Holy Reflux! The Doctor Stretched My Esophagus
And now I can sing like Adele.
I’m serious, you guys.
I sound EXACTLY like her.
Remember when I was calmly sitting on the couch enjoying some scrumptious chocolate chip cookies – and I suddenly felt like I couldn’t breathe and I thought I was having a panic attack?
It turns out that it WASN’T a panic attack at all.
(Because who the hell has a panic attack while eating cookies?)
It was GERD. (GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease)
And incidentally, a GERD attack can feel a lot like a panic attack.
To some people.
And it’s been happening to me every night for the last two months.
Note that the Mayo Clinic doesn’t actually list ‘difficulty breathing’ as a symptom.
GERD signs and symptoms include:
A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn),
sometimes spreading to the throat, along with a sour taste in your mouth
Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
Hoarseness or sore throat
Regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux)
Sensation of a lump in the throat
Obviously, this is a huge oversight and the Mayo Clinic should start reading more health forums.
If you Google GERD DIFFICULTY BREATHING you’ll find a gazillion people who have the same symptom. Which means I’m not crazy. At least, not about this.
But I didn’t have any of the “normal” symptoms listed here. Not until week four, when I started choking on my Twinkies and any other food that wasn’t predominantly made of liquid.
And choking on Twinkies is a good reason to go see a doctor.
So I went.
And I told her all about the choking, and the panic attacks I was having every night as soon as I’d start to drift off to sleep, and how none of this made any sense because my typical evening consists of
a glass of wine, okay, a few glasses of wine, followed by a most-satisfying romp with Mr. Hilarious.
Definitely NOT panic inducing, right?
And she nodded and made all the usual doctor-frowny-faces and said she needed a sample of my poop.
Of. My. Poop.
(Because my poop has EVERYTHING to do with my breathing, right?)
Then she explained that she thought I had GERD and she wanted to make sure I didn’t have a bacteria called H. pylori, which is colonized in your gut and can case peptic ulcers, which can cause reflux.
Then she wrote me a script for Nexium, gave me a little tiny cup, and told me to drop my poop off at the lab the next morning. And I raced straight home and asked my fifteen year old son,
“HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO POOP IN THIS TINY LITTLE CUP?!”
(Because seriously, people, who would YOU ask?)
And since my son is brilliant, he Googled it for me and told me I had to stretch plastic wrap over the toilet bowl and poop on it and then put a little of the poop in the cup. Five ounces, to be exact.
(Because, oh yeah, let me just whip out my handy-dandy poop scale, right?)
Well, I made a guess on the whole ‘five ounces’ thing and sent Mr. Hilarious to lab with my poop.
(Because why would anyone drop off their own poop? That’s just awkward.)
And after all that- my poop came back negative for H. Pylori.
And another three weeks went by and the Nexium wasn’t helping at all.
And I finally got sent to GI.
And GI did NOT turn out to be a sexy, camouflaged, soldier, as I had hoped – but a Gastrointestinal doctor who knocked me out with Propofol, shoved a tube with a camera on it down my throat, two-and-half feet down into my stomach, and had a peek around. Then he “stretched” my esophagus a bit to help relieve the whole choking/difficulty swallowing thing.
And when I woke up he told me I have a Hiatal hernia, which looks like this:
See that bulge labeled Hiatal hernia? That’s a little bit of stomach squeezing up through the diaphragm, where it is definitely NOT supposed to be, allowing stomach acid and gastric air into the esophagus.
And it sucks.
Except for the fact that the next day I was in the car singing my heart out to Someone Like You and I discovered that I now sound EXACTLY like Adele.
And it’s fucking awesome.
Look out karaoke bars – here I come.