Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tuna Glow, Tuna Know

Dead tuna do tell tales. As one friend describes it, "your stomach muscles just up and decided they didn't want to work for a living anymore." He continued on a short rant about the French and labor unions, but after 20+ years of hearing his redneck raving, I'm nearly immune.

His pre-rant phrasing pretty much covers it. The medical definition of such activity, or lack of activity, is gastroparesis. (And no, it's not caused by stress!)

Thanks to my lovely radioactive tuna sandwich experiment, not to be confused with Ken Kesey's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (which was waaaaaay more colorful, man), I discovered that although my brain spins quickly, my gut does not.

Whee! Having answers I don't like is better than having no answers at all. After a several months of mystery starting last fall, increasing discomfort, and entertaining tests, it's now onward into the breach of figuring out the next step.

OK now, this makes sense.  That makes sense.  That other thing makes sense.

The acid reflux, energy zonks, progressive lack of fun. (Should I mention random drops in blood sugar often characterized by a dangerous careening visit to the Beyatch Zone? Hmmm... Maybe not.)

It seems that not being able to digest food properly tends to be problematic. Who knew? Oh, everyone. Yes, well.

It's possible that gastroenterologists spend so much time learning to spell g-a-s-t-r-o-e-n-t-e-r-o-l-o-g-i-s-t that they lose their humor. Yes, the crack about taking my gastrointestinal muscles to the gym definitely fell flat. In fact, I'm fairly sure he's questioning my sanity and planning an award-winning medical research paper on the amazing number of gastroparesis patients who are also nuts.

Lose the ability to eat or sleep and you too will find yourself looking for those marbles you've lost. Or the nuts the neighbor squirrel buried three years ago.

Weak stomach muscles are not the same as abdominals, so crunches ain't gonna solve this thing. Googler that I am, I started sniffing around for ideas about changing my diet. Some gastroenterologists in Pennsylvania with a spiffy website provided a three-step diet supposedly designed to "to reduce symptoms and maintain adequate fluids and nutrition."

It sounds really inviting. They have this great grid with columns for "recommend" and "avoid" next to different food groups (milk products, vegetables, fruits, etc.). It would have been oh-so-much easier and less cruel to the web developers to simply list what you can eat: plain saltine crackers, Gatorade, soft drinks, fat-free consomme, boullion. Oh yeah, that's gonna work. You do that for three days and then move on to Step 2.

I'm convinced that the purpose of Step 1 is to make Step 2 look good. Much like when trying to get a six-year-old to eat vegetables you offer beets, brussels sprouts, and carrots as the options. Money has it you're going to hear carrots. But if you have my kid, you'd better have the beets and sprouts on hand. Not because he likes them, but because he will call your bluff on random occasions.

Yes, Step 2 did need the ugly first step to make it shine. Dinner from the sample menu looks downright deliciously decadent: A tablespoon of peanut butter, six saltines, a half-cup of vanilla pudding, and a half-cup of grape juice.

Bring out the candlelight and violins, because I'm ready to swoon over a meal like that. SWOON I tell you. Just friggin' swoon. Or wait, maybe it's pass out from dizzyness and HUNGER.

Step 3, the long-term maintenance diet, brings the promise of plain chicken, white rice, and cooked beets. No fresh fruit, no raw vegetables, no whole grains. Have we met? I have a loving relationship with fresh fruit, a strong preference for cold crunchy veggies, and dig my nice healthy whole grains. I have to give up my uber-healthy diet to stay healthy. Explain that one. (And before you jump on the potato chip easy-cheese bandwagon, my healthy diet also did not cause this!)

This definitely calls for more research. And a really freaking good sense of humor. And anything, yes anything, other than a future of cooked beets. Blech.

P.S. Good news: I don't have to pretend to like broccoli anymore. Apparently, eating it has the potential to hospitalize me. Who knew?!

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