Saturday, 14 August 2010

Life with GERD -- part I

Ever suffer from a panic attack?

I've been going through a particularly long and painful one tonight. It all started with eating pasta and having a coffee for supper. I believe that unfortunate meal choice caused my GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disorder) to flare up. Basically what happens then is...all my bile and food moves up my esophagus, and the gastric acids just sit in my esophagus and throat, causing a choking pressure/sensation on my throat and chest.

It makes it intensely difficult to breathe. I was gasping for air earlier in the shower...I climbed in hoping it would calm me down and then almost passed out from panic. I bent over to breathe easier and then proceeded to bang my head off of the faucet.

With the head rush after straightening up, I felt disoriented and almost started having an out of body experience. I jumped out of the shower leaving it running and called my parents house to talk to someone, anyone. No one picked up. I called my dad's cell phone...no answer.

I walked around in circles about my apartment unsure of what to do next. Get dressed and drive to emergency? Drive to my parents? Accept the inevitable, lay down on the ground, and die?

My phone rang then, my dad calling me back. We talked for a few minutes...I explained what was going on, and he told me to calm down. "I'll come pick you up and bring you back to our house," he said.

I didn't want that either...being stuck in another house feeling like I was about to die? No thanks. I told him I'd text or call if things worsened, and I climbed back into the shower feeling a bit better after the talk and small prayer he said.

Post shower--another round of anxiety over the tight chest and constricted throat. I texted my co-worker who I was supposed to hang out with tonight...she told me to breath in through my nose, exhale out my mouth. I tried the technique and it seemed to work temporarily.

Turned on my laptop, closed my cat out of my bedroom door, and started reading other GERD sufferers accounts on the Internet. Apparently panicking during a GERD attack is nothing new...other people have been through the same thing, although I'm disheartened to read that they have been dealing with it for several years. Some doctors prescribe downers for sleeping through the night as a way of avoiding the attacks.

It's 12:01 am. I've been up since 8, packed up an entire camp site, drove over four hours, unpacked my car by myself, and now feel like I'm about to suffocate sitting up in my bed, with the air conditioner cheerily plugging away beside me. I try not to think of it and focus on other things (Daniel Craig has been slated to play Blomkvist in the American remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), but the reality is ever present...

There's a lump in my throat, my stomach hurts, my abdominal muscles are cramping from being tense, and my heart races when I realize how much of a struggle it is to breathe.

Welcome to life with GERD. Next time I go camping, my daily medication will NOT be left behind, and I won't indulge in a plate of pasta. It may be off my diet menu permanently.


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