Advice for Teens
The symptoms of gastroparesis can sometimes disrupt your school and social life. Having to manage gastroparesis symptoms can interrupt classes or cause you to miss class altogether. You might also feel fatigued and have issues concentrating.
It can help to let teachers and school administrators know that you have gastroparesis so they can help support you as much as possible. Your doctor can help with this by writing a letter to your teachers/school explaining what your condition is and the impact it might have for you.
Most schools have a disability coordinator that can communicate with teachers on your behalf. Your gastroparesis might flare up unpredictably and your disability coordinator can work with your teachers to manage your schoolwork when this happens.
If your symptoms are particularly severe or frequent, you may also consider flexible schooling options (e.g. distance education). This can allow you to keep on top of your schoolwork even if you’re not in the classroom.
A lot of people don’t know much about gastroparesis. Letting your friends know what it is and how it affects you can help them understand what you’re going through.
You might not feel comfortable discussing the details of your symptoms, but sharing some of your experience can help you feel less alone. If you don’t want to spend much time talking about gastroparesis with your friends, you can also direct them to an online resource to help them understand.
You may also want to explore support groups for young people with chronic conditions (e.g. ChiPS). These groups can help you connect with other young people who are having similar experiences.
Transitioning from a paediatric doctor to an adult doctor
Depending on your age and time of diagnosis, you may at some point need to transition from a paediatric (i.e. child) to an adult doctor.
This isn’t always easy, as you may have built up a relationship with your paediatric doctor over many years. The dynamic between you and your doctor changes after transitioning to adult care. You will find that your doctor’s enquiries are no longer directed at your parents but at you. You will also likely take a bigger role in managing your appointments and medications.
If you are unsure or worried about transitioning to adult care, then discuss this with your doctor. They can help make the process easier and expand your knowledge regarding your medical care, making you feel more confident about taking a leading role in your treatment.
Body image issues
Gastroparesis might make you feel embarrassed at times. The symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting, bloating) and treatments (e.g. restricted diets, feeding tubes) might make you feel anxious about your body and how you are perceived by others.
It is important to discuss these feelings with someone you trust. Talking to a partner, friend or family member might be enough to put things into perspective, but if your body image concerns persist, speak to your doctor.