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My latest diagnosis

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Happy, after some much-needed painkillers.

For the past week or so, I’ve been experiencing almost constant stomach pains and a burning feeling in my chest. Afraid that it was a relapse of my pancreatitis, I went to the emergency room on Saturday to get it checked out.

By the time I got to the hospital, the pain was pretty bad. I laid on the bed, whimpering like a big ol’ baby as they drew blood and inserted an IV. A couple blood tests and some painkillers later, they told me that I had GERDgastroesophageal reflux disease. This is a condition where the contents of the stomach leak backwards into the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms.

With this diagnosis comes a lot of life changes and adjustments. Certain foods and beverages can trigger GERD symptoms, so I need to adjust my diet accordingly. This means no more coffee, chocolate, tomatoes (I’m Italian!!), mints, spicy food, alcohol, fatty foods, etc.. basically anything that is good and delicious. I was also given a prescription for a medication that will inhibit the secretion of stomach acids, and allow me to eat things like tomato sauce and chocolate with feeling like I’m regurgitating fire.

Chances are good that I developed this as a side-effect of my eating disorder. In fact, I know this to be true. I had purged a lot (and often), and as a result, my lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t close properly anymore. It’s unfortunate that this damage is completely my own doing. What’s even more unfortunate is that I’ve got a whole laundry list of damages: irritable bowel syndrome, eroded teeth, a weakened heart, and hair loss, just to name a few.

Our bodies are precious – we only get one. I don’t know why I am so hard on my own, or why I don’t treat it as well as I should. It’s a little scary, and very disappointing. My quality of life has declined purely because of my own actions and choices, things that could have been avoided completely had I treated myself better.

Hopefully this is my last wake up call to good health. Hopefully, from this point on, I’ll wise up.

14 comments on “My latest diagnosis

  1. Jim Hughson

    I had acid reflux so bad that when it hit my esophagus went into a spasm, and sometimes I could not even swallow my own spit. The first time it happened I thought I was having a heart attack, the pain was so bad. Omeprazole cleared it up completely, although I do have to avoid trigger foods, like garlic (fortunately, I’m not Italian) and dry meat like carne asada. So take heart; this is one that modern pharmacology can fix.

    • Oh, that sounds awful : ( I’m glad you’ve got medication to keep it under control. I’m feeling reassured already, although garlic and tomato sauce is going to be a tough one for me!

  2. You’re a brave soul, Alexa, for telling your story so others may learn from your experiences and hopefully, be inspired to take better care of themselves. Thank you for being so candid! We all make mistakes, including yours truly, when it comes to our health and well-being. Even if we know something is not good for us, it may take awhile before we can stop doing what we’re doing. I’m not sure that I’m as strong as you are because you’re comfortable talking your issues in an open environment. At times, I can be incredibly hard on myself, too.

    You did some things, right, for sure. You didn’t ignore your pain – you got it checked out. Now that it’s diagnosed, you can do something about it. While you have to limit your diet, I’m sure you can find other recipes that you’ll enjoy. If you want, I can send you some tomato-free Italian recipes, as I’m Italian, too. : )

    I’m confident that you will take better care of yourself in the future. Sometimes, we all need a wake-up call. I’m currently reading a book that I contributed my story to, it’s called: The Puzzle: An Inside Glimpse of Lymphedema which was published by the Lighthouse Lymphedema Network; it’s inspiring to read other people’s stories and it helps to know that even though we have a chronic medical condition, we can choose to make the best out of things and enjoy life.

    • Rosie, thank you for comment. I feel confident that I can do better, too, although it is all too easy to relapse into old habits and mindsets. I need to be mindful, and strong. And – yes! – I’d love for you to share your tomato-free recipes with me :)

      Is The Puzzle available online? That sounds like something I’d definitely be interested in reading (especially your story!), as I haven’t really read much about other lymphedema patients. In fact, I haven’t read ANYTHING about other lymphedema patients! I could use some inspiration, for sure.

  3. Haha, thanks, Brea. I miss you – come back from France and visit me sometime!!

  4. You’re welcome! : ) I’ll have to send you the recipes from my Sicilian Vegetarian cookbook through snail mail. Please email me your address.

    Yes, The Puzzle is available online! It’s well-written, includes pictures, and it covers the perspectives of caregivers, professionals, patients, and family members. I’ve read a couple of other books about Lymphedema published by Lymphnotes.com.

    To purchase The Puzzle, and their cookbook, if you’re so inclined (all proceeds benefit people with Lymphedema who need help getting supportive garments) visit: http://lighthouselymphedema.org/LLNStore/Storewelcome.htm

    • Here are indgredients for a pasta dish for one person that you may want to try:

      1/2 pound Arugula – sauteed in olive or canola oil
      4 ounces of Goat or Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
      1/2 pound Fettucine or Linguine
      reserved pasta water

  5. Coping With Lymphedema by Joan Swirsky and Diane Sackett Nannery, was the first book that I read about Lymphedema (about 10 years ago) and it was very insightful.

  6. Oh, Alexa – I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with all of this (and at such a young age). My sister has Crohn’s Disease (my father had it, too) and I find that I have similar digestive issues. After being on meds for a while, my sister discovered the SCD Diet (http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/) and when she follows it, she can go completely off her meds. I’m sensitive to a lot of the foods that you mentioned and when I follow the SCD diet, I feel much better in general. Check it out. Hope you feel better soon.

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  10. Divina Creekmore

    Stomach acids can be quite temperamental sometimes and when the acid levels are very high it can really give you some nasty stomach ache. .”.’

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  11. Katrice Cobb

    Stomach acids is mainly composed of hydrochloric acid. Stress is also known to increase the amounts of stomach acids. –

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