Many of you have sent me emails, or postcards or left comments asking how I was feeling. So here’s the health update.
If you recall, I took myself to the ER on July 1st because I was having weird and uncomfortable chest pressure. 15 hours and lots of tests later the pressure was gone, my heart and lungs were deemed healthy and I was sent home thinking maybe it was all just stress related.
Four days later after many repeated episodes of chest pressure, the nurse insisted I be seen again that same day, even though my doctor wasn’t available.
I saw the ass-hat doctor who diagnosed me with anxiety before he even examined me, prescribed me heavy duty anti anxiety pills, patted me on the head and sent me home. in spite of me calmly and rationally telling him why I really didn’t think this was anxiety. and then not so calmly bursting into tears when I told him angrily that he wasn’t taking me seriously. (thereby confirming his suspicions that I was just a hysterical middle aged woman)
I spent the weekend stoned on his pills. I still felt like I had a large heavy stone on my chest, but at least I was too looped to give a shit.
When he called me back Monday to see how I was doing, and I explained that my symptoms were exactly the same, and the pills didn’t change it because this isn’t related to anxiety, he suggested I call a psychiatrist and have my meds adjusted.
SERIOUSLY????? He can bite me.
So another week of feeling shitty (and pissed off) goes by.
Now, in addition to feeling like there’s a large farm animal standing on my chest, I also feel like I’ve swallowed a few golf balls and that they are lodged in my throat and esophagus. I finally get in to see my real doctor, who is a very good listener. She’s a bit mystified by my symptoms, but schedules a barium swallow and refers me to an ENT.
The ENT says my throat and larynx are fine, and the golf ball sensation may be related to reflux. Something we hadn’t considered since I’m not having any heartburn or “classic” symptoms. He prescribes an acid reducer, I wait for my next test.
A few days later, the radiologist who was conducting the barium swallow watched everything I drank creep straight back out of my stomach, and up to my esophagus to my throat. Yup. “moderate to severe reflux”.
After 14 days of taking the acid reducers, and giving up coffee, wine and chocolate, (which is almost worse than all the other problems put together) I’m getting no relief, and in fact feel worse. I now have an elephant on my chest, with a series of tennis balls in my esophagus, and major discomfort in the area just below my rib cage. I’m tired, cranky, frustrated, too uncomfortable to be hugged, and missing coffee horribly. (I think I’ll have a glass of wine to relax…no wait…)
I’m also beginning to convince myself that none of this discomfort has anything to do with reflux. That perhaps I actually have an alien living in my body and it will soon kill me, and because the doctors discovered reflux they are going to focus on that and totally miss the alien until it is too late. I am wise enough not to share this theory with my doctor. But I do call her because I’m about to leave on a 2 week vacation and I don’t want to feel horrible the whole time.
So she puts in a super-urgent referral to a GI specialist and they squeezed me in yesterday. And I saw a lovely, intelligent nurse practitioner who specializes in reflux, who assured me that every single symptom I’m describing is consistent with reflux and that I’m on way too low a dose of medication to do me any good, and that she will quadruple my dose and it will still take a good four to six weeks to start feeling better and three months to really heal all the irritation and inflammation. and we’re going to look inside with a scope when I get back from vacation just to make sure there aren’t any aliens. and it’s really not a problem to have a cup of coffee every morning and the occasional glass of wine and chocolate. I love this woman.
SO I’m still rather uncomfortable at times, but I have been thoroughly reassured that this is normal. and that I don’t feel better because I’m not supposed to feel better this quickly. And that knowledge alone is such a load off my chest that the elephant has left town and only the large farm animal remains. It’s progress.
I’m off to Maine tomorrow to laze about for two weeks. Swim in the lake, snooze on the dock, read a lot of books, eat a lot of pie, luxuriate in daily coffee, make some art, take some naps. Talk about good for what ails you.
Thanks for all your kindness and support.