Health Update: Lazy Stomach

My name is Amy and I have a lazy stomach.

Ok, actually I have a “mild gastric emptying delay.” AKA gastroparesis. AKA my stomach doesn’t easily digest food. AKA my stomach is slow. AKA my stomach doesn’t empty itself into my intestines properly.

So you see why I’m calling it “Lazy Stomach.”

Figures, my stomach is as lazy as the rest of me.

Anywho, after the gastric emptying scan where I ate eggs with radioactive dye in them, my GI doctor, Dr. K, had me come back in to talk about the results. Since I have a mild case, he didn’t want to put me on meds just yet. This isn’t a health issue you can cure. It’s something you just learn to live with. Like my hypothyroidism, it will be a lifelong problem for me and if we can put off worse symptoms until I get older, we can put off adding another medication to my morning cocktail.

Interestingly enough, Dr. K says that my thyroid issues are probably contributing to the lazy stomach. He thinks that once we finally get my thyroid levels under control (they were more than double the highest end of “normal” when I was diagnosed a year ago – now, they’re just a little bit higher than normal) hopefully some of my issues will subside.

Of course, me being the paranoid expert Googler I am, I was constantly researching the gastric emptying scan and gastroparesis on countless medical web sites. One of the interesting tidbits I uncovered was that gastroparesis can be caused by prolonged usage of SSRI’s (aka antidepressants). I have been taking Zoloft for more than nine years. My freshman year of college, I got very sick. I had horrible headaches every day. They were debilitating. Many days I just couldn’t get out of bed. I had MRIs and many other neurological exams and my neurologist (Dr. V) diagnosed me as having a serotonin deficiency. Basically, people who are clinically depressed have super low levels of serotonin. Normal people have normal levels. I’m somewhere in between. For me, the serotonin deficiency presented itself in headache form. I’m also convinced that if I wasn’t taking this medication for headache prevention purposes, I would have been on it eventually for depression. I think I’m just wired for depression and anxiety issues. I’ve dealt with both over the past 5-6 years.

Ok, I’ve rambled on long enough.

So there you go. I have a lazy stomach, likely caused and/or influenced by my thyroid disorder and prolonged usage of antidepressants. Good times.

Radioactive scrambled eggs

Guess what I get to do on Monday? Here’s a hint:

I’m eating radioactive scrambled eggs, y’all.

You see, I’ve been having a lot of GI problems lately. I’ll spare you the gross details. It hasn’t been pretty. Everything I eat seems to make me sick. I’m bloated, not very hungry (i.e. forcing myself to eat) and through all this, I haven’t lost any weight, which is frustrating. I’ve had a few different tests – checking for a bacterial infection of the intestines, blood test for Celiac disease, etc. I might have a slight intolerance to gluten, but it’s not a full-blown allergy. (Whew, I was freaking out I’d have to give up beer, pizza, sandwiches and whiskey). I’m gonna try to reduce the gluten in my diet, though, because I haven’t been as sick when I eat mostly gluten-free.

Oh, so back to the radioactive eggs. I saw a specialist yesterday who ordered a gastric emptying scan. It’s not what you think. I made sure it wasn’t a test where they watch you poop. Cuz that’s just nasty. Basically, I fast the night before, then they give me toast, OJ and scrambled eggs laced with radioactive dye and then watch it move through my digestive system. It’ll take a few hours. My doctor said we’d take it from there.

From my extensive Googling, I’ve found that this test is intended to see if your stomach is rapidly or too slowly emptying into the small intestine.

Good times.