New to the forum, not new to GERD and need help

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jcee
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 5/17/2010 11:55 PM (GMT -6)   
I am 52, male, in ok shape (which I'm working on) with some good belly fat (which I'm reducing) and have had digestive problems for a long time. Typically this happened when eating oily foods and the like, or at times of great stress, but never to the point where it impacted my life as it's doing now. I have also become, or maybe always was, a nervous (read: worrier) person and this was amplified during my 40's when my mom was in declining health and I was shuttling back and forth from each coast to take care of, and be with her. To give some background, about 4 years ago I was in bed one night and felt the whole side of my face and body getting numb and thought I was stroking out or having a heart attack. It started with a wave that came up from my abdomen and continued until I got to the ER. Long story short they did a bunch of tests and attributed it to anxiety. For the next few weeks I would be in bed and start getting an "odd" feeling in my tummy, pins and needles and tightening in my face which would be somewhat relieved by my rubbing my abdomen. After a while these episodes abated and while I continued to have acid tummy, bloating and gas it was manageable. A couple of years later I started having these episodes again and my doctor said it was IBS and GERD so she put me on Pepcid which helped. At the same time I agreed to start taking Lovastatin as my cholesterol was very high. This helped bring the cholesterol down significantly but I recently took myself off of it after reading about the side effects and talking with my brother-in-law who experienced the muscle pains and dizziness I've been having.

My weight over the last 6 months had ballooned to 220 pounds which was not only putting pressure on my chest and organs but making walking uphill a chore so I buckled down and started on a strict vegan diet (I was already vegetarian mostly) and cut out almost all sugar and other trigger foods, although I was still drinking a lot of coffee each day, and having a snack in bed before going to sleep. Both of which I've now stopped. Just over 3 1/2 weeks ago I was working at home and had 3 toaster waffles for breakfast (with a drizzle of maple syrup) and 3 cups of coffee. Around 1:30PM I realized I hadn't eaten anything and had a banana which normally sits just fine with me. A short while later I was talking with my boss when an odd feeling came over me that started in the stomach area. I felt nauseous, numbness and puffiness in my hands, weakness in my arms, light headed with a mild headache and a feeling like I was "disconnected." This was also accompanied by sweaty palms, burping up acid, a lot of bloating, pressure and gas, feeling jittery and anxious in my tummy and a stuffy nose. This persisted for the next few hours during which time my right hand would get cold and then sweaty and then cold again.

Over the next week these symptoms subsided somewhat and by changing my eating habits I was able to drop weight and start controlling the bloating and gas to some degree, but that same week I was walking to the bus stop and again started feeling disconnected as if my feet weren't solidly on the ground. I contacted my doctor and she had me start taking 20mg of Pepcid 3x per day instead of 40mg once a day and set up an appointment for blood and stool tests. Some days over the next couple of weeks were ok while on others I would again get the mild headache, bloating, acid coming up and at times waves of "zoning out," trouble focusing and feeling drained. Around the same time I also started taking DGL as I read this might help but it only made my tummy feel worse so I stopped that. At the same time I also started seeing the clinic psychologist to help with the anxiety and this has also helped somewhat.

about a week ago I was bending slightly over the counter cutting up some veggies and felt like the inside of my head "dropped" down a few inches almost as if I was going down the incline on a roller coaster. This was followed by heavy stomach pressure, headache in front of the face, gas, acid and a very stuffy, sniffly nose. I went to the ER and they did a cardiogram and other tests and again said the cause was anxiety and gave me Ativan, which I took that night and the following one but none since. This past week things have seemed to taken a turn for the worse so with that in mind and the results of my blood tests which showed a elevated level (about 4 points above the top of the standard range) of Alkaline Phosphatase, my doctor sent me for an ultrasound in order to rule out what she thought might be gall stones. Although I've since read that this might be an indication of a blocked liver duct as well.

Yesterday was a pretty good day and although I had a very short and mild "episode" in the morning my tummy was "quiet" all day and I was finally feeling like I turned the corner. Although to be fair I'm worrying that the ultrasound will turn up something really bad and that might have helped trigger what happened today which was almost the worse day I've had yet. I was at work at 7AM and had eaten a plain sesame bagel and 2 cups of water. I also took my usual PB8 (probiotic) and the pepcid. At 8:30AM I had a banana and while I had a bit of gas and some mild bloating it was manageable. At 10AM I started getting an unsettled feeling from head to toe, some tightness in my throat and hot flashes. Around 20 mins later I felt like I needed to have a BM and this was accompanied by pins and needles on the right side of my body including my right foot and my right palm was sweaty. Shortly afterward I had a normal BM along with "anxious" waves on my right side and a nervous feeling tummy. At 11:15AM I again had pins and needles all over and a chilly feeling on the top of my thighs and hands along with an acid feeling in my chest, but I was not burping up any acid. Around lunch time I started to feel as if things were settling down although I still had some tummy discomfort and a mild headache behind my eyes. At 1PM I had a Pepcid and then about 15 mins later a bowl of Dr. McDougall's lite (50% less sugar) oatmeal which normally sits ok with me, and another glass of water. All was ok until around 2:15PM when I started burping up some very strong acid. I got home around 4PM and had two slices of sprouted multi-grain bread and shortly after had flem, tingling in my hands and feed, bloat and a heavy acidic feeling in my chest and up to my collar bone. At 7PM I had brown rice and tofu for dinner which felt ok and as I'm writing this at 9:30PM my tummy is again returning to being "settled" but I'm also nervous, etc.

The blood and stool tests, other than the elevated Alkaline Phosphatase, came back normal and I'm expecting to get the results of the ultrasound by Wednesday. The next step after that is a GI referral and I've also asked to see a dietician or nutritionist. To say that I'm worried about my outcome is putting it mildly. Like many others I'm already thinking it's liver failure, cancer or something else which will hasten my departure from the earth. This is accompanied by sadness and grief and I'm finding myself crying at the slightest provocation. I feel like I'm falling apart and while I'm trying to keep busy it's very hard even to sleep through the night. I also realize I just wrote a "novel" and apologize for writing so much my first time here but writing this has helped a bit. At times I'm afraid to eat and other times I "torture" myself by looking up my symptoms online although reading through postings on this forum has helped. I guess that's about it for now. I know I'm not alone with what I'm feeling and the symptoms I'm having but I feel like I'm shortly going to start losing it. Thank you in advance for letting my get this off my chest (no pun intended) and for whatever help and support you folks can offer. I hope too that I'll be able to give something back as well.

In health and wellness

Jcee

Post Edited (jcee) : 5/17/2010 11:02:16 PM (GMT-6)


stkitt
Elite Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 5/18/2010 8:29 AM (GMT -6)   
Jcee,

Good morning and welcome to HealingWell. I read your post with great interest and want you to know that it does feel to me like you have many of the sx of anxiety attacks/panic attacks. We have an awesome A & P forum here also so please do feel free to stop in and talk with the members of that forum. Your sx match many of our members in the A & P Forum. It does sound like you are having what we refer to as anticipatory anxiety.
Anticipatory anxiety is where a person experiences increased levels of anxiety by thinking about an event or situation in the future. The worries you experience specifically focus on what you think might happen, often with catastrophic predictions about the event.


I am glad to know your next stop is going to be a GI Physician if nothing shows up on your GB tests. You may need to have an Endoscopy to see what may be going on .

I am glad your writing down your feelings here in this forum has helped you to feel better. Sharing your problems with others is another great way to decrease the anxiety.

Please keep following up with your physician. I would give the Ativan a try when you start to feeling the "what if thoughts" starting up and see if it doesn't help you get through the tough times.

Again a warm welcome,

Kitt

jcee
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 5/18/2010 9:40 AM (GMT -6)   
Thank you Kitt. Your comments make a lot of sense and I can surely attest to the times I've been on a plane during turbulence and worried myself that it was going down or had nightmares the night before flying. I know that anxiety and stress can cause many things to occur and that the "tummy" is "tied in" with this. That aside, I also wonder whether some of the symptoms I'm having is my bodies reaction to the Hydrochloric Acid since I don't typically get these mild headaches too often. Although I guess this and some of the disconnected feelings I've been having could also be caused by the very stuffed up nose I've had the past 2 weeks, and which gets worse once an "acid attack" (?) comes on. I will keep following up with my doctor although working through the system that is Kaiser is a chore unto itself. Though I guess managed care if pretty much the same all over now. How I miss the days of my family doctor who knew the whole family, delivered all of the children and even still made house calls. Thank you again for the warm welcome and your thoughts. J-

Post Edited (jcee) : 5/18/2010 8:43:17 AM (GMT-6)


couchtater
Elite Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 14475
   Posted 5/18/2010 5:30 PM (GMT -6)   
jcee,
Have you had your blood sugar checked?
Your food for the day seemed more carbs than vegan. This can send your blood sugars soaring and give you that "disconnected" feeling. Ask your doctor for a A1c test to be safe.
You need to balance your diet with some soy protein or kidney beans. These will help keep the carbs from overwhelming your system. Also add more fresh fruits and veggies. Stay away from the bananas they are loaded with sugars.


Joy

jcee
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 5/18/2010 5:54 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you Joy. I will certainly follow up on that. I have been having a lot of carbs recently such as cream of wheat, flax cereal with soy milk, etc. since they're easy to tolerate but I also have a lot of tofu and beans, mushrooms and broccoli. Apples, pears, and almonds are other items I have often and add varieties of squash to the mix as well. I will certainly keep in mind about the banana's although as mentioned usually I tolerate them just fine and they are a good source of nutrition but will either eliminate or limit them. Here are the tests I've had so far:

05/14/2010 CLOSTRIDIUM DIFFICILE TOXIN A AND B EIA
05/13/2010 STOOL CULTURE
05/13/2010 GIARDIA LAMBLIA ANTIGEN, EIA
05/11/2010 GLUCOSE, FASTING
05/11/2010 LIPID PANEL
05/11/2010 URINALYSIS, AUTOMATED (WITH MICROSCOPY IF INDICATED, NO CULTURE) P
05/11/2010 CREATININE, SERUM, WITH GLOMERULAR FILTRATION RATE
05/11/2010 TSH (THYROID STIMULATING HORMONE)
05/11/2010 ALT (ALANINE AMINOTRANSFERASE), SERUM
05/11/2010 AST (ASPARTATE AMINOTRANSFERASE), SERUM
05/11/2010 ALKALINE PHOSPHATASE
05/11/2010 BILIRUBIN, TOTAL, SERUM
05/11/2010 CBC (COMPLETE BLOOD COUNT) WITHOUT DIFFERENTIAL
05/11/2010 WHITE BLOOD CELL DIFFERENTIAL, AUTOMATED

stkitt
Elite Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 5/19/2010 9:41 AM (GMT -6)   
Good Morning,


05/11/2010 GLUCOSE, FASTING
This would have been your blood sugar, do you know what the result was.



Take care,



Kitt

jcee
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 5/19/2010 10:44 AM (GMT -6)   
93. Thanks Kitt. Still waiting on the results of the ultrasound and if it's gall stones or something else causing the elevated Alkaline Phosphatase. Yesterday was a pretty good day although I think I made a mistake by going swimming an hour after eating as later that night in bed the acid kicked in big time although swimming felt really great. Maybe I need to allow 2 hours in-between instead. And btw, are hard boiled eggs a couple of times a week and apples ok? I realize it's person dependent but I've read conflicting things about both so wanted to ask.

J-

jcee
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 5/19/2010 2:49 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Kitt - just got the results back from the ultrasound. They said I have gallstones and the doctor has given me a referral to surgery for next steps. Not what I wanted to hear but better than what my mind was "conjuring" up. Any suggestions? I've never had surgery before nor been in the hospital so I want to prepare myself as much as possible.

Thanks again. J-

couchtater
Elite Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 14475
   Posted 5/19/2010 4:36 PM (GMT -6)   
I had never had surgery before my wrap. I was terrified. I was surprised at how easy it really was.
go through pre tests (EKG, blood work, and chest xray)
Show up for surgery
change into breezy gown and Climb into bed
get IV and Answer a million questions with nurse
Rolled to pre-op and Answer more questions
get a couple of shots (more questions)
rolled into OR and scoot over on table
stretch arm out- night-night
wake up in recovery (some pain and very thirsty)
rolled to room

I have five small scars on my belly from the Lap surgery.

Joy

jcee
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 5/19/2010 5:04 PM (GMT -6)   
thanks joy. that helps! from what i've heard this is not the end of the world and i guess if you get old enough you end up having something that needs to be taken care of. my consultation is on monday and it looks like it will be an outpatient procedure. i was hoping they could take care of it with ultrasound or lasers or some such but i guess the whole thing is "stoned" up so they'll need to take it out. i know one thing - - if i wasn't as strict with my diet in the past i'm sure as hell going to have to be now. of course i might also still need to address the GERD as my chest has been "acid city" as of late but hopefully taking care of the gall bladder will help both problems. :)

stkitt
Elite Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 5/19/2010 5:19 PM (GMT -6)   
jcee,


Hey there, glad you got your ultrasound report. I had my gallbladder out before they were doing laporoscopy surgery. Here is a good site to read that expalins all about lap chole surgery:



http://www.sages.org/publication/id/PI11/



Keep us posted on what is happening.



Gentle Hugs,



Kitt

jcee
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 5/19/2010 7:51 PM (GMT -6)   
Thx Kitt. Seems pretty straightforward. Can you refer me to a site or list of foods that I'll be able to have once I have the surgery? I'm already eating pretty low fat although will I ever again be able to have ice cream or a special dessert every once in a while?

Alcie
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 5028
   Posted 5/21/2010 8:29 AM (GMT -6)   
Dear jcee
The tofu, beans,broccoli, apples and pears are all gas producers and will contribute to your bloating and gas problem. You can easily search gas-producing foods and learn to understand them and avoid them at least when you are having a problem. I've had to do this post-fundoplication. It works quite well to just eat those foods in small quantities.

Rice, chicken and fish, and salads make up a good part of my diet. They do not produce gas. This diet also is helping me lose the last few pounds to get me to a mid-range of normal BMI and also reduce my cholesterol.

I read a scientific repost that people who don't tolerate statins can often take them once a week. That's what I'm doing and I no longer have the muscle pains.

There are loads of post-Nissen diets on the web. Mine came from UPMC. It'll come up on top if you google the words. What your docs won't tell you about is the gas and bloating from eating the wrong foods! Post-op you can't belch, so if you even think of soda or simple carbs and sugar you'll have severe pain.
Alcie
 
 


stkitt
Elite Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 5/21/2010 8:44 AM (GMT -6)   
jcee,


Re diet after your gallbladder surgery - The most important thing is to learn yourself what foods you cannot tolerate and omit them from your diet, which preferably should be a low fat diet . Reintroduce foods slowly and a little at a time. Remember, the key is to eat what you can tolerate and each person is different, so what others may tolerate you perhaps may not.



Be sure to discuss diet after your surgery with your surgeon.



Take care and good luck.



Kitt

jcee
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 5/21/2010 11:11 AM (GMT -6)   
Thx Alcie and Kitt. Alcie - - I'm vegeatarian/vegan so the animal options won't work for me though I do realize that many things in a veg diet are gas producers. For me personally there is a difference with gas and what I experience as bloat and pressure. Gas typically passes through pretty quickly while for me bloat is a combination of gas plus acid which causes my chest to become like a rock, and acid to come up into my throat. I have found that by eating small portions, essentially grazing, throughout the day and watching what foods I combine (this seems to be a big one that I haven't quite all figured out yet) that I can manage things ok , and that sugar and fat are a big trigger. Especially when combined together or eaten within a short time of each other. I am hoping that the gall bladder surgery will help relieve at least some of what I've having lately and if not my doctor has set up a GI referral as a next step. Then of course is the anxiety/nighttime panic attacks, of which I had a big one the other night and which lingered right into the next work day, that I need to work on. Years of sadness and grief along with worrying about any future event and thinking the worst has taken its toll on my tummy and psyche and now is the time to address this. Thanks again to you folks and this place.

Alcie
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 5028
   Posted 5/21/2010 1:57 PM (GMT -6)   
Sorry, but tofu is another food that causes gas. After all it is made from a legume! But that is colon gas caused by the happy bacteria feasting on the carbs and sugars. I was mainly mentioning gas bloat from the standpoint of surgery. Surgeons often routinely take out a gallbladder while doing a fundoplication, so you might want to delay gallbladder until you get a good GI consultation. They pretty much make the same holes and you would go through the same preps and anesthesia with both.

Stomach gas is pretty much from swallowing air. I've read many suggestions like not drinking while eating, trying Gas-X and other stuff. They didn't help me much, but seem to work for others. But I can't burp much because of the fundoplication.

Another reason to avoid carbs, besides making us fat, is that the liver turns the stuff into cholesterol. Cholesterol is not so much from eating it as it is from eating what it's made from.
Alcie
 
 


jcee
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 5/21/2010 2:27 PM (GMT -6)   
Thx for clarifying. I'm just now getting to the part of the gas left over from the surgery and will talk to my doctor beforehand and the surgeon during the consult about both procedures. My cholesterol has always been high and is part of my family makeup. In place of Lovastatin I'm now taking Niacin and that along with dieting and increased exercise I'm hoping will make up for what the Lovastatin did. As for switching back to animal products - I don't think I could as meat never much agreed with me and living with an ethical vegan makes anything but "eating out of the house" difficult. I have a appointment with the School Of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco planned for next month when I'm visiting my friend and will be discussing many things with them. Looking forward to that. Also got 2 books recommended by my therapist call Beyond Anxiety (book and work book) by Edmund Bourne. Only a few pages in but looks pretty good.

:)

lilitiger2
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 89
   Posted 5/24/2010 9:55 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi jcee,
they did NOT remove my gallbladder but took my husbands. He does not have GERD, but post surgery he seems to eat any blessed thing he wants to!. He eats dairy as well (but stays pretty near a "facility" as he has about 20-30 minutes before he really needs to go!) They told him he should watch fatty foods, and he does..he watches them as he munches them right down!! Doesn't seem to be much that disagrees with him! And the surgery was no big deal for him at all. I am a vegetarian, did eat game meat briefly but got too hard to digest. And can't have soy (makes the GERD really intense). I do eat seafood so have had shrimp, which is mostly ok, and some tuna. I am a psychologist and Edmund Burkes stuff is excellent!

jcee
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 5/24/2010 10:42 PM (GMT -6)   
Thx for the info lilitiger. As it turns out I just came back from my surgical consult and the surgeon said she did not advise removal at this time. While there are gallstones there is no thickening of the walls/lining or inflamation, tenderness or pain that would support surgery. She also said that the test for Alkaline Phosphatase is non-specific and I while I am 4 points above the top of the standard range she doesn't see much of an issue with that either. Although she did say I should get tested again in 4-6 weeks at which time I'll also have another cholesterol test to see how I'm doing now that I'm no longer taking Lovastatin. So now I'm somewhat back where I was and waiting for a GI referral which was the next step surgery or not. I would have liked to think the gallbladder surgery would have helped with my digestion problems but the surgeon said that's not always the case. Depending on what the GI doc says I'll have a new set of options to consider and am now gearing up for endoscopy and probably another colonoscopy as well. Surprisingly enough I'm not feeling at all anxious about this and will continue to watch what I eat since some days my "innards" feels ok while other days it does not. Hopefully my food/symptom diary will help the GI doc discover what is really going on or if it is indeed mostly "in my head." I'll also be continuing with therapy as one way or another I need to address the years of shoving feelings under the rug and worrying about things out of my control and detrimental to my well being.

:)
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