Happy gastroparesis awareness month 2021!
This is my first time experiencing this awareness month since I was diagnosed with gastroparesis late last year. I have a post on what exactly gastroparesis is so definitely head over there first (if you haven't already) to understand what this condition involves.
So let's talk my must have items that help me live my best life despite my slow tummy.
I have an entire post on my favourite alternative (non medication based) pain relief methods. You can read it here. Gastroparesis can cause some pretty hectic pain and it can be hard for us to take many pain medications as they affect motility. The pain relief methods mentioned in that post are really easy to incorporate in to my every day life. What is your favourite pain relief method?
My bowels live by their own schedule and I know I'm not alone in experiencing this since being diagnosed with gastroparesis. I had tried period undies before and started looking in to them again to see if they had any undies for bowel and/or bladder incontinence (yes, I'm 27 going on 97). When I found Modibodi I was so inspired by the story of their brand and the work they do that I started looking further in to their products. I was pretty nervous and actually ended up emailing them to ask about what specific product they would recommend for me. They were so caring and understanding and really made me feel more comfortable with the idea of being 26 (at the time) and needing incontinence underwear. I wear the Sensual Hi-Waist Bikini in Maxi-24hrs absorbency every single day and am so obsessed with them! I know there are other brands (I really love the Bonds ones for periods) but I find this particular style great as it covers completely from front to back and the fabric is so, so, so soft! Have you ever tried period undies?
Gastroparesis has a wide range of possible symptoms and, out of those, probably 90% can lead to dehydration. Hydralyte may become your new best friend if you have gastroparesis.
Dry mouth spray, eyedrops and lip ointment
As mentioned above, dehydration is a common symptom for people with gastroparesis and I have found my magic trio to help me combat some of the side effects. The lip ointment by Dermal Therapy is my go to chapped lips, and I also put it around my nails etc when they crack up too. The Hylo eye drops are my favourite for rehydrating my eyes and I'm a recent dry mouth spray convert. I have to be honest, I felt like an 85 year old when a doctor first recommend I try out dry mouth spray but it.has.changed.my.life. Just try it, trust me. You can find this combo from most chemists.
I first got on to numbing lozenges when I got a nasogastric feeding tube placed a few months ago and haven't looked back. Whether you're tube fed, experience reflux or have a sore throat from vomiting a lot you need to get your hands on some! My personal favourite brand is Difflam but I am sure others are good too, just make sure they have Lidocaine in them and you're good to go.
Oil for massage
I'm a big advocate for doing lots of small things that, when combined, will equal big changes. Massaging my tummy with oil at least once a day (normally at night) as been one of those small things that I have found has really helped get the ol' bowels moving. A lot of people with gastroparesis can experience problems with wider parts of their digestion and that has definitely been true for me personally. This video shows the general way in which self massage can help relieve gas pain, cramping and constipation. It's obviously not a cure but I find it helps and my gastroenterologist is also a big fan. I tend to use whatever oil is on sale at the chemist or I have on hand, the one on my bedside table at the moment is Bio-Oil.
Silk pillow case or bonnet
The dietary restrictions that come along with gastroparesis can cause malnutrition in some cases. Something that has changed in my body because of this has been my hair. My normally curly, thick hair is now wavy (at its very best) and thinning by the hour. I swear by the Damn Gina hair turbans and have actually worn one for a while now at night to protect my curls and still love it to pieces. Since my hair loss has increased one of my beautiful best friends gave me a Slip silk pillowcase and I am so in love! I have noticed a big difference in my fallout in only a few days of using it (please note: I have spent 90% of my time in bed) and would definitely recommend the Damn Gina hair turbans or slip pillow cases if you experience hair loss that you are worried about. I also saw a dermatologist to double check there wasn't anything underlying (apart from the gastroparesis) that we could fix and that has helped me feel a bit better.
For some people, myself included, gastroparesis can cause a lot of vomiting. This unfortunately means that our mouth health can be at risk. My first dental appointment after I had been particularly sick with gastroparesis was a bit of a rude shock for me and I have really upped my game since then. This has meant making sure I have six monthly dentist appointments (so lucky to have private health insurance), making sure I wait a while after vomiting to brush my teeth and applying tooth mousse at least a few days a week. Tooth mousse "remineralises decayed teeth by replenishing lost calcium and phosphate, and restore subsurface areas of defect in teeth enamel" ...... I'll be honest, I have absolutely no idea what any of that means but my dentist has told me it's helping so I'm going to keep on using it and would highly recommend. #science Chemist Warehouse sells it as do a lot of dentists.
Let me know if you or anyone you know give any of these things a go or even already use them! I would love to hear what your gastroparesis must-haves are too! Please make sure to keep your doctors in the loop whenever you are thinking of or have added any new things to your gastroparesis management! They need to be aware of everything, even things we may think are insignificant.
Life is tough, but so are we.