Gastroparesis Essay Example
In early October 2014, my life would change forever. One day after school when my mom was bringing my brother Owen to baseball practice, I thought I was sick due to eating something weird. That was not the case. I felt fine the next day, but my school’s policies concerning being sick left me at home for the day. This night was the first of many episodes.
I had gotten sick from orange chicken and fried rice, chocolate babka, a cheeseburger, Costco mac and cheese, a bagel and cream cheese, naan and pretzels, thanksgiving dinner, and pretty much everything else I ate.
It wasn’t until getting sick to my stomach once or twice a week became so common that my parents and I started to worry. A month or so of this occurring had gone by before I went through allergy tests and started to eliminate foods including gluten, dairy, and eggs. This didn’t help at all, so my family had doubts about this being an issue with my stomach, but rather stress with school. This wasn’t the case, either. Soon enough, I was missing multiple days of school every single week, only getting out of bed to head to the bathroom where I would be throwing up constantly. The cycle never seemed to end.
With barely the blink of an eye, three months had passed by, bringing me to December of 2014. In mid-December, it was thought that I might have had Eosinophilic Esophagitis. We figured out that this wasn’t the case soon enough as I did not appear to have restriction in my esophagus even though Eosinophilic Esophagitis would have explained my eating issues.
Being towards the end of the month, winter break from school started, but it wasn’t much of a break for me. I now had a GI at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and on December 24th, I was admitted into the hospital. It got to this point because I couldn’t keep any food down and lost 5 pounds in only a week. We had to wait for a call from Phoenix Children’s Hospital, saying that they had a room for me to go to. I specifically needed nutrition and an IV.
During my stay at the hospital, I went through a handful of gastric tests, including an endoscopy in which they took biopsies, an upper GI, and blood work. On Christmas Day, my family and I joked with each other about it being my “first Christmas” because being Jewish I had never celebrated the holiday. Anyways, that Friday, the 26th, I went back home from the hospital waiting for the results of my tests to come in. The doctors put me on many meds to control the nausea and pain and to coat my stomach so I could drink the supplements that I was given.
At the End of the Winter
As winter break was ending, my mom had to send an email to all of my teachers explaining what has been going on. At this point, the results of my endoscopy had come in, showing gastritis, meaning that my stomach was covered in blood spots, and hiatal hernia. Luckily, the hernia was small enough so I wouldn’t need surgery. Because of the medication that the doctors had given me at the hospital, I had a short-lived time of relief from the pain and nausea that I had been suffering with for months, but I had at this point lost ten pounds. This made me extremely weak. As of this point, I still was not eating dairy and eggs, but my doctors wanted me to start slowly adding them back into my diet because they didn’t think that dairy and eggs were the issue.
By the time that February had rolled around, I was getting very sick again, missing multiple days of school a week frequently. After going to school late one day after having an ultrasound I started hysterically crying because I was so behind on schoolwork, even though my school was doing everything that they could to help me. I ended up leaving school that day, not because of the pain, but because of the stress of the consequences of my sickness.
In March 2015, I the pain and nausea had made its way back, and I sadly ended up in the emergency room of Phoenix Children’s Hospital. My pain was usually awful, but in that one night, it got to another level. There I had another test or two including a CAT scan but was luckily able to go home the next morning after a sleepless night.
In the following months, I went through countless gastric tests, including an MRE, an ultrasound, multiple MRIs, a colonoscopy, and many more. None of these tests showed I had any illness, besides the MRI.
The MRI showed insert what it showed, which meant I would have to go to another specialist. I was lucky because the insert what wasn’t severe, so I wouldn’t have to get surgery or any procedure. Even though this was amazing news, I was devastated because I wanted something, anything, to show up as the issue. I genuinely don't care what it was, I wanted the pain to be over, but that wasn’t the case.
Around this time, the doctors thought I had a disease called abdominal migraines. There weren’t any tests that could show I either had it or didn’t, but this was the conclusion the doctors had come through, even though there was no way of proving it. After meeting with a pediatric neurologist, I was put on two more new meds to try to help with the new diagnosis, but nothing changed.
I wouldn’t know until the last test the doctors could think of, a gastric emptying test, that I had on June 16th, 2015 that finally tested something positive. It showed I had an illness called gastroparesis, also known as delayed gastric emptying.
Gastroparesis put simply, means my stomach cannot empty itself at a normal rate, which meant that I would be put on more meds. Yet again I wish I could say this was the end of my journey, but it still isn’t.
Phoenix Children’s Hospital didn’t know much about the disease and didn’t have the resources to help me, nor did most hospitals. So, my GI wanted to send me to the leading hospital on gastroparesis in the country, which was in Columbus, Ohio.
Until I went to Ohio, I had to modify my diet to be low-fat and low-fiber and eating six small meals a day. I was happy that we had an idea of what was wrong, but the not-so-good news was that my BMI was at 14% and I was still losing weight.
In early November 2015, when I was in sixth grade, my mom and I made our way to Columbus, Ohio. In Columbus, I had to go through two more tests, which together lasted two days. I thankfully went back home knowing I had gastroparesis and that it would hopefully all be over soon.
The rest of sixth grade I barely missed any school, and I was feeling much better. But, at the beginning of seventh grade, my stomach started acting up again.
On August 24th, I met with my GI doctor for the thousandth time. That next Tuesday, August 30th, I had another endoscopy. During the procedure, my doctor injected Botox into my pyloric sphincter. The hope was for the Botox will paralyze the muscles, for them to relax and then allow her stomach to empty more regularly, but there was only a 50% chance this would work. But, another issue that had been following me for the two years that this had been going on for my weight loss, in which I had lost another 7 pounds since we last saw my GI doctor in June, and if I didn’t start gaining weight, I was going to have a NJ tube for nutritional support.
Things weren’t getting better and I was willing to do anything so I would be better because I was beyond miserable. So, I made one of the worst decisions of my life to get a feeding tube. I cannot put into words how much of a mistake it was. I vividly remember this entire process, and I wish I didn’t. Because it wasn’t that big of a procedure, the doctors didn’t want to put me under general anesthesia, but instead something twilight anesthesia. The doctors told me I wouldn’t remember a xz during the procedure. Well, let me tell you this; they are all liars. Not only did I remember one thing, but the entire procedure, to which I still remember.
After the procedure was complete, my mom drove me home, and I was now even more miserable. I had a tube that went into my body from my nose, and a bag of the formula was attached to it. We were supposed to start the speed of the formula going into the tube slowly, and then raise it a bit at a time. I could only have it at pretty much the lowest setting before getting nauseous. So at this point, I was barely getting anything in my system, and it was not good. Looking for any help possible, my dad took me to the urgent care a few minutes away from my house. I begged and begged for the awful doctor there to take the tube out, but he refused. If he was a doctor, shouldn’t he be able to take out a feeding tube?
Another issue that crossed my plate while the tube was still inside me was having to go to school. My poor mother had to go to my school every single day to change the formula bags. Luckily for her, I guess, I had enough of the tube before even a week had passed when we pulled it out. I had
A sad thing about this, though, is this whole fiasco didn’t even help me. But, after figuring out the right medicines and food I could eat, my stomach settled down. With gastroparesis, there is no cure, so it is something I will always have to deal with. But now knowing the things I can eat and having the right medicines to help me it isn’t severe.
In this experience that took over my life for three years, I have grown as a person a lot. I had to grow up quickly as a consequence of my worries weren’t what most eleven-year old’s worries were. I worried about getting sick from eating, and to cope with this I barely ate for the reason that when I did everything went downhill and I worried about having to prepare for my gastric tests. In contrast to that, my friends and other classmates would worry about school, friends, and things that were normal.
I am so fortunate to have gotten control of my gastric issues, and now I don’t have to worry about getting sick when I eat because I know what will be okay, and I don’t have to go through any more tests. Even though the experience I went through was beyond awful, I know I have become a much stronger person thanks to the experience, which I am appreciative of. I have learned a lot from this experience, and although I had to grow up quickly because of it, everything, in the end, did turn great.