognition, better treatments, less ridicule and we deserve respect. Could you imagine living everyday with food poisoning, every day, for the rest of your life? Just imagine it. Imagine how that would feel. Would you be able to work? Would you expect to be treated better, properly? This is our lives. All day, everyday! We deserve better.

Gastroparesis has taken so much from me but I will refuse to let it take all of me. I am a warrior and a fighter. I fight everyday, we fight everyday. More than a lot of people could comprehend. I try and raise awareness because we are treated like an afterthought! It’s only our Gastroparesis groups and warriors that are fighting for awareness! We are the ones powering through for better treatment, better mental health support, better understanding, less ridicule all whilst suffering tremendously. This condition can be all consuming, soul crushing, mind altering, painful in every aspect and so unbelievably destructive. But through it we find strength we never thought we could ever have, we gain a family across the world that are there for you and understand you 24/7, we find new comforts and hobbies that we would never have considered before, we establish who is truly there for you, we push boundaries that we never thought were possible and we find a new respect for just how much the body can persevere. We are warriors. I am a Gastroparesis Warrior.

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Life is hard enough

I suffer from gastrointestinal problems and have recently been diagnosed with gastroparesis but after only trying medications that did not work the idea was changed. Based on what sounded like very little knowledge. I am home and struggling because there isn’t enough research out there to help diagnose these things let alone treat and maybe cure. I have suffered since I was a child with the same problems, now age makes it difficult to handle. I have a daughter who just turned 12 years old. I have a life to return to. I’d rather be worrying about my daughter than fighting and getting frustrated and depressed because I am afraid I may pass before she turns 18. I cannot afford a life change life is hard enough without the uncertainty of life.. please raise more awareness, look more into it. Spread all these stories. I’m broken from having to watch my daughter shed tears every time I return from the hospital as if she’s expecting me not to return one day. She’s scared and she’s young. Please.

Submitted by:  Zujeily Sanchez

 

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Although I’m overweight, I eat less than a child eats

Since I was a child I’ve had issues with my stomach and bowels.  But in 2012 I was given a diagnosis of gastroparesis. Two years after that I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes. When my stomach is in a fit, my blood sugar goes way up, when it’s having a good day my numbers come down. I’m supposed to only consume liquids or purees for my meals. My stomach doctor said just put your steak, potato and broccoli in a blender. I’m sure there is a way to make that taste okay, but no thanks.

Over the years my stomach has gone into “remission” and I could eat what I wanted and be okay. But that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.  Although I’m overweight, I eat less than a child eats. Everything I consume at this time just makes my stomach hurt, I get severely bloated, I look pregnant, and I’m miserable. I can’t eat fresh veggies or fruits, they have to be canned or cooked to mushy status. No peels either. I can’t eat red meat, even ground anymore. If I eat like a normal person, I feel like my stomach is going to explode. Yet I’m over weight and not quite malnourished enough for a feeding tube, yet.

I eat empty calories, so sugar, fats, things you shouldn’t eat, but anything else just makes me sick. I’m fortunate that I don’t throw up, yet. But the nausea, the bloating, the pain makes me not want to eat anymore. So then I’m labelled with an eating disorder. I have no energy, I hate going out to eat with family or to their house because I’m so limited on what I can and can’t eat.

There are many people that are far worse than I am, so I’m grateful that I only deal with these issues. But I’m tired of my GP being associated with diabetes. I had GP for 2 years before my A1c showed high. I think there needs to be more education in the medical field so that they have a better understanding of this disease. If our only treatment options are a drug that is really harmful to people, so much that the FDA won’t approve it, then we need change. I would like establishments to be more understanding when someone like me wants to order from the kids menu as to not waste food, can order from the kids menu without getting told that they can’t do that. I want there to be more awareness.

Submitted by:  Heather Cooper

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It has changed my life dramatically

I’ve had gastroparesis since 2010. It’s changed my life dramatically. Surgery to remove my gallbladder because my stomach wouldn’t move food. It just sat there. Tons of nausea, weight loss, abdominal pain…daily. I had to change how I eat food to more liquids, smaller meals, which wouldn’t have been as big of a deal by itself but because of comorbidities is highly challenging to nigh impossible. My diet is already limited due to Crohn’s disease and lack of a colon. The only FDA approved medication that worked for me was Reglan and that has a black box warning for tardive dyskinesia, which is unstoppable shaking for the rest of your life. I took reglan for 7 years due to no other options. If I didn’t take it I’d be so nauseated I couldn’t eat and my stomach would take days to empty one meal. My doctors didn’t think reglan worth the risk. I now take a medication from the UK called domperidone that I have to order online because it’s not FDA approved. It works better than nothing. In a country where there are multiple drugs for the same health concern, why is it that there is nothing in America I can take. Why were there only 2-3 options and none worth the risk due to potential and actual side effects? I implore you to push forward with research. Many people suffer idiopathic gastroparesis. It’s not our fault that we have it and there is no cure. Once the vagus nerve stops communicating that’s it. EDS, Lyme Disease, GI disorders have correlation with gastroparesis. As I learned in graduate school, correlation does not equal causation. Please find a cause. Please find a cure.

Submitted by:  Dr. Sarah Cooper

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