Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year, New Choices

As I was thinking about what to share for inspiration as 2013 comes to an end I started thinking about what it meant to start a new year.  Sure, we make our resolutions such as go to the gym, eat better, love more and so on.  Of course they are good choices that will help us on our journey to feeling the best we can.  But should we go deeper than that?   Or how about keeping it simple?  Honestly, when I sat down to write my own goals what immediately came to mind was just making the most out of each day and being grateful for what I already have.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Homemade Holiday Giveaway

One of the things I love most about this time of year is the excuse to get crafty and create homemade gifts for loved ones.  This year I've put together some silky lavender eye pillows that can be warmed up and used to bring on some serious deep sleep!  If you have been receiving newsletters for awhile you are more than likely familiar with my dear friend Lori's comforting heating pads.  This is my absolute favorite GP helper and use it almost daily, even if it's just to help me relax in the evening.  This month we are pairing both these gifts together for two special giveaways.  If you would like the opportunity win one just leave a comment below with one of your favorite holiday memories. 

Please remember to leave your first name and last initial!  Announcement will be made on Monday, December 23rd.

***Congratulations Kyle and Cynthia S.!  Look for an email with details about receiving these gifts.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Living My Best "One Day at a Time" Update

"You do not determine your success by comparing yourself to others, rather you determine your success by comparing your accomplishments to your capabilities."
-Zig Ziglar

It's been awhile since my last post in November, following the big trip to AZ.  After 2 weeks of feeling better, less pain, more hunger, my body did a 180 and took a deep dip into a flare.  This is the kind of information that is really hard to share, avoiding any loss of hope for anyone reading.  Therefore, I push it off patiently waiting for a change.  Right now however, this is part of the ebb and flow of gastroparesis and only posting when life is good is just not really fair to myself or you.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Return from Sedona - The Power of Myofascial Release

"We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face." 
-Eleanor Roosevelt

It has been over a week now since my return from Sedona, where I took a chance at a therapy known as myofascial release.  If you haven't read the previous posts, this was an opportunity to explore a method of healing, which dramatically improved a dear friend's struggle with gastroparesis, amongst other health conditions.  Those of you who have been following me on this journey are probably wondering, "did it help, am I cured, can I eat normally again?"  I've even received messages that if indeed it did they would be on a plane ASAP, ready to get their own treatment.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Post Travel Rest

Well, I've returned home and am getting some much needed R&R as well as catching up with day to day life.  Later this week I will be sharing more about my "leap of faith" Sedona trip and how things proceeded following week 1.  I may not be completely healed as I had hoped but did experience some positive changes emotionally and physically and fully plan on continuing to work towards a happy, healthy body.  

How about you, have you dared to take the leap in believing this will all be behind you one day?  What positive changes have you been able to make since having to slow down and take care of yourself?

Share your experiences here and I look forward to sharing mine soon!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

AZ Week One

Well, I've officially been in AZ over a week now.  I had a bit of a breakdown today (actually everyday but not because of the treatment today).  Sara, the incredible friend I have been blessed to witness overcome GP and travel with, packed her bags and is heading back home.  There are a number of mixed feelings swishing around as I've spent time with her over the past 8 days.  TOTAL awe at her recovery and ability to eat so much now without painful reprocussions.  Then comes jealousy, anger, and sadness that I am still struggling.  These are very honest and expected feelings that I should not be ashamed of.  I mean, who hasn't felt this way when what you want something sooooo much and see it become real for others but not you?  Of course, there is so much love for her and her ability to understand and support me through my own journey it brings tears of joy to my eyes.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Daring Greatly

Three days into my trip and I feel the need to share part of this journey so far.  It is a beautiful, sunny, warm afternoon here in Sedona.  I look out the window and see giant red rocks towering towards the brilliant blue sky. After the nurse came to visit today and change my PICC dressing I couldn't 'help but venture out for a walk around the area, soaking in the rays, running my hands through the red sand and gently touching the strange plants that don't exist in my wet and wild Northwest corner of the country.
As amazing as this all sounds (it is eye candy for sure) my body is struggling to adapt.  There is a place in my head that is strong and vibrant, ready to take on the world!  However, after a 12 hour day of traveling (bus, plane and car) the energy was drained out of me, such as a fish without water.  There are aches and pains, nausea and dizziness that linger. 
The first treatment yesterday left me in awe as to how many layers built up to guard the pain, the trauma, and the fears that lie within.  When asked what emotions were coming up for me, the immediate response was vulnerability.  I don't want to go into details about this feeling but it is there, very real and brings on a sense of fear and weakness.
As I lay here today, trying to do what is always my most difficult challenge, being content with stillness, I picked up my friend's hardcover (with no reference on the front as to what it was). I opened it only to discover it was Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly.  I almost felt too exhausted to read but the first few pages gave me an understanding as to why I was drawn to it.  Brown's writing just happens to be on her extensive study on vulnerability and shame.  Though I've watched her TED Talks (highly recommend!), never have I read her books.  On page 2 she writes, "Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional.  Our only choice is a question of engagement....We must walk into the arena, whatever it may be with courage and the willingness to engage."


This is when my blogging mind kicked in and I couldn't help but share.  Here is the quote I wanted to share most, page 1, from a speech by Theodore Roosevelt.  It defines, in my opinion, how we need to live, and why I continue to explore ways to heal, by daring greatly with hope and perseverance.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the door of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly...."

Friday, October 18, 2013

Another Adventure Begins

At this time tomorrow I will have arrived in Arizona.  Not exactly looking forward to a 7 am flight but I am excited about landing in 80 degree sunshine!  This trip has been in the works for a few months now and thanks to some amazing friends, family and Kona bike company we raised enough money to make it happen.  Many, many thanks to all of you!!!

As you know, I have had gastroparesis for quite a long time now and if you have kept up with my journey over the years you also know how many things I've tried to overcome it.  Some have helped, some not, but each one has given me the strength to continue exploring and not give up.  I have traveled to the east coast to visit John's Hopkins when the SIBO was out of control and wanted expert opinions, which I got (and got rid of!).  I've gone through 2 j-tubes and now TPN.  Over the summer I met with an ND in Vancouver and made weekly visits up there to see an acupuncturist, both who helped someone cure her GP.  Years of yoga, meditation and qi gong classes have helped to ground me during tough times.  Exploring diet modifications, especially a low-FODMAP, helps to keep severe bloating and nausea at bay.  But, in the end, there is still pain and dysmotility, and I'm still on TPN to survive.

Over the summer a dear friend of mine, who also lives in Bellingham, has GP and a j-tube, drastically improved her ability to eat through a treatment called myofascial release, also known as MFR.  A physical or massage therapist trained in this, works with the fascia in the body, connective tissue that surrounds muscles, vessels and nerves.  Throughout our lives this tissue can bind up and cause areas in the body to not be as fluid as they should be, particularly when exposed to physical and/or emotional trauma.
In the future I would like to do an interview with a specialist to provide more detailed information on how this works.  I'm not an expert in MFR and just beginning to understand it.  What I do know is that it has helped many people overcome painful and debilitating health challenges.  I have been working with a practitioner in town over the last couple of months and next I will be seeing a PT who has 20 years experience with clients who travel from all over the country to see her.  I'm doing a 2 week intensive and hoping for the best.

Now just because others have improved doesn't guarantee the same will happen for me.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm crossing my fingers (and toes!) that a miracle happens.  If anything, I just want to be able to eat enough to not rely on TPN.  If it doesn't happen during this trip, I will continue to receive treatment and give it more time.  At the very least, however, it will be a wonderful trip no matter what.  Sedona is known for it's beauty and healing energy.  I look forward and feel blessed to have this chance to get away, go deeper within myself and find content in life's simple pleasures.

That said, I will not be posting on this blog or FB until I return.  It's a perfect chance to "disconnect" from the virtual world and take advantage of the time away.  My notebooks are packed though and I fully plan on journaling.  Wish me luck and wellness and I can't wait to share my adventure with you when I return!

Thank you for your support and allowing me to share this journey with you.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October Giveaway - Chocolate Fudge Orgain!

Orgain has been a life-saver for many who have gastroparesis and aren't able to tolerate solid foods or just simply need some extra calories in their day.  What's great about this beverage is that it is free of refined sugars, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and gluten, includes 23 vitamins and minerals, 16 grams of organic protein, and has 255 calories with only 7 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber.  If would like a chance to win 12 of these creamy chocolate fudge shakes, generously donated by the company for the GP Walk and anyone who might benefit, leave a comment below about why you enjoy this product or why you would like to try it.  One winner will be randomly picked on 10/15!

***Congrats to Lori and Jenna Moon!  You will be contacted regarding details for receiving Orgain.  Thanks everyone for participating!***

Something is Better Than Nothing - An Inspirational Story from Lin

"I believe our minds our powerful healing tools and I have finally enlisted mine to get with the program and work with me."

Over a year ago I was blessed with the opportunity to work with someone very special, who submitted her story of fighting to live with GP and won the giveaway for a 3 month health coaching session.  We connected well over the course of our chats and have continued to stay in touch.  I want to introduce you to Lin, who was kind enough to share her progress recently with some new found insights, exploring myofascial release, and learning to let go.  Her shift in attitude and approach to making the best out of the situation has really inspired me and I hope it does the same for you!  

Lin's Story
By the time I was diagnosed with gastroparesis I’d been sick for several years and was ultimately reduced to a limp dishrag; unable to do much more than lie on the couch and wish for the sweet release of death, which at that point I was pretty sure was right around the corner.  I’d lost over fifteen percent of my body weight (starting from an ideal weight) and I knew that if I would have to spend my life feeling this way I just wanted it to be over.


Lately I've had a lot of questions about soups...of all kinds.  As you well know, there is no one size fits all when it comes to our food choices.  That is why it's best to create "you friendly" meals by combining the ingredients that work best for YOU.  Soup is just about the most forgiving meal to make and so many ways to do so.  Especially this time of year as the weather changes and cold/flu season hits, it can really come in handy.  My kick-the-cold soup is one of my favorites and most comforting food anytime.  It is a basic broth based soup with added carrots, zucchini, ginger, Herbs de Provence seasoning, sea salt, and rice.  Mixing this up is so easy!  If rice doesn't settle for you, simply don't use it or add maybe some potato, sweet potato, or serve with a slice of gluten free bread.  The possibilities are endless but here are some of the staples to building a great soup:

Liquid: - Meat, fish or veggie broth* (preferably homemade).

Vegetables - Choose 1 or 2 - Carrots, peeled zucchini, potato, sweet potato, winter squash, parsnips, pumpkin, green beans (canned), spinach, leeks*, onions*, asparagus*.

Protein - Shredded or ground chicken or turkey breast, fish such as shrimp or cod, tofu if soy settles. 
               Tolerate dairy? Add some milk and/or shredded low-fat cheese.  
               1 cup of homemade meat broth generally has about 5 grams of protein.  You can also add 
               additional with powdered gelatin such as Great Lakes.  

Seasonings - Here is a fantastic chart that includes descriptions of herbs/spices and what they pair best with.  Some of my favorites are thyme, oregano, basil, dill, tumaric, ginger, bay leaf, and a combo of savory herbs called Herbs de Provence.  

- For a thicker, heartier soup the addition of potatoes, white rice, or pasta can be great and create more of a meal if tolerated.  

- Hand mashing or pureeing are options to make it easier to digest, just remember to sip slowly and still "chew" some of the puree to create the digestive enzymes that begin in the mouth.  

- Make sure to simmer veggies until very soft and easy to break down.  Carrots usually take the longest, thinly sliced and cooked over 30 -60 minutes.  

- Add in dried herbs in the beginning and fresh towards the last 5-10 minutes.  Cooked meat can be tossed in at the end or follow instructions for timing and cooking in the soup.  Most take 5 minutes or less when cut in small pieces.  

Have a favorite soup recipe or combination of ingredients?  Share below or on our FB page to give us all some inspiration!  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Heading into Fall

Wow, is October really only a few days away?!  This month (not to mention summer) has flown by but all with good intentions.  September was dedicated to the GP Awareness Walk, which was incredible, followed by more t-shirt orders, donations and putting all of the stats/photos together for the Digestive Health Alliance.  

Last Saturday I woke up feeling pretty good and spent the entire day out supporting my husband and friends at a relay race called the Bellingham Traverse.  It involves a trail run-mountain bike-road bike-road run-kayak.  My dream (amongst many) is to one day take part in this, most likely the road biking.  Seeing everyone there really gave me even more motivation and hope to fight this digestive battle through raising awareness and continuing to explore treatment options (including the ongoing self care plan).  One day I dream to be in it and not on the sidelines.  For now, the sidelines are acceptable though and I must be okay with that.  Sometimes accepting the current situation is the hardest battle.  It's finding that balance between what is and the hope for what may.

If you follow this journey on Facebook then you may know that I've been battling an ugly flu/cold.  After 2+ years of not getting sick I guess I can't be too upset.  In fact, the weather turned just in time when I woke up Sunday to a sore throat and a cool, rainy day.  Perfect for soup making.  A fan of homemade broth, I made what I call kick-the-cold soup, GP style.  Ingredients are simple and include broth, carrots, zucchini, a little white rice, herbs, ginger and small amount of protein such as chicken or shrimp.  Living on this over the week has surprisingly calmed my stomach down after some bad flares.  I'm thankful soup season is here, along with the comforting foods of fall.  

There is lots to share as we head into fall.  I'm excited to post a story from my very first client who has overcome challenges and found ways to drastically improve her symptoms over the past year. Look for this and a giveaway of her favorite GP drink, Orgain, next week via the newsletter and blog!
Also, I will be announcing my plans for a trip to Arizona during the last half of October, exploring some treatment for both the body and mind (and soul if we really get down to it).  The decision has yet to be made whether or not I will be blogging the experience during the trip or when I return.  There is a part of me that feels it may be best to take this time away from the world of computers.  If that is the case, I most definitely plan on journaling and sharing after.
On another note, what ingredient would you like to see used in the fall newsletter recipe? I've been on the kick-the-cold soup-a-thon which is nourishing anytime, but open to ideas 
Feel free to share thoughts and opinions or on the FB post.

Enjoy the weekend and if you haven't signed up for the newsletter you can do so here!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Awareness Walk for GP 2013 Follow Up

Each and every day the week leading to Saturday, September 8th, I checked the weather forecast.  "Please, please let there be sun.  It can rain everyday but not Saturday, please not Saturday!"
Come Friday evening and still a chance of showers.  We had a large tent ready to use as a cover just in case and packed everything up ahead of time  (decorations, t-shirts, printed information to share, auction prizes, Orgain, ginger chews and Macrobars for refreshments, etc) in bins to keep them dry.

I was so excited and nervous that I could hardly sleep and jumped out of bed at the sound of the morning alarm.  Peeking out the window, the dark clouds overhead were covering the sky.  Well, whatever happens, happens and we will make the best of it.  By 9 a.m. the car was packed, including 2 very excited dogs jumping over each other in the back.  Trevor and I arrived to find a few of the volunteers already there ready to go.  The street was filled with farmers market vendors setting up, morning bike riders, and walkers chatting over coffee.  When the market opened at 10, most of the decorations (provided by a very creative Sarah Fredlund, new GP friend in town!) were up and display tables ready to go.

Some of the first to arrive were a few lovely ladies coming from surrounding areas, Lori, Jennifer, and Mechele, not to mention friends and family there to support us.  As you can see from the display table, Sarah generously took time to make tags for all of those who wanted to be here but couldn't make the trip, either due being too sick or too far.  I've received a number of messages to how much this meant to them and will continue this tradition each year forward!

As the market filled up, so did the crowds around the booth, curious about what exactly gastroparesis means, pitching in funds for donations, t-shirts and signing up for the auction prizes.  Lori's heating pads went quickly and the A-wear-ness shirts and jewelry were a hit.  And to top it off, the clouds cleared to a reveal blue skies and bright, warm sunshine!

Noon came quickly and those who were able to walk gathered and started down the trail.  Bellingham is an amazing town when it comes to the trail system, they pretty much connect the entire city.  The walk winds through tree covered paths along the bay and opens up, across the railroad tracks about 1.5 miles down, to a green park and open sea overlooking the San Juan islands beyond.   Perfect place to stretch, rest and take some group pictures.
Some headed back the same way we came and I hopped in the car with checkpoint supplies to ride back.  The adrenaline and movement of the day had me worn out.  I met everyone back at the booth and thanked those who had stayed to watch over and continue raising money and awareness while we marched.  Closing time came quickly and I was feeling quite overwhelmed with gratitude to have the opportunity to meet and educate so many in the community.  As I rested, friends cleaned and packed up all of the belongings.  What a success the day turned out to be!

There are still orders coming in for the t-shirts and necklaces but as of this week we have raised approx. $2,100!  Last year it was over $3,000 so a little short but I am excited because there are close to 100 awareness t-shirts from this year (close to 200 including last years) being worn all over the country, spreading the word about this walk and opening conversations to what it is all about.
To view all of the pictures from the walk you can click on this link to the Flickr Photo Album.

A HUGE thanks to....
Our talented friend Bryan Malley, who created this fun and funky design as well as all the artwork for T's, fliers and posters.  Also to Amjay for donating the printing of all 100 t-shirts.

Our Sponsors this year: ThriveRx, Hoagland Pharmacy, Blendtec, Orgain and CarrDorsch Family Dental.

Orgain and GoMacro for supplying protein rich and GP friendly refreshments to support the volunteer team and share with walkers and community.

The auction items from Blendtec (2 fancy blenders), RoibaGear riding helmets, Trader Joe's gift bag, CB Nuts peanut butter jars, and Starbucks package.

Lori for your comforting heating pads and Sarah for the jewelry, display work, and helping me tidy up the A-wear-ness packages with pretty green ribbon ;)

Our AMAZING set of friends who volunteered there time to planning and making this event happen both years: Stephanie, Lindsey, Alyssa, Sue and Angi, love you girls!

Trevor, Bryan, and Randy for the timeless photos and awesome manpower.

Jill Godsey from the Digestive Health Alliance for helping to guide us along with the planning.  And of course the DHA for providing a non-profit way to raise money for future research in hopes to finding a cure for Gastroparesis.

AND, last but definitely not least, to everyone who supported the event through donations, support and cheering us on!!!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Blendtec Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Lin M., you are the owner of a brand new Blendtec!  Your name was chosen through random.org for the A-wear-ness Package giveaway.  An email will be sent to you with details regarding shipping.

Thanks to everyone who participated, how much I wish I could send everyone a blender.  You should receive your lovely awareness packages in the mail by Monday but hopefully Saturday (tomorrow!), the day of the 2nd Annual GP Awareness Walk.

Look for lots of pictures to be posted on FB as the event goes on and a followup on the blog soon after.

Wish us luck and sunshine!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

"Together we can do what we can never do alone."
-Unknown (Yogi Tea)

In less than one week we will be talking the talk and walking the walk at the 2nd Annual Awareness Walk for Gastroparesis!  Sponsors are signed up, including Blendtec, Orgain, ThriveRx, as well as a few of local business's.  100 fun and funky green t-shirts have been ordered with half of them already sold and will go into print on Tuesday.  A local GP'er and talented artist, Sarah Fredlund, has dedicated her time to creating beautiful awareness necklaces, name cards to hang for those who cannot make it and fancy green tablecloths to cover the display tables.  The same wonderful friends that helped make it happen last year are on it once again to make sure every detail is in place.  
Together we CAN make a difference.  To have this opportunity, to not only raise funds specifically for GP research but to raise awareness and educate the community of the affect this illness has on millions of lives, gives me hope.  Hope is necessary for survival, the light at the end of the tunnel, because I truly believe the answers are out there.  I've seen others get better and hope to share some of these stories this fall in addition to my own journey of exploring treatment options.  

Look for pictures from the event, which will be posted on the website in a couple of weeks!  

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Carrot and Parsnip Puree

When it comes to a GP friendly diet it really varies individually.  Lately I've been calling it the "MF" diet, otherwise known as my-friendly!  However, it's hard to go wrong when it comes to a soft vegetable puree.  While it is tempting to go the easy route with store bought baby food, you can make your own blends at home that taste SO much better.  I would like to share one of my favorites inspired by my friend Lindsay, who writes for the blog Day by Day Gluten Free  What I love about this site is that she shares her weekly menu, creating meal plans that can satisfy her family as well as foods she can eat that are both gluten free and tummy friendly.  Click here for her delicious recipe on her website.  Directions are also posted below.  

Note: I have replaced butter with coconut oil.   

Carrot and Parsnip Puree


2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 medium parsnips, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bunch of carrots, peeled and diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 small onion, coarsely chopped*
1 clove garlic*
1/2 cup homemade chicken or vegetable broth


Blend butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Transfer vegetables to a food processor or blender and puree.  
Serve and store rest in a container for fridge or ice cube trays for future veggie cubes!

*To make it low FODMAP, saute the garlic and onion in the oil and take out before adding the vegetables.

Monday, August 5, 2013

$3000 Giveaway and Help Give Me Hope!

Well, it's not exactly a giveaway but it might as well be for what you have the chance of winning!

Hmm, where do I start?  This is honestly a bit awkward for me, that is to ask for help.  My focus for so long has been to help others, to find answers for those of you who are having such a challenging time finding hope and ways to live with this illness.  In fact, I'm still convinced there is hope because I have personally met those who have overcome gastroparesis.  I am more determined than ever to one day be one of these stories because I truly believe our bodies can heal.

So now I must ask you for your help on my own journey AND give you the chance to win a $3000 Kona Cadabra mountain bike!  Not interested or able to take on mountain biking (I personally had to give this up when I got sick)?  Recycle this prize and use it to raise money for your own journey to wellness by selling it or having another auction.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Awareness Walk Donation = Exciting A-wear-ness Package!

The Awareness Walk for Gastroparesis 2013 is right around the corner with only 7 weeks to go!  This year we are doing our best to raise funds for research but even more motivated to spread awareness around the globe.  Friends, family, doctors, dentists, grocery store checkers, you name it...they need to see this invisible illness that lives inside us and realize the affect it has on millions of lives.  Do you or a loved one battle with GP?  By wearing it on the outside those around us become curious, ask questions and eventually may want to do something about it.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Seeing the Moon Behind the Trees

I was sitting outside on the back patio tonight, overwhelmed with what has happened the last couple of days.  Beyond the fence stand giant cedars, branches reaching out in every direction, blocking views of the sky beyond.  These branches are like the obstacles we face, so many and so thick that often it's hard to see through the thick of it.  But I hear birds chirping and notice a faint glow surrounding them.  So instead of sitting there, slumped over feeling sorry for myself, I get up and slowly walk across the yard, cool green grass under my bare feet.  I look behind the trees and there it is.  The moon is big and bright, like a crystal ball waiting to tell me my fortune.  Sometimes when we can't see the light, we might just have to find another angle to look from.    

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Post Procedure: Healing with Love, Rest and Soup

Another procedure survived!  It's sad when going under anesthesia becomes as common as the yearly check up, especially at the age of 32.  I can't even actually count how many times I've been through it, though it still feels like a strange and confusing place to be.  When we arrived at the clinic, my husband in tow with our entertainment bag of phones, Ipads and magazines, I went through the usual paperwork (no, I don't need a copy of the HIPPA practices I have signed a hundred plus times), clinical questions and dressing in the oversized hospital gown that makes you feel like you have disappeared under a king size bed sheet.  T and I got cozy, him playing a game on Ipad and me drooling over summer recipes in the latest Real Simple (don't ask me why I torture myself).

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Goodbye J-Tube #2

Well the time has finally arrived.  Tomorrow at 9:45 am I will be admitted into the hospital as an outpatient for a minor procedure (laporoscopic) to remove my second j-tube.  It's exactly 12 hours until this time comes and though I'm more than excited to have it out, I'm equally scared and anxious to once again "go under."
The surgeon who placed the tube back in January completely disagrees with the decision to get rid of it.  Yep, the tube that has not been used in 6 months, caused me to feel worse when I did use it, and not to mention the daily pain and bleeding I currently struggle with because of it.  In fact, he was so confident that he proceeded to tell me that if I don't have it as a back up and my TPN fails "you will certainly die."  Seriously?  Is that the kind of support and compassion we should be getting from our doctors, the ones we are paying so much money to so that we CAN get help?  "What is your plan B?" he continues.  Hmmm, I can sure tell you it's not coming back to see you Dr. P!  And it's certainly not a tube sticking out of me that does nothing for my well being but cause more trouble.

Thankfully, I do have an amazing primary care doc who has provided me with confidence and support so that other's don't take me down.  I know this is the right decision.  And as far as plan b...one day at a time, breathing my way through each moment with hope that I will get better.  There is no cure so this is all we have, HOPE.  I've personally met people who have recovered and they continue to be the light at the end of the tunnel.

Wish me luck on a quick recovery and will be back to write about what's next on this Journey!

Monday, July 8, 2013

July Giveaway: Barlean's Coconut Oil

When I was initially diagnosed with GP fat, became an instant fear as I'm sure many of you can relate to.  However, with the encouragement of the right dietitians and friends, I learned how to include the right fats in small amounts.  After doing some research, coconut oil seemed to be the friendliest one to incorporate and I have been hooked since.  For myself and those I've worked with this seems to digest the best out of most choices for fats.  It is rich in lauric and caprylic acids, great source of medium-chain triglycerides (easier to break down than long-chain), and may support the structure and function of the immune system, cardiovascular system healthy metabolism and energy production, as well as body, skin and hair care.  

Barlean's is a local company here in Bellingham that supplies high quality, organic, non-GMO and gluten free products.  Not only have they been a big supporter of the GP Walk but have generously donated a 16 oz jar for this months giveaway!

For a chance to win you must be subscribed to the newsletter.  Just leave a comment below, either on your favorite way to use coconut oil or what you would like to try using it for.  Look for the name randomly picked on July 16th!

***Note, changed date from 15th to Tuesday the 16th.

To read more about the benefits of coconut oil you can go to the last year's blog post for lots of delicious details.  Look forward to hearing your ideas!

Congratulations Trish O., your name was randomly chosen for the Barlean's giveaway!  Look for an email with details.  Thanks everyone for the comments, I might have to include another giveaway for coconut oil in the future :)

Recipe: Homemade Turkey Loaf and Burgers

Recipe: Homemade Turkey Loaf

This is a recipe that my dear friend Lori and I have adapted from the book Eating Alive II, finding it to digest quite well if animal protein works well with you.  Fat is limited with the use of lean turkey meat and easier to metabolize coconut oil.  Spinach is a wonderful green that, when cooked, works well for most.  If not an option then an alternative recipe for turkey burgers is also posted below.

Wonderful served with roasted sweet potatoes or pureed squash, or a couple slices of avocado and low fat baked potato chips!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Blendtec Helping to Raise GP Awareness

It's only a few months away from the 2nd annual Awareness Walk for Gastroparesis and I'm so excited about this year's big sponsor.  Blendtec has generously donated 2 of their incredible "super" blenders,  as I like to call them, to help us raise money that will go towards research specifically for GP through the Digestive Health Alliance.

As you can see on the package, they like to say it will "Make Life Smoother," which I could not agree more.  One of the biggest challenges for anyone with digestive disorders is the ability to take in enough nutrition.  Healthy fruits like berries, and veggies such as spinach become a thing of the past for some.  Blendtec is beyond powerful with a blade that spins at over 300 mph and up to 5 times faster than other blenders.  This technology has serisously changed my life!  I'm able to toss in fresh grown strawberries from my garden, cook vegetables and puree them for soups or cubes to freeze and I've even made pumpkin coconut milk ice cream for a tasty treat.

I'm sure you are curious as to how we are going to use the blenders to raise money.  Aside from the sponsors donating funds and prizes, the money used for research needs to come from anyone and everyone we can reach out to.  In addition, it is all about spreading awareness.  To accomplish both we will be selling the t-shirts again this year, which have a funky design that will catch the attention of those around you AND every dollar spent goes directly towards research (see here for more about how last year's funds are being used).
Here is where the Blendtec comes in.  For every t-shirt donation your name will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win.  Not only are you getting a snazzy T that will have people asking more about GP, plus giving funds to a cause that will hopefully provide us with a cure one day, and there is a possibility to win one of these amazing blenders!
Note, this pre-sale will end August 15th in order to go to print.  Shirts will be mailed out first week of September.  This gives us an estimate of how many to purchase from American Apparel and the necessary funds ahead of time for the actual order.    

Options for donating: Cost - $20 + shipping ($5 ships up to 4 shirts)
-You can go to this link for information about a-wear-ness packages.
Live in or near Bellingham?  Send me an email and I'm happy to meet up with you to save shipping costs!

To find out more about details for this year's walk go to this link.  Questions?  Please let me know by email or in the comments below.  Now let's spread awareness and raise some funds!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Post-Travel Updates

It's been awhile since I posted here or sent out a newsletter, despite how many things I would love to write about. In fact there are a number of drafts started but yet to be completed.  I've been a little distracted with life lately (which you can usually find my updates on Facebook) and just returned back to Bellingham after 3 weeks in Kansas (there really is no place like home!).  It's taking some time to rest and recover from traveling.  Between the heat, staying busy with friends and family, and the flights, I'm exhausted! 

A few quick updates:

Treatment Plan - Check out what I am doing now to manage and hopefully improve symptoms of GP.  This website was created to help raise some necessary funds to make this possible and share part of the journey as I explore options.  

Registered dietitian and FODMAP guru, Kate Scarlata, asked me to share a post about implementing the FODMAP diet with GP.  Her website has been incredibly informative and a positive inspiration for me this past year.  You can find the link here.

The Awareness Walk for Gastroparesis is in the planning stages and will be happening September 7th in Bellingham, WA.  There are a couple other potential locations that some are working on putting together so I will keep you updated.  T-shirts will be up for pre-sale soon with an exciting opportunity to be entered into a special drawing for a big prize!  More details to come this next week.  

And lastly, the next newsletter will be coming out in July after a 3 month hiatus!  If you have a favorite recipe you would like to share and have featured please email me at stephanie@journeywithwellness.com.  

The one ingredient to include for July: coconut oil

Thank you to my readers who have sent me such kind emails about how this website has helped you on your own journey!  It is so comforting to know other enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing :)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Low-FODMAP Garden - Spring

Now that spring has arrived and summer is just around the corner, it's time to grow some of my own foods!  Keep in mind these plants may not work for everyone.  I love to experiment and try new foods in small amounts to bring some color and nutrients into a restricted diet.  When prepared right, you might be surprised what you CAN have.

Following a low-FODMAP diet has probably been the best dietary change I've made to not only help get rid of the bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) last fall, but has continued to provide relief from bloating and nausea.  If you haven't seen my GP guide to this food list you can check it out here.

Stage one of the garden includes the following so far:

Strawberries - Juiced or added to smoothies using a Vitamix/Blendtec.
Chives - Chopped finely and added to soups or really any dish.  Otherwise, can be used for flavor in soups/broth, then removed before serving.

Zucchini - Cooked and used in soups and such as Bieler Broth, or a side/sauce with zucchini ribbons.

Romaine - Juiced
Spinach - Juiced, steamed and pureed, smoothies, omelette
Bok Choy - Soups (pureed if needed), omelette

Next on the list to plant include carrots, squash, herbs, and cucumbers!  Whatever I don't or can't use will go to friends who would love fresh, homegrown produce :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pizza Dreams and Mindful Awakenings

My eyes slowly opened, a dull light shining in through the shaded window telling me morning had arrived.  Normally I roll over, do a few of my favorite stretches in bed and begin the day.  Today, my dreams called me back to sleep.  Back to a world where I was about to order a large slice of pizza followed by a wall of desserts to choose from.  I allowed myself to drift off, returning to the tantalizing aromas of melted cheese and fresh tomato sauce.  However, when the slice came I realized I forgot to mention I was gluten free so they had to make me a new one.  Patiently waiting, it came again only to realize the cheese was not going to settle and the tomato sauce would give me heartburn.  Hmmm, it's not really the pizza I was hoping for without flour, tomatoes or cheese.  Darn it!  Everyone around me was stuffing their faces with pizza, pasta and mini cheesecakes while I sat on the sidelines, hungry and heartbroken.

I'm not writing this to tease you with what we may not be able to enjoy, but as a way of sharing the challenges we face, even subconsciously.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Treatment Plan Continues

Well, I keep promising to update this new adventure of mine in GP treatment but time keeps getting the best of me.  If you read the post that shared a video from Tess, a woman who recovered from her own battle, I am following in her footsteps, lucky enough to live within 90 miles of the clinics.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

SIBO Test Results



I'm beyond ecstatic to know that something is going right!  Since treating the small intestinal bacterial overgrowth back in October and following a low-FODMAP diet, I was pretty sure the results would be good.  Prior to that, even a bite of potato or really any starch for that matter, caused me to bloat up like a melon.  Though the struggle with GP continues (mostly early satiety and pain, difficulty keeping on weight), it is nice to be able to be more flexible with foods and know for sure there is no more of that bacteria creeping and crawling around.  

Now it's time to focus on the new path to wellness, dive into the treatment plan ahead of me, fingers crossed and sharing my journey along the way.

Thanks to all of you out there who have encouraged and supported me along the way!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Inspiring Video: Story of a Girl Who Cured Her GP

"It is better to believe than to disbelieve; in so doing you bring everything to the realm of possibility. 
-Albert Einstein

I recently came across a video on YouTube titled Gastroparesis (GERD) Cured, My Journey to Recovery.  Of course this intrigued me as would anyone so I quickly clicked on the link, anticipating a story that was probably too good to be true.

A beautiful voice began singing Blackbird by the Beatles, the sound so sweet it gave me chills.  Tess, diagnosed with severe idiopathic gastroparesis and GERD, begins by going over the definitions and prognosis of both, then talks about her experience as she became sicker and sicker, and the limited options that were available in Western medicine, none of which provided her relief.  Both her and her mother began exploring alternative options which led them to visit Dr. Matsen, a naturopathic doctor, as well as a doctor of Chinese medicine, Dr. Che, both in Vancouver, B.C.  Between the two, she slowly started a path to wellness and within a year fully recovered.  With the help of a family friend, they were able to create this professional video, hoping reach out and to give others hope.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Testing Testing 1,2,3 - Take 1

Are you familiar with the ways in which gastroparesis is diagnosed?  The "gold standard" is the gastric emptying study, also known as GES.  By eating food that contains a small amount of radiation, images can be taken to trace movement and the amount of time in which food takes to travel through the stomach.  The trouble with this test is how much it varies from place to place.  Some last 2 hours and others 4.  Different foods may be served, fasting times may vary with 12 hrs being typical, some are requested to stop medications for 24-48 hrs and others not.  I was introduced to this this study in 2008,  first a 2 hr test with oatmeal and an egg, second was a 4 hr test using a whole egg with white (wheat) toast.  Both showed a majority of the food remained in my stomach.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Just Cube It! Preparing and Freezing Purees

This has to be one of my favorite tips for cooking with gastroparesis, or really anyone for that matter!

It's a lovely Sunday afternoon and I am heading out to play soon but couldn't help but share this tasty tip.  While scrambling an egg + white for breakfast, it was quick, easy and nutritious to add a cube of pureed spinach.  This meal took about 3 minutes to make, providing a good source of protein, fat and greens.

What I have cubed in the freezer now: pumpkin, butternut squash, roasted pureed zucchini, spinach, bieler broth, coconut milk, carrot chicken soup, carrot ginger soup, and homemade chicken broth.

It's so easy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

GP Gela-tea - REAL Food Jello!

Recently, I have been asked to share some recipes for those on a liquid diet.  What immediately came to mind was the food served that is served in the hospital, when the doctor insist on nothing but Ensure, juice and wiggly, bright colored jello.  What often surprises me is, though suffering from a serious disorder of the digestive system, in times of crisis we are often given "foods" that aren't even real and could possibly worsen symptoms.  The main ingredients found in jello are: gelatin, water, sugar, artificial flavors and food coloring.  Is that really what someone in serious need of nourishment should be consuming?  Hmmm...that is a topic that could be debated for hours so lets move on to the good stuff.

Post 100: What's Been Said and Done in 2 Years of Blogging

Wow, can you believe this is now post 101?  It makes me wonder how many people have actually read them all, it's almost like a novel by now!  There are hundreds of views from all over the world, every day, which makes every moment worth it and continues to give me reason to write.  Seeing this motivated me to look back, reliving some of the good and bad times over the last couple of years.  I'm thinking about printing each one out and starting a little binder, to have a tangible piece of this experience just in case, God forbid, the computer/internet crashed and all was lost.

Just in case you haven't been following from the beginning, I thought I would provide a breakdown of some of the highlights including good times, rough patches, and popular posts since July of 2011.  In addition, recipes are listed in categories to make it easier to find.  Hope you have found this helpful and enjoy catching up, possibly relating to this crazy journey over the last couple of years!

Beautiful Awareness! April Jewelry Giveaway

One of our lovely GP friends, Lora Howard, has created a wonderful way to spread gastroparesis awareness by creating beautiful, custom made jewelry.  I was so excited when I checked out her website and saw how fun and affordable the designs were, and immediately ordered the porcelain awareness bracelet. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

PBS Station Talks About GP

Award winning PBS show, Call the Doctor, recently did a show on gastroparesis.  The talk begins with the host reviewing what GP is as well as a few statistics, one being the fact that this incurable disorder affects more than 1.5 million Americans alone.

Monday, March 18, 2013

"But You Look So Good! Before You Know It..."

Are you familiar with an invisible illness?  Do you find yourself feeling ungrateful for being upset when someone tells you how much better or good you look, yet inside there is still the daily struggle of pain, nausea, fatigue, and so on?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Baby Steps

Have you ever seen the movie with Bill Murray, "What About Bob?"  I recently suggested this to a friend to bring in some giggles and help cheer her up with the good belly aches.  A part that always makes me laugh is his (Bob's) interpretation of what his psychologist suggests doing, taking baby steps to improving his crazy mind.  Throughout the movie, whenever he feels overwhelmed he literally shuffles his feet forward, repeating "baby steps, baby steps."

I might not be that crazy but whenever moving a tiny step forward with my health, this becomes my mantra, even if previously moving many steps in reverse.  Sort of like looking at the glass half full.  It may not be where I want to be but it's something!

With TPN, I'm supposed to gain around 1-2 pounds a week.  The first month I went up 6 but the last 2 weeks it has remained the same, 99 lbs.  The plan is to increase the formula (even though between current formula and food intake I'm getting 2000 calories a day!) next week.  That said, I was just ecstatic when I weighed myself this morning and finally, finally it said 100.00!  As my mother keeps saying, soon you will hit the century mark.  Well mom, it happened, and though I still have a long ways to go, this is a baby step I am grateful for!

I'm going to celebrate with a brisk walk on the beach with Luna and her pal Rocky.  Then back to rest and relaxation, possibly a GP friendly chocolate smoothie for a treat ;)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Moroccan Spiced Sweet Potatoes

This morning I posted on the Journey with GP Facebook page about my simple breakfast for the day and of course a recipe was requested!

"Small cup of Perfect Energy tea, 1 egg + egg white scramble with a few pieces of leftover Moroccan spiced, steamed sweet potato."

The spice blend used includes some wonderful digestive aids and releases a sweet, exotic aroma in the air.  I was inspired by a dish I used to make years ago, Moroccan chicken with almond couscous, when we engaged more in dinner parties, entertaining friends through food and drinks.  For my best friend's surprise 30th birthday party, I had the entire stove top covered with multiple pans, simmering mounds of spiced chicken in broth, shallots and fresh dates.  She still talks about that dinner to this day!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bieler Broth - Nourishing Green Soup

Looking for a way to incorporate more vegetables in your GP diet?  After a long fall/winter of potatoes, yams, squashes and carrots, this is a refreshing and light soup that digest easily.  It was created by Dr. Henry Bieler, author of Food is Your Best Medicine.  I've adjusted the recipe to include the taste of celery but not the actual blend, as it is often not well tolerated on our stomachs.  Both zucchini and green beens are excellent sources of potassium and sodium.  
When prepared and cooked right these green veggies digest surprisingly well.  Add in some simmered ginger and fresh parsley, both wonderful digestive aids, and you have a nourishing soup.