How I Reclaimed My Sexuality After Being Diagnosed with a Chronic Illness

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How I Reclaimed My Sexuality After Being Diagnosed with a Chronic Illness

Gastroparesis (stomach paralysis) is a rare stomach condition that only affects around 200,000 people a year. This may sound like a substantial number but only around 200,000 people out of the billions of people on the planet are affected and most of those counted have been diagnosed for many years.

It is a chronic and painful condition that has no cure and almost no medicine that can help. This condition can be caused in several ways such as damage to your vagus nerve during surgery, type one diabetes, and hyperthyroidism.

It is associated with slow digestion which can result in serious diseases and causes great pain and discomfort to the individual. Most people who are affected have problems with dehydration, and malnutrition, and can form bezoars in their stomachs made from compact undigested food, this can be very painful and uncomfortable.

Being Diagnosed With a Chronic Illness

When I was eighteen, I was unfortunately diagnosed with GP after undergoing surgery for a hernia and very severe reflux. During the surgery, my doctor damaged my vagus nerve and little did I know that this surgery that was supposed to increase my quality of life had now caused me even greater turmoil for the rest of my life.

I am now 23 years old and am on a liquid diet 24/7. I cannot eat solid foods because they can make me extremely sick and cause me a great amount of pain. I do not drink any milk, no bread, no pop, nothing.

After almost five years of living with this condition, you would think that I would have gotten used to it by now, but that is far from the case. When I was first diagnosed, I had already been sexually active. I had a long-time boyfriend of many years, and we were happy...until I got sick.

Feeling Unattractive In My Body

For a time after my surgery, I was in and out of the hospital and was in pain every day. The last thing I was thinking about was sex. I was losing weight and then gaining it back, trying to feel comfortable in my new body. I had never felt more unattractive or more depressed.

My partner tried to understand but sex was a big part of his language of love. I could not comfortably fulfil those needs in the physical or mental state that I was in at the current time.

Somedays I would just force myself to get through the pain just to make him happy, but after another year of struggling, we separated for good.

I found myself alone and still struggling to find myself. Somedays were good, but then on others, I was so bloated I could not move and just found myself lying in bed and crying. This went on for a time until I realized that I could not and would not live my life this way anymore. I buckled down and found myself again.

I learned what foods did and did not work for me. I started walking and working out. I slowly began to climb out of the suffocating shell my diagnoses had thrust me into. Even though I now weighed more than I ever had before, I began to realize that the only person whose opinion mattered was my own.

I'm More Than My Diagnosis

I am still far from being comfortable with my diagnosis. I do not usually tell anyone or bring it up because the last thing I want is for anyone to see me as different.

Eventually, I was able to realize that sex is not bad. I can have it comfortably and I should never have to push myself to do it to make someone else happy. Now I like sex, I like to feel sexy and to feel comfortable in my own skin.

All my scars internal and external are not things to look at and be ashamed of. They are a sign of an ongoing struggle that I am fighting and winning every day. Somedays may be more of a struggle than others, but I know that if I make it through those bad days a good one is somewhere peaking over the horizon.

I know now that it is okay to not be okay. It is okay to be sick, it does change who I am and if it does, I would like to think of it changing me for the better.

Gastroparesis Awareness Month

August is Gastroparesis awareness month and I hope that by writing this blog I can bring awareness to this not-well-known condition and give hope and comfort to anyone else who may be going through the same issues.

Even if it is not GP and you are struggling with any other sickness or condition there is always hope even if it does not feel like it.

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