Gastric Emptying Test Results (WIAW Edition)

First of all… Happy Wednesday! We are (almost) half way through the week! πŸ™‚

Second of all, yesterday I wrote a guest post for the lovely Olivia at Liv Lives Life while she was on vacation. In my post I share 5 Surprising Foods That Contain Eggs. It’s a must-read for vegans, those with egg allergies/intolerances, or just for people looking for some interesting tid bits.

guest-egg-allergy

Next up I need to share a health update because I realized yesterday I have been promising that for a week or two now and have failed to deliver. I’m just going to throw it all out there and then move on because I’m still kind of frustrated with this whole thing… ready? πŸ˜‰

(This is obviously not your usual WIAW, but as always thanks to Jenn for hosting this weekly party!)

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Okay. So two and a half weeks ago approximately I went in to have a gastric emptying study performed at my local hospital. A gastric emptying study is basically where you eat food that has been injected with radioactive markers and then for 1-4 hours depending on that particular hospital’s protocol they x-ray your stomach to track how fast it is digesting the food. They usually will feed you a few eggs but in my case I had to bring in my own gluten-free oatmeal because of my egg and wheat allergies.

wiaw-gp-oatmeal

(Source)

At 7:00AM that morning I went the hospital with my mom and checked in. 30 minutes later the nurse took me back to a preparation room where she made my oatmeal in a styrofoam cup and I ate it while answering some basic health questions about my symptoms. The nurse asked if I wanted any sugar or splenda which I politely declined. She was quite impressed by my ability to eat all of the oatmeal. At one point she actually said “Try your hardest to get it down.” I was slightly confused. I’ve always preferred plain oatmeal and since I hadn’t had it in forever (on account of hit hurting my stomach) I was glad for an excuse to have some.

After I ate the oatmeal I asked if she wanted me to just throw it away. She quickly said no and pulled out a brand new trash bag to put it in. I didn’t quite understand until she tied up the bag and put it in a radioactive waste bin and secured the lid. I laughed and told her that I almost forgot that it was full of harmful chemicals.

wiaw-gp-radioactive

When the prep was done she took me back to a dark room where a kind of futuristic machine was located. I had to lay down on a skinny, padded slab and she put in elbow props and a pillow beneath my knee so I was more comfortable. Then she raised the platform so I was high off the ground, and moved me forward so that my stomach was beneath the white x-ray contraption. She told me that it would last 1 1/2 hours and that it would go by quickly if I tried to fall asleep.

Well, I wish I had known that before or I wouldn’t have worn my contacts. I did manage to fall asleep a few times, but each time I did I had pretty crazy dreams about pizza, my stomach being a monster and trying to eat me… and probably even more but I forget now.

wiaw-gp-dream

 

The 1 1/2 hours passed by quite slowly but eventually I was done and she lowered the slab so that I could get off. After that she walked me back out to my mom in the waiting room and we left.

Then I just waited to hear back my results from the hospital.

That next week I called in and after a wild goose chase of me calling them, them calling me, my mom calling them, them calling me… I finally got through to hear my results. The nurse told me that my gastric emptying study showed delayed (or slow) gastric emptying.

wiaw-gp-gastro-tree

Gastroparesis is the technical term for delayed gastric emptying.

*I put an asterisk by the symptoms that I frequently have below.

The most common symptoms of gastroparesis are:

  • Chronic nausea (sometimes)
  • Chronic diarrhea (or constipation)*
  • Vomiting (especially of undigested food)

Other symptoms include:

  • Palpitations (sometimes)
  • Heartburn*
  • Abdominal pain*
  • Abdominal bloating*
  • Erratic blood glucose levels (I have been able to control this with lower sugar meals)
  • Lack of appetite*
  • Gastroesophageal reflux*
  • Spasms of the stomach wall*

Morning nausea may also indicate gastroparesis. Vomiting may not occur in all cases, as sufferers may adjust their diets to include only small amounts of food (this would be me, but thankfully while I have severely limited my diet to prevent nausea most of the time, I am getting enough calories in to maintain my weight and energy for the most part)*

Source: wikipedia

Here are some common complications due to gastroparesis:

  • Fluctuations inΒ blood glucoseΒ due to unpredictable digestion times (in diabetic patients)
  • General malnutrition due to the symptoms of the disease (which frequently include vomiting and reduced appetite) as well as the dietary changes necessary to manage it
  • Severe fatigue and weight loss due to calorie deficit
  • Intestinal obstructionΒ due to the formation ofΒ bezoarsΒ (solid masses of undigested food)
  • Bacterial infectionΒ due to overgrowth in undigested food

Source: Again, wikipedia. They are just too helpful sometimes πŸ™‚

There are a variety of treatment options, including:

  • Medication
  • Low fiber, low fat diet
  • Smaller meals
  • Liquid diet
  • FODMAPS diet
  • Surgery

Source: just general research on the subject matter

When the nurse told me that I had slow gastric emptying, she also said that I would need to schedule an appointment to speak with my doctor about medication options. Reglan and Domperidone were the two that she mentioned if I remember correctly.

I still haven’t been in to see the doctor since I live a few hours away and she is only available during the week with regular business hours. The other reason is that I kind of don’t have any plans to take the medicine that she is wanting to prescribe me.

That may sound crazy to some of you because of how much I complain about my stomach but just hear me out.

While gastroparesis may sound like a diagnosis, it’s really not. Much like IBS slow/rapid gastric emptying is just an umbrella diagnosis. There is no known cause for idipathic gastroparesis (slow gastric emptying without diabetes or surgery being the probably root problem) although there is much speculation.

wiaw-gp-umbrella

 

Gastroparesis just like my food allergies is most likely the result of some bigger cause like leaky gut, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, autoimmune disease, diabetes, etc. Medication will not heal me. It would just mask the symptoms somewhat if it actually was effective.

And that’s another portion of why I don’t really want to take the medicine. Reglan in particular is meant to be a short term medication used for only a few weeks.

wiaw-gp-reglan

Reglan can also have some terrible side effects:

  • Dizziness or drowsiness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tardive dyskinesia
  • Parkinson-like symptoms
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Mood changes
  • Headaches

Source: Health Central

wiaw-gp-side-effects

So you can see why I’m not too keen on taking it, right? Plus, it wouldn’t cure the underlying cause of all of my problems which is my ultimate goal.

I have been looking into some gastroparesis blogs for tips though on managing the symptoms. Most are ones that I already try to follow but I will let you guys know if I find anything particularly useful.

wiaw-gp-keep-calm

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There are many who say that they are amazed that I deal with the daily stomach pain, but I feel like this picture from Pinterest explains my thoughts on the matter perfectly:

wiaw-gp-pain

 

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wiaw-gp-never-too-late

 

(Source)

 

Just share your thoughts for today!

Whatever you want. Inspirational quotes. What you ate for WIAW. Your plans for the rest of the week. I’m all ears πŸ™‚

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55 thoughts on “Gastric Emptying Test Results (WIAW Edition)

  1. What a pain Madison and after all that another umbrella diagnosis 😦 But it sounds like you are getting closer to finding out what might be causing the pain, the tests can only bring the doctors closer to the cause – even if indirectly. I’m so sorry to hear about the symptoms and how much pain you are in, it just sounds horrendous and the courage and strength you show is impressive. I do know what you mean in a way though, when people used to look at my skin when I had eczema they’d say “how can you live with that” and I’d reply “well.. the only way not to would be to not live so…” The drugs don’t exactly sound inspiring..

    • Exactly! You expressed it better than I did I think. I really appreciate when people comment on how they could never imagine the pain/annoyance/etc but when you are used to it I sometimes just forget that I ever lived any different. Like, I can’t even remember what certain food tastes like anymore and it’s only been 1.5 years since this all started… Sad but you can’t miss what you don’t remember, right?

      • Exactly! People say “how can you not eat cheese” and I’m like “well, I last ate it when I was 2, 22 years ago so..”. I have no idea what I’m missing! I have no idea what cheese, milk, red meat, tastes like. If I smell it, it just smells bad and grassy (weird I know!).

  2. Good for you on listening to what you feel is best. I feel like it’s so easy for doctors to just throw medication at people, when there is so many other natural remedies that can be done.

    Glad you finally were able to get the answers you wanted though πŸ™‚

    • So far medicine has been zero help to me so natural seems like the best way to go. Thanks for your support and kind comments through all of this Jessie. I’m going to keep digging for answers!

  3. That really sucks 😦 You always sound so positive though which all things considering is amazing. I would feel the same about the medication. I’m not a hug fan of taking tablets and things like that either. I think that you’ve got a great way of coping and working out what is best for your body and like you said the medication will just be masking symptoms.
    I suppose it’s good to know what’s going on though!

    • When this first started happening I welcomed the pills (tums, advil and eventually stronger medications) but once I learned that those just exacerbate the problems I just stopped cold turkey. I think everyone should take the same approach and only take medicine when absolutely necessary. I’m glad you have the same thoughts on that as me πŸ™‚

  4. Oh, boy, Madison. Now you have more things to think about. I totally support you not simply wanting to take some kind of medication. There are always so many scary side effects related to medications. I take No medications except over the counter version of Allegra for my allergies. I’m so glad I don’t and I worry about giving Ralph all of the things he takes. I’d like to talk to his doctor about getting him off of some of these things, but he’s always there when we’re talking to her. Anyway. I hope you find some more ways of working with this and finding a way to be more comfortable without the medication. Take care!!!

    • Sometimes the list of side effects seem worse than the symptoms that they are supposed to be helping with!

      Allegra is one of the best allergy medicines out there I think because it’s non-drowsy, right? I remember from when I was younger with all of my seasonal and pet allergies that those drowsy medicines were the worst! They knock you right out. Haha.

      I hope you can get Ralph off of some of those meds too. From changing what my dad eats he was able to get off of his blood pressure medicine. Now we’re just working on the thyroid pills. It just makes life a lot better!

    • Sadly I always feel like I leave without answers 😦 But I just have to deal I guess πŸ™‚

      Another oatmeal purist! Really though, I only ever added nuts and fruit to mine to make them look prettier. Haha. And we are in total agreement over the sugars. Not necessary at all.

  5. Wow girl, that’s quite a test. I’m glad that they gave you some results, too. I hear what you’re saying about no meds, too…I’m not a fan of them myself unless they’re absolutely necessary, which caused some issues a few years back (drs wanted me on a few different things and I said no, i wanted to get better without them if i could)….but i proved them wrong when they said i would need them for the rest of my life…which still puts a smile on my face πŸ˜›

    • I would love to prove my doctors wrong as well πŸ™‚ That is so great to here that you were able to get better without medication! I can’t believe that they tried to tell you that you would need to be on them for your entire life… That’s just crazy and the fact that they were wrong… I’m so glad that you didn’t listen to them!

  6. that is annoying. I was said I had this as well but ended with… well it is something you may just have to live with. Oh fun.Annoying. I totally get your frustration with it. I think it is best to do what you think will work out for your lifestyle in the end.

    • Honestly, if I felt like medication would make me feel better and allow me to eat more foods without any symptoms I would take it in a heartbeat. But the medicine is only supposed to be temporary, won’t actually fix anything, and has actually been shown to cause more problems. If I could just pop a pill and be done I’d be so happy!

      We are more alike than I thought. Haha. So they said that you had slow gastric emptying too? Did you try any medicine for it? Was that before you got diagnosed with celiac as well? (Sorry if it sounds like I’m drilling you. I thought about spacing my questions out more but just figured heck- I’ll just throw them all out there! πŸ˜› ).

      • Yes it was before or at least while I was being diagnosed. Kind of hand in hand. They were searching for answers and this is one thing they found and again confirmed this past year when I got my test done.

      • That’s what I mean. Delayed gastric emptying is a common common diagnosis, those meds are commonly taken by many , etc…its not a big life altering diagnosis….so don’t stress…sometimes its not all about food either. Faith, distraction, different passions vs. food, LESS stress (the ultimate killer). Someone recommended that I read “Dying to be Me” and I’m looking for it. Another good read for ALL bloggers is “Health Food Junkies” by Dr. Stephen Bratman (a ND)…read.

  7. Really interesting post. That sounds super annoying though. Sounds like you have a good attitude about things! I love that the nurse thought it was crazy you ate the whole bowl of plain oatmeal. I would do any study that had me eating oatmeal πŸ˜‰

    • Yes. I wholeheartedly agree. We need some breakthroughs please!! πŸ™‚ I hate the word manage but I also agree with that too and think that’s what I’m going to have to accept for now at least. I’d prefer to “heal” or “recover.” Those words sound much better to me!

  8. Wow. Just wow.
    First of all, I’m glad you finally have a term put to these problems, even if it’s vague. Second, I’m glad you wrote this post, because a lot of your symptoms sound like some that I have occasionally. I wonder if, with gastroparesis, the symptoms can be worse at times than others? Third, I’m sooo happy you’re going to say no to the medicine. You’re so smart to think it all through and not go with that option, especially, as you said, it won’t get rid of the symptoms/issue, it will just hide them. That does not sound like movement in the right direction to me. Fourth, despite the fact that you do have some semi-answers, I’m so sorry this is still such a frustrating thing for you. It’s not fair. :-/ Finally, thanks again for doing the guest post! I loooooved it!!

    • From what I’ve read gastroparesis can definitely be worse at some times than others. Depending on diet (level of fiber and fat, volume of food spicy/sugary, etc), stress and a lot of other factors. You very well might have it too. Again though, it’s more of another symptom of something larger and not a real disease/diagnosis.

      Like I said to Alex above, I would totally take the medicine if I thought I would feel better, but it doesn’t seem likely. Also, it just wouldn’t fix the problem.

      I almost feel like semi-answers are worse because I feel like I’m so close yet so far away! haha. But don’t get be wrong, really, answers are better than being left in the dark completely.

      Thanks so much for letting me do the guest post!! I wish I had had some exciting recipe to share like Sarah, more thank just a list. πŸ™‚ Lol.

  9. Damn girl that sounds like a brutal study to go through for the less than helpful results you got. I feel your pain on being handed an umbrella diagnosis and offered pills (seemed to be all anyone wanted to give me before they found I had celiac, all anyone wanted to give me to control my migraines [you know instead of talking to me and trying to help me work through the cause]).

    I applaud your efforts to continue your research into a more accurate diagnosis, treat yourself to the best medicine out there (none!) and just maintain such a positive attitude. I know I was a horribly miserable person when I was sick all the time (I still am sometimes but I blame grad school for that) so there are day’s when I don’t know how you stay so positive, but you are a constant source of inspiration when I’m tempted to throw a pity party… Hang in there Madison and keep doing what you are doing πŸ™‚

    • For awhile they thought that I may have celiac too. I almost wish it was that because I already can’t eat wheat or rye so not much gluten grains would be left. Haha. But still, I’m sure you can understand my frustration completely. Just the other day my mom called in to the doctor (I can’t because I never get a chance to at work and they are closed when I get off) and she asked if the doctor had any plans to do more tests and find a cause, or any other treatment options. They called back yesterday and gave my mom a list of medications. Basically they completely ignored her question and didn’t even list diet as an alternative option! Gah. I have no plans on going back to them after that.

      Thanks so much for your wonderful comment! To have overcome the difficulties that you have with your diagnosis and to say that I’m inspiration? Really too nice πŸ™‚

  10. Its great that they were able to provide a diagnosis bur at the same time, I think its incredibly brave of you to not settle for medication and attempt to alleviate it! I look forward to following your progress and hope it gets sorted!

  11. I just looked up Gastroparesis is my nutrition textbook, and it gives some recommendations. I’m not sure if you’ve tried these or not, but I figured I’d share it with you anyways!

    “Small, frequent meals may decrease the feeling of bloating and early satiety, thus decreasing the possibility of impaired nutritional status”

    “Reduced fat intake may shorten the time for gastric emptying”

    “Physical activity, such as walking, after meals may increase gastric emptying rates”

    “Foods with soft or liquid consistency may be more easily digested…”

    *source: Nutrition Therapy and Pathophysiology 2/e. Nelms, et. al*

    Hope you feel better soon and figure out what works for you!

    • Wow. Thanks so much for taking the time to type all of that out for me Alyssa. Those are the recommendations that I have found too and I’m trying to follow them but will little success. That’s what I’ve been trying for about half a year now. However, if I go against the rules and try to increase my meal size, fiber, fat, etc. I definitely know that how I’m feel now could be a lot worse. Lol.

      • I think that’s my problem…I’m “stuck” mentally that I must eat high-fat (“good” fats) and I think its a huge issue (among other things). Quite ashamed of my eating habits in fact. Very.

  12. So sorry to hear about your experience with GI issues. I’m sure it’s frustrating for you to deal with. I hope that you are able to figure things out soon!

  13. Wow, that doesn’t sound like much fun : ( But, at least you’re one step closer to figuring it all out, and I have no doubt in the end everything will be figured out and fall into place.

  14. You can email me if u like . I’m 32, …this is very common and those meds u mentioned are regularly dispensed by docs at walk-in clinics everywhere, so it not something that is “deadly” πŸ™‚ But I’m suffering with severe gut issues + my metabolism is slow (zero exercise, insomnia, etc), binging late at night (despite low low weight), brain fog, and hormones a MESs , but my story is long. I think a START over meal plan that will heal all 3 systems: gut + metabolism + hormones . I regret not tackling this head on when I was 27,,,not now at 32 when I fear its all TOO late and the damage is far worse (I spend most time trying to drage myself away from bed, dead tired, aches and p ains everywhere…constipated or some explosive diarrhea, NEVER completely eliminate food…OCD so I force myself to eat…past orthorexia, ,etc and I believe that plays into a LOT of this and possibly u too…a fixation and if u just LET IT GO, and eat and be normal…u might be surprised…but if u ever have any thought, let me know…i’m sick of searching and having vegans say do this and paleo saying do that and scd this and “clean eating” that and blah blah blah….food should n’t be a fixation , there’s more to life than food and to discover and explore real passions I need to get off this obsession train…but its “gone too far” and i’m sick of it…completely sick of it.

    • Thanks for the message Dreams. I’m pretty sick of it all too. I can relate to a lot of what you’ve experienced too. I have to disagree when you say that the medicine is not “deadly” though. While I wouldn’t come right out and say that medicine would kill me, because it probably wouldn’t, just because medicine is dispensed regularly doesn’t mean it should be or is sage. Taking medicine when it wasn’t absolutely necessary has seriously messed up my stomach and therefore will from now on be hesitant to take any without good reason. Sorry to hear that you aren’t feeling the greatest either. Best of luck to you!

  15. Man I feel your pain. Not literally because that would be weird. It sounds like they just identified one of your symptoms; not the actual cause. Since medication is partially responsible for your current predicament, I can understand your reluctance to take it. Maybe you should meet with the doctor and explain that. Hopefully they can come up with an alternative course of action. I’m rooting for you.
    PS. I’m appalled they offered you Splenda. No, just no.

    • Haha. Your comments crack me up. No alternative unfortunately. We asked about alternatives or any more tests they could give me and they just suggested more medicine. Sad but we are no longer seeing that particular office 😦 I run through doctors like *that* it seems.

      I would have taken them up if they offered me honey or stevia, but when they said “splenda” I almost bawked and asked how they could offer that as being a place interested in “health.” But that’s just me being judgmental.

  16. Hello,

    Thanks for posting about this. I am coming up to my gastric emptying scan next week. I am afraid that it won’t show anything and they will tell me–you are just stressed. I feel the stress came AFTER I realized I cannot tolerate dairy, nuts, seeds, grains etc… I have been keto/paleo for years until last fall when many GI issues worsened. For today, I am eating boiled carrots and turnips and very lean poultry. I am sure that this is not the way I want to live forever but it gets me through the day. I sadly have not lost weight! I have gained..I sense there is a thyroid slowing alongside this as well. Have you been tested for SIBO as well? I did get a negative result but my naturopath said it is hard to believe it is not positive. I am hoping you find a balanced physical plan fro you. I am debating the GAPS intro diet as well but struggle with chicken and broth. πŸ˜‰

    I am hoping to hear your successes soon.

    Jen

    • I know exactly how you feel. I subsist solely on lean chicken and seafood and very few well cooked vegetables. And even then I have stomach issues. eall

      I have been tested for SIBO and came out negative. My naturopath was surprised as well. Recently I have not been good with taking any supplements because I just feel like it overwhelms my stomach.

      Really though, I am exactly where you are with the stomach/GI issues, food, weight, everything. I am glad I found GAPS at least for the purpose that it did minimize the stomach pain- the broth does make me feel better and I need to get back to making it.

      The one thing I would caution is taking any medication without extensive research. I have tried a few and if anything, I am confident that they have made me worse off than before.

      I wish I could say I have found “balance,” after all, that is what this blog is all about πŸ˜‰ But alas, I have not. I’m always striving for it though, just not in a good place right now (hence why I haven’t been blogging recently).

      I can say that livingwithgastroparesis.com offers some interesting insight into the condition and in fact the author has recently taken a more paleo approach to things. FODMAPS are something to consider, and PaleoMom has some great articles that provide an interesting read. As well Chris Kresser is great.

      Sorry to not be of any real help, but just know that there is someone out there like you!

      Have a great day Jen πŸ™‚

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