What was it? Was I more stressed out at work than normal? Did I get it from hitting the chili in the cafeteria a little too often? Did my appetite for Caesar salad become excessive? Perhaps I can blame the South Beach Diet? I am eating quite a bit differently than I was: a whole lot fewer carbohydrates and a lot more eggs in the morning. Whatever it was my stomach rebelled.
Even so I didn’t think I had something quite as ordinary as acid reflux. I got through 47 years without acid reflux so I darn well assumed I could get through 47 more too. I thought if I had stomach problems I would feel it in the pit of my stomach. Instead I felt something akin to a lump in my throat. I never felt pain. The lump I felt was actually below my throat in my esophagus. After eating something like a high protein bar it felt like the bar didn’t quite make it into my stomach. It felt like it was lodged there. I thought maybe the muscles in my esophagus weren’t working correctly. But if I waited a few hours the feeling went away. Yet if I ate anything else the feeling came back immediately and lingered.
My doctor prescribed “the purple pill”: Nexium. But the feeling of fullness wasn’t going away, at least not very quickly. So I went to see the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. Yep, yep, he’d seen the same symptoms many times. But just to be sure he snaked a tiny little camera through my nose and down my throat. He showed me a full color picture of the opening of my esophagus. It was red and inflamed. Diagnosis confirmed. Stay on the purple pill. Keep my head elevated at night. Take liquid antacids after every meal. Don’t eat anything for several hours before bedtime.
So now wherever I go I bring the pink bottle of Pepto Bismol with me. It got noticed at the office. Acid reflux apparently runs in my building. One theory went that maybe it was something in the water. Or maybe my typically serene looking office mates were actually bundles of nervous energy. Perhaps I was a bit more stressed out in the role of manager than I thought I would be. So now I take my purple pill around 5 o’clock and swill two tablespoons of the pink stuff after every meal. Yum … not!
I want to go back to chili twice a week or so. I don’t like eating bland food. It is too much of a pleasure to give up spices. I want spaghetti with lots of sauce. I want slices of pizza. I want my Caesar Salad again, darn it.
This too shall pass, I hope. Another sixty days or so and perhaps I will (cross fingers) be back to normal. But maybe not. I have learned that my stomach has limits. Sometimes my body sends me messages I don’t want to hear. “Hello! Brain! Stomach here. I don’t like to complain but you aren’t listening to me. I’m an organ down here in serious trouble. Stop ignoring me and start treating me right! I don’t deal well with all that spicy and acidic food. You’ve got to give it up!”
No I don’t! I don’t want to! You can’t make me, stomach. I’ve suffered enough already. I’ve given up chasing after spicy women. In return all I asked was one small favor: I wanted to keep eating spicy food. Shouldn’t I be allowed to have one vice? It’s not like I smoke. I might drink two glasses of wine a year. You and the liver should be very happy.
But my stomach is not listening. Instead it is repeating the late Ann Landers: “Wake up and smell the coffee!” Middle age seems to be all about accepting limitations. I must eat less. I must exercise more (actually a lot more). I must embrace monogamy. And now I must not only eat less, but I have to enjoy less of what I still eat. It’s like nature is trying to get me to embrace monasticism.
Perhaps instead it is time to invest a little money in AstraZeneca, the makers of the purple pill. There must be gold to be made in the acid reflux market. A thirty-day supply of Nexium costs over $100. And Pepto Bismol doesn’t come cheap either. If I have to enjoy my food less and shell out big bucks to make my stomach happy then I might as well profit from it.