Occasionally, the BF and I like to go out for “date night”. Date night is like every other night, except that we put on something besides pajamas for two hours, we use a napkin to wipe our face, instead of our sleeves, and we practice appropriate conversation topics to have in public, which we have learned does NOT include conversations about butts or dog wieners.
On Saturday, the BF and I went out for such a date at one of our favorites sushi restaurants. It’s a charming little local place that probably only seats about 50. The staff is always friendly, a large beer comes with free sake, and the fish is incredibly fresh.
Needless to say, it tasted much better on the way down than on the way back up.
When I first became sick, years before I started to develop the typical postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) symptoms of lightheadedness and dizziness, I had a lot of digestive issues. One day, during law school, I became sick to my stomach and proceeded to vomit that day, and everyday, multiple times per day, for the next few months. When I would vomit in the morning, it would often contain food from the previous night (sorry if you happen to be eating while reading this). I quickly dropped about 25 lbs. My dentist asked me if I had an eating disorder because of the damage all the stomach acid had done to my teeth.
I went to the Mayo clinic in Arizona and after many, many tests including the throat one, the butt one, and ones that involved way too much barium, I was given the egg one. The eggs test, formally known as the gastric emptying test, involves eating some scrambled eggs laced with radioactive material. Then, every hour for four hours you a scan is taken to see how digestion of the eggs has progressed. According to the doctor, all of the eggs should have been digested out of the stomach within four hours.
Needless to say, mine was not. Thus, I was diagnosed with a mild case of gastroparesis.
Gastroparesis essentially means slow stomach motility. Usually, the muscles of the stomach contract to move food out of the stomach and into the intestines. With gastroparesis, the stomach muscles do not function normally and food takes longer to move through the stomach. Those with bad cases of gastroparesis may not be able to eat at all and rely on feeding tubes. I’m so fortunate that have a mild case.
Digestion is one of those “automatics” controlled by the autonomic nervous system. I am beginning to realize that I probably never had gastroparesis, the condition, and probably just had dysautonomia all along, as a malfunctioning autonomic nervous system (which is what dysautonomia is) could cause slow motility.
I’ve learned how to manage the gastroparesis and my symptoms have gotten much better, although I do still vomit occasionally. Somedays a particular food just takes longer to digest, even if I had no trouble with that food last time, like with my date night sushi. When that happens, I feel nauseous and get stomach pains, and usually feel better after it’s out.
It makes me feel a little bit like I’m back in college- you know, when you used to feel sick from too much beer, but you didn’t want to miss out on the rest of the party, so you puked and rallied for round two? It’s like that, except that now, instead of grabbing another beer and heading back to the party, “round two” involves brewing a cup of ginger tea and watching “Friends” reruns.
I still know how to party.
In the next post I will let you know what I have found helpful for digestive issues. However, this week I’m watching a few online interviews with doctors that are part of The Healthy Gut webinar series this week, and I’m hoping to learn a few good tips to share with you. It’s free – check it out if you want.
“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.” – Elizabeth I
Smell ya later.