Having Gastroparesis has changed my life. It isn’t just about the food I can’t eat anymore, but about the emotions that revolve around the loss.
When you are diagnosed with Gastroparesis, you actually begin to experience the five stages of grief. Although acceptance is the final stage, denial and grief are often revisited by many – including myself.
Perhaps it was denial that brought me to the point of staring down a lettuce leaf this week. Or perhaps it was a sense of hope. Either way, it was a life changing moment. A moment between me and a bit of lettuce. Go figure.
Ever since I developed GP I’ve told people that when I die, if I go to heaven I want to be greeted with a medium rare steak and a Caesar salad. These are two things that can never pass my lips that I miss more than anything I’ve given up.
Interestingly, over the last year I’ve been able to add a few things to my diet that I wasn’t able to eat before. GP is a funny thing. You might be able to eat something daily for a year and have it cause extreme pain on day 366. But lettuce? Not worth the risk.
That is, until I decided it WAS worth the risk. At least for the moment. Recently I successfully ate green peppers on a turkey sub. My friend asked, “How is it you can eat green peppers but you can’t touch a lettuce leaf?” This caused me to stop dead in my tracks. And wonder….
Monday I found myself in front of a salad. The first one I’ve made at home in two years. Everyone dug in, while I took two small lettuce leaves lightly coated with dressing.
The kids enjoyed their dinner, completely unaware of my struggle. I stared at the lettuce, feeling actual fear as my fork neared it. And then moved away. After all, one bite of lettuce can double me over – and I don’t fall easily to pain.
Finally, with my heart beating faster, I stabbed a piece and put it in my mouth. And then I savored as time stood still.
Oh my goodness. How I have missed the crispy cold feel of lettuce in my mouth. The taste. The crunch. It was sheer heaven. After I swallowed I felt a wave of panic. I had done the unthinkable and might possibly pay dearly for that one moment of paradise.
Amazingly, those two pieces of lettuce did not cause any severe pain that night. The next day I was nauseous, meaning the lettuce was probably still in my stomach. However, nausea is a normal thing for me, so I will never know if it was truly the culprit. I plan to test it again one day soon. On a day when I feel brave. Just not today.
For now, I have a recent memory of the taste, feel and smell of icy crisp lettuce. How strange that something so normal to most is now a forbidden treasure to me. A treasure that I was able to re-visit for a single and unexpected moment.