So many of life's simple pleasures involve eating: holidays, family picnics, getting together with friends. But imagine not being able to enjoy any of them.
"My stomach gets bloated, food doesn't digest right, end up throwing up, sick, nauseated," said 32-year-old Kevin Joyner. The Indianapolis father has gastroparesis, a stomach disorder in which food moves through the stomach slower than normal.
Between 30 percent and 40 percent of people with diabetes will develop the debilitating disease. Joyner's agonizing journey began 15 years ago, shortly after he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
"It's real frustrating. Can't go to my kids' basketball games like I want to because I'm in and out of the hospital," he told 6News Staying Healthy reporter Stacia Matthews.
Joyner said his symptoms grew so severe, he was spending time in a hospital every other week to get intravenous fluids for dehydration.
On Wednesday he was admitted to University Hospital in Indianapolis for surgery, but not the traditional procedure to treat the disease.
"In the past we had to actually resect the patient's stomach and take out about 80 percent of the stomach to get rid of that non-functioning organ to give them relief," said Dr. Dennis Blom, a surgeon with the Indiana University School of Medicine.
Joyner on Wednesday became the second patient at University Hospital to receive a pacemaker-type implant called Enterra Therapy System.
In the laparoscopic procedure, doctors implanted the battery-powered neurostimulator in Joyner's abdomen and attached leads to his stomach. Mild electrical impulses are sent through the leads to stimulate nerves and smooth muscles of the lower stomach. How the device works is still a mystery to doctors.
"Somehow it alters or changes something in the pathway from the stomach to the brain and back again and that decreases the sensation of nausea and lessens vomiting, said Dr. Joel Wittles, Joyner's gastroenterologist.
Over time, symptoms are reduced and may be eliminated, something Joyner finds easy to swallow.
"I'm looking forward to being better, not in the hospital, live a better life," Joyner said.
According to implant's manufacturer, Medtronic Inc., Enterra Therapy System received humanitarian device exemption approval by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000. The status allows Medtronic to provide the system for patients like Joyner who do not respond to drug therapy.
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