About a month ago, I had another trip to the emergency room for my acid reflux, a three day heartburn bender. Now, of course, knowing that you have bad heartburn, you still have to go to the emergency room. If you go to, say, urgent care, a doctor will say something clever, like, “We don’t want to take the risk that it’s your heart, even though it’s probably not. Then, off you go for an EKG, a blood test, and sometimes a chest x-ray. And you don’t want to go, but there’s always that little niggle of what if this time, against all odds, it is your heart, followed up by the knowledge that no one else but the emergency room can give you the GI cocktail. Well, this time the process cost me a little over $500, which is because it was my first medical expense of the New Year. Should I have subsequent disasters, my deductible is largely met.
I digress. Finally, in a fit of pique, I decided I was done. I was done with the belching and the heartburn and the emergency room runs, and all that. I thought first about checking in with Dr. Qiao, my gastroenterologist, but the man doesn’t talk to me like I’m a human being. Well, okay. Once he has, back when I asked him about esophagal surgery. Otherwise, I am plumbing to him. There is no person wrapped around the digestive system. He’s always happiest after he’s done some probing.
So, I took Bryon, who’d also had some reflux questions, and we trundled off to Dr. Banks, our general practicioner. The man is about 300 years old, and he reads every single new piece of medical research, in short, exactly what you want in a doctor: a man whose seen it all and keeps up on what might be worth seeing. Dr. Banks basically said that if you want to stay out of the emergency room and you want to stop belching like a man who lives in a La-Z-Boy, you really have to give up all the vice foods (chocolate. caffeine. tea. coffee. carbonated beverages. alcohol. fried foods.) Strangely enough, you also have to give up mint. These are foods that already relax your faulty esophagal flap. Bryon discovered that my reflux isn’t different from anyone else’s, because regardless of cause, reflux is reflux. He’s always been under the misapprobation that it’s too much acid in everyone else’s stomach, not the leakage.
Losing weight is also important. Less pressure on the guts=happier guts. But I’m already riding that train for real right now.
We also talked about the bed tilt. Refluxians (those of us from the planet GERD) are supposed to slant their bed slightly. This works best if you have a bed frame which you can put wooden blocks under. We didn’t. We had an old water bed frame supporting a tempurpedic. But Banks was clear. Not tilting your bed could give you Barrett’s esophagus, which then leads to cancer of the esophagus. He also said that people who slept on a slanted bed actually had less heart burn. Hmmm…
Okay. So, now we had our marching orders.
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