Whenever I post about having recovered from idiopathic gastroparesis, someone always asks, “so what’s the cure?”
Here’s the thing: there is no cure for gastroparesis. If there was, I’d be shouting it from all of my social media platforms. But, and this is really important, the fact that there is no cure is not the same as, “nobody ever recovers.”
One can recover without a cure. There’s no cure for the common cold… but that doesn’t mean people have a cold forever, right?
There is no pill, no surgery, no diet, no alternative treatment, no plan or program that “cures” gastroparesis. Still, there are plenty of people who have gotten better. Every time I post about it on Facebook, there are several others who comment, “I recovered, too!”
You wouldn’t know this from the internet, though. It certainly looks like it’s all a hopeless downward spiral. I think that’s in part because the people who recover aren’t posting about it online… they’re out enjoying their life and putting GP behind them. There’s also the negativity (and downright aggression) that’s often directed at those who share their stories of recovery, which prevents more people from doing so. It even made me nervous to share initially!
So, why do some people get better and others do not? We really don’t know. Perhaps it’s, at least in part, related to the cause. Post-viral gastroparesis, for example, is known to resolve within a few months to a few years as the body heals. On the flip side, gastroparesis caused by an underlying condition may only be as “heal-able” as the condition causing it. And then there are people like me, who don’t even know what caused the gastroparesis in the first place. If we don’t know what caused it, how can we know what resolved it?
Still, so many of you have asked what I did. So as best as I can tell… first, and most obviously, I followed my own advice. I had a comprehensive management plan, I ate a nutrient-rich GP friendly diet and I lived a very healthy lifestyle. I believed that I could recover (because I’d seen other people recover… if them, why not me?). Doing all of this made me healthier, led me to feel much better and greatly improved my quality of life. While I have seen others recover after supporting their body in this way, this wasn’t the case for me.
The resolution of my symptoms actually seemed to coincide with diverting my attention away from gastroparesis (and especially away from trying so hard to recover from gastroparesis). Instead, I focused on addressing stress, fear, and anxiety.
I am not saying “addressing anxiety” is the cure for gastroparesis. But that seemed to be the unintentional catalyst for me. I wasn’t doing those things in order to recover from gastroparesis but as I worked on those things, the gastroparesis started to resolve. I talked more about this in a recent podcast interview with one of my coaches and mentors, Kelli Walker.
I also wrote all about what actually helped me alleviate the anxiety in this article. Like many people with gastroparesis, I’ve always been “an anxious person.” It wasn’t until I found Dr. Amy Johnson that I went from trying to manage that anxiety to actually alleviating anxiety by understanding what it is.
If I were forced to point to the most important aspect of recovery for me, I would say it was learning the concepts that Amy teaches in her program, the Little School of Big Change. (Note: enrollment for this program ends Monday, June 12. I don’t know when she’s opening it again.) I now see that the stress caused by believing all of my anxious, worried thinking and thinking that I had to do more and more to recover mentally and physically was actually standing in the way of healing.
To be clear, this is not a recipe for recovery. I truly believe that like everything else with gastroparesis, if, when, and how someone recovers is unique to their circumstances. Trust your intuition. Answer the question, “If recovery was possible, what would I need in order to heal?” and see where that takes you. And, I still contend, that even without a resolution of symptoms, there’s a lot that can be done to feel better and live well.
Overall, I hope the takeaway is this: there is no cure for gastroparesis but it is possible to recover. I think it’s vitally important to put that out there because our expectations inform our choices, actions, and experience.
If you’ve recovered, please share that. Let’s create a community where we can openly discuss the challenges of the condition and the triumphs of those who recovered. One person’s recovery doesn’t diminish another person’s pain. Hope lifts us all.