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Gastroparesis

Just Another One of My Diagnoses

Gastroparesis affects more than 1.5 million Americans, with approximately 100,000 suffering from a severe form of the disorder. Standard medical therapy fails to relieve symptoms in approximately 30,000 of these patients. At least 20 percent of people with type 1 diabetes develop gastroparesis.

digestive.templehealth.org › content › gastroparesis

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Gastroparesis is a problematic and perplexing condition. Doctors and specialists cannot confidentially pinpoint the exact cause; although there are many factors suggested. It is thought that diabetes (unmanaged), illnesses (viral infections in the stomach), surgeries, or a variety of autoimmune illnesses are the main culprits.

Gastroparesis is exactly as it sounds,  “gastro” comes from the word gastrointestinal and “paresis” is paralysis. Soley meaning that the stomach muscles are paralyzed. When this happens, food digestion may be delayed or not digest at all. Various treatments of gastroparesis remain dependent upon which stage you are in. It is crucial to diagnose gastroparesis in the early stages and begin a proper diet/ treatment.

Currently, a cure does not exist, there is little treatment.

In the early stages of gastroparesis, the stomach muscles are slowly moving, it takes food longer to digest, food triggers generally begin during this stage. In mid-stages, a gastrointestinal pacemaker may be required or a liquid diet. Later stages of gastroparesis, require a feeding tube and intravenous fluids.

Limited medications are available to assist the stomach muscles in relaxing or moving. Many of these medications have alarming side effects such as Tardis Dyskinesia. This condition causes uncontrollable body movements such constantly and random movement of the arms, legs, face, blinking, tongue, and sufferers are often confused with having a drug problem.

Antibiotics may be given, nausea and vomiting medications as well.

The main treatment for gastroparesis is by trial and error with diet. A low fiber/ fat diet along with soft, well-cooked foods. There are several different diets all over the internet, keep in mind, everyone’s gastrointestinal tract differs, therefore, what one person can process may differ from what is on a diet list. Just know as a fact, high fiber foods are harder to digest. Raw vegetables and fruits are very fibrous. Vegetables and fruits need to be steamed or blended.

Gastroparesis symptoms include nausea, abdominal bloating accompanied by pain, weight loss, malnutrition, acid reflux, a full feeling after eating only a few bites, heartburn, and even vomiting.

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I come from a line of relatives with gastroparesis. It is not known to be hereditary, each person has a different path that leads to gastroparesis.

My mother and aunt both suffered from gastroparesis (uncontrolled diabetics) and two of my cousins have gastroparesis (one diabetic and the other not). Three of the four received the gastrointestinal pacemakers, having them replaced twice, they were then removed due to complications. After removal, my two cousins ended up with feeding tubes.

Of course, amongst the numerous diagnoses, which I have, gastroparesis was added. I have various autoimmune disorders and I do have (in reversal) Type 2 very controlled diabetes.

My personal experience with gastroparesis continues to be a rollercoaster. I was diagnosed in 2018. I legitimately thought I knew everything there was to know about it, is that I took care of my mom. I was sorely mistaken. The foods that seem to trigger her gastroparesis flares, were quite different than mine. Mom loved fresh vegetables and fruit; much like myself. Tomatoes would set her off, anything with tomatoes in fact. Pizza, tomato soup, sauces. She could not digest shrimp, meats were the worst for her, absolutely no raw vegetables, cucumbers, one of her favorites, was her worst nightmare. Her bouts of gastroparesis flare-ups were horrific. We spent a plethora of days and nights in and out of the hospitals and emergency rooms. The only quick fix to handle nausea and vomiting was Zofran or Phenergan medication, pain medication (which opioids make the gastroparesis worse also), and time.

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I am also gluten-free (I have a gluten sensitivity – double trouble). I am learning my trigger foods, such as cereals. I made a recent mistake by eating my favorite apple. A pink lady. I did not peel it. I should have. You should never eat the skin; it is too fibrous. For days, I was nauseous, bloated and in pain. When this happens, I must practically go on a liquid diet. I cannot drink very much either (water or other liquids). The food has not digested, there is nowhere for it to go, besides up. I describe it as a garbage disposal that is clogged. Various dangers come along with this “clogged garbage disposal”. If the food turns into masses (solidifies), it can cause blockages, malnutrition, weight loss, dehydration, even infections.

In conclusion, this is at most a brief view of gastroparesis. A perplexing idiopathic gastro disease, rarely known. It’s frustrating and complex. I continue to research updated information on the topic.

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Thank you for reading. Please spread awareness. Please also comment if you are a fellow sufferer or know someone that is. We would love to hear about the experiences of others.

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