Hello and Happy New Year dear readers!
Please excuse my absence, but as most of you reading this know, living with a chronic condition can sometimes put you out of commission! I will update you all on the next post. For now, I think it is important to realize that with Chiari, and many other conditions, its not always the main disease its self that gives us so much trouble, but all the fun extras that go along with it. One symptom that has been giving me a lot of trouble lately is Gastroparesis. Eating is one of those things we take for granted Every. Single. Day. We need to do it to live. Imagine waking up tomorrow, and you can’t eat. You are extremely nauseous, and putting anything in your stomach causes gut wrenching pain.
Gastroparesis – (gastro- from Ancient Greek gaster, “stomach” and -paresis, “partial paralysis”), also called delayed gastric emptying, is a medical condition consisting of a paresis (partial paralysis) of the stomach, resulting in food remaining in the stomach for an abnormally long time. Normally, the stomach contracts to move food down into the small intestine for additional digestion. The vagus nerve controls these contractions. Gastroparesis may occur when the vagus nerve is damaged and the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not properly function. Food then moves slowly or stops moving through the digestive tract.
As you can imagine, this comes with a whole host of its own problems.
- Nausea ( before, during, and after eating)
- A feeling of fullness after eating just a few bites ( or a few sips)
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal pain
- Changes in blood sugar levels
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss and malnutrition
- Inability to handle certain foods. – For me, that means raw fruit and veg, dairy of any kind, seeds, nuts, red meat, carbonation, chocolate, peppermint, anything spicy, anything high fat, poultry and fish with skin on, very fatty seafood, high fiber foods, caffeine, and alcohol
- Alternating between constipation and diarrhea
These food limitations can vary from person to person. I can’t handle anything on the list, while someone else with GP, could have some of this, and other things they can’t handle. As you can imagine, this can make eating a healthy diet when your already disabled quite hard! There are also days when I have “flares” where I can only handle broth and baby food. I had one of these spells that lasted the whole month of November, and I ended up losing 20 lbs and a good chunk of hair.
Unfortunately, as with Chiari, Gastroparesis is different for everyone. It can be mild, which mine is, or life threatening, where your stomach has to be bypassed completely with a tube into your intestines. I have known others that have been hospitalized for months, and have even died from this disease. Of course, there is no cure, and there really aren’t any medications that can help. There are several tests that can be done to establish if you have GP, but mostly, its diagnosed by talking to a Gastrointerologist about your symptoms. Keeping a food diary is extremely helpful. I keep a log of what I eat, how it makes me feel, ect. When I have a bad flare, I go back to a liquid diet, then baby food, and then I slowly add back in solid food one at a time. It can be quite frustrating.
Have any of you had a problem with GP? What are some of the other issues you come across with your chronic condition?
I look forward to hearing from you dear readers!