Saturday, August 20, 2011

Running on Empty - Awareness Week Blog by Penny Rorrer

You know how it is, you are running late for something and though your gas gauge on your car reads empty you push it because you don’t have time to stop and fill the tank… after all even though the gauge ‘says’ it is empty it is not really empty, there is always some gas in there and you are willing to take the risk to get things done.
The next thing you know your car gives a lurch… was that a stall?
Oh, come on… just a few more miles…
You find yourself trying to make deals with your car, trying to reason with it, making bargains.
“Come on, just a few more miles…” you say as you pat the dashboard, “I will fill you up after I am done and even go through the car wash if you make it just a few more miles.”
This is what it is like to live with a body with an empty tank as well.
Think about it… what is the body’s fuel tank?
Your stomach!
What would happen to you could not fill your tank with food, or if you had to put what everyone else considers low quality food in it because that was the only thing your engine could work with or you had a clogged fuel line and the fuel you put in could not get from the tank to your body?
This is what living with Digestive Tract Paralysis is like.
We can’t eat full meals to fill our stomachs because of nerve damage in our digestive tract and that means that we are always running on low fuel.
The food we can eat is not the healthy choices that nutritionists recommend… fresh fruits and vegetables are good for you because they are full of fiber and packed with nutrients. Your stomach must work hard to break down these foods to extract the nutrients, but if your stomach is weak I cannot grind the food to set those and release those nutrients. Instead those foods sit in your ‘tank’ for hours on end because even thoroughly chewed foods are mini clogs at the base of the stomach. This means that bacteria present on all foods (no matter how well washed) have time to multiply and they in turn break down the food their own way creating gas and toxins so no matter how fresh the food is going in it is rotting in your stomach’s heat. Then those little clogs try to pass out of the stomach and it is a tight fit, so they cause pain as they pass, or your stomach protests the pain and increasing pressure and you vomit it back up.
It is not a fun way to live, but you have no choice in the matter because even if you use a lower grade food (over processed foods, the arch nemesis of nutritionists) knowing that your body will be able to extract any nutrients available easier the fuel might have changed but the engine is still the same and you will still feel the effects of your broken digestive tract… with the added benefit of less nutrition from the foods you are able to eat.
This means that you will always be running on empty, your body’s engine always starving for just a little more fuel than you can take in and it will break down.
It is not a matter of ‘if’ but a matter of ‘when’ and how often it happens.
You can try to bargain with it… try to beg it to just make it through another hour or let you see your child’s play or make a family get-together, but like a car running on fumes you will be stranded by it, often when you needed it most.
People who do not suffer from Digestive Tract Paralysis just cannot understand what it is like… after all, what is more natural than eating?
I heard a quote on the “Food Network” on TV the other night that really struck a chord “Eating is the one great unifier of the world, the one thing we all have in common, it is what unites us”.
“No,” I thought, “it is not.”

1 comment:

  1. Excellent blog as usual describe things so well metaphorically!