Hi, my name is Stephanie Torres. Since being diagnosed with gastroparesis in 2008 I have learned and continue to learn patience, compassion, and a deep passion for helping others and spreading awareness. Through blogging I hope to find an outlet for myself as well as provide shared experiences, tips, recipes and a community for anyone seeking a place to know they are not alone.
I've lived with digestive issues on and off from the age of 19, shortly after undergoing laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis and ovarian cysts. It started with heartburn and eventually symptoms that were diagnosed as IBS. Around the time of turning 28, after years of pain and discomfort, a gastric emptying test confirmed gastroparesis (GP). At the time I thought I could cure it through diet alone and went completely gluten free. For about six months I felt amazing but it didn't last and I began experiencing severe bloating, fullness, nausea and eventually barely able to take down fluids. Two months later I was in the hospital having every test in the book done, again confirming GP.
With motility medication, bodywork, rest and loads of support from family and friends, I began to recover. A year later I began a full time (more like overload time) course in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The program was incredible, a dream come true, but traveling the 90 miles back and forth each week, missing my husband, not to mention the time and stress involved with the intense studies, became more than I could handle. By the end of the first year I had lost a tremendous amount of weight, in denial of having a chronic illness because I was determined to live a "normal life." By June of 2010 I ended up back in the hospital, this time too weak and malnourished to recover on my own. After unsuccessful trials with medications as well as trying the botox treatment for a 2nd time, I had no choice but to be put on a temporary feeding tube, called a J-tube. This is when it really hit me...it was time to accept my illness and really focus on taking care of myself because otherwise I wouldn't survive much longer.
By accepting this as part of my life, I was able to slow down and set priorities. I again started focusing on managing symptoms through diet, exercise, limiting stress and finding other passions in life like creativity and helping others. This doesn't mean I don't still have bad days, but I have learned how to manage them by not letting the fear take over and by not running away from them.
I began writing about my journey on this blog, learning more and more about GP and how many others were going through the similar battles. Motivated to help, I enrolled in a program through the Institute for Intigrative Nutrition to become certified as a health coach, specializing in gastroparesis as well as other digestive disorders such as IBS. In June of 2012 I started to use my experience and education as a learning tool for others, to focus on the things we can do to help ourselves instead of focusing on the things we can't. I never would have imagined this would be my life at this age but it hasn't stopped me from continuing to stay positive, be an advocate for awareness, and in the meantime live the best life possible.
Due to complications in the fall of 2012 the j-tube was removed. Unfortunately, my body did not hold onto the calories I was able to take in and after a drastic weight loss another tube was placed in January 2013. This also created complications resulting in having a PICC line placed in February 2013. We pray this is temporary and that my body will gain enough strength to go without this support.
Summer 2013: After insisting for 6 months the j-tube (not being used, just for back up) was causing more harm than good, it was removed through a laparoscopic procedure.
January 2014: The PICC line was not staying in place like it should so it was replaced with a central line in the upper right chest area. I'm still able to eat (actually quite a bit compared to most) but not the amount my body's high metabolism requires. TPN continues to be used 4-6 nights a week.
September 2015: A port-a-acth was placed in my chest to replace the central line. I continue to use TPN 4-5 nights/week but now line and tube free on days off! This allows me to swim and shower without worry when de-accessed. For details on types of line access check out this page.
*If you have ANY questions regarding nutrition support (feeding tubes and central lines) as a means of please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As of May 2014 I have been lucky enough to work as a Nutrition Consumer Advocate for ThriveRx alongside experts I believe personally saved my own life and passionate about helping others who can no longer eat enough to survive.*
Details from the beginning of my experience are broken down into Part 1: Diagnostic Journey, Part II: A Passion Ignites But is Short Lived, and Part III: Reality Check, Grief and Acceptance. They discuss my diagnosis, temporary recovery, treatments and the ups and downs since being diagnosed.
Part of the reason I started this blog was to share my information with family and friends to better understand gastroparesis and how it has affected my life. If you would like to know more about me, my story or would like to share your own story please sign up and leave a comment or contact me.
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