Gastroparesis: Early Signs

I will often see a discussion with someone having problems with their blood sugar and another person will suggest gastroparesis.  The person having problems will say they don’t have gastroparesis because they are not sick in their stomach.  I remember one conversation in particular on TuDiabetes that my friend Natalie suggested gastroparesis based on what the person’s blood sugar was doing.  Of course, the person did not think they had gastroparesis.

DoctorI was officially diagnosed with gastroparesis in September, 2003.  I got really sick in my stomach over Easter weekend that year.  When I started doing research on it, it really sounded like gastroparesis. When I went in to see my PCP, his response was that I didn’t look that sick and if I still didn’t feel great in two weeks, I should come back and he would put me in the hospital to get fluids in me.  If that didn’t work, they would call in a gastroenterologist.  Needless to say, that was the last time I saw that doctor!  Fortunately my insurance did not require a referral to a specialist and I made my own appointment with a gastroenterologist.

I had a long wait to get in with a gastroenterologist, but in the meantime, I gathered up all the stomach tests I had done over the years.  I actually had two different tests suggesting gastroparesis.  The first of those tests was an Upper GI done in July, 1995 – eight years before I had any real signs of gastroparesis!

Upper GI
Xray woman out of orderWhen I had my appointment with the gastroenterologist, he agreed that I most likely had gastroparesis and scheduled a gastric emptying test.  Although other tests can tell you that you have gastroparesis, as the Upper GI I had showed, a gastric emptying test is the best test to have in my opinion.  The gastric emptying test will follow a meal thru your stomach and show exactly how slow your stomach is moving.  It can distinguish between a mild case of gastroparesis or a more severe case of it.  The gastric emptying test not only confirmed the gastroparesis for me, but it also showed how bad it was.

I took this list of gastroparesis symptoms off of the Mayo Clinic website:

Signs and symptoms of gastroparesis include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • A feeling of fullness after eating just a few bites
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux
  • Changes in blood sugar levels
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss and malnutrition

Prior to getting sick in 2003, changes in blood sugar levels were the only symptoms I had and I didn’t even really remember that.  Even after starting to have noticeable problems with gastroparesis (other than the BS being noticeable!), I rarely have vomiting or reflux.  As with everything else, YMMV.

Last summer I was looking for something in my medical records and was reading chart notes in that particular file.  I know from reading other records that I had a more clear memory of what happened that just because something is in your records doesn’t mean that is what really happened, but this particular record talked about lows after meals and highs later.  Bingo!

I had switched to this doctor right after I had the Upper GI and he did get a copy of that test so was certainly aware of the fact that I had “slow digestion.”  It was his file that I got the copy of the test from and his initials were on it as having seen it.  In one respect, it made me very angry to read thru that file because prior to last summer, I always thought of that doctor as a very good doctor.  The only reason I changed doctors was because he moved to another state.  I was also his patient when I had the second test done three years later that also suggested issues with slow stomach emptying.  Not once was gastroparesis suggested nor the slow digestion as a cause for the blood sugar problems.

It took eight years for symptoms other than blood sugar problems to show up in me. If you are having problems with blood sugar (other than normal PWD problems!) like going low after meals then going high hours later, I suggest you take a look at gastroparesis.  You don’t have to always be sick in your stomach to have problems with it.

 

Comments

  1. Kelly, I have a friend in Maryland who has had gastroparesis for many years. Her digestion is so slow that she can eat only one meal per day. She is a wonderful cook (Italian background) and she loves to cook for other people. She rarely eats the meals she cooks for people. I cannot imagine being around so much food and not eating it. I hope you can have several small meals each day. There are probably many things you have to avoid eating, besides those containing sugar.

    • I am able to eat 3 meals Richard but they are small meals and I try to only eat gastroparesis friendly foods (which aren’t many!). I wouldn’t be able to be around so much food and not eating it either. My food problems are one good advantage to living alone – I don’t have to worry about what someone else wants to have in the house! Vegetables were the hardest things for me to give up because I always ate a salad every day. The other things don’t really bother me but those do.

  2. Dianne M. says:

    Hey Kelly,
    Thanks for sharing this info on gastroparesis. Despite being diagnosed so many years ago neither
    my doc, a local internist, nor my well meaning CDE have even suggested that the Big G might be the cause of my lows after meals. They’ve focused on the extreme hypoglycemia. I’ve passed out so many times in the past few months (9x) that was all she wrote. And why don’t they recognize the symptoms and treat it? I’m thinking I may make the 50 mile drive to see an endocrinologist now that
    I’m not afraid of driving. Honest to God I’m afraid if I weren’t so ‘smart’ and vigilant I’d be 6′ under by now.

    • I have never been able to figure out doctors and gastroparesis Dianne! Doctors would get upset with me and they knew I had gastroparesis but apparently never understood it. I even told one doctor, “tell me what to do and I will do it” when he was criticizing me and all I got back was blank stares. Under the gastroparesis menu, I have an article, Doctors and Gastroparesis: Why Don’t They Get It. I wrote that after someone emailed me and told me that her doctors told her family that she must be deliberately causing the lows when she passed out. When I started a pump, the trainer told me that is their typical reaction when they don’t know how to help someone. I would love to sit down with every doctor and teach them a thing or two about gastroparesis because most don’t seem to get it.

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