Gastroparesis and Diabetes

Gastroparesis occurs more often in type 1 diabetics, with the occasional type 2 diabetic getting it. Gastroparesis can also occur in people who do not have diabetes, which is called Idiopathic Gastroparesis. Most have had diabetes for more then 10 years and might have other complications of diabetes as well. Diabetes is the leading cause of gastroparesis, accounting for about one-third of all cases.

Gastroparesis plays havoc on the blood sugars. The stomach is digesting slowly, randomly, and what is being digested is never really known at any time, the sugars are always bouncing going from real high to real low and is never stable. At any given time I could be digesting 3,4 maybe 5 meals, or just portions of them. I have had my sugars jump from 30 to 1 and 1 to 30 in under an hour due to delayed stomach emptying causing multiple meals to be digested together or maybe not even at all.

I have tried to find patterns in my sugars from eating the same foods, same amounts, at the same time every day and my sugars were never consistant with what I was eating. There were absolutely no patterns. My sugars were nearly impossible to control. This is why diabetic gastroparesis is not a good combination of conditions to have. As a diabetic, you want to have control of your sugars otherwise serious complications can happen such as kidney disease, blindness and possible amputations. It's not uncommon for me to have a high and low each day. It's a good day if it only happens once....unfortunately:(

Since having GP and the constant flucuation in my sugars, I have noticed a change in my symptoms. Now, it doesn't matter if I have a low symptom or a high symptom, my sugar could actually be the complete opposite or could even be normal, of what my symptoms are telling me. Sometimes my sugars are normal (between 4-8) and I still get symptoms. This results in me having to check my sugars up to 10-20 times a day. I always check if I'm feeling any type of symptom.

Symptoms of high sugars: increased thirst, frequent urination,headaches, dry mouth, blurred vision, fatigue, stiff muscles.

Symptoms of low blood sugars: confusion, dizziness, shakiness, irritability, sweating, weakness, pounding heart.

Diabetic Retinopathy and Gastroparesis

Diabetes can harm your eyes. It can damage the small blood vessels in your retina, the back part of your eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to blood vessels of the retina. The retina is the layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye. It changes light and images that enter the eye into nerve signals that are sent to the brain.
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness. People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are at risk for this condition.

If you have diabetic retinopathy like I do, then also having GP is NOT so good. I developed diabetic retinopathy in 2004 and began getting laser eye surgeries right away. Each laser treatment starts with freezing eye drops then they put a 2 inch needle just above the cheek bone and in the very bottom of your eye which also freezes the eye, then it's the laser. Laser eye surgery for diabetic retinopathy is one of the most painful things I have ever felt. It is not the same as Lasik eye surgery. I have had 13 laser eye surgeries, 2 surgeries where they had to put me under and go directly into my eye, and I've had one treatment where they put about an inch long needle directly into my pupil. Considering all the surgeries, my eyes are actually pretty good.

The reason GP and diabetic retinopathy are not a good combination of conditions to have is due to all of the vomiting. Vomiting causes pressure on the eyes and this pressure can cause a blood vessel in the eye the burst causing small amounts of bleeding (retinal hemorrhages) and fluid leaking into the retina. For me when this happens, within 20 min I lose my vision temporarily in that eye. It is very frightening watching temporary blindness set in. The fluid settles and my vision returns usually after 2-3 weeks of sleeping at a 45 degree angle, not lifting over 5 Lbs, and not bending over. This happens after one blood vessel bursts. The damage and recovery time could take longer if theres more then one blood vessel theres damage to so the more vomiting you do the more damage you can do to your eyes.

For the first couple years with GP I was having a lot of eye problems. I had many surgeries and countless times I was walking around with vision only in one eye. Thankfully it's never happend to both at the same time. Once I started getting to know my GP, understand it, learn what foods I could eat and when, and getting the right medications, I was no longer having so many issues with my eyes. I see my eye specialist once every 6 months and I ended up going almost 2 years with no damage to the blood vessels. I am most likely going to have to get laser eye surgeries for the rest of my life or at least some form of treatment and keeping my GP in good health with minimal vomiting will only help my eyes in the long run.

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