Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Vickie Shares Her Story

"Pace yourself, only you know how you feel."
Today's post is the very first "Share My Story." I recently interviewed Vickie, a strong-willed Tennessee woman who refuses to let gastroparesis stop her from living life.
This includes her continued dedication to working full-time as a Legal Secretary, exercising daily and sticking to a diet that is both GP friendly and gluten free.  Like many of us, she admits to having a Type A personality and has always been one to push through.  In the last thirty years of her career she was never one to call in sick, in fact she had always been quite healthy, rarely catching a cold.
In 2002 her gallbladder was removed and in 2007 she was diagnosed with gastroparesis (no indication the two are related).  In the beginning she tried a couple common medications recommended, one causing depression and the other proving to be helpful.  In addition, she visited a dietitian who did not prove to be much help, not being very familiar with a diet for slow motility.  At this point Vickie took charge, figuring out what worked best for her.

ST: Let's just start off with the question we all ask...what have you found to be most helpful in preventing and managing symptoms?

VW: Exercise, especially after dinner.  Every evening within 30 minutes of eating I walk for 2 miles, and in the mornings for at least 10 minutes before work.  My goal is to increase the morning walks to 20 minutes.  I find my food digest so much better this way so I don't even give myself an option.

ST: You mentioned recently going gluten free.  What triggered this change?

VW: It began last October with increased digestive issues (including diarrhea and stomach cramping) followed by weakness and fatigue.  In addition, my arms and legs felt heavy and my mind foggy.  I started researching these symptoms and came up with Celiac disease.  My doctor didn't seem to think gluten was an issue and the test came up negative.  However, I know my body and how it reacts when something is wrong!  After removing gluten from my diet all the symptoms disappeared.  From this I've gathered I am gluten intolerant and now attend Celiac support group to help me with ideas for following this diet.  They have been very helpful, helping me pay more attention to labels and ingredients in foods (a challenge in itself!).  The additional digestive issues subsided, my mind cleared and I no longer feet tired all the time.  I have now been gluten free since October.  

ST:  How has your husband dealt with so many changes?

VW: He's wonderful!  Because he loves to experiment in the kitchen, dinner is often started by the time I get home from work.  Tonight he made tacos with homemade soft corn tortilla, chicken breast diced in small pieces and well cooked veggies topped with finely chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of cheese.  (*Note - if you can tolerate solids this might be a great recipe to try a small portion of!). 

ST: What has been your biggest challenge?

VW: There are certain things I have to do to feel normal like taking medication with food or going for walks immediately after.  People don't always realize how hard I work just to get through some days.  

ST: Most of us can probably relate when other people don't actually see how sick we may feel.  Especially when our typical Type A personalities kick in and we push ourselves to get the job done, whether that be a day at work, school, taking care of the kids or even socializing.  Can you give any advice to other full-time workers who are living with gastroparesis?

VW: Pace yourself, only you know how you feel.  While we can be there physically its not always easy to be there mentally.  

ST: Some of us have a hard time finding the right doctor who will listen and give us the care we need to help manage this illness.  Any thoughts on this?

VW:  I'm tough with my doctors!  I make sure to get what I need out of each and every minute of the appointment.  When the doctor didn't think I had a gluten problem I insisted on testing. I go in there knowing what I want and get it done.  I suppose it helps working for a law office, that tends to come in handy, lol!

Even with all the dietary restrictions, Vickie continues to find a love for food she CAN enjoy. She admits being gluten free on top of a GP diet was tough at first, as learning anything new can be.  Her persistence and attitude towards eating well, increasing exercise, and learning to manage stress while maintaining a full-time career is not only encouraging but inspiring.  Thank you for sharing your experience and tips on your journey with GP.

*If you are interested in learning more about gluten intolerance click here for a good overview of symptoms and information.  You can also send me a message and I'm happy to provide some additional resources.


  1. Really enjoyed reading the Q/A thank you for posting.

  2. Excellent article. Enjoyed reading this.

  3. I've been dealing with this problem, sjogren's syndrome (advanced, systemic), Multiple Sclerosis and COPD, to name a few. I am unable to do any excercise, have been told not to by my MS doc who is the best out of all of my docs. I think it also makes a difference when you have a great husband like it sounds like you have and when your single; Part of my problem is that I'm so tired that when I do feel like eating, I will just grab the easiest thing. I do the same when attempting to grocery shop. I am in my "normal" weight range for the first time in years, what I don't get is why the doctor's think I'm doing so much better because I've got my weight up when it's been due to steorids! Have you had any obstructions? Did you ever have a problem with vomiting?