Having Ehlers-Danlos syndrome-HT I am used to having a lot of health problems around my stomach, so it was not too surprising when, last year after a stressful event, I lost my appetite. Initially I just put it down to stress, but after day 3 or 4 of being barely able to eat and snacking on nothing but toast, I went to the doctor who diagnosed me with gastritis.
Gastritis, not to be confused with gastroenteritis, is inflammation of the stomach wall. This is often caused by a bacteria called ‘h.Pylori’, but in some cases a cause cannot be found. Some people will only suffer for a short time with gastritis and others may have it for a prolonged period of time. It may not affect the person the whole time but ‘flare up’ often at random (or in my case, definitely stress!).
I was eventually referred for an endoscopy under sedation which… didn’t go well at all. As soon as the tube hit my gag reflex I started thrashing around. I didn’t feel at all sedated! I later found out this is because I was given diazepam, which used to be given to me like candy when I lived in care and as a result, is no longer affective. I was then referred for a general anaesthetic endoscopy which went significantly better and revealed an 8mm polyp and gastritis. They took a biopsy of the gastritis to test for h.pylori. I have yet to receive the results for this test..
Shortly after recovering from the general anaesthetic, life got really hectic again. The stress upset my already delicate digestive system and once again I couldn’t eat. Within a matter of days, I lost loads of weight and felt awful. Lying in my bed unable to move through weakness, I began to sob. ‘I can’t cope with this’ I thought as I stared at the ceiling which I had been staring at for nearly 2 days straight.
Despite being completely off all food, my doctor was not at all concerned and I was not given any advice. That’s when I started to Google. Google can be both a useful tool and a completely confusing place. One site recommended peppermint tea, another said it’s bad. One site said no onions, another praised onions. Generally the consensus was ‘bland diet’ but what the heck is that?
I ended up on a Facebook support group who have been super helpful (often without even realising!) and slowly learnt techniques and food ideas that were less likely to hurt my stomach. Some worked and others didn’t, but I checked everything, even an aloe vera drink which, while it worked, was expensive and tasted awful!
I have been in a flare for three weeks now, but thanks to the bland diet, I have been able to recover. Today I ate something solid for the first time again with no discomfort. It is worrying how little advice there is available for people with gastritis, especially those with chronic gastritis (I’m waiting to find out if I join that club… here’s hoping it’s h.pylori!). Without any exercise, I lost 5Ib in one week which isn’t good when you are at your ideal weight to start with.
I can’t (and won’t) offer too much advice as I am not a nutritionist, nor do I want to add to the long list of Google results contradicting other sites/blogs, but a few things that helped me were: Grapes (red and black seedless were better than green), white bread toast (which can be bad for some), home made soups containing Kale, spinach, brocolli, carrot and cauliflower and another with potato, carrot and swede both with veggie stock. I also purchased a smoothie maker and have started to make smoothies with various fruits. I completely cut out caffiene, limited my dairy intake (except for Yakult which is okay for me) and stopped putting so much tomato in everything. Seriously, until you try to cut tomato out, you won’t realise how much it is in!
I will be seeing my doctor next week for the results so fingers crossed!