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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Mental Health and Gastroparesis Part 1

Chronic illness can be hard on anyone, especially when it's invisible. And, it's not just chronic illness or invisible illness, it's mental illness as well. It's hard to convince people that you're sick when you look fine on the outside but inside is a different story. When people doubt you or tell you that your illness is all in your head, you start doubting yourself. You get depressed and anxious because you are scared to tell anyone about what is really going on with you. You start cutting yourself off from your friends, your family. You isolate yourself because you'd rather be alone than deal with the fallout of someone not believing you or your illness. People don't understand what they can't see. My own sister just recently told me I have a mental illness, my gastroparesis was in my head, and that I was a drug addict for taking medication prescribed to me by my physician. When people say hurtful things like that to you, it takes its toll on your psyche. You get depressed and you feel like you have no one to turn to who really understands what you're going through.






I want to also say that the mental healthcare in this country is sorely lacking. It's gotten better from the asylums that were around at the turn of last century, but not by much. I've been in mental hospitals visiting people and they terrify me. They do not receive the adequate care that they really need. It bothers me how these people are neglected and not helped like they should be. It almost feels to me like they're locked in a room and forgotten because they are an embarrassment to society. We can do better. No one should be judged by their mental illness, period.






Anyway, I have a few stories to share from friends of mine who have dealt with similar things, due to their invisible chronic illnesses that I want to share. They were kind enough to share their stories with me so I will post them below.

"My journey living with Gastroparesis & DTP
By: Sarah (and copyrighted but I have special permission to use it)


Until now, I've had the heart but not the drive. The pain to turn into production, but not the passion as motivation... That all changed for me the night a friend wanted to be a lantern to instill light to my candle. I felt ashamed by what GP has taken, afraid of offending to explain its torture on my self worth & the emotional pain has held me back from being open with fellow sufferers due the the somewhat negative aspect of this disease has had on my life over the last couple of years.

MY STORY SO FAR PART 1

Nevertheless, I now am sharing with you my journey into unknown territory in the hope it may lessen the same lonely isolation for others, that I once felt. I had always been a nervous eater, sporadic appetite & bowels that were sensitive to upheavals & stress... I always thought everyone was the same. It began with tests for motility, barium swallow & X-rays.... I'd never heard of motility disorders causing conditions that made eating so painful, I had always believed I had IBS or colitis of my bowel, nevertheless here I found myself in consult with surgeons who wanted to place a PEG & I wasn't ready. I never went back for another consult, I was afraid & I never considered that although I had forced food down, that the reason it rarely gave me energy was because it wasn't being digested, these idea's just weren't my issue, so I thought. I had an obstruction that landed me in hospital as a child, it was a volvulus (twisted bowel) apparently from stress, but that was before I was diagnosed with the genetic connective tissue disorder called Vascular Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ehlers%E2%80%93Danlos_syndrome), as an adult 20+ years later...

It is Spring.... I have realized that although I'm aware of issues with my digestion increasing recently, I have no explanation for the weight loss since weeks before that would suffice my doctors enough to run more tests & neither do I want anymore days in labs at the local hospital. I'm tired, emotionally drained & yet I feel walking is my only hope to ease the discomfort & pain after eating my boiled egg, so I set off walking. I had not long lost a friend, a teenage mentor from complications to diabetes, causing him to no longer be able to attain adequate nutrition, he always had encouraged me to keep eating. Alex was a brilliant youth worker to me in an orphanage & I felt my emotions needed clearing after this tragic loss. I walked miles, I turned a corner as pain surged up my neck through my shoulders into my jaw from my chest, I stopped... took out my nitro spray & prayed it would give relief, the heart thumped harder the pain slowly subsided but the threat loomed & all the while I knew my nutrition was missing something, something vital for my heart to react this way. I managed to get home after stopping in at a shop for a drink of water, but later that night I knew I would need an ambulance.

The egg I had eaten earlier wasn't enough even though my stomach was distended & still felt full, I knew Something was terribly wrong. I dialed 000 & the ambulance came sirens blaring. I was whisked off to hospital where my bloods revealed via a PICC line that my potassium was dangerously low, possibly from vomiting, but more from lack of food. My stomach was really bad the week before, so I had hardly been eating...

MY STORY SO FAR PART 2

The next morning my doctors consulted with me, my poor intake of food & lack of potassium was affecting my heart rhythm in a life threatening way & they wanted to find out why my stomach wasn't emptying properly. My GES score was at 197 mins, this was done with cupric acid that Ai ate mixed into eggs & toast, then recorded by exhalations into 1/2 hourly bags, meaning I had severe delayed emptying time. I didn't think this was a major issue, I thought it was more an issue that I could only eat certain foods without excruciating pain & nausea.

I was admitted into CCU where further tests revealed Long QT Syndrome, Gastroparesis/Digestive Tract Paralysis & Dysautonomia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dysautonomia). I was scheduled for a lower NG tube placement & feeds were commenced. It was hard, really hard accepting that due to my stomach issues, I was no longer able to rely on my stomach for my nutritional requirements. My kidneys did not store normal levels of potassium & in my case this was deadly. For weeks I was tube fed, months went by... those months became a year & 1/2, then two years.

Before it was decided best I had my tubes placed in the duodenal jejunal junction for best possible absorption. In the last few months leading up to now, my specialist told me this Christmas just gone he wanted me to give my system one last chance to gain some tone, he explained that when a muscle isn't used for any length of time it atrophies or wastes & the only way to retrain those muscles is to use them. An even harder exercise for someone with EDS. As I had already had to retrain my swallowing to ease eso-tracheomalacia.

I left with my fiancé after becoming teary, resigned to give my stomach & intestines one last chance to gain back some control I would only use the referral for the tube replacement if it became too much. Not wanting to give up over Christmas & New Year with family, each day I pushed myself to keep trying, all the while praying it would work & give back some muscle strength & better motility... I'm stubborn, I know it to be true & I never want to give up especially when I'm told if I do, then that is it. But for me to accept that maybe this was the best I would get my stomach, I had to hit rock bottom so to speak. In the time over Christmas & New Year the pain & discomfort has been so extreme that I have had to revisit the possibility of needing surgical intervention for my nutrition. Things have been exacerbated by a mass about the size of a clenched fist becoming more exacerbated by trying to eat & digest food. I have now two herniations one epigastric & the other umbilical & mow, this "mass" to yet be identified... this is my story so far....


MY STORY SO FAR PART 3
I lay here now after writing this, there may be gaps I hope those reading can understand, they are not intentional but the life of someone with this condition is a constant battle not to allow pain & discomfort unsettle their resolve to fight through. Have I got the strength to fight it & if so for how much longer? I'm not sure, but there is one thing for certain I won't go down easy, I'll give it all I have, if that brings legacy to all who have gained their wings from this dis-ease then so be it! This is for all who know the life we live & struggle forward anyway!& my darling Fiancé of whom I wouldn't still be here without."





My friend Shannon was brave enough to share her story with me:

"I was first diagnosed with PTSD bipolar depression when I was 11 years old after being brutally raped I was sent to a mental hospital and was there for 3 weeks while they tried to get my medication right and they felt that they had the right medications so they discharge me also at that time my mother left me with my grandma and took off I haven't seen her in 23 years my grandma is my supporter my rock my caretaker when I was little I got pregnant at the age of 14 had my daughter when I was 15 and I don't regret it at all my grandma helped me raise her so I would do it right she'll be 27 this year and she has A4 year old daughter my little granddaughter who I love so much and sometimes because of my illness and my depression I sometimes say that I would kill myself if I didn't have my granddaughter this disease has taken away so much I was a nurse for 12 years did medical research so I gave people experimental medication I traveled the country I'm learning about new studies and research and I even went out of the country to Canada and Dubai which was amazing in Canada we stayed in a castle I can't remember the name of it it was something French like something France it was amazing and we were there for 4 days I went to Denver San Francisco Dallas New Mexico twice it was amazing it was I was on top of the world I was making a very good amount of money. But then suddenly in 2008 I started vomiting and I couldn't stop my son was twelve at the time and he had to call an ambulance and he was scared he didn't know what was going on and luckily his dad was closed so his dad came and picked him up but I stayed in the hospital for 3 days with an NG tube in my nose and they couldn't figure it out so they told me to go see a GI which I went and saw dr. Lee Mitchell he's a blessing and he said he wanted to run tests on me he knew right away when I told him my symptoms what was going on he knew exactly what tests to run.

so I had the gastric emptying study twice to confirm definitely that I had gastroparesis he put me on Reglan Zofran, Protonix, Phenergan and that's what we were going to hopefully manage it well after about a hundred admissions to the hospital he told me that I was in end-stage gastroparesis and the only thing that was going to help me with the gastric pacemaker I had the pacemaker put in March 2nd 2014 and three Fridays ago I got so sick I refuse to go to the hospital because the ER doctors don't know anything about gastroparesis they don't know how to treat it they wouldn't treat my pain because they think I'm a drug seeker and one time I went and the doctor they drew my blood and nobody came in to give me my results so I went looking for the doctor he came in and told me that my blood hemolyzed so he pulled the number out of his ass and told me my potassium level was 7 I told him how can you give me a number when my blood hemolyze and it's no good so you don't know what my potassium levels are you don't know what any of my blood work is so when I called him out he felt bad and he's like well what if the VA give you and I told him zofran and Reglan I said and she didn't treat my pain.

I don't know if he felt stupid or what but not less than two minutes after he left the room I was given Dilaudid and Phenergan it was amazing it would I was on top of the world I was making a very good amount of money. But then suddenly in 2000 and a tie started vomiting and I couldn't stop my son was 12 at the time and he had to call and ambulance and he was scared he didn't know what was going on and luckily his dad was closed so his dad came and picked him up but I stayed in the hospital for 3 days with an energy to ban my nose and they couldn't figure it out so they told me to go see UGI which I went and saw Dr Lee Mitchell he's the blessing and he said he wanted to run tests on me he knew right away when I told him my symptoms what was going on he knew exactly what tester run so I had the gastric tempting study twice to confirm definitely that I had gastro Brisas he put me on Redlands zofran, protonix, Phenergan and that's what we were going to hopefully manage it well after about a hundred admissions to the hospital he told me that I was in in stage gastro prices and the only thing that was going to help me was the gastric pacemaker I had the pacemaker put in March 2nd of 2014 and 14 and three Fridays ago I got so sick I refuse to go to the hospital because the ER doctors don't know anything about gastro Brisas they don't know how to treat it they wouldn't treat my pain because they think I'm a drug seeker and one time I went and the doctor they drew my blood and nobody came in to get me my results so I went looking for the doctor he came in and told me that my blood hemelyzed[sic] so he pulled a number at of his hat and told me my potassium level was 7 I told him how can you give me a number when my blood hemelyzed[sic] and its no good so you don't know what my potassium levels are you don't know what.

For some reason it's not letting me go any further. But anyway they didn't know what my levels were so he just threw out a number so I filed a formal complaint against them but I saw them I knew surgeon yesterday and he took my battery and it is completely dead which would explain why I went through a violent violent flare 3 weeks ago butt I have seen a psychiatrist after I was diagnosed and he's helping me with the correct mental medications that I need because of my disability paperwork and through my history I already know I was diagnosed with PTSD bipolar depression anxiety OCD and person with borderline personality disorder I get so sad and I cry all day long because this is taking away my career my family my children well one of my children says I'm a hypochondriac but we don't talk that much but I don't know how I can be a hypochondriac when they know I have an incurable condition which that makes me sit and cry and cry I am so anxious that I am on to anxiety medications I don't sleep and I'm on two different sleeping medications when I get sick my husband yells at me I think because he's scared but because he's over it because he's gone to the ER with me over a hundred times he's visited me over a hundred times he's traveled an hour and a half away to see me at two different hospitals this condition I'd rather have cancer then have this condition if I didn't have my granddaughter I'm mentally unstable I would kill myself."



Cheryl's Story:






Shannon's Story:

[sic]"Hi Emily it's Shannon L. I was first diagnosed with PTSD bipolar depression when I was 11 years old after being brutally raped I was sent to a mental hospital and was there for 3 weeks while they tried to get my medication right and they felt that they had the right medications so they discharge me also at that time my mother left me with my grandma and took off I haven't seen her in 23 years my grandma is my supporter my rock my caretaker when I was little I got pregnant at the age of 14 had my daughter when I was 15 and I don't regret it at all my grandma helped me raise her so I would do it right she'll be 27 this year and she has A4 year old daughter my little granddaughter who I love so much and sometimes because of my illness and my depression I sometimes say that I would kill myself if I didn't have my granddaughter this disease has taken away so much I was a nurse for 12 years did medical research so I gave people experimental medication I traveled the country I'm learning about new studies and research and I even went out of the country to Canada and Dubai which was amazing in Canada we stayed in a castle I can't remember the name of it it was something French like something france it was amazing and we were there for 4 days I went to Denver San Francisco Dallas New Mexico twice it was amazing it was I was on top of the world I was making a very good amount of money. But then suddenly in 2008 I started vomiting and I couldn't stop my son was twelve at the time and he had to call an ambulance and he was scared he didn't know what was going on and luckily his dad was closed so his dad came and picked him up but I stayed in the hospital for 3 days with an NG tube in my nose and they couldn't figure it out so they told me to go see a GI which I went and saw dr. Lee Mitchell he's a blessing and he said he wanted to run tests on me he knew right away when I told him my symptoms what was going on he knew exactly what tests to run so I had the gastric emptying study twice to confirm definitely that I had gastroparesis he put me on Reglan Zofran Protonix finagrin and that's what we were going to hopefully manage it well after about a hundred admissions to the hospital he told me that I was in end-stage gastroparesis and the only thing that was going to help me with the gastric pacemaker I had the pacemaker put in March 2nd 2014 and three Fridays ago I got so sick I refuse to go to the hospital because the ER doctors don't know anything about gastroparesis they don't know how to treat it they wouldn't treat my pain because they think I'm a drug seeker and one time I went and the doctor they drew my blood and nobody came in to give me my results so I went looking for the doctor he came in and told me that my blood hemolyzed so he pulled the number out of his ass and told me my potassium level was 7 I told him how can you give me a number when my blood hemolyze and it's no good so you don't know what my potassium levels are you don't know what any of my blood work is so when I called him out he felt bad and he's like well what if the VA give you and I told him zofran and Reglan I said and she didn't treat my pain I don't know if he felt stupid or what but not less than two minutes after he left the room I was given Dilaudid and finagrin it was amazing it would I was on top of the world I was making a very good amount of money. But then suddenly in 2000 and a tie started vomiting and I couldn't stop my son was 12 at the time and he had to call and ambulance and he was scared he didn't know what was going on and luckily his dad was closed so his dad came and picked him up but I stayed in the hospital for 3 days with an energy to ban my nose and they couldn't figure it out so they told me to go see UGI which I went and saw Dr Lee Mitchell he's the blessing and he said he wanted to run tests on me he knew right away when I told him my symptoms what was going on he knew exactly what tester run so I had the gastric tempting study twice to confirm definitely that I had gastro Brisas he put me on Redlands zofran protonix Finnegan and that's what we were going to hopefully manage it well after about a hundred admissions to the hospital he told me that I was in in stage gastro prices and the only thing that was going to help me was the gastric pacemaker I had the pacemaker put in March 2nd of 2014 and 14 and three Fridays ago I got so sick I refuse to go to the hospital because the ER doctors don't know anything about gastro Brisas they don't know how to treat it they wouldn't treat my pain because they think I'm a drug seeker and one time I went and the doctor they drew my blood and nobody came in to get me my results so I went looking for the doctor he came in and told me that my blood hemelyzed so he pulled a.number at of his ass and told me my potassium level was 7 I told him how can you give me a number when my blood hemelyze d and its no good so you don't know what my potassium levels are you don't know what[sic]

[sic]For some reason it's not letting me go any further. But anyway they didn't know what my levels were so he just threw out a number so I filed a formal complaint against them but I saw them I knew surgeon yesterday and he took my battery and it is completely dead which would explain why I went through a violent violent flare 3 weeks ago butt I have seen a psychiatrist after I was diagnosed and he's helping me with the correct mental medications that I need because of my disability paperwork and through my history I already know I was diagnosed with PTSD bipolar depression anxiety OCD and person with borderline personality disorder I get so sad and I cry all day long because this is taking away my career my family my children well one of my children says I'm a hypochondriac but we don't talk that much but I don't know how I can be a hypochondriac when they know I have an incurable condition which that makes me sit and cry and cry I am so anxious that I am on to anxiety medications I don't sleep and I'm on two different sleeping medications when I get sick my husband yells at me I think because he's scared but because he's over it because he's gone to the ER with me over a hundred times he's visited me over a hundred times he's traveled an hour and a half away to see me at two different hospitals this condition I'd rather have cancer then have this condition if I didn't have my granddaughter I'm mentally unstable I would kill myself
I am so sorry that happened to you but I want to commend you for being brave enough to share your story with me. It will help other people. ❤[sic]

[sick]Thank you Emily I follow you and your notifications every day and I'm sorry that you have this condition too I'm sorry I'll everybody on the GP Pages have this condition Please share my story if you want to I don't have any friends I lost all my friends when I got sick I don't have anybody to talk to I sit around the house I clean what I can because I also have had one back surgery and 3 neck surgeries so I suffer from chronic pain so I can only you know clean so much I have to sit down I clean something but my house is super clean I don't know what to do so I just sit here and then I watch TV and that's depressing sometimes and I need to stop watching the news but I have you know all the news people on my Facebook I mean I do want to know what's going around in the world but I don't like this sad stuff and what's making me really really sad is that Trump is going to be our president who makes fun of disabled people who abuses women sexually and me being a rape victim Survivor that's a slap in my face I don't know if I'll ever get over my rape and that was when I was 11 so 30 years ago I don't have a therapist to talk to because I can't afford it but in my husband he keeps quitting jobs like crazy it's like he doesn't want to work but he has an amazing trade he's an AC man he can make a lot of money and he quit his job just recently and he was out of work for 2 months but he just started a new job this week so let's see how long he keeps that so I'm constantly worrying about money about our bills about me being able to get to the doctor on my surgery I have to pay my copay which he promised that we would have so this is my depressing life I have no one[sic]"
**NOTE: THIS IS NOT EDITED FROM THE ORIGINAL I RECEIVED.**


This is Christy's Story:

"I've been battling mental illness many years before I was ever diagnosed with any GI issues. When I was a teenager around 15/16, I was diagnosed with depression and was started on antidepressants. My depression was so incredibly bad I would remain in the basement watching movies and have no ability to do anything really. Going to school was challenging and I'd often end up calling my mom to come pick me up.

When I was 24, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, eosinophilic esophagitis and IBS. I was experiencing major issues eating, digesting, and maintaining proper nutrition. At 26, I was diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder, which more accurately described my incredible depression that I was experiencing.

When I was diagnosed with GP, I experienced mourning for my former self that could eat normally. I realized that I would never be able to be "normal" again and it was very sad and caused my depression to worsen for a time. Eventually I adjusted and learned to accept my new self.

When I started seeing a new psychiatrist, the one who diagnosed me with BP II, I started adding several medications to my regimen. I also found that I was having issues breaking down and absorbing tablets. I started explaining this to my Dr, who tried working with me by prescribing capsules and liquids, but she made it seem like it was too much work as well as not necessary.

I'm 28 now and have experienced many different Drs reactions to my gastroparesis and BP II. It can be frustrating because they do not always understand the issues that come with the two co-existing, medication absorption, pills being choked on or stuck in my throat due to poor esophageal motility, as well as high probability of my pooping out whole tablets.

I'm lucky that today I have a wonderful NP that is handling my psychiatric end of things. She understands more than any other psych dr has, and even more importantly, listens to what I have to say about both my psych and medical problems. This is the biggest issue right now in the medical community, Drs don't listen to those who are chronically ill and do not take their experience with their own diseases and syndromes when making medical treatment plans. Just because we do not have MD behind our name, sure as hell doesn't mean that we don't know our bodies, what we generally need and especially doesn't mean we should be ignored.

Having mental health issues is tough but with co-existing GI problems, it creates a whole new world of challenges that most Drs aren't willing to look at overall, instead of individually. This leads to wrong treatments, under diagnoses, and bad medical care in general."





Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Please SHARE and Help River, My Nephew, Who Has a Rare Form of Brain Cancer

This is my two year old nephew River.


My two year old nephew was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer (tumor). He's only a baby. It would mean the world to my family if you could add him to your prayer lists and/or donate to his cause. I'm trying to buy my step father a plane ticket out there to see him, because he can't afford a ticket this Christmas. I want to be able to surprise him with one so that he can spend some time with his grandson. If you could share this link, I'd appreciate it. I just want to do what I can for River. He's a special boy who doesn't deserve to go through this hell. Please help me help a Christmas miracle happen. <3 I am raising money to help my step father get up there to spend time with River. Any leftover money will be donated to his medical expenses, because there are a lot of them, and he's on medicaid. I never ask for anything like this, but this is family and this is important to me. UPDATE: River is back in the hospital with a fever and vomiting. They're going to do a spinal tap.

http://www.gofundme.com/help-step-father-see-nephew

***PLEASE SHARE AND GIVE IF YOU CAN***

#RiverWarriors #RiverWILLBeatCancer

This is the rare form of brain cancer he has been diagnosed with: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atypical_teratoid_rhabdoid_tumor

I plan on doing more research about this particular type of cancer.

According to Wikipedia,

"Atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor (AT/RT) is a rare tumor usually diagnosed in childhood. Although usually a brain tumor, AT/RT can occur anywhere in the central nervous system (CNS) including the spinal cord. About 60% will be in the posterior cranial fossa (particularly the cerebellum). One review estimated 52% posterior fossa, 39% sPNET (supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumors), 5% pineal, 2% spinal, and 2% multi-focal.[1]

In the United States, three children per 1,000,000 or around 30 new AT/RT cases are diagnosed each year. AT/RT represents around 3% of pediatric cancers of the CNS.[2] Around 17% of all pediatric cancers involve the CNS; it is the most common childhood solid tumor.[citation needed] The survival rate for CNS tumors is around 60%. Pediatric brain cancer is the second leading cause of childhood death, just after leukemia. Recent trends suggest that the rate of overall CNS tumor diagnosis is increasing by about 2.7% per year. As diagnostic techniques using genetic markers improve and are used more often, the proportion of AT/RT diagnoses is expected to increase."


I have never heard of this type of cancer before but I will be working on this article to learn all I can about it. River has already undergone brain surgery, where they removed the tumor, but the doctors are afraid that they didn't get it all. He starts chemotherapy soon. I just want my stepfather to get a chance to spend some time with him in case the worse happens, or he's too sick to realize my stepfather is there. I never ask you guys for anything but I could use some help with donations. Even if you could just share the gofundme page, I'd appreciate it. Please put River on your prayer lists. His mother is pregnant now, so I'm terrified that all of this stress might make her lose the baby. My step sister is very dear to me and I want to help her as much as I can.

Again the link is: https://www.gofundme.com/help-step-father-see-nephew

Just know that I will be forever grateful and will definitely owe you one because I hate asking for money. However, I can't stand to see a 2 year old suffer and I would take it from him if I could. If you know of any charities or cancer foundations that may be able to help out my family, please list them in the comments. My step sister doesn't have much money and any kind of charity that could help out with medical expenses, traveling expenses, etc. would be welcomed. Thank you for taking the time to read this. It's been weighing on me greatly and the stress has caused my GP to go into overdrive.






Friday, July 15, 2016

Information about The Vagus Nerve

Dedicated to Cheryl, my inspiration for this article.


Image taken from: http://autismcoach.com/blog-info-articles/the-vagus-nerve-core-piece-of-the-autism-puzzle-part-1-what-is-this-and-why-is-it-important

I know I try not to cite too many articles but I wanted to cite this one. It has really great information about the vagus nerve and what it does for your body. I do not know much about the vagus nerve, so I need help with research about it, hence the quoted articles. I'm curious as to if the vagus nerve, if damaged and causes gastroparesis, might cause other issues as well. It's a question I've had on my mind for a long time. I know some of my friends have heart issues and the vagus nerve runs by the heart. I also know that I get what I call, "gp fog" which could be a result of a damaged vagus nerve. So, I wanted to do some research into it and try to answer some of my questions and hopefully, educate and answer some of your questions as well. Maybe the more exposure we bring to complications like this, the doctors might be able to take the information and do something with it - with research or anything that could help us.



"The vagus nerve provides 75% of all parasympathetic outflow. When the brain triggers parasympathetic activation, the vagus nerve carries the messages to the heart (decreasing the heart rate and blood pressure), to the lungs (to constrict the respiratory passageways), to every organ in the digestive system (to increase motility and blood flow to the digestive tract, to promote defecation), to the kidneys and bladder (to promote urination) and to reproductive organs (to aid in sexual arousal).

2. It communicates messages between the gut and the brain. 80% of the vagus nerve’s fibers (4 out of 5 traffic lanes) deliver information from the enteric nervous system (the second brain in the gut) to the brain.

3. It regulates the muscle movement necessary to keep you breathing. Your brain communicates with your diaphragm via the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from the vagus nerve to keep you breathing. If the vagus nerve stops releasing acetylcholine, you will stop breathing.

4. It helps decrease inflammation. About 15 years ago neurosurgeon Kevin Tracey and his colleagues found that a tiny amount of an anti-inflammatory drug in rats’ brains blocked the production of an inflammatory molecule in the liver and spleen. How did the signal get there? The researchers began cutting nerves one at a time to find the ones responsible for transmitting the anti-inflammatory signal from brain to body. “When we cut the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain stem down to the spleen, the effect was gone,” says Tracey, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y. Later they discovered that stimulating undamaged vagus fibers also had anti-inflammatory effects in animals (without the drug), which they attributed to the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine by the vagus nerve.


5. It has profound control over heart rate and blood pressure. For example, patients with heart failure, in which the heart fails to pump enough blood through the body, tend to have less active vagus nerves. Currently multiple studies are underway investigating the effects of vagus stimulation on patients with heart failure and atrial fibrillation (where the heart flutters erratically).

6. It helps improve your mood. Research shows that stimulation of the vagus nerve can be an effective treatment for chronic depression that has failed to respond to other treatments. Electrical stimulation of the vagus through a surgically implanted device has already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a therapy for patients who don’t get relief from existing treatments.

7. It is essential in fear management. Remember that “gut instinct” that tells you when something isn’t right? Turns out that the vagus nerve plays a major role in that. The signals from your gut get sent to the brain via the vagus nerve, and the signals from the brain travel back to the gut, forming a feedback loop. What if this loop was interrupted – wondered the researchers in a new Swiss study – would that affect innate anxiety and conditioned fear? Turns out it does. In test animals, the brain was still able to send signals down to the stomach, but the brain couldn’t receive signals coming up from the stomach. The research showed that those rats weren’t that afraid to begin with (lower level of innate fear), but once they became afraid, they had trouble overcoming this fear even when the danger was no longer present (longer retention of learned fear). This shows that healthy functioning of the vagus nerve helps us bounce back from stressful situations and overcome fear conditioning.

8. It plays a role in learning and memory. The same Swiss study (above) found that the rats without gut instincts transmitting to the brain via the vagus nerve required significantly longer to re-associate previously “dangerous” environment with the new, “safe” and neutral situation. This shows that the vagus nerve facilitates learning and re-wiring, so to speak. “These new findings about the vagus nerve offer exciting possibility for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Stimulation of the vagus nerve might be able to speed up the process by which people with PTSD can learn to reassociate a non-threatening stimuli which triggers anxiety with a neutral and non-traumatic experience”(1). It can also help with healing sexual stress and trauma.

9. It can help relieve cluster headaches. The company electroCore, based in Basking Ridge, N.J., manufactures a small, handheld device that can stimulate the vagus when placed on the throat. The company initially tested the devices to reduce asthma symptoms — relying on the nerve’s anti-inflammatory action. But during testing, patients reported that their headaches were disappearing, says J.P. Errico, CEO of electroCore. Now, the company is investigating the use of an electroCore device to treat chronic cluster headaches." This information was given by: https://www.yogauonline.com/yogau-wellness-blog/vital-vagus-what-vagus-nerve-and-what-does-it-do



The gastric branches (rami gastrici) supply the stomach. The right vagus forms the posterior gastric plexus and the left forms the anterior gastric plexus. The branches lie on the posteroinferior and the anterosuperior surfaces, respectively.

The celiac branches (rami celiaci) are derived mainly from the right vagus nerve. They join the celiac plexus and supply the pancreas, spleen, kidneys, adrenals, and intestine.

The hepatic branches originate from the left vagus. They join the hepatic plexus and through it are distributed to the liver.

Images from: http://autismcoach.com/blog-info-articles/the-vagus-nerve-core-piece-of-the-autism-puzzle-part-1-what-is-this-and-why-is-it-important/


"What happens in the vagus nerve, it turns out, doesn’t stay in the vagus nerve. The longest of the cranial nerves, the vagus nerve is so named because it “wanders” like a vagabond, sending out fibers from your brainstem to your visceral organs. The vagus nerve is literally the captain of your inner nerve center—the parasympathetic nervous system, to be specific. And like a good captain, it does a great job of overseeing a vast range of crucial functions, communicating nerve impulses to every organ in your body. New research has revealed that it may also be the missing link to treating chronic inflammation, and the beginning of an exciting new field of treatment that leaves medications behind. Here are nine facts about this powerful nerve bundle.

1. THE VAGUS NERVE PREVENTS INFLAMMATION.
With a vast network of fibers stationed like spies around all your organs, when the vagus nerve gets wind of the hallmarks of inflammation—cytokines or the inflammatory substance tumor necrosis factor (TNF)—it alerts the brain and elicits anti-inflammatory neurotransmitters via the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway. A certain amount of inflammation after injury or illness is normal. But an overabundance is linked to many diseases and conditions, from sepsis to the autoimmune condition rheumatoid arthritis.


2. IT HELPS YOU MAKE MEMORIES.
A University of Virginia study showed success in strengthening memory in rats by stimulating the vagus nerve, which releases the neurotransmitter norepinephrine into the amygdala, consolidating memories. Related studies were done on humans, opening promising treatments for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.


3. IT HELPS YOU BREATHE.
The neurotransmitter acetylcholine, elicited by the vagus nerve, literally gives you the breath of life by telling your lungs to breathe. It’s one of the reasons that botox—often used cosmetically—can be potentially dangerous, because it interrupts your acetylcholine production. You can, however, also manually stimulate your vagus nerve by doing abdominal breathing or holding your breath for four to eight counts.


4. IT’S INTIMATELY INVOLVED WITH YOUR HEART.
The vagus nerve is responsible for controlling the heart rate via electrical impulses to the sinoatrial node of the heart, where acetylcholine release slows the pulse. The way doctors determine the “tone” or “strength” of your vagus nerve (and your cardiac health) is by measuring the time between your individual heart beats, and then plotting this on a chart over time. This is your 'heart rate variability.'


5. IT INITIATES YOUR BODY’S RELAXATION RESPONSE.
When your ever-vigilant sympathetic nervous system revs up the fight or flight responses—pouring the stress hormone cortisol and adrenaline into your body—the vagus nerve tells your body to chill out by releasing acetylcholine. Its tendrils extend to many organs, acting like fiberoptic cables that send instructions to release enzymes and proteins like prolactin, vasopressin, and oxytocin, which calm you down. People with a stronger vagus response may be more likely to recover more quickly after stress, injury, or illness.


6. IT TRANSLATES BETWEEN YOUR GUT AND YOUR BRAIN.
Your gut uses the vagus nerve like a walkie-talkie to tell your brain how you’re feeling via electric impulses called “action potentials". Your gut feelings are very real.


7. OVERSTIMULATION OF THE VAGUS NERVE IS THE MOST COMMON CAUSE OF FAINTING.
If you tremble or get queasy at the sight of blood or while getting a flu shot, you’re not weak; you’re experiencing “vagal syncope.” Your body, responding to stress, overstimulates the vagus nerve, causing your blood pressure and heart rate to drop. During extreme syncope, blood flow is restricted to your brain, and you lose consciousness. But most of the time you just have to sit or lie down for the symptoms to subside.


8. ELECTRIC STIMULATION OF THE VAGUS NERVE REDUCES INFLAMMATION AND MAY INHIBIT IT ALTOGETHER.
Truly breaking new medical ground, neurosurgeon Kevin Tracey was the first to prove that stimulating the vagus nerve can significantly reduce inflammation. Results on rats were so successful, he reproduced the experiment in humans with stunning results. The creation of implants to stimulate the vagus nerve via electronic implants showed a drastic reduction, and even remission, in rheumatoid arthritis—which has no known cure and is often treated with the toxic cancer drug methotraxate—hemorrhagic shock, and other equally serious inflammatory syndromes.


9. VAGUS NERVE STIMULATION HAS CREATED A NEW FIELD OF MEDICINE.
Spurred on by the success of vagal nerve stimulation to treat inflammation and epilepsy, a burgeoning field of medical study, known as “bioelectronics,” may be the future of medicine. Using implants that deliver electric impulses to various body parts, scientists and doctors hope to treat illness with fewer medications and fewer side effects."
Information from: http://mentalfloss.com/article/65710/9-nervy-facts-about-vagus-nerve


I'm sorry for all of the block quotes. I really don't know much about the vagus nerve, so I wanted to read up on it. I feel like it's something I should be aware of since I have Gastroparesis and a damaged vagus nerve and I wanted to spread the knowledge to you. Feel free to do more research on the matter and if I have left out any important information, let me know. I did not know that the vagus nerve can control your "gut feeling." I'm still learning about gastroparesis and what it is doing to my body. I know a lot of my friends have a hard time remembering things, myself included, and a lot of my friends have heart issues. I wonder if it's all related to the damaged vagus nerve by the stomach. I would love a doctor to do research and confirm what a damaged vagus nerve can do to the whole body, and not just the stomach.

The Mayo Clinic offers treatment for a stimulation of the vagus nerve. Their website says,

"Vagus nerve stimulation is a procedure that involves implantation of a device that stimulates the vagus nerve with electrical impulses.

There's one vagus nerve on each side of your body, running from your brainstem through your neck to your chest and abdomen.

Vagus nerve stimulation is most often used to treat epilepsy when other treatments haven't worked. Vagus nerve stimulation is also a treatment for hard-to-treat depression that hasn't responded to typical therapies.

Researchers are currently studying vagus nerve stimulation as a potential treatment for a variety of conditions, including multiple sclerosis, headache, pain and Alzheimer's disease.

In conventional vagus nerve stimulation, a device is surgically implanted under the skin on your chest, and a wire is threaded under your skin connecting the device to the left vagus nerve. The right vagus nerve is not used because it carries fibers that supply nerves to the heart.

When activated, the device sends electrical signals along the vagus nerve to your brainstem, which then sends signals to certain areas in your brain.

New, noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation devices, which do not require surgical implantation, have been approved for use in Europe to treat epilepsy, depression and pain but have not yet been approved for use in the U.S.

An implantable device that stimulates the right vagus nerve is also under study for the treatment of heart failure."
Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/vagus-nerve-stimulation/home/ovc-20167755

I hope one day, there will be some kind of treatment to help those with gastroparesis that includes the vagus nerve. I'm optimistic and I'm hoping there will be research into the matter. If we could repair the vagus nerve in some way, it would save so many lives, or even find treatment to get it to work properly. I'm not going to lose hope.


Source: http://thehigherlearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/vagus-nerve.jpg


Thursday, June 23, 2016

In Memorium of Those Fallen GP Warriors - Honor Their Memory with Virtual Advocacy Day




Melissa's Blog - "Virtually Alive."




Her Blog can be found here: http://melissarvh.blogspot.com/2016/06/virtually-alive.html



I wanted to post the link to her blog because this event that she is putting together is the best event I've seen in a while. We need people to listen to us that we're sick, that we have gastroparesis, and we don't have enough awareness, research, to even get a cure. I feel like we're screaming about it but no one is listening. If you own groups and have admins, please join Gastroparesis Alliance: https://www.facebook.com/groups/gpalliance/ so that we can talk about how to unite and have our voices heard. We should be working together, not against each other. Most GP groups have the same goals and we'd love to have discussions with you on how to proceed on things like this.






We really get so upset...there are no words, when we log into to our GP Community and realize that some of our members died overnight. It makes it hard to log in ... I'm scared to get on the computer. We really need to make our voices heard. Here is an excerpt of Melissa's blog;

"We encourage you to join in our Virtual Advocacy Day and fight on our behalf to pass HR 2311, the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2015, which would expand research and promote awareness of functional/motility GI disorders such as gastroparesis.

This bill is designed to help promote education of physicians and the general public, increase efforts to find new and effective treatments, expand clinical research, and create new medical centers designed to study these disorders and share information with others.

I urge you to read the text of the bill and contact your representatives. Ask them to sign on as cosponsors and support this bill! I cannot overestimate the importance of this bill.

You can find additional information and read the text of the bill at either https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2311 or https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr2311.

You can electronically sign and send a letter urging your congressional representatives to support HR 2311 at https://buildquorum.com/actions/1996".


For those of you who are suffering from grief because you've lost someone who meant a lot to you, I have an article for you to read that may make you feel a bit better: http://www.emilysstomach.com/2016/04/losing-loved-one-to-chronic-illness.html.

I hope that you'll join our cause. We really need you. The more voices we have, maybe someone will listen and help us. No one should starve to death.