My Story

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.

My History
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.

*Updates
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.

Click here for information on personal health coaching sessions.  It is my goal to help others explore their digestive issues and how they may improve symptoms through dietary changes, exercise and stress management. 

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.

Thank you for taking the time to visit and please feel free to share any feedback you might have.
With kindness,
Stephanie

13 comments:

  1. You are absolutely amazing. Stay strong! I was just diagnosed with GP as well and it's very inspiring reading your blog. Thank you!

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  2. Thanks Lyss! So good to hear it has been helpful and wish you the best as you navigate your own journey with GP. Checked out your blog, love it, both the design and the writing! Keep at it and never give up hope you can feel better :)

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  3. So, I tried to access more information about diets and was unable to find anything. I have recently been diagnosed with gastroparesis and have a long history of IBS-D and GERD. I thought that eating fresh salads would be healthier for me but am learning that this is not so. I am trying to learn what would be good, healthy foods to eat.

    Thank you in advance!
    Amy

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  4. Hi Amy,
    We are all very different, and some quite alike, when it comes to what we can and cannot tolerate with diet. Unfortunately, as healthy as they are, salads are not GP-friendly, as with most raw foods. Start by having smaller portion sizes, what we call mini-meals. Soups, smoothies, lean protein, nut butters (1 T), hot cereals, well cooked veggies and pureed fruits are some examples. Look under the "Handout" section of my blog, both might give you some ideas as well. There are a number of things you can do to help with the IBS-D and GERD. I might be able to give you some guidance and would be happy to see if I can help. Email me at stephanie@journeywithwellness.com.
    Know you are not alone!
    -Stephanie

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  5. Thank you for your blog post. I've been diagnosed with GP this year. I'm type I diabetic and was wondering how going gluten-free would affect the GP. I'm still scared to leave the house - the last trip (a bus trip to a casino where I was winning) resulted in an ambulance ride to the ER and a hospital stay. Hang in there!

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  6. Stephanie, I just read your recent procedure and I hope you are feeling better and had much success with this procedure. Feel better!
    Trish

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  7. Is chronic diarrea a part of gp?

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  8. Your story sounds a lot like mine I was diagnosed with go in October of 2012 I am still struggling with this disease, it's days I want to give up ! I am so glad I ran across this page you are such an inspiration to me to push on..

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing this with everyone. I don't feel alone anymore as I see more comments about it as well. I was diagnosed in Aug 2011 and has been a huge struggle since. :) I appreciate this so much and love you are putting reciepts up too. Thank you!

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  10. Stephanie,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I have struggled with digestive issues for many years, and I recently was diagnosed with GP at the Mayo Clinic. Your story has been inspiring to me and you have given me hope.
    Thank you for sharing your journey (and your recipes, too!)

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  11. Hi Stephanie and every one, I was diagnosed with gp about two years ago and like everyone else it has been a huge battle in trying to find the right diet, I've dropped alot of weight since being diagnosed due to the gp and I am now drinking ensure for the nutrients and protein along with trying to eat right, it is sad that there is no cure for this but holding on to faith that one day there will be. Thanks for sharing your stories everyone, supporting one another is an awesome way for all to make it through this and keeping God as my number one priority has helped me make it through alot of tuff times and hateful comments from people who know nothing about gp and the Weight loss, thanks again, Lisa

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  12. Hi Stephanie and every one, I was diagnosed with gp about two years ago and it has been one big battle trying to find the right foods to eat, I have lost weight since being diagnosed and I started drinking ensure for the nutrients and protein, I find that I tolerate chicken and pasta pretty good and peanut butter,seafood is another good food to eat but unfortunately the only thing I like is tuna fish lol. It helps to hear that I'm not alone in this and that there is a support group for all of us going through this, I have heard so many negative comments about my weight from people that it gets frustrating and depressing because people who are not going through this don't understand, thanks again for the blog and every one's comments, I keep my faith in God and pray that one day there will be a cure, thanks, Lisa

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  13. Saying prayers to you and who all have been afflicted with gp. Nausea is the worst thing for me.

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