Dear Gastroparesis,

You’ve dealt me a rough hand in life. There’s no doubt about that. I know a lot of people look at my hand and think that it’s a losing hand, but I look at it as a royal flush. The best hand of all. I know that may be confusing, but let me explain.

You make it so that my digestion system is paralyzed. I’m not able to eat because of you and I endure pain and nausea every day thanks to you. Sure it’s rough dealing with all that. I mean it’s basically like I have the stomach flu all day. You know where your body is aching for relief, where your stomach is twisted in knots of pain. Then when you attempt to eat or drink you feel even worse. You vomit until there is nothing left in your stomach and then you wait for it to happen all over again at the next meal. Do you realize that’s what you make life like, gastroparesis? Do you know how much suffering you cause?

Yet in the midst of that suffering there is great beauty. A beauty that can be found in any type of suffering, whether it be physical, emotional, spiritual or psychological suffering. A beauty that turns the cards you dealt me from the worst hand to the best hand.

You see because of you my family means the world to me. I’ve never had to spend a day alone in the hospital. I’ve had a shoulder to cry on when I need it and a hand to squeeze when I’m in pain. I have an incredible father who has no knowledge of the medical field, yet does his best to understand it. A father who rubs my back when I’m feeling my lowest and who treats me like a princess. I have an amazing mother, who is also a nurse that cares for me with the tenderness and compassion of the world’s greatest nurse and mom combined. I have a marvelous little brother who means the world to me. Who has visited me time and time again in the hospital, even though he hates hospitals. A brother who has a carefree spirit that reminds me to not take life so seriously. A brother who’d fight to protect me to his last breath. My family pushes me to be a better person. They give me a reason to fight each day. You see I don’t fight for myself. I’d rather be dead and not have to suffer anymore. No I fight for those I love, so they don’t have to bear the sadness of losing me.

And wow do I have some amazing friends. One friend, Meghan Neary, texts me on a daily basis to encourage me and keep me going. Another friend, Erica Emanuelson, is one of the only people I know who isn’t afraid to make fun of me or joke around about my tubes. She knows how to keep the situation light and to bring a smile to my face. Then there is Nicole White who has done numerous things for me to keep my spirits up. Plus Dan Jones who looks past my physical disabilities and plans special dates with me that revolve around things I can do verse can’t. And I could go on and on. The amount of love and support I receive from people around me, astounds me and gives me the push I need to keep fighting, no matter what. I have been blessed with rich friendships, because of gastroparesis, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Because of you, gastroparesis, I have been able to reach out and help others with their struggles. I have been able to show them that hope still does exist and that they too have a reason to fight. I’ve had strangers contact me, thanking me for showing them that there is still a reason to press on.

Because of you gastroparesis, I know what it is like to suffer and be in pain and therefore I am able to empathize with people on a different level. I have developed an incredible passion for the medical field. A passion that was sparked at a young age. I want to be able to help others who are suffering because I know what it’s like. I want to be able to look into my patient’s pain filled eyes and watch the pain fade and instead be replaced by hope and healing as I help them recover from what they are sick with. I plan to go to Physician Assistant (PA) school in January so that I can fulfill my dream of working in the medical field.

Because of you gastroparesis, I’ve learned to find happiness in the little things and appreciate everything I can do. No one knows when their last day on this earth will be. No one knows what tomorrow may bring, so why not live for today. Take a second and watch the sun rise or set. Cherish your time spent with loved ones. Listen to the chirping of birds and chattering of squirrels. Take a walk and breathe deeply of the fresh air around you. Put value on the small things, so that the big things seem even more incredible when they come.

Because of you gastroparesis, I can’t eat, but I haven’t let that stop me from enjoying food or going out to dinner with people. I have still found a way to savor food by chewing it then spitting back out. I love going out to dinner with people because I still get to enjoy the companionship amongst friends, but I save money since I can’t order anything.

Because of you gastroparesis, I developed a strange addiction to food. Craving it above anything else. I would end up chewing tons of food at once, frustrated with life and longing to be normal. I wouldn’t feel satiety from the food so I’d just keep chewing and spitting it out. It became like an obsession and threatened to overwhelm me, but I learned how to fight back. I learned how to confront the cravings head on and be satisfied from just chewing a little bit of food. It wasn’t easy and I still haven’t fully mastered it, but I’ve learned how to work with it.

Because of you gastroparesis, I’ve learned that life throws curve balls, but that you can either succumb to the ball or hit a home run. That you can learn from each new experience that life dishes out at you and use it to make you a stronger person. I’ve learned to grow from the mistakes I’ve made and use them as a training exercise instead of something that could ruin my life. I learned that the world can be my enemy or my friend, based on how I treat what the world bring to me. And I’ve made it my mission to turn the bad, that the world brings my way, into good for others.

Because of you gastroparesis, I’ve written two books. “A Blessing in Disguise” and “Blessings in Hidden Places”. Through writing I have healed from many psychological and emotional wounds I didn’t realize I had. These wounds have turned to scars, beautiful scars that I can use to help others who have been emotionally and psychologically wounded too. My books show others how they too can heal from what they are suffering from. You can find them on my amazon author page .

Because of you gastroparesis, I’ve been able to spread hope across the world. I have had the opportunity to be on various news stations talking about what I suffer from and how it’s really a blessing in disguise. I have been able to help raise awareness about gastroparesis. I have been able to show doctors how they can be the doctor their patient needs them to be. I have been able to advocate for good bedside manner and understanding from doctors that suffering from an invisible disease doesn’t mean that it’s all in your head. That invisible diseases are the hardest to treat, because your patient can appear healthy, but on the inside they are falling apart. I’ve learned how to remove the blinders from people’s eyes, so that they can truly see the invisible disease.

Because of you gastroparesis, I’m a better person. Because of you I have so many things to be grateful for and I have been blessed in countless ways. Because of you gastroparesis I have learned to change my losing hand into a winning hand. Thank you for how you’ve changed my life. Thank you for giving me a life I never could’ve imagined, but a life I’ve found worth living.

With Love,

Kristen Fox


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