“I feel like I have everything going for me”
James, Enterra® Therapy patient, Ireland
James’s gastroparesis symptoms started when he was just 12 years old.
After being treated continuously for various health issues from the age of 6 months to 11 years old, James briefly enjoyed something he never had as a boy: perfect health. The ability to play, participate in sports, and be a normal kid.
But when James turned 12, he suddenly started feeling sick—all the time.
“They thought I had ulcers in my stomach and they gave me a triple therapy of steroids, and that seemed to help for a while. But they re-dosed me again about a year after that, and it didn’t really help at all. There was no improvement.”
From there, James and his family began a 6-year long journey to find answers.
The search for answers
They went to several physicians in the Republic of Ireland who, unfortunately, didn’t have the knowledge to identify gastroparesis.
“We hit a lot of roadblocks, and that was very, very tough. I remember one doctor who didn’t do any investigation at all—he just turned me out the door and that was it.”
Although the lack of answers was incredibly disheartening, James says that it was ultimately the impetus to go abroad in pursuit of the answers they so desperately needed.
“The only thing that kept us going was that I was continuously vomiting—4,5,6 times a day. That was what told us, ‘Okay, there’s clearly something wrong.’ There was nothing I could eat or keep down. It was torturous, to be perfectly honest.”
“I had gone from being at an extremely advanced level of math and English and other subjects in school to being asleep for 16 to 18 hours a day. I was exhausted. I basically couldn’t do anything—couldn’t go to school, definitely couldn’t play sports, could barely talk to people. I was just exhausted all the time, and nothing seemed to help at all. I was down to about 63 kilos/138 pounds at over 6 feet tall.”
After exhausting their options in the Republic of Ireland, James and his family underwent a months-long battery of testing and referrals within the London area, visiting Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Royal London Hospital, before being referred to a London-area gastroenterology specialist.
Now well into his teenage years, James says that he and his parents were at their wits’ end.
“It took a massive toll on my family. My parents obviously had to give me a huge amount of attention just to keep me functioning, so my two other brothers obviously got less. My parents did the absolute best that they could, but they couldn’t figure it out.
“And for myself, as well, I was questioning ‘Am I really sick, or is this all in my head?’ That’s where your mind goes after years. You can only do so much testing and have so many doctors say there’s nothing wrong with you before you think, ‘Maybe there really isn’t anything here.’”
Finding Enterra® Therapy
After he turned 18, James finally got in to see the London-area gastroenterology specialist, who suspected gastroparesis. Although it was a relatively new treatment at the time, he advised that James try Enterra Therapy.
James had his Enterra Therapy System implanted—and says he almost immediately noticed a difference in his nausea and vomiting symptoms.
“At my next visit a few months later, I weighed in at about 74 kilos/160 pounds—about an 18% weight gain—which was a massive improvement.
“I remember my mother’s reaction when I started putting on weight. She just cried.“
“And every time I went back to my specialist—again and again and again—everything was just improving. I had more energy, I was putting on weight. I was getting better results at school, I was starting to have the energy to interact with people.”
The road to relief
Today, almost 10 years after receiving Enterra Therapy, James looks back and feels that the operation turned his life around.
“I consider the recovery process to still be ongoing. But within about two to three years after receiving my device, I went from being fast asleep 18 hours a day to basically being able to do whatever I want.”
Since his implantation procedure, James has graduated college at the top of his class, and is now a cyber security compliance consultant with the world’s third-largest software company.
“Before, my family and I couldn’t even think that that would be possible. It wasn’t even on my radar. At times, my parents thought ‘He’s just going to be on benefits his whole life, he’s not going to be able to do anything.’ I was incapable of even thinking. I was just so unwell I couldn’t put two words together. But now I’m getting on fine. I’ve been promoted several times, and I work with major companies all over the world, from Saudi Arabia to the U.S. to Europe to China.”
And in terms of daily life, James says things have been going fantastically.
“I go to the gym most days, I’m at work by 6:00 a.m., and I can work until 8 or 9 o’clock if the need arises. I can go to the pub; I go on holiday 3, 4 times a year.”
“Of course,” James says, “It doesn’t mean I don’t have my bad days, I definitely do. That’s something people maybe don’t realize. I get adjustments on my device from time to time. And sometimes they go perfectly fine, other times it can take a while to feel normal again. But the only things I can’t really do are running, golf, or contact sports. It’s just not worth the discomfort or the risk of damaging my device.”
For others living with gastroparesis, experiencing similar symptoms, James says that he can’t recommend enough pursuing a treatment like Enterra Therapy.
“It’s not a silver bullet. You’re going to have certain elements that you’ll have to work on—it’s not like you get the device and then everything is great. Your body is so deficient after the torment that it’s gone through—or at least mine was—so I’ve had to build it back up. But you just have to keep on believing that it’s going to continue to get better.”
James’ experience is unique to him and individual results may vary.
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MKT-D-0003, Rev O
Enterra Therapy for treatment of chronic, resistant to medication nausea and vomiting associated with gastroparesis caused by diabetes or an unknown origin in patients aged 18 to 70 years: patients should always discuss potential risks and benefits of the device with their physician.
Authorized by Federal law for use in the treatment of chronic intractable (drug refractory) nausea and vomiting secondary to gastroparesis of diabetic or idiopathic etiology in patients aged 18 to 70 years. The effectiveness of this device for this use has not been demonstrated. What does this mean?