It took me seven years to be diagnosed with Gastroparesis. I went from doctor to doctor with no answer other than “you’re just stressed”. Doctors wouldn’t listen to the fact that I was in pain. I was refused testing that I desperately needed due to doctors who didn’t want to do their job. All the while I’m unable to eat food without throwing up, loosing weight, and being in an immense amount of pain.
Unfortunately, more and more people are going undiagnosed with this horrible disease due to the rarity of it. It’s misunderstood and talked about very little.
Since August is Gastroparesis Awareness Month, I want to take the time to spread awareness and information about how this disease effects people.
Gastroparesis is delayed gastric emptying due to a partially paralyzed stomach. The stomach pushes food into the small intestines to move food through the digestive tract. For people with Gastroparesis, our stomachs have a hard time doing that, therefore food stays undigested in our stomach for long periods of time, causing malnutrition, pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Gastroparesis is diagnosed through a Gastric Emptying Scan (GES). This involves the patient eating food that contains a small amount of radioactive material so that a nuclear medicine scanner can watch how fast food leaves the stomach.
Liquid digests better than solids. This is why I had to move to a liquid diet in order to get the calories I need, and even then, I’m still struggling. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with every meal. Some days food stays down just fine, and others days, not so much.
It’s also very common for people with Dysautonomia (like myself) to have Gastroparesis since the autonomic nervous system controls digestion.
And yes, I’m good at hiding it. As are most of us living with chronic illness. We are good at pretending everything is ok when inside we are struggling. Most people don’t even know there is something wrong.
We try our best to put on a brave face and act as normal as we can to get through the day. It’s a coping mechanism for a lot of us.
If you are interested in finding out more about Gastroparesis, go check out www.aboutgastroparesis.org. They have a lot of helpful information for patients, or people who are curious as to what Gastroparesis is.