So I have been suffering from gastroparesis. It’s a condition where the stomach doesn’t empty. My gastro doctor suspects that I got food poisoning in February and expects it to resolve itself in a few months. I made the mistake of going on the subreddit entitled “gastroparesis” and learned that it’s a horrible condition to have permanently. Just be the symptoms I have been experiencing this last month I can attest that it is indeed a horrible thing to go through. I also suffer from IBS-M… and when that shit flares up in combination with my stomach issues, well, then just forget it! It’s so uncomfortable to be nauseous from the stomach issues and then nauseous from the colon issues. I guess I’m only one of those people who will be nauseous more often than not.
The gastroparesis sucks more due to the heavily restricted diet. Currently, I’m only able to eat applesauce, vanilla yogurt, boiled rice, nutrition drinks like Boost and Breakfast Essentials, dry toast, mashed banana, vanilla pudding, and jello, and only able to eat 1/2 cup or 4 oz at a time. Honestly, I have been able to get up to 8oz and get more of that full feeling. However, the daily struggle of constantly being hungry is infuriating. Having the condition under control is more important, but it’s changing the way that I eat in a huge way. I usually eat twice a day – morning and night – and I usually eat in bulk. I know, it’s not healthy to eat like that, but what I ate was always super healthy, including vegetables and fruit in a huge way. Having a high fiber diet helped with my IBS. It sucks, though, because a high fiber diet is terrible for gastroparesis because it’s harder to digest.
The good news is that I’m not bored with what I eat. I actually do enjoy the diet. The nutrition drinks have been helping with my energy level also. I just really hate the way that I’m eating. It’s pretty much constant. I imagine this is how a pregnant woman has to eat, with multiple small meals throughout the day. Thank goodness I never plan on having kids because that torment sounds absolutely terrible.
I work for a big box retail company in the sporting goods industry. I do enjoy working retail. I’ve been doing it for 18 years, I’m a big fish in a little sea, and I’m good at it. I’m in charge of the front end – the cashiers and the registers. We have goals every day that involve getting credit card sign-ups, protection plan sales, and good surveys. Today, I rocked the numbers. It felt really good to blow my boss’s mind with how efficient I am. But of course, they already know that I am an overachiever. I happen to be a well rounded and very talented employee. I can work in both softlines and hardlines and do visual merchandising with and without a plan. Being stuck at the register is rather crappy for someone like me who can construct great visuals, but I make the store more money at the register. I upsell, I add to the basket, I give great customer service, and I get the job done. Honestly, I was a manager. I am way overqualified to do this. However, being a retail manager is too stressful, too many hours and too much anxiety. I make the same amount of money as a key carrier, work fewer hours, and have less responsibility to worry about. I’m super happy with this in my life.
My boss, J, I’ve known him for 12 years and worked with him for a different company. We have a unique working relationship. He is the reason why I’m super happy with where I work. He’s just a good human being – always positive, always willing to help, very dedicated to doing a good job, devoted to the people in the store. J isn’t a boss – he’s a leader. The difference? A boss gives out orders all day long and expects results from nothing. A leader goes out into the field and is willing to mentor and coach someone into a producer. J is a gloriously sarcastic asshole who knows how to get under the skin, but only if what you’re doing is deserving of such treatment.
J likes to sing and dance and be goofy, so he’s super down to earth. He likes to mess with people, which is always entertaining in my book. Really, J is the kind of human that you want in the room and deserves the dedication that he gets. He turned a shitty, underperforming store into an opus. He is creating a powerful team. Understandably, as someone who has followed him for so long, I am quite dedicated.
Since September of last year, we have been chatting outside of work. Phone calls and sometimes text messages. I don’t know exactly why it started, but I do know that I never expected that to happen. I do know that for a time, we were working in separate locations. I was a manager at a different store, and I texted him out of the blue one day and told him that I finally understood why it sucked being a store manager. I was training to be one. I had an “office” day, and it drove me up a wall. So to disperse some stress, I remerchandised an entire section. That is exactly what J does. It clicked in my head, and I had to tell him – even though I hadn’t spoken to him in months. He appreciated that comment. I also kept going to his store when he asked for help to do things for him. Sometimes on my day off… because I’m insane. But I felt more home in his store than I did mine. I was working in a very toxic environment. When I saw him, he would tell me that he missed me. I would say the same – I am his best hire, and he is my best boss.
We did go through a rough patch that lasted one year. I was distraught over it. He completely devastated me in my expectations. He threw me to the wolves. Underappreciated what I brought. It made me very bitter. It took an entire year before we spoke about i,t and it probably took another few months before I was comfortable with him again. And I’ll be honest, he really worked at it. I have always been forgiving of some of the crap he put me through. Because I always did what I asked of him and could handle the workload, J would sometimes ask me to go way beyond my scope. He never said he was sorry. He never had any remorse until that rough patch. Then he made an honest effort to fix some of his mistakes.
However, it wasn’t until we went to different stores that J realized how much he appreciated me. Especially when I was willing to go to his store on my day off to help him, he was humbled. I was humbled, especially when he apologized to me. I forgave him without question because that’s what I do. Strangely enough, I have only ever done it for him. Usually, when I’m very angry, I refuse to forgive.
After one such occasion of visiting his store, he called me to ask me how I was holding up (a new store manager had arrived at my building had he had a reputation of being a huge ass). I was floored. He was checking up on me. I, legitimately, couldn’t believe he was checking up on me. To this day, I still can’t believe it. And that’s when the phone calls started—almost every day. We would talk about life, work, music, etc. It was fantastic because we had each other to vent to. It changed the dynamic. Now we were bonded.
I ended up stepping down, and I demanded to be in J’s store. My district manager gave in because he wanted to keep me in the company. We don’t get to talk on the phone as much, but it still happens. We do text occasionally, although J texts everyone because it’s his perferred method of communication to his team, but we also do it socially. To this day, my friends think it’s the strangest relationship ever (I’ve never mentioned – and I really should – that he’s married and has kids and would NEVER leave them or cheat). I know he might be emotionally or mentally cheating, but I also know that us talking has probably helped him so much. He carries a huge amount of stress with him, and he gets to blow off steam when we chat. I’m glad that I am an outlet for him and I believe it has probably helped.