What Is Gastroparesis?
This simply means paralyzed stomach. When you eat, your brain is supposed to tell your stomach to nudge along the food to its next destination – the small intestines. However, the signal is disrupted so this doesn’t always happen. The food just sits there. It can lead to vomiting and severe weight loss.
It affects my intestines too, known as digestive tract paralysis. I become constipated for days, when my stomach is slow. I also have the opposite issue, because of the malfunctioning signal from my brain to my digestive system. Sometimes things move too fast, and it causes diarrhea. There is really no in between for me.
What Treatments Have I Tried?
When my stomach cannot empty, I get very nauseated and often throw up. I also have to eat soft or only liquids. I have to have very light meals, sometimes only tolerate one small dish a day. Combining this with my high heart rate that burns energy quickly is a disaster that leads to severe fatigue. I just don’t have the energy to both digest and support my heart.
I have medication that forces my stomach to empty, it’s success is hit and miss. They are Domperidone and Reglan. Reglan, unfortunately, has a side effect of Parkinson's Disease so I try to avoid it.
My nausea becomes unbearable. I have tried Cesamet, a synthetic form of THC so I can't feel how bad my stomach really feels with the severe bloating and pain. I have used Dicletin, a morning sickness pill, to avoid vomiting, but it does not work for me anymore. I have stopped both medications because they do not help anymore. Gravol and Zofran are also hit and miss in terms of avoiding vomiting.
How Does Gastroparesis Affect My Life?
When I cannot eat or drink much, I do not have any energy and become dehydrated. This is terrible, because of my POTS, which makes my body react as if I am running a marathon. My heart rate can hit up to 164 beats per minute as soon as I stand up. My resting pulse is ALWAYS over 100, usually around 120 beats per minute. It becomes chaos and I can barely move. I even have to get fed, when I cannot manage to move my arms or even fingers.
In turn, my body has to work even harder to keep my blood pressure up, which increases my pulse. This takes away the blood flow from my digestive system, which makes the situation even worse. My body sometimes doesn't even have the energy to digest and it's just a horrible cycle.
I also carry around a barf bag, which is not the most attractive thing. But what can you do? I am trying to manage it as best as I can. I think the fact that I often vomit freaks people out. I am used to it, but when people see my barf bag they worry. It's understandable, but it has become a normal part of my life when this flares.