I had a Nissen Fundoplication

Hope Davis

Once upon a time, I was a successful model, dancer, cheerleader, beauty queen, actress and writer. After endless rehearsals and performances without rest, I developed a hiatal hernia. I was offered an operation that was to get me dancing again in 14 days time, I was to never dance professionally ever again.

To fix my hiatal hernia, I had a Nissen Fundoplication in 2004 that unfortunately was unsuccessful and damaged my Vagus Nerve. After a long fight battling for my life, my body started to collapse until I was under 5 stones in weight (5′ 10″ tall) and I was given 6 days to live. I gave up and left the UK for the USA to say goodbye to my brother who lives there as I was expected to die and to be frank, I wanted to die! Not long after I landed I was hospitalized in the USA and luckily for me, I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis and finally got the life-saving treatment that I needed.

However, once back in the UK, the medications that were prescribed to me did not exist in the UK. My health dwindled yet again as I lay dying. After 2 years hospitalized in many hospitals seeking help, we finally came up with a management plan and I had to rebuild my body from scratch and face my new reality living with Gastroparesis.

I have flares all the time, on average, when at it’s worst or life-threatening, I am hospitalized about once every 2 years. When in a flare (which for me is extreme pain and/or vomiting), I like to hug and squeeze my teddy for comfort, get into the fetal position and play very loud music as I ride it out. Some days are better than others. I take many medications daily to stay alive. My life is now part-time living and part-time suffering but with the help of friends and loved ones and the Gastroparesis support groups, we battle on. We are not victims, we are survivors and we fight our Gastroparesis battle like gladiators!

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Michelle Donaldson-Grago’s Story

We all have our own stories with gastroparesis; some may be different, but many are the same.  We never know day by day, hour by hour, or even minute by minute what is going to happen.  We may be fine and pain-free for just a second and then the next we’re on our deathbeds… Every day is a constant battle — not a struggle, but a BATTLE… a battle against our own bodies, a constant fight, a constant WAR!!! We are our own individual soldiers — but we too need help…

This may not be cancer but to us it is our cancer… And we need to find a cure!! This is not a game, this is our lives… Daily nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, liquid diets, feeding tubes, bezoars, malnutrition, dehydration, exhaustion, chronic pain, pressure and bloating… Walking around like we’re 6 months pregnant all because we are packed full of undigested foods creating what we call our food babies. And yet we are the ones who maintain a constant smile on our faces because we are embarrassed and don’t want others to know we are sick.  

We’re not looking for pity or sympathy… Just belief in us and a damn cure…. So please, when we say we are sick, believe us, WE REALLY TRULY ARE SICK…. Please, please, please help us get awareness out there to everyone in the entire world.  Gastroparesis is bigger than just our nation it affects others as well.  Like I said, it may not be cancer, but to us, it is our cancer!!! Please help raise awareness!!!!! Thank you and God bless.

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