February 28, 2014, is Rare Disease Day and while this is not something that is all that rare, it is something that not many people hear about.
I’ve been sick all my life, and my Mom never believed me. Who’s sick every day? Me, I guess.
I started as thinking it was only onions, but more and more foods were making me sick with elimination trials. Since I am also allergic to Bactrim and knew onions were a definite culprit, the Doctor said to avoid sulfites all together (which is difficult enough by itself). Still, not much had changed so I continued researching and consulting others with the same symptoms and was led to Gastroparesis.
I now believe myself and three of my children have Gastroparesis as well as a sulphite sensitivity. When I think back of the symptoms, I am sure my Dad and Grandmother had Gastroparesis as well. They both complained about stomach pains, bloating, and food in their throats after eating.
What is Gastroparesis?
No, I have not gone for official testing or a Doctor’s diagnosis, but have done enough research to feel that I have finally found an answer.
What this means is that food digests very slowly, and will often sit in the stomach fermenting for 12+ hours which makes us sick and prevents the nutrients from absorbing in the way they are supposed to. It also means we fluxuate between having no appetite, or an unsatisfiable appetite that leads to overeating. It is caused by damage to the vagus nerve, which I’m told can be hereditary but haven’t found a solid source that confirms this. A scratchy rough voice is also a symptom since this nerve controls the stomach and voice box, but the symptoms and severity vary from person to person and even from day to day so they can be difficult to pinpoint.
Whole grains, most raw fruits & veggies, any peels from fruits & veggies, dairy, yeast, sulfites (onions, eggs, and almost everything in a box, can, or frozen veggies), beer, wine (some sources say all alcohol), caffeine, and foods high in thiamines (pasta), fiber, and protein are what we are supposed to avoid or limit eating. When I say all food makes me sick it’s not a joke!
When I started paying more attention to eating healthy foods, making smoothies, and serving more raw fruits and veggies, instead of making us healthier it actually made us worse! We can eat these foods in small quantities and suffer small consequences for it, but normal sized meals almost guarantee we will be sick the next morning. This includes normal sized meals that are easily digestible foods like chicken and white rice.
People with Gastroparesis are recommended to eat 6-9 small meals a day instead of the standard 3, but sometimes I will go for days without eating because I just don’t have an appetite. When I don’t eat, I don’t have any food in my gut making me sick! This is obviously not a solution, around day 4 I usually wake up with terrible hunger pains and begin the overeating part of the cycle. The first time I brought this up to a Doctor was when I was pregnant with my now 14 year old son. When they asked what my diet was, I told them I didn’t eat much of anything – and I was laughed at.
Many days my symptoms are manageable, there might be some lingering stomach pain, nausea, or discomfort that exists yet doesn’t interfere with the day in a big way. A day with no noticeable symptoms rarely happens, but the more I watch what I’m eating and be sure to limit the quantities to small meals the better it gets. With medication it could be better, but I’ll save the full story of my aversion to Doctors and the side effects of their medications for another time.
“Gastroparesis Treatments, Symptoms, Causes.” Web MD. N.p., n. d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/gastroparesis>.
All other information based on my personal experiences.