Friday, October 3, 2008

Village of the Bland

The blog has been a little slow as of late due to a variety of ailments the author has been suffering. After a tentative diagnosis of acid reflux which served as my doc's explanation of my three week long sore throat last month I was then struck down with a mighty cold, one that seems to have been making the rounds. Frustrated that my OTC acid reducer wasn't working when the cold went away but the sore throat persisted I went to see a Ear Nose and Throat specialist today and promptly had an anesethic spray blasted up both nostrils and a camera shoved through my nasal canal and down my throat. Above my vocal folds she spotted a cyst but dubbed it a red herring saying it wasn't the cause of my pain. I was too shocked but the suddeness of the maneuver to remember to look on the computer monitor for the view into my insides, something I regret. Still after a fateful visit to the obgyn where she flashed me a view of my ice-covered cervix (TMI for everyone I'm sure, but at age 20 I learned the terrors of cryotheraphy - a barbaric and thankfully relative obsolete procedure outside of Planned Parenthoods in Lincoln, NE that most women no longer have to endure) I'm a little traumatized at seeing parts of my body the good lord never intended me to view.

My doctor said she wasn't completely sure but diagnosed me with the foreboding sounding, Silent Reflux clinically known as the relatively unpronouceable Laryngopharyngeal Reflux aka LPR. Yeah, I'm calling it silent reflux too. Except those with LPR don't usually experience heartburn but I do. Oh well, why quibble with the doc, right? I now have to take two different acid reducers a total of three times a day, 40 mg of Prilosec before breakfast and dinner and 150 mg of Zantac at bedtime. Adding that to my Claritin (allergies), Loestrin (birth control), Clonazepam (anti-anxiety/sleep aid), and Citalopram (anti-anxiety) that puts me at a whopping 6 medicines a day, 7 pills total since I have to take the Prilosec twice. Two months ago I was on nothing, maybe ever an ibuprofin once a month maximum. How times change.

Not only am I significantly medicated, I have a slew of foods I can no longer eat. At the advice of my nutritionist (yes, I have a nutritionist) I already gave up caffiene and all carbonated beverages at the initial doc's diagnosis of acid reflux. That was torture. No more Diet Dr. Pepper? Not even a Diet Coke? What the hell is a sober gal supposed to drink at a bar if she can't have her glorious seltzer with or without bitters? I always joked that while I didn't smoke or drink I was still probably going to get cancer from all those chemicals I put in my body with the diet cola drinking, but damnit, I wanted that danger! Still, I am coping, although water isn't the same (and I shouldn't even squeeze that wedge of lemon into it.)

My doctor gave me a handy pamphlet with cartoon drawings of all the foods I should no longer eat, the cutesy drawings mocking me. "To Reduce Reflux Avoid" it states, "nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, fatty meals, chocolate, peppermints, tomatoes, onions, citrus, avoid late night snacks, eat smaller meals, avoid eating three hours before bedtime." Some further internet research also warns of the dangers of cheese, eggs (!), spicy foods, garlic, salad dressing, a variety of baked goods, mashed as well as french fried potatoes, ground beef, mac and cheese, buffalo wings (duh) and even cranberry juice. After six weeks with a nutritionist trying to normalize my eating and make it more varied and less prohibitive this is one hell of a roadblock.

Not to mention (although I know I risk sounding like a pussy, I am sure there are many fates far worse than reflux) the fact that I am pretty much in consistent pain. That said, there is something strangely grounding about health problems. As someone who spends far too much time worrying about the abstract, the intangible, the existential, it is almost freeing to place all those worries aside in favor of the immediacy of my body. It isn't a masochistic impulse, it is indeed an innate need for self-preservation. Take pause from worrying about the imaginary foes and follies (though I worry that my worry may have in part brought this on) and stay focused on the real hard responses my body makes to my life. This is an especially acute experience for someone like me, with a history of addition, who tends to find ways to force the emotional to manifest itself physically. As one who tries with all her might to thrust her insides outward (as in her thoughts into her actions) having her actual innards in chaos is a fine firm reality check.

Oh and p.s. the unfortunate side effect to this is that when I burp it tastes like CornNuts. I wish I could make shit like this up, but reality is punishing.

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