This is mostly about my health issues and how I'm dealing with them; it will probably bore most of you, but I wanted to get it on my blog, so here you have it. If you have frequent heartburn, maybe it will be a wakeup call for someone.
We've been very spoiled, living in America. If something is broken in our bodies, we want it fixed. If there is pain, we look for a pill. If we're sad, we want a happy pill. If we are fat, we want a magic fix, a procedure... something that will fix us, yet allow us to do whatever we want. I have been in this group at times.
Just look at the diet pills that have been on the market in the past: Either they don't work, or tend to turn you over to amphetamine-drug addiction. And oh, the varieties of "diets"! Many of the low-carb diets cause weight loss, but at some point you will likely gain back the weight. But that's true of most diets.
I've learned some things from my research about Barrett's Esophagus, the precancerous condition with which I've been diagnosed. I've always had tendencies toward heartburn; rather than look for the underlying problem of my discomfort, I bought over-the-counter pills for the times I was in distress, and they worked great! Until they didn't. I have to admit, I knew some of the causes of my "heartburn" were what I was putting into my stomach, but it was just so easy to take a pill. I was given omeprazole, which is only supposed to be taken for a month or so at most. It worked very well... until it didn't. So I was told to take two of them daily instead of one. Same scenario. It worked until it didn't, and meanwhile, I was ingesting a proton pump inhibitor that is not supposed to be taken forever.
My nurse-practitioner said it was time for me to see a gastro-enterologist. He scheduled an upper GI, but I really didn't know what to make of the results and I never saw him after the procedure. He talked to me briefly after I woke up, but I didn't hear any mention of what was causing my reflux and pain. This year I had the same procedure again, done by a different doctor from the same group; he was much more personable, and pointed out the Barrett's Esophagus that, he said, had shown up on my first upper GI a year earlier. He had an appointment scheduled for me in mid-June, as well as a folder with some information on what I should and shouldn't eat; coffee was at the top of the list, but I had given that up already. I went back to the omeprazole and got by for a few months, but again, it stopped working for me. This year at the time of my procedure, I was taking Sucralfate four times daily, at least one hour before meals and at least two hours after, on an empty stomach; it seemed like the only thing that helped by this time. Talking to me before the procedure, the doctor mentioned that some people get the same results only taking it twice a day.
After reading the list of things that cause acid, I despaired: Limited dairy products, few fats, few simple carbs (but lots of complex carbs). No chocolate, no oranges or orange juice, no tomato sauces of any kind... and not many fats, except the good ones that you find in fish.
Of course I googled and found more diet advice. I joined a group on Facebook and learned I'm not the only one with this kind of problem. Someone mentioned a book, "The Acid Watcher Diet", and I bought it from Kindle to read on the iPad. The book is very strict, down to suggesting I buy non-GMO's and organic; this isn't practical for me, and honestly, I don't feel it's GMO's making us sick; I think it's our gluttony in this country. So I knew I wasn't going to follow every single suggestion in the book. However, I have incorporated a lot of the advice I read into how I eat, and I can tell you that I am now down to two Sucralfate pills and haven't had heartburn for six days.
A friend told me about her father's journey with acid reflux and said he doesn't eat anything for last three hours before he goes to bed at night; I found that same advice in the Acid Watcher book. It stressed the need of fiber in the diet and said the best cereal you can eat is Grape-nuts, which has only four ingredients. I don't like the stuff, but I eat 1/3 cup of it every morning, soaked in a little milk... no sugar added. And fruit! I've always loved fruit. Yesterday I had a kiwi, a banana, a mango ($.50 each at Aldi last week), and a couple of apples. I had a chicken salad sandwich on Aldi's very low-priced whole-wheat bread, and a little yogurt. I'm gaining back some of the weight I lost when I was so uncomfortable.
That's how I'm eating now, and it seems to be helping. I caused this problem over the years because I felt I should be able to eat anything I wanted. Meanwhile, I was setting up my body for Barrett's Esophagus, a condition you can never get rid of once it's there. Doctors call Barrett's a pre-cancerous condition, but by the numbers, only one person out of two hundred per year actually develops cancer.
My future is looking better.