Guest Post: Gastroparesis – Curse or Blessing?

Posted in: Personal Stories ♦ Friday, June 3rd, 2011, 6:42 pm ♦ 6 Comments

The honest and heartfelt article below was written especially for this blog by Marta Luzim. Marta is a Psychospiritual therapist, as well as a fellow GPer and one of my clients. I hope that Marta’s words will inspire you to take a closer look at your own journey and remind you that, whatever your circumstances, it is possible to learn to live well with gastroparesis.  ~Crystal

Gastroparesis – A Curse or a Blessing?

By Marta Luzim, MS

In August 2004, my mother died in a psychiatric ward. Four months later my sister, Carla, committed suicide. A tragedy that rocked my world to oblivion with repercussions that changed my life forever.

Immediately after my sister’s funeral, I began to regurgitate. Day in and day out. Four to five times a day. Over the next two years, I lost 30 pounds, developed an anxiety disorder because I was choking on food stuck in my esophagus, and suffered depression from isolation from the inability to play, work and participate in a normal life. I was in and out of hospitals with little help from the medical profession. Over the next two years, I went to four gastroenterologists, all of whom put me through a litany of tests. One asserted that I had severe acid reflux and took out my gall bladder, and prescribed Reglan. That made things worse. I had a delusional reaction to the drug and ended up throwing it in the garbage. My symptoms progressed and were more unmanageable.

Finally, a friend recommended her gastro doctor who prescribed motility testing. Lo and behold, he informed me that I had idiopathic gastroparesis. I had no clue what this disorder was, but the doctor suggested Domperidone. The prescription had a positive effect and symptoms decreased, although not entirely in a way where I felt well. After six months, he suggested Botox treatment. Directly after the procedure, I had severe pain and extreme spasms. The reaction settled down and I felt better for several months. It didn’t last. The doctor then informed me that I would most likely have to get these injections every six months, with no guarantees, and that he wouldn’t do more than three treatments. The stress was greater than the temporary results of the procedure. I said no. He then talked about inserting a pace maker into my stomach. My fear heightened. Surgery at that time was not an option for me.

Not knowing what else to recommend, he referred me to an “expert” who specialized in gastroparesis. After a long interview of my childhood history, he diagnosed that the condition was caused by the shock of my sister’s suicide coupled by a history of childhood abuse that traumatized and shut down the communication between my brain and stomach. He said that I suffered from post-traumatic stress. The doctor wanted to put me on anti-depressants. I refused. As a Psychospiritual Therapist, Metaphysican, Creative Arts and Emotional Body healer, artist and writer, I knew that an anti-depressant would numb out my feelings. Throughout my life, I healed my childhood trauma through natural, creative and holistic mental/emotional therapies, without drugs. I said, “I will find an answer elsewhere.”

From the constant vomiting, my habits of eating started to imitate that of an eating disorder. The anxiety, depression, and rage I had over a body I no longer had control over intensified. The chronic condition robbed me of my sense of taste, my safety, and my sanity. To make things worse, I judged and blamed myself for this condition, being a professional in the field of psychology and metaphysics. I criticized myself for not having the answer to this life sucking condition.

I developed a phobia around food, supermarkets, restaurants and crowded places. For a extended period of time I had to lug around a pan or cup in case I had to vomit, pack food and have Xanax on hand in case I had a panic attack. I wasn’t the person I once was. My life became an empty shell of regret and darkness. I feared death and crumpled into despair. I was angry at God and lost faith in myself. A healthy, active, creative person for most of my life, I now saw myself as a sick person with little hope.

Finally, after wanting to hire hit men to murder and maim my doctors, I plied myself out of the puddle of mess of inhumanness gastroparesis beat me into and became pro-active. I knew I had to pull on every resource to heal myself and fight for my life. I had to find the light at the end of the tunnel. And I did.

Through a diligent search I found Crystal Saltrelli, a nutritional counselor for gastroparesis, Leslie Landy, an amazing acupuncturist, and Sophia Cayer, an expert in trauma and abuse. I began a ritual of meditating, painting and writing. I guided myself like I was my own client and delved into my heart and soul.  I proceeded on a journey to transform my life. I didn’t know what I would find.

Through the next three years I turned myself inside out. I delved into my psyche, my lifestyle choices and learned about my body and digestion and how it functioned with gastroparesis. Crystal taught me about gastroparesis-friendly food. She helped me to teach myself how to eat, and listen to my body with mystical sight and ears. When I was hungry, when I was not, what my body felt like after each meal, each bite, and each taste. Tuning into every nuance and reaction to how my body responded to types and amounts of food I could digest. How much rest I needed between meals for food to digest. I felt like I was playing Russian roulette until I found patterns and a rhythm of eating with my gastroparesis. (Thank you Crystal!). Soon, I found a “normality” with food.  Supermarkets, restaurants and crowds became a part of my life again.

The rest was magical and darkly challenging. I found out, in spite of my professional training and years of my own personal healing, that I had unhealed grief and anger from my family’s deaths. In addition, I was grieving a part of my life that no longer had meaning to me. I realized that, as many people as I’ve helped to heal, I had been neglecting basic needs, dreams and desires of my own. The “expert” doctor was correct in that I was still suffering from post-traumatic symptoms from childhood abuse on top of the stress, trauma and anxiety from gastroparesis. I had to slow down! Stop! Re-configure my life. Deeply listen to my own inner guidance and wisdom.

Soon, gastroparesis and all its octopusy hands around my neck loosened. I found a new level of care, self-love and purpose to my life. I was re-inventing myself. I completed the novel I had put off.  I opened avenues in my heart to work more deeply with clients, and I found new ways to connect to myself as a wife, mother and woman. I started an organization, Give Her AVoice, Inc., a non-profit which raises funds through theatrical productions and workshops to support women who are recovering from abuse and trauma through holistic and creative processes.

Now I give into more sleep, more alone time. I am more honest with who I am; saying no to what doesn’t serve me, saying yes to what is surprising and unfamiliar; simple things like taking a nap or watching three funny movies in a row. I stopped trying to prove I am not sick, stopped trying to look normal and allowed myself to flow more authentically with my time and energy. Today, I have a much wiser understanding of gratitude. I know that life is precious and I am mortal. I feel ignited to love more fiercely and with renewed commitment.

It is not an easy road living with a chronic condition.  So much that other people do not understand. So much to still understand about yourself. The physical adjustments, the mental and emotional challenges, the sensitivity to your needs, the time and patience to find compassion for your own circumstances… and the knowledge to becoming new, knowing that you are well, alive and living according to a new plan in your life.

Gastroparesis, in spite of the good days and bad days, has given me a new perspective on how to live my life.  I cannot flagrantly waste my time. I must use every moment to continue healing, growing and finding what makes me happy. I did feel cursed when gastroparesis bestowed its harrowing presence in my life. There are still times I am saddened by the hyper-vigilance and certain restriction gastroparesis holds me to.  However, what’s more important to me as I look at the palm trees swaying from my kitchen window, the clouds puffed up and sailing across aqua skies, I breathe in, and realize I am writing and reaching out to whoever reads this article.  I feel blessed to be able to share and help.

All of you who are steadily working to live, heal and understand yourself with this condition, you are a unique individual. Each of you has the innate wisdom to find the answers that will support your well-being. Living with gastroparesis evokes the courage to find the truth in your own life. Allow whatever ails you to be the light to show you the way to your true self.  Gastroparesis strikes with a hard blow, but ultimately, with patience, compassion and self-inquiry it can be a path to self-enlightenment. Don’t ever give up.  Every day brings new awareness.

If you are interested in counseling for the emotional, spiritual and psychological adjustments of living with gastroparesis, you can contact Marta at www.martaluzim.com, primalhealing@aol.com or 954-752-2227.

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Marta J. Luzim, MS is a Psychospiritual therapist, Founder and President of Primal Healing and Art, and the 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization Give Her A Voice, Inc. (www.giveheravoice.org). She has had a private practice for thirty-five years focusing on women’s issues, mind/body healing, relationships and healing the trauma of abuse. She holds an MS in Counseling Psychology and a BS in Education. In addition, she is a trained Hypnotherapist, certified Metaphysician, Intimacy Trainer, emotional-body healer, emotional intuitive, certified rebirther (breath work), certified Kaizen Creative Coach and Florida State Mediator. Marta is an artist, novelist, poet and playwright. Her personal passion to share, heal and teach, combined with her creative and academic expertise have brought her clients from around the country.

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6 Responses to “Guest Post: Gastroparesis – Curse or Blessing?”

  1. [...] Gastroparesis: Curse or Blessing? [...]

  2. [...] Gastroparesis: Curse or Blessing? [...]

  3. Posted by: Nadine
    June 22nd, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Well, I have recently been diagnosed diabetic GP. Like many I did not know what hit me,I was terrified! I found out that my case stemmed from both uncontrolled diabetes and stress. I am just coming into my recovery phase mentally. I would like to know how did you get over your hurdle of not having surgery.

  4. Posted by: Sheila
    August 6th, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I didn’t know that GP was brought on by abuse…..really didn’t want to hear that. Sorry for your lose, so tragic. But I honestly get offended when my health is blamed on emotional stress. For so long my stomach issues wer blamed on the stress of being a mother. That just makes me feel like I can’t control my emotions or my body. Just like my fibromyalgia being blamed on my childhood. I thought that GP was caused by vagus nerve damage. Maybe not in all. I don’t know. Just really don’t like to think that abuse did this to me.

  5. Posted by: Marta Luzim
    September 20th, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Hello Nadine, I’m sorry that I did not respond to you sooner. I haven’t been on this post for a couple of months. Being a holistic mind-body-spirit therapist, I have many internal and external resources that have helped me to find, and continue to find, the way that my mind-body system works, so that I can continually find homeostasis, support and transform my emotional and mental stressors. In addition, I use alternative medicines such as acupuncture and other creative and spiritual modalities. Crystal’s nutritional work and enormous amount of information about gastroparesis has been a key component, along with a lot of healing energy work and emotional healing work, and an understanding of how the brain-body system affects chronic illness. Mostly, what has kept me out of surgery was continuous inner work and balancing the emotional reactions and stresses that exacerbate the condition. It is difficult for me to be specific because this process is unique, as well as gastroparesis being unique within each person’s body. That is why I’ve begun to counsel people with gastroparesis, to find solutions that can integrate and uniquely fit each person’s emotional and mental makeup.

    My contact is 954-701-2067 or primalhealing@aol.com. There is also an article I wrote for the March 2011 issue of Sage Woman magazine on my journey of healing and gastroparesis. Thank you for asking. I wish you luck and blessings on this challenging journey of gastroparesis and life. Best, Marta

  6. Posted by: Crystal
    September 29th, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    This is a reply from Marta:

    To sheila

    Hi Sheila:

    I totally understand how you feel about being told that stress or abuse CAN BE, POSSIBLY the cause of GP or any chronic condition.. I do not blame myself for this possible reason… and I also feel there are many reasons for my GP. It is individual and unique for each person.. I just know that the stress and anxiety and the PTDS of the trauma of my sister’s death set off the GP. FOR ME..I am not saying that is the reason for any one else.. However,researchers are now finding that in war veterans that the aftermath of PSTD has inflammed GP in soldiers. Stress is a factor in exacerbating chronic symptoms, not necessarily a cause, because there are many,, and still we do not really know.. but it can be a factor…. .so to know how to work with the symptoms arising from various causes is a benefit for you.. Symptoms and causes are to be handled with love and acceptance… including all of who we are and what our lives are

    To me knowing that trauma and stress or abuse could be a cause is no different then knowing it is viral, or diabetic, or the vegas nerve. Nothing is to blame, it is only information to manage and work with GP to lessen symptoms. We are multidimensional beings and we work mind/body/spirit when it comes to illness, especially chronic illness. GP is physical and has many different factors.. there is so much to know…

    Abuse sets off the autonomic nerve system of “Flight and flight” and freezing up our digestion, which is connected to the vegas nerve, our whole emotional and nerve system which is connected to the brain.

    Before you cancel out any reason do research… and then make a decision.. again nothing and You are not to blame.. it is just a way of knowing how much stress in your life needs to be addressed in order to live a healthier more calm life… learning to deal with my stress or any unresolved childhood issues, nutrition, stress levels, supplements, anxiety around the GP condition… learning to eat, feel and think in ways that are harmonious to me is all the journey to healing. If that doesn’t resonate to you I understand….for me it has helped me become stronger, happier and more in balance with my life… thank you for responding..I wish you much healing, comfort and healing on this journey. Marta

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