Leanne’s Story of Hope
Written By: Leanne
Hi Everyone, I was asked this past Sunday to write a short bio of myself, and to explain why I think it's important to fight gastroparesis.
I'm 42 years old and live in a small town called Tillsonburg in Ontario, Canada. I have a wonderful boyfriend, we've been together a for a couple of years, and we have two cats and a dog. I also have amazing parents who have advocated and fought for me every step of the way.
I've had GP for 30 years, but went undiagnosed for the first 20 years. I kind of consider myself a GP veteran with this many years under my belt, but in no way do I think that that makes me an expert. My GP symptoms began around the age of 12, after I incurred a a pretty bad back injury, spondylosis with severe degenerative disc disease and spondyloarthritis. My injury also went undiagnosed and worsened over time. While it's been speculated that this is the contributing factor to my GP, no one is sure. I also have severe IBS.
The first 20 years were tough. Doctors, meds, tests, and lost opportunities. I ended up having to drop out of University in my 3rd year due to GP, I had hoped to get my PhD. in psychology. I learned pretty quickly that life doesn't always turn out as one hopes. For the last ten of those 20 years it was "all in my head" according to the doctors, and I often found myself in that medical paradox, asking for help from the medical community that I was at the same time constantly fighting.
At this point, I had given up. I was horribly sick, I had lost over 100 pounds (my weight has always fluctuated, I've gained and lost over 100 pounds 5 times now, with smaller fluctuations in between). My doctor refused to give me another feeding tube, because my "issues were psychological" and not medical. To be completely honest, I thought I wanted to die. I'd had enough and I had come to the realization that no one was going to help me.
There I sat, looking out the window, at my lowest point, thinking about how absolutely horrible my life had turned out to be. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a hummingbird. I watched her going about her business, going from flower to flower, doing her thing. Suddenly, I noticed something. I WAS SMILING. Here I am, at the lowest of the low and something so inconsequential as a hummingbird was able to put a smile on my face. It had brought me a moment of joy, something I had not allowed myself to experience while I wallowed in my misery. I had gotten so caught up in my fight with GP that I had forgotten to allow wonder and beauty into my life. I suddenly realized that my spirit, while beaten up and bruised, was not broken. I was and am far tougher some shitty illness.
I pulled myself up, got myself together, and started to REALLY ADVOCATE for myself. I found a specialist on my own, went in with an agenda and plan of what I wanted and what I was willing and unwilling to do. To make a long story short, my advocating made all the difference, and I was finally diagnosed soon after.
Since my diagnoses, life has been better. It's still really rough at times, as everyone with GP knows. It's very easy to allow oneself to get completely caught in the medical misery of it all. The one thing I'd like you to take from my story is, to take a moment, a breath, if you will, and allow yourself to see the wonderment and joy life has to offer, no matter how fleeting that moment may be. Those little moments are the things that make the fight worthwhile.
You'll realize that you are tougher than you think, and you just may find yourself smiling.