Sierra Cabezas

I thought after having ostomy surgery that would be the end of my bad health woes. Boy, was I wrong!

In early 2014, I got a peristomal hernia repaired. It was my sixth abdominal surgery and came with some major complications. At this point, I had become allergic to all available pain medications and had nothing to take home after surgery. The surgery didn't go as planned, my pain levels were immense, and I had no one to properly take care of my needs. Depression sank in as adhesions grew around my guts for the first time which caused excruciating blockages. It wasn’t until my stomach felt full for hours after eating and my weight dropping quickly that I became concerned. I turned to my doctors for help.

I was sent to do a stomach emptying test that required me to eat a radio-active egg sandwich! How many people get to say they’ve eaten a radio-active sandwich? It didn’t taste bad, and after the simple test, it was confirmed that I had Gastroparesis.

What does that mean? It means that my stomach will refuse to let go of my meals and hydration for at least several hours at a time. Sometimes, it’s up to a full day. On bad days, I might wake up to severe nausea and throw up my undigested dinner from the night before. Hydration, nutritional needs, and my weight all became a major concern after I lost thirty-five pounds in just a few short months. It’s an incredibly odd feeling to feel completely full yet starving at the same time. That is the best way I can explain it.

Since the diagnosis four years ago, I’ve been able to gain back ten of those pounds. My weight goes up and down throughout the week like a yo-yo. My diet has changed to simpler, cleaner, homemade foods as much as possible, but I struggle with food every day and each choice to eat or hydrate comes with its own consequences. Since my energy is limited, so is my food intake which go hand and hand. I struggle to keep up with my friends and family. While my ostomy hasn’t ever really held me back, Gastroparesis has. Just like suffering through Ulcerative Colitis all over again, my health is overly dependent on my stress levels, exercise, and food intake.

While I struggle to keep my feet on solid ground, I gain knowledge about the illness and how to adjust my lifestyle to make it better. I may not be in a great place health wise right now, but I know with time comes answers. I never take off my thinking cap, I reach out to other’s like me, and I keep up with the news and studies to apply them to myself. It’s scary not knowing the answers and frustrating to endure the symptoms, but I always have faith that something will come along to make my life better.

Do you have or suspect you have Gastroparesis? What has your journey been like? What has helped you the most?

Sierra Cabezas