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Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Letter From A GPer to A Friend/Family Member

I wrote this letter as a note on my public Gastroparesis Facebook page ( today, trying to get out how I feel while trying to get other people to understand how lonely gastroparesis can be. I wanted to get out my feelings and I wanted to try and let my friends and family know why I am the way I am right now. It's not because I don't want to go out, and it's not because I don't want to spend time with them - smells from a movie theatre make me ill and I'm worried I'll vomit in the middle of a movie or an outing, embarrassing myself. So, I wanted to write a letter to them to help them understand why I am usually home but that I don't like to be home by myself. I would definitely welcome company. This illness is isolating and it is depressing after a while because people give up on you. No one wants to call you to ask you to hang out knowing you will say no and no one really wants to come over to your house to hang out when they want to go out and see a brand new movie they've been waiting months for. So, I wanted to put how I felt down in words. You'll find those words below:

Dear Friends and Family,

We are fighters. We are overlooked because our illness is invisible...but the pain is visible behind our eyes if you look closely. We are strong...we have to be stronger than most in order to survive on a day to day basis. We are all from different walks of life. You may not know we suffer, but we do. Gastroparesis can touch anyone at any age - children, teenagers, adults, the elderly...and there still isn't enough research to determine why.

GP is caused when the vagus nerve is damaged, and nerve damage in any other part of the body is severely painful, so imagine having nerve damage in your stomach where you have a lot more nerves, sensitive nerves. Vagus nerve damage can be caused by a variety of factors, like diabetes, and other reasons.

People tell us gastroparesis shouldn't hurt, but it does. If other people go to the doctor and tell the doctor they have nerve damage in their knees or their back, they're treated for pain and it's understood that nerve damage there hurts, so why would nerve damage in the stomach, with the most sensitive nerves not be as painful or more painful?

If you meet someone with gastroparesis, please be kind. We are all fighting a battle to stay alive, not to starve to death, and to try to be as normal as possible. We miss being able to eat during holidays and to take part in things that we used to. Most of us can't because we lack the energy, which stems from lack of nutrition, but it's not by our choice.

If you know someone with gastroparesis, be kind to them. Give them a hug. Invite them out anyway and if they can't go out with you, please try to make an effort to go to them to spend time with them at their house. Loneliness is hard and so is isolation. We miss company and being social. Some of us just need to be near a bathroom but we miss our friends and family.

Most of the time we feel like we live in a prison we can't escape from. Just please try to be patient and try to understand what it's like walking in our shoes. It's a hard road, and all we need is a little bit of support and understanding. That would mean everything to us if people took a little bit of time to understand what we go through on a daily basis and still wanted to be around us, despite all of this. It would make us cry with joy just to have people understand, come over, and even do something low key like watch a movie with us. It would mean more to us than you would ever know, just that simple act of kindness.

We are not making excuses when we say we cannot go out. We are not trying to avoid anyone. We aren't trying to hurt anyone's feelings. We feel devastated enough that we have to stay home most of the time, but that doesn't mean you're not welcome to come over and visit. We would love that. So, for those of you who have friends with #DTP or Gastroparesis, please know that it's NOT you or anything you did - not your fault at all, we just cannot do the things we used to do and that kills us a little bit inside. It's just as hard for us to adjust to this as it is for you.

We want normal back, or as close to normal as we can get. So please, try to make the effort to come over to our house and distract us. We need it. We need the happiness you inject into our lives. We need you. We need our friends and family and support. You are our lifeline to the outside world. You don't realize how important you are to us, but you really are. Thank you for being a friend, even though we know it's hard on you. Thank you for being you.

GPers Everywhere

**Please support my Facebook page, where I wrote this note to depict how I was feeling today, by kindly clicking on “like” to show your support and to raise awareness for gastroparesis on Facebook: