In November 2012, while putting together a Share Your Blessings listing, I talked to a woman who runs a nonprofit that helps teen mothers. I learned that she had been ill for a year with gastroparesis.

She said it took a while to diagnose. I had never heard of this disease. You may not have heard of it either, so I want to pass along some information.

According to Wikipedia, gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying, is a medical condition consisting of a paresis (partial paralysis) of the stomach , resulting in food remaining in the stomach for a longer time than normal.

Normally, the stomach contracts to move food down into the small intestine for digestion. The vagus nerve controls these contractions. Gastroparesis may occur when the vagus nerve is damaged and the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not work normally. Food then moves slowly or stops moving through the digestive tract.


Submit a Letter to the Editor for the Laurel Leader, Columbia Flier and Howard County Times

Gastroparesis is commonly seen in diabetics. Often the cause is unknown. It is not a blockage. It is more prominent among females than males. About 5 million Americans, including children, suffer from this disease. In some instances, it appears for a brief time and goes away on its own or improves with treatment. Many cases do not respond well to treatment.

Treatment options are limited because gastroparesis is complicated to treat. Of the few medications available, most are geared toward symptom control rather than dealing with the underlying problem. So, they are often ineffective.

Additional treatment options include diet changes, certain surgical procedures and, in severe cases, nutritional support through feeding tubes or IV nutrition.

Signs and symptoms of gastroparesis include vomiting, nausea, feeling of fullness after eating just a few bites, abdominal bloating, heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux, changes in blood sugar levels, lack of appetite and weight loss and malnutrition.

Gastroparesis and ME LLC, whose financial sponsor is Teen Mom's Fresh Start, is for all who have the disease, or know someone surviving with gastroparesis. It was formed to raise awareness about this devastating, life-threatening illness, in addition to raising funds for research being done at Wake Forest Baptist Health, in North Carolina, and funding for those with the illness who need assistance.

For more information, contact Tanya Taylor at Tanya@gastroparesisandme.com or go to http://www.gastroparesisandme.com.

More on human trafficking

I received two emails in response to my Feb. 7 Senior Circles column on Human Trafficking.

The first one was from a man named Ryan who told me he is on the communications team with Love146. He said that it is an international human rights group working to end child sex trafficking by raising awareness and resources to combat this exploitation.

Love146 is partnering with FAIR Girls (which I mentioned in the column), whose slogan is "Preventing Exploitation with Education and Empowerment. These two groups are now working together to provide prevention education in Baltimore schools. For more information about these two organizations, go to love146.org and fairgirls.org.

The second email was from a reader named Norma who belongs to Village Quilters of Catonsville. She wrote, "Just passing this along in case people ask you how to help after seeing your piece."

Her quilting group is making quilts to give to a group called the Samaritan Women, which she said has a home off Frederick Road, in Catonsville, where they are making a home for girls who have been rescued from human trafficking.

Checking out the Samaritan Women website, thesamaritanwomen, shows that their mission is "to promote Health, Healing and Hope in some of the most desperate and dark situations," one of which is exploitation of women and children.

One of their ministries is the operation of a transitional residence program for women recovering from trauma and trafficking. This program emphasizes rebuilding life and reconciliation.

I appreciate getting feedback from readers and would also like to encourage you to suggest topics for Senior Circles that are of interest to you and your fellow older adults.