Gastroparesis, What You Should Know |Gastroparesis Awareness Month

*Mention of vomiting, bowel movements, possible ED references and food sensitivity's

With August soon to be over it seem like the perfect time to finish, or completely rewrite in this case, the half written post that has been sat in my unpublished folder for the past month for gastroparesis awareness month. Sometimes no amount of determination can get things done when you over think what you should write. 

Lets begin which what gastroparesis is, unlike most illnesses with weird names gastroparesis sort of explains it in the name itself, gastro meaning stomach and paresis meaning paralysis, together they mean paralysed stomach.Sounds quite scary right? But without completely freaking you out there are different severities.
 There are people who live normal lives with slowed stomach mobility and some may need to be controlled with diet and medication. One big thing I need to stress is peoples symptoms and experiences do not have to be relative to how delayed there stomach is. I've seen people who only have a slight delay become so overwhelmed with nausea and vomiting to then become malnourished, compared to someone with a more severe delay who will have a much better experience. Feeding tubes may be needed once weight is dropped dramatically or you become malnourished. We now know the stomachs delayed but what are the symptoms?

      -Bloating-    Bloating after a big or heavy meal is normal but the bloating that occurs with gastroparesis often looks like the person is 9 months pregnant. I've had my fair share of people thinking I was pregnant as have many other people, even males.

This photo is from August 2016, I haven't been able to take a non bloated picture recently as I always wake up bloated because I still have food in my stomach from the day before.  In the first photo my stomach is before I'd eaten anything. I particularly remember my stomach being bad at the time so was mainly eating watermelon and yogurt for a little so I, for once, wasn't bloated when I woke up. The second photo shows me very bloated after a weekend away in Bath,I hadn't particularly eaten 'bad' foods or over ate. A few hours after this photo was taken and even though I don't often throw up, my stomach did empty its contents. I had to watermark/write over the image as I don't want those those juices or weight loss people to promote their annoying products with it.
-Nausea-  People can experience different degrees of nausea, some are manageable and some, like I'm currently feeling, are horrendous and can completely floor you. Right now I'm shaky, have tachycardia, sweating, ultra sensitive to everything and feeling as though I'm about to throw up even though personally I most likely will not. It can confine me to my bed unable to do much on top of my other illnesses which cause chronic exhaustion. If you've had a vomiting bug then you may know the relief you get after vomiting but I've got to be absolutely clear DO NOT make your self sick. It is incredibly dangerous and will have the same damage of bulimia. If you uncontrollably and/or cannot help it then it's not your fault but forcing yourself to throw up can cause permanent damage to your stomach and oesophagus, causing things to become a lot worse as well as causing blood sugars to become erratic and other permanent damage. If you make yourself sick, however much relief it gives you, it is not gastroparesis it is an eating disorder and you should seek help.
      -Early satiation when eating and/or no appetite-    Feeling full very early into a meal or just having no appetite at all. Its best to eat smaller more often to make sure you reach the calories and nutrients needed although this isn't as easy as it sounds when your still full from your previous meal.
      -Vomiting undigested food and 'sulphur' stomach-    Gastroparesis can cause two contrasts, people who will vomit up food they eaten or like in my experience the food will sit in the stomach and do nothing. Causing the food to breakdown and rot, releasing a revolting sulphur/rotting egg smell. Lovely.
      -Weight loss, Weight gain and Malnourishment-    Malnourishment is probably the most dangerous part of gastroparesis as we cant digest or absorb nutrients properly. This can cause lots of problems throughout the body and can affect everything. Malnourishment can cause weight loss and gain. Drs are more acceptable towards weight loss but as our online community knows being undernourished can cause the body to store calories as fat as the body is starving, inevitably causing weight gain but for for some reason some doctors find it hard to understand.
            -Diarrhoea and Constipation-    I believe that most people already know what diarrhoea and constipation are but why do we have it with gastroparesis? Inevitably with slow mobility of the stomach it has knock on effect to the bowel. Diarrhoea can also be a symptom of constipation and although most people flip between diarrhoea and constipation it can be variable dependent on the person. Chronic diarrhoea and constipation can both have serious side effects. Other then the nausea, bloating and vomiting constipation can, although rare can cause a pseudo-obstruction which is a small bowel obstruction. Chronic diarrhoea, which are watery stools can cause dehydration and malnutrition.

      -Pain-    Pain is something I initially forgot to write about when I first published this post, I'm not sure why as it's a huge thing that I struggle to relieve. A lot of medical professionals dispute that there is pain with this condition and although I was lucky with my Drs knowing this, I can undisputedly say it bloody hurts. I go through periods of it not hurting much at all, only a discomfort but then there are times I'm in agony, clutching my Noozie (electric hot water bottle) curled up in bed. I've got to clarity that this is only my experience, do not be scared if you're newly diagnosed reading this, people experience this condition is so many ways, some don't have much pain at all. Even though I've had so many tests done to find the cause of my pain, nothing has been definitive so far. I hope in the future something is found as I believe my pain is something other then gastroparesis but for now I'm put down to that.  
What are the causes?
There are multiple causes for Gastroparesis, mine like many others is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, other main causes are Diabetes, damage during gastric surgery, medications, eating disorders, autoimmune and a highest percentage of cases are idiopathic, meaning they don't know the cause or trigger for delayed emptying. A small benefit to idiopathic gastroparesis is that people can get better and even recover. 
Getting diagnosed
Getting diagnosed can be a long process, mainly because it isn't a well known illness, it's rare and doctors have to rule out any other causes for delayed emptying, like crohn's, ulcers, celiac's, esophagus issues, cancer. For me I had many many blood tests, barium meal, endoscopy, colonoscopy, stool samples, fructose tests and many more. Once all the other possibilities are ruled out then you get sent to have a gastric emptying study.
A gastric emptying study compiles of eating or drinking a radioactive meal. Over 4 hours they will take an x ray intermittently throughout that time. I documented how I felt when I first got diagnosed over on the Gastroparesis |The Truth About Life With A New Diagnosis post.

I've got to make it very apparent that I am in no way a medical professional and this post is through my own experience as a person with gastroparesis with an interest in learning as much as I can about this and many other illnesses from medical professionals and other people experiences. I want this post to be a live and open document so please message me or comment down below if there is anything to add or change.

So that's it, gastroparesis awareness month is nearly over but gastroparesis is a lifelong chronic disorder so awareness shall never be stopped. I hope this post is helpful to you in any way it needs to be and a reminder that if you do have gastroparesis that you are never alone. 
Devon x

Last Updated 02/11/17 

Due to dyslexia some things may not make sense or are not grammatically correct so please let me know if there are any problems so I can correct it. Thank You :)

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