Leslie Friend Smith

Leslie Friend Smith

I am Leslie Friend Smith. I am a 51 year old woman who suffers from Gastroparesis. Gastroparesis has taken away my quality of life and left me practically bed bound. I went from being an active person who has worked full time all my life, to getting fired from my job for missing too much work from being sick with uncontrollable vomiting and excruciating stomach pain. When I tried to explain to my employer what was wrong with me, I was told that if I couldn’t handle a little stomach ache, that they had no need for someone like me with their company.

Everyday I get up and try to do housework, I will get as far as doing dishes or sweeping the floors, and I am completely exhausted. My body feels like it just ran in a marathon, my stomach will go from being flat to looking like I am 8 months pregnant, and I will have excruciating pain to where it even hurts to touch all over my stomach. The swelling used to go down over night by resting, but now the swelling is constantly there. I can’t eat regular food that most people take for granted. I can only eat maybe once a day because eating causes pain and nausea with sometimes vomiting. So when I can find something to eat that doesn’t make me sick, I will eat that same thing everyday until I get tired of it out of the fear of trying something new.

My doctor claims that he understands what gastroparesis is, but I cannot get him to understand the devastating truth of what it is doing to my body and my quality of life. I am literally stuck propped up in my bed all day long because I am in that much pain! I go to the hospital to try to get pain relief, and the doctors there think your there seeking out drugs for a quick high and label you as a drug seeker. Pain management doctors are just as bad. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy, but just once if they could feel what I do maybe then they would understand!

Not only does Gastroparesis effect my body, it also has caused major depression to where my psychiatrist has diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It’s been very depressing trying to understand why the doctors won’t help me, why do they just leave me to physically suffer in pain, like it’s okay to do. It’s not okay. It’s unacceptable but it seems that the harder I try to express how much pain that I am in, the more they will label me as a drug seeker. Why can’t they understand that people die from complications of this disease! People are getting so depressed from not getting help and getting so desperate because of the pain we feel every day that they are going as far as taking their own life to be free from the pain.

If I could get the doctors to understand the impact that Gastroparesis has on my life, I would want them to understand how much suffering it causes. And how much it’s unacceptable to allow a human being to continue to physically go through this. You feel alone and scared, and your family and friends if they are not supportive they figure if you were really sick your doctors would do something and they aren’t so it’s just in your head.

I hope that one day the doctors are more willing to help relieve the suffering. I hope that more research can be done with Gastroparesis to where there is maybe one day even a cure. Every day I pray for this, and everyday I pray for my fellow sufferers that we can be pain free and have some sort of normalcy in our lives.

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