Stress, Procedures, & Living with GERD

Posted by Amanda Ramsay on

I haven't received the full details from the doctor who performed the procedure but he did leave me with some key terms that I don't think he realized I would understand.

I took an interest in medicine as a youth. I participated in competitive first aid, not only practising and competing, but also leading and coaching. I took Medical Terminology in Grade Nine by correspondence because I was bored and the Catholic School I was attending thought it was quaint. I thought it might show me what I was "in for" if I decided to go to medical school.

I read textbooks for fun. Always have. Anne of Green Gables was a great mini-series with Megan Follows, but I personally couldn't read the books until I was older because I'm just a voracious seeker of "knowledge." It doesn't have to be Western-stylized knowledge for me to find value in it I just hated fiction as a kid. Reading fiction seemed like a waste because I wasn't sure that it had a purpose for me yet. Currently I know that I am meant to write and that studying fiction was my training in how to write my truth. Not all truths have to be self-evident or surrounded by non-fiction.

After the procedure yesterday, I was wiping drool off my shoulder as the doctor told me "it all looks good," and then, I can't recall the exact wording and I don't want to be sued for misquoting a doc, but he did mention the following words: "ulcers" and "hernia" when it came to my stomach or gut.

So naturally I began researching "ulcers" "hernia" and "stomach."

You'll need some background:

I have a condition called GERD. It stands for Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease.

Some folks like to dismiss this as "mere reflux," but this is not that.

This is when reflux gets good funding and buys a major advertising spot in the half-time show in the superbowl. It's overdone, it's bothersome, and painful on a regular basis.

My esophagus is consistently bothered and sensitive because it is inflamed a lot of the time. Daily I burp and taste acid and bile and something grosser because of it. The damage to my esophagus results in an overproduction of mucus that causes irritation and coughing that's been labelled quaintly as "Post Nasal Drip." Aka, my head thinks my throat needs more fluid, but my esophagus is like, dude, we're trying to heal here and you're leaking all over us. Could you not?

So I cough. Which, in a time of COVID is really hard to explain.

I have Post-Nasal Drip. (What is post-nasal drip, you ask? Click Here.)

Oh?! I thought that only happens after you have a cold?

Nope, also happens if your body is an asshole to itself. And mine is a sincere asshole to itself. It's why I have to be radically gentle with myself. My body is already kicking my own ass, I really don't need to shovel layers of shame and self-hatred down on top of it. Plus, of all the conditions I am living with, this one is the most "liveable."

Going through stress means I retch up bile every morning and can't hold food down until about 10 am, but that's only when I'm stressed. So, keep the cortisol levels to a minimum around me please.

The doc mentioned Hernia, Ulcers.... Hmmmm....

I told the doctor, it often feels like my stomach is eating itself, and while my stomach is actually not bad, I think it's lower than that because I often struggle with pain in the region around my gallbladder. I have been told I have "sludge" there in the past, so I have to be good about what I eat... and right now, I am not.

Fuck COVID.

I am assuming that the doctor will follow up with me and tell me the following:

  1. I need to make consistent efforts to set and maintain a healthier eating regimen. What that might be I will need help with because it seems that many foods bother me.
  2. I cannot even begin to eat food in the morning because I feel so sick, I'm thinking my medication also needs to be adjusted. Currently I'm on a daily pantoprazole.
  3. I think the "it looks good," despite the proof of ulcers and inflammation means that I am nowhere near a need for surgical intervention. This is good because GERD can be far-reaching in its consequences. Everything I've read has said that despite advantageous advancements in the field of gasto-surgery, it must be a final action because the surgery itself is tough and hard on the gastrointestinal and the circulatory systems and is often irreversible due to the damage that has been done. Further, unless they go in laparoscopically, this is serious internal surgery. I also have the red-head gene and I really don't wanna go into surgery.
  4. I need to get active. I have a feeling that perhaps being too sedentary and "a writer" is probably worsening this condition and I need to find motivation to enjoy "walking" or some such exercise that requires zero funds. I have been itching to run more and global warming has made that achievable outdoors this  year.
  5. The term "Hernia" is when part of an organ protrudes out past where it is expected to do so. There are several ways that one can get hernias. I think it's a Hiatal Hernia for example because the symptoms and the location are a bit too on-the-nose, but this is where the good doctor's experience and procedure results will tell me what we are indeed looking at.

My money is on...

a early Type-1 Hiatial Hernia or..."Sliding Hernia" but I think this is because I get "twisted." Ever since my divorce I have experienced serious angina-like symptoms and serious throwing up whenever I get stressed. I am scared that one day, my stomach will wring itself and I'll be one post-nasal-drip-irritation-cough away from dying of a gastric volvulus.

Okay, that's a bit dramatic, but people die of this when it gets bad and untreated and the survival outcomes suck once any kind of twist is found in the stomach. I thought I had to worry about a looming early MS diagnosis, but instead I might throw up my own digestive tract. Pretty, yeah?

Stomach biopsies feel an awful lot like violent butterflies. Maybe I fell in love but not in a creepy way. Maybe the internal view of my own larynx was just too glorious.

Watching the biopsies is a bit like playing with the claw machine at the local Denny's restaurant, except the doctor always gets a piece of skin. I never seemed to win any damn fluffies from the machine by comparison so now I don't let my daughter play those things. Maybe if she ever feels like she needs to feel successful she should become a day surgeon who does laparoscopy.Then at least she could afford to throw those coins in without regard for finding more.

Anyway, that's what living with GERD is like. Anyone wanna trade? No?

Alright, I'm going back to my cat-laden dwelling and sinking into my inner crone.

Have a great rest of your day.


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