The Many Colors of Cystic Fibrosis: Brown (Part 2)
Last updated: May 2023
In my previous article, I detailed my journey with gastrointestinal issues including pancreatic insufficiency, malnutrition, and dumping syndrome. In 2017, we began to address a new issue: gastroparesis.
Back to the color brown.
I never weighed more than 95 pounds. Even on a high dose of prednisone, I never hit the 100-pound mark. Three years into the work force, though, I found myself weighing a mere 85 pounds, and the weight loss had no sign of slowing down.
When I reached 79 pounds, chunks of hair would fly off my head, even with the gentlest gust of wind. That along with my inability to comprehend things led us to a malnutrition diagnosis. I was hospitalized for over a month and my feeding tube supplements tripled. It helped for a time before a nutritionist mentioned gastroparesis.
Gastroparesis is a condition that prevents your stomach muscles from contracting and pushing food through the intestines in a timely manner.1 Due to my history with constipation, no one looked any further into my delayed emptying, but the symptoms all made sense. I had pain in my abdomen, nausea, bloating, heart burn, and indigestion.
The hospital performed a delayed gastric emptying study the next day, a test that measures how quickly your body passes food or water through the stomach and into the small intestine. They had me drink a small cup of water with a drop of radiation. Then, they X-rayed my stomach every 20 minutes.
In a healthy person, food should pass through within 90 minutes, and water should pass through even faster. It took 120 minutes for my stomach to pass the drop of water through, and I was officially diagnosed with gastroparesis.
Brown is a beautiful color
Since then, we’ve made a series of small changes. I switched to a different brand of enzymes called Zenpep, which is less aggravating to my stomach. My feeding tube was changed to a button and eventually removed post-lung transplant when I reached a healthy weight. I currently weigh in at 130 pounds, and I’m working toward a healthier, sugar free diet.
Other colors like blue and red are easier to appreciate because the mind deflects to a beautiful, summer sky or freshly bloomed roses. However, brown represents a piece of my body that absorbs nutrients, removes toxins from my body, and alerts me to larger problems like bowel obstructions.
Instead of associating brown with the word “stinky” or “dirty,” I’ll think of the word “grounded.” Psychology suggests that brown is a resilient and dependable color. I’m thankful for my stomach and for the color brown! I’ll think of those who are in remission from bowel and colon cancers and sport my brown awareness ribbon. Lastly, I’ll wonder what's for dinner tonight. Therefore, brown is a beautiful color.
What does brown make you think of? Have you ever experienced gastroparesis? Share in the comments below!
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