Back in June 2013, I had an abnormal test result. The test revealed that I did not digest my food properly. Believe it or not, I was not scheduled to see my doctor again until September. In between the test results and the upcoming appointment, I went on a very specific diet to determine what foods I could and could not eat. Read more about that here: (http://foodallergyextra.blogspot.com/2013/10/in-search-of-answers-june-16th-2013.html). I also did extensive research on what specifically I could be diagnosed with. I would love to say that I was totally prepared for what my doctor would tell me but I wasn't. Nothing prepares you for bad news. NO amount of reading, researching, constant self soothing, incessant talking to loved ones or Xanax can make the not-so-great news coming out of my doctor's mouth bearable.
I finally got to see my doctor in the second week of September. He repeated what I had already known about my test result...that it was abnormal. I had really, really hoped that he would have said that it would be a temporary issue although in my heart I knew he wouldn't. After seventeen years of stomach problems the truth was in the test. My diagnosis was dysautonomia.
Your autonomic nervous system is made up of nerves that control those “automatic” things you need to do to survive. A few of those necessary things include blood pressure, heart rate, sweating, and digestion of your food. Autonomic dysfunction or dysautonomia refers to problems with this autonomic nervous system.
I have several problems with my autonomic nervous system. The one with the most serious complications is gastroparesis and it involves the digestion of food. Gastroparesis is a condition in which the muscles in your stomach don't function normally. Ordinarily, strong muscular contractions propel food through your digestive tract. But with gastroparesis, the muscles in the wall of your stomach work poorly or not at all. This prevents your stomach from emptying properly. Gastroparesis can interfere with digestion, cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, problems with blood sugar levels and nutrition. I also have autoimmune reactions to certain foods and chemicals in certain foods which can cause severe migraines and flu like systems that can last for days.
There is no cure for gastroparesis. Making changes to my diet may help me cope with gastroparesis signs and symptoms, but that's not always enough. Gastroparesis medications may offer some relief, but some can cause serious side effects (permanent involuntary muscular contractions and abnormal postures, heart problems and spontaneous lactation)...I will pass on those meds, thank you very much. My doctor recommended that I do not even attempt to take any of the drugs because of the high risk of side effects.
So what's a girl with gastroparesis supposed to do?
- Find out what my body will allow me to eat. Currently, I do not eat: wheat, barley, oats, rye, shellfish, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant), any dairy or eggs. What do I eat...that's a whole other blog post.
- Take supplements that help me digest my food, heal my gut tissue, boost my immune system and relieve the autoimmune symptoms.
- Plenty of sleep
- Reduce stress level
- Try not to freak out about having a non-curable condition (see # 4)
Life is Short. Eat dessert first! (if you make it for me make sure it's gluten free, dairy free and egg free) ...and never, ever let anyone steal your dreams especially an incurable dysfunctional autonomic nervous system!