Sara’s Army: My Fight Against Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction

November 20, 2014

Submitted by Sara Gebert

Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction. CIPO.

The four word, abbreviated four letter diagnosis that was inevitable. It took almost two years to get and then when it was handed to me I wanted with all my heart to give it back. But I couldn’t, and likely won’t ever be able to. CIPO is a motility disease in which the body behaves as if it has a bowel obstruction, in the absence of a mechanical obstruction. Symptoms are the same as a regular obstruction: pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating etc. It’s not fun. My story started with a stomach ache. I thought I had the stomach flu, but it never went away. I only got worse. I saw a gastroenterologist who preformed an endoscopy. After that I could no longer hold anything down.

It has been a long journey. I got sick in the middle of my senior year of high school. I missed the entire second semester and had to delay starting college. I Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.27.25 PMsaw multiple doctors at multiple different hospitals. I had lots of feeding tubes, and when those failed I was started on Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN). I have now been on TPN for 2 years. I have a G tube so I can drain my stomach, without it I was throwing up about 60 times a day, without having anything to eat or drink. Doctors didn’t want to believe something so serious could be going wrong, so it took quite a long time to get a diagnosis. I was told I just had an eating disorder and that it was a problem I was causing myself, that I was faking. When I finally got my diagnosis I could breathe a sigh of relief, because I finally had a name for what was going so wrong with my body. The only problem was that I have a progressive disease, with little awareness and not much funding for a cure.

Seeing this I have decided to make a change. I started Sara’s Army, a non-profit foundation dedicated to raising awareness and funds for research for CIPO. I am determined to make a difference, and help people understand an awful affliction that currently has such little understanding. Being sick has come with it’s downfalls, but as they say, with every rainbow comes a little rain. My illness has made me a stronger, more confident person. I have been very sick at times, and I am grateful to be here today. While being sick has had definitely been rocky I wouldn’t change a thing. When going through a difficult time in search for a diagnosis I have learned that you just have to keep going. Eventually you will see a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how subtle it may be right now.

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