Gastroparesis, in a nutshell, is delayed stomach emptying. There are a lot of causes, most notably diabetes, post-surgical and idiopathic. There is another cause – pregnancy.
Lucky for me, I got to experience this first hand last week.
After my breakfast one morning, I started getting a burning sensation in my upper chest, dead center. To say it was awful would be an understatement. My husband and I had just taken our daughter to school and he was taking me to work. Sitting in the car, I felt like everything I’d eaten that morning was stuck in my esophagus and the burning sensation I experienced felt like acid was eating away a hole in my esophagus. I felt like I needed to burp but couldn’t. I drank some water but it only made it worse. I told my husband to stop the car, that I had to walk the rest of the way (about 5 blocks) to the office. Gravity had to help, right?
It was the longest walk of my life. I kid you not. Brutal, absolutely brutal. I can’t even describe it. The burn, oh the burn, was so awful, I felt like throwing up but couldn’t. I made it to the office, took a Gavsicon and my secretary went out to get me some milk. The Gaviscon didn’t work but the milk did help. Eventually, the symptoms subsided and I was able to get on with the day but it was the longest day of my life. I could barely eat my lunch, it felt like nothing was moving down my esophagus. I picked up an antacid at the pharmacy on the way home and started that. After a few days the burning went away and that feeling of food staying in my esophagus eventually settled down. Every now and then it creeps back up, literally.
I’ve had many pregnant patients coming to see me for heartburn relief. I had no idea how bad it really can get. I was lucky with the other two pregnancies – never a sign of heartburn. Of course, third time couldn’t be the charm, right?! Ugh. I have 2.5 months left to go, and the thought of dealing with this all summer is something I’d rather not deal with, but I suppose beggars can’t be choosers. If there’s a silver lining, I just did my sugar test and I passed, thank goodness! I know I really ought not to complain – heartburn and mild gastroparesis are nothing compared to what could go wrong in pregnancy. I am fortunate to have had otherwise totally healthy and normal pregnancies to date. I suppose this really is just par for the course. I got off lucky the other two pregnancies, I know that.
Still, I get to complain, a little bit. I am, after all, nurturing and housing a brand new human being! 😉 I call it my Superpower.