Happy August, a beautiful month to make beautiful memories.
It’s also a beautiful month to raise some awareness on a chronic illness that has affected my life since I was aged 15/16 in 2012.
A chronic illness called Gastroparesis.
And August is actually Gastroparesis Awareness month.
Initially, I planned on writing a blog post every day for the whole month but when I started planning, I was like “what would I even talk about for a whole thirty-one posts?” so I’ve decided to do at least one a week – that seems easily doable. And that way, any more is just added awareness and therefore an added bonus.
So, here is the first blog post and I think a very good place to start is by telling you all what Gastroparesis actually means.
Gastroparesis is a rare, complicated and sometimes, but not always, a severe motility debilitating condition which affects the stomach. The name itself literally translates into “stomach paralysed” and this means that when someone with Gastroparesis eats, their food isn’t digested properly. Because of this, food then sits on their stomach for longer than usual – this can be hours and sometimes even days.
It is estimated that only 4% of the worlds population experience Gastroparesis-like symptoms and it is unknown how many people actually have the condition.
Women are more commonly affected than men, with approximately 80% of gastroparesis sufferers being female but the reason for this difference is not fully understood.
There is no particular age group that’s more susceptible to developing this illness, although the average age of onset is 34. This doesn’t mean that people under the age of 34 are “safe” and “will never get it” and I am a prime example of that.
I developed this illness when I was just 16 years of age.
There are loads of symptoms for Gastroparesis and most people will only experience a few of them at a time, but it is possible to have them all kicking off at once. It’s worth a mention that while some people may have “mild” symptoms which are bearable, others can have very severe symptoms which can, in turn, leave them bedridden.
That being said, someone who usually experiences quite mild symptoms can still have awful flares which end up with an individual experiencing severe symptoms and they too can end up bedridden. On the other hand, someone who usually has quite severe symptoms can also have a good day and experience mild symptoms.
With Gastroparesis, no two days are identical.
– Upper abdominal pain
– Stomach spasms
– Acid reflux
– Abdominal bloating
– No appetite
– Early satiety (feeling full really quickly)
– Erratic blood glucose levels
– Weight loss/weight gain
AND MANY MORE!
There’s no real explanation for what causes Gastroparesis. Someone may develop it without any cause at all and this is known as Idiopathic Gastroparesis – this is what I have. Others may develop Gastroparesis as a result of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, a complication in surgery, a side effect of medication or as a result of another illness that they already have such as Parkinson’s or Scleroderma.
There is no cure for Gastroparesis.
Many people have died from this condition already.
There are very few treatment options.
And quite often, the treatments that are available either don’t help much (if at all) or they aren’t a long term solution.
The only real help people can give themselves is by adjusting their diets.
Doctors don’t know too much about this condition because of it being so rare.
There’s little research out there and many people are left learning about their health alongside a doctor who’s learning too. Some people are even learning from support groups on social media – asking what’s “normal” for someone with GP and when to seek medical advice because SO much is unknown.
Hopefully, this month will spread the word and eventually more research will be done. More money will be pumped into this condition and one day a cure can be found.
Help raise awareness by spreading this blog post, following anything you can find on social media and by spreading the word in any way you can.
With love & laughter,
Hayley @ Spoonful of Scouse