ALL YOU NEVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT GASTROPARESIS
Welcome to Friday the 13th. We’re treated to this wonderful experience not 1, but 2 months in a row.
In “honor” of this day, I bring to you a bit of the misery that is presently my life.
I’m around 5’ 4 ½ “ tall. Two weeks ago I weighed 111 pounds. I haven’t weighed that much in 10 years.
Today, when I went to Publix to buy 4 more tubs of Fage yogurt, I stepped on the scale and found that I’m now 108 pounds.
I hear the buzzing in the blog-o-sphere now: “What is her weight-loss secret?”
I can tell you what it is in 1, neon green, word:
When diagnosed with gastroparsis, I’d never heard of the problem. It’s more common in people with diabetes or hypothyroid. Most of the time it’s idiopathic, a sciencey sounding word that means,
“We don’t know where the hell it came from.”
Wherever it came from, I wish it would stop vacationing in my stomach and GO HOME!
Only 12 years ago, I stepped on a scale and weighed almost 150. In an effort to chase away the fat cells, I began exercising 3 or more days a week. Several months later, I plateaued at 139. Self-employed, I worked 60 or more hours and often 7 days a week. Much of my sustenance came from fast food restaurants.
So, you might ask, when did all that change?
In late 2003. I was headed home after a meeting and stopped by the local Taco Bell to order a quesadilla and proceeded to eat the whole thing. That night, I thought my stomach was going to explode. The resulting expulsion of my dinner several hours later brought forth 2 questions
1. Why was I looking at the recognizable bits of dinner that should, by now, be nothing but slimy goo, and
2. Why was the pain of expelling it worse than childbirth?
Not knowing what else to do, I began drinking Ensure or Bouillon. Yes, I tried to eat other things, but unfortunately those were the only 2 “foods” I could keep down.
This went on for 2 months and, finally, I went to see my doctor. Unfortunately, she was no longer working there and they assigned me to one of those general practitioners from somewhere in the middle east that you dread being in the same room with. To break it down into an equation, this was his diagnosis:
Woman + pain = Histrionic
He told me to eat more fiber.
So, I consulted someone who had stomach issues. She pointed me to her gastroenterologist.
It took 3 months and a couple of tests to find that gastroparesis (paralyzed stomach) was the problem. I would make a list of the “NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT” foods, but you’d fall asleep in the middle of it. Basically, I can have baby food and low fat foods. In fact, the things I can eat are greatly outweighed by the things I can’t eat.
As a result of a very uncooperative stomach insisting that I not eat any more than ½ cup of food 5 times a day, I went from 139 (size 14) to 102 (size 2) in a year.
After more than a decade of managing this problem, why would it flare up again?
Over the past few years I’ve been adding more of the forbidden foods into my diet: Chocolate, fresh fruit, dried fruit, veggies other than cooked carrots, higher than 10% fat content, pastries, potato chips….to name just a few… gradually increasing from ½ to 1 cup portions every few hours.
How magnificent to bite into a juicy steak, enjoy a spoon full of luxuriously rich mashed potatoes made with butter and cream! How sinfully delightful to feel that velvet chocolaty goodness of a well-made dark chocolate cake with icing cuddle my tongue—and not get sick!
The cut the grass (southern for coup de grâce) happened on February 26, when I went out to eat with my best friend at Golden Corral. We spent 6 hours sitting, talking, munching and enjoying our ladies-night-out. Yes, I had to have that steak, 2 helpings of potatoes and more food in 6 hours than I usually eat in 2 days.
And my stomach was miserable for more than 2 days afterward.
I seemed to get better after the initial problem subsided. Then I had lunch the next week with another friend at a Mexican restaurant and, for the first time in 11 years, tasted the goodness that was refried beans.
By the way, the Fajita was delicious, too.
There’s a pain that starts in the sternum I can only describe as the scene in Alien where, for the first time, you see the creature tear through its host. That screaming pain moves to your ribs, pushing them outward and your waistline increases by 5 or more inches.
That was almost 2 weeks ago. I’ve been eating yogurt with honey, sucking on peppermints, and having the occasional piece of chocolate candy (which was a BIG mistake) ever since.
And, BTW, most of the time I feel like crap.
So…..the next time you see a woman standing on the Publix scale, cursing because she just can’t seem to gain weight, don’t wish the worst for her. You’ll be pleased to know she’s already experiencing it.