There’s a common misconception that gastroparesis cannot or does not get better. The fact is, it can and often does. I’ve received countless emails and messages over the past six years from people who were diagnosed with gastroparesis, some of whom were VERY sick, whose conditions have since dramatically improved or even resolved. I’ve decided to share some of these stories — exactly as written, with permission — to illustrate that it IS possible to get better and even recover after a GP diagnosis.
In the past, the question has come up whether these people have proof that their gastric emptying has improved or normalized, or whether they “just” feel better. Some have had follow-up gastric emptying scans, some have not. To my mind, it doesn’t really matter. If they are free of physical symptoms, eating and living as they wish, and they feel that they are better… that’s good enough for me.
These stories are meant to illustrate that gastroparesis is not necessarily a “forever” diagnosis. They are not meant as medical advice or a template for your own healing. Each person’s journey toward living well and/or getting well is unique. However, having worked with hundreds of GPers on this path, there are certainly common themes and practices that come up and I will point those out below each story.
I wanted to write you again to update you. My life has done a complete turnaround with your help. In fact, it’s almost emotional reading my initial email to you because I remember being SO miserable and hopeless.
I now have no symptoms of GP. Not only was the diet that my doctor put me on was not working, but I felt like it was making me worse. I started reading books like “The Kitchen Cure“, “Eat the Yolks“, “Mind Over Medicine” and “The Paleo Approach.” After I stopped the typical GP diet, I cut out everything processed and only ate foods that were organic and natural. It was pretty much a paleo diet. I literally started feeling better within two weeks. It’s incredible to me how much better I feel, because I thought there was no way I would ever get life as I knew it, back.
In addition to the new diet, I meditate daily and get acupuncture every couple of months (I went more frequently to begin with).
I wanted to write because you have mentioned that there aren’t a lot of “success stories” because those people are out living their lives, and that’s exactly what I am doing. Hope this finds you well and thank you for everything that you do.
I checked in with Karyn 1 year later to see if she was still doing well…
Thank you so much for reaching out! I’m doing great! I never thought that I would get to a point in my life again that didn’t involve gastroparesis.
While mine was idiopathic and the doctors said it could eventually go away, the truth of the matter was, they didn’t know for sure. In fact, all they could tell me without a doubt, is that I had it. It was pretty alarming how little is known about it, and especially terrifying when you’re going by through it!!I’m convinced that had I followed the plan and diet that they laid out, I would probably still be sick.
I still follow your page on Facebook and want you to know, that what you’re doing for people that are facing this, is wonderful!
Living Well Take-Aways
What I love about Karyn’s approach is that once she noticed that the plan she was given wasn’t working, she set out to find an alternative that did work for her. While dietary choices themselves do not usually cause or cure a delay in gastric emptying, I do think that what we eat has a significant impact on the overall functioning of the GI tract — and not just when it comes to fat and fiber!
I am a big fan of the books that Karyn mentioned, all of which focus on providing the body with vital nutrition. I did a podcast with Liz Wolfe, author of Eat the Yolks, last year and we broke down the benefits of a whole food, nutrient-rich diet for those with gastroparesis. I highly recommend giving it a listen if you haven’t already!
Though it’s just one line in her email, I think the daily meditation and regular acupuncture treatments are worth highlighting. I’ve discussed the potential benefits of acupuncture in this video.
As for meditation, I think the impact of a regular practice can be significant and it’s something I recommend for nearly everyone with gastroparesis. I recently completed training in mindfulness meditation through the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at UCLA and here are just a few of the scientifically-proven benefits that I learned about:
- reduces anxiety
- reduces pain
- lowers stress hormones, specifically cortisol
- strengthens immune system
- alleviates symptoms of IBS (still being studied)
There are a variety of ways to “meditate” and you may need to experiment to figure out which one feels right for you. The “Relaxation Response” as described by Dr. Herbert Benson is a very simple, accessible way to start. Here are the instructions.
In addition to a formal meditation practice, or if you’re just not comfortable with a sitting practice yet, you can build mindfulness into your day by simply paying attention to your senses and disconnecting from your thoughts while you do any task. While showering, for example, listening to the sounds of the water, the suds of the shampoo, the fan, etc. If you notice yourself thinking, just bring your awareness back to the sounds around you. Keep doing that throughout your shower. That’s mindfulness.
You can do the same while you’re washing the dishes, folding the laundry, getting the mail. You can focus on sound, touch, sight, smell. You can eat mindfully, as well, focusing on all of these senses, as well as taste. Being in the present moment helps distance us from our thoughts, which are truly the source of most of our suffering. (More on that in upcoming blog posts!!)
Start Your Own Living WELL Journey
The Living (Well!) with Gastroparesis Program is a web-based, self-guided program that will teach you how to manage every aspect of life with gastroparesis and help you create and implement your own comprehensive management plan. Past participants have called the program “life changing” and credited it for significant turnarounds in symptom management, overall health, and quality of life. You can begin right now from anywhere in the world — all you need is an internet connection and a desire for change.
More Living Well & Getting Well Stories coming soon!