Lately, I’ve been having more nausea than usual, and eating causes upper abdominal pain. I am usually successful at curbing the need to vomit with anti-emetics (Zofran, phenergan, etc..), but it’s still not precisely a fun sensation. This is not uncommon in EDSers, as we tend to have a variety of GI problems, including but not limited to motility disorders. My gastroenterologist (GI doctor) wanted to differentiate between two possibilities to explain my symptoms: functional dyspepsia and gastroparesis. Both are considered motility disorders – meaning that the movement of muscles in the stomach is affected. IBS and GERD (which I have also been diagnosed with) are more well known motility disorders.
In order to discern the severity of the motility disorder, and therefore the diagnosis – two tests were ordered. (1) Upper Endoscopy – to rule out an ulcer or blockage and take biopsies of the stomach tissue. (2) Gastric Emptying Study – to measure how long food takes to pass through my stomach. I will do my best to describe my experience with each procedure!
I had my upper endoscopy last week. It is a fairly straight forward procedure. I went in early in the morning after fasting for about 12 hours. I opted not to take my medication that morning until I got home, but if you have medications that are essential you can discuss what to take with your doctor before the procedure. An IV was placed (after one botched attempt – totally not the nurses fault though, my veins blow easily). After being rolled into the OR a blood pressure monitor was placed on my arm and oxygen was placed in my nose. I was asked to place the biteguard (which they use to keep your mouth open during the procedure) myself because of my TMJ disorder. Then I was given light sedation through the IV site. My gastroenterologist was the one to perform the procedure. He used the scope to look at my stomach and small intestine and took biopsies. I later woke up in the recovery room, where my husband was waiting. As always he did his best to keep me laughing while we waited for the doctor. The doctor went over what he saw (healthy tissue) and told us to call later for the biopsy results. Once I was able to drink something, I was allowed to leave under the care of my husband.
Gastric Emptying Study
This procedure was performed in the nuclear medicine department of my local hospital. I was required to eat a meal similar to the one above in a ten minute period. The egg contained a small amount of radioactive material so that it could be traced as it moved throughout my digestive system. I have to say that I was not accustomed to eating that early or that fast, so when the nurse asked if it was delicious I kind of faked a smile and nod. Immediately after I finished eating the first image was taken. It was similar to an XRAY in that I just had to stand against a plate, at a particular angle. Then I was aloud to return to the waiting room. After that, each hour I was required to come in for another image. The test is completed when either (A) there is no longer a trace of egg in your stomach or (B) 4 hours have passed since the initial XRAY. No egg was in my stomach after the third hour, so I was aloud to leave a bit early. I still do not have results from this test, but I am hoping this means no gastroparesis!
Whatever the results from the biopsies and gastric emptying study turn out to be, I will just be glad to know why I am always nauseous!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am simply describing my experience. If you have any concerns about your health, or do not understand a procedure that you are going to have, please consult with your physician.