“I can be bitter or I can be better.”
This is the motto of Lisa G., a determined woman who is living with gastroparesis, a condition that causes a delayed emptying of the stomach and can drastically affect the daily life of anyone who has the condition. As part of her gastroparesis diet regimen, Lisa uses Peptamen®, a nutritionally-complete formula specifically designed for people who have limited ability to or who cannot digest or absorb nutrients from conventional foods.
Lisa infuses the formula through a feeding tube, ensuring that she gets the nutrition she needs to live her life to the fullest, enjoying time with her husband Rick, two sons, and two grandchildren, as well as running her own floor covering business.
Lisa sat down with a group of Nestlé Health Science employees as part of the company’s Connections program to tell her story and provide insight into what living with gastroparesis and sticking with a gastroparesis diet regimen is really like.
Community is key when you are living with gastroparesis
Lisa gives her support system of friends and neighbors credit for helping her persevere during the year and a half that she was in and out of the hospital. “My husband and I would come home and they’d be doing yard work, they’d be fixing our flower beds, mowing our yard. They put plants and a waterfall by my bedroom door so I could see these things from my bed,” she says. “They couldn’t fix me physically, but they wanted to fix me emotionally.”
Others helped her floor covering business continue to run even when she couldn’t keep it operating on her own. “We went around to all of the contractors we worked with and just gave them a key to our business. So when they had customers that needed floor covering, they would take the customers in and let them pick out their floor covering. They would call me at the hospital and I would order it. Our business ran by itself for about a year,” Lisa’s husband, Rick, says.
The proper gastroparesis diet regimen gives her strength
It took a while before the doctor cleared her to go on a gastroparesis diet regimen using a feeding tube. But once Lisa began using Peptamen® formula to meet her dietary needs, she noticed a difference. “I remember getting up one morning, I had been on Peptamen® formula for a while, and I laid there in bed and I was like, ‘Wow. There’s sunshine.’
I meant sunshine in me. So, I got up and said, ‘I’m going to work today.’”
Have bag, will travel!
Going on vacation isn’t always simple when you are living with gastroparesis. “I refused to travel for a while, because it was embarrassing to carry an IV pole wherever I went,” Lisa says. “My daughter-in-law came up with the idea of using a camera tripod. We hang the IV bag from it so I can look like everybody else when I check into a motel. No one knows I have to follow a gastroparesis diet regimen.”
The future holds more adventures
Despite Lisa’s initial reluctance to travel while living with gastroparesis, her passion for adventure has returned with vigor. “I’ve got a lot of ground to cover now. I go travel. I’ve gone on cruises. I’ve gone snorkeling because the doctor said I couldn’t. I wanted to. I got five minutes in the ocean, but I did it. And then I had to send pictures to my doctor to prove that I did go snorkeling. So, anything that they tell me I can’t do, I get bullheaded about it and say I’m going to do it anyway. I don’t want this to completely control my life,” Lisa says.
“I find challenges. Next, I want to run a marathon, even though they say I can’t because it’s hard with the feeding tube.
I will do it. It may take me a long time, but I’ll do it.”
Want to know more about living with gastroparesis?
Read our Q&A on gastroparesis with Cindy Lowen, Nestlé Health Science Medical Scientific Liaison.
For information on tube feeding visit an online guide for tube feeding information and resources.