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I’ve had numerous health struggles since middle school, many involving GI and abdominal issues. Gastroparesis didn’t come into the picture until college. It started with a bezoar causing me to black out in the middle of class, unsure why I had sudden intense pain in my stomach–it was pushed through my GI tract and hit my vagus nerve, further damaging it. After that, I began to notice my stomach always hurt, I always felt full, and nothing I did seemed to help.

When I got my diagnosis, the doctor told me it was severe enough that I should go to a fully liquid diet. As a 19 year old, seeing a future with my diet primarily consisting of liquids was too much, so I ignored the doctor and figured I’d be okay the way I was (yeah, bad choice).

My stomach pain continued to worsen until a year later, I decided I’d do liquids for the summer to “reset” my stomach some. The results were amazing–it was the best I’d felt in years. The only problem was that I drank 3 ensures each day, and that was it. Family voiced concerns about me consuming less than 500 calories per day, but I felt good, so I ignored them. It wasn’t until I went back to school (about 3 months into liquids since I decided to stick with the diet) that I got hit by symptoms of malnourishment. I was exhausted, couldn’t bend over without starting to blackout, had pounding headaches, and couldn’t focus, and I always felt nauseous, so I had no interest in eating at all. At that point, I realized I wasn’t okay, and it wouldn’t be a fast or easy recovery.

I’m 6 months past that now, but it takes so much effort to make sure that I get enough calories each day, even if my meals are really small. Sometimes it feels like my life revolves around eating since I need to eat snacks throughout the day just to hit 1200 calories for the day. It’s hard to realize this is my life now, and I’m only 21.

Despite how hard the road has been and will continue to be, I’m doing a lot better now–even when there are good days and bad days (sometimes weeks).

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