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socialghosts
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 4/9/2011 1:14 AM (GMT -6)   

Hi HealingWell community. I've been somewhat of a lurker here for the past six months or so, and I finally got around to making my own account. I wanted to post this thread just so I could tell my own tale of Acid Reflux/G.E.R.D - along with my numerous other messy ailments. The outpouring of support and kindess seen here still amazes me.

Well, I'm at the ripe age of 17 - soon to be 18 in twenty eight days. I've had my fair share of health related issues since I was born. I came into this world three months early, only weighing 3 lbs 11 oz. My lungs weren't fully developed, so I underwent extensive steriod treatment - which my GP thinks may be the root of a long list of health problems (just a theory she has). When I was little I was a pretty sickly child. When I was 7, I was hospitalized with Scarlett Fever. The infection spread to my ear canal, and was so bad that I am now actually deaf in my left ear.

When I was 9, my family and I found out that my cholesterol levels were nearly triple what they should be. My LDL was around 240 - keep in mind this was at nine years old! I was not obese or severely overweight, nor am I now. I'm around 5'6 and weigh 143 lbs. My Triglycerides were normal, about 148 or so and they continue to be about that range. My grandfather also battles high cholesterol, and from an early age he too has taken mediciation to manage it.

It took several combinations of different drugs to get things managable, I remember having to swallow 6 pills at one time - take some pills with a lowfat snack, etc. I was taking Lipitor, and had been for a few years until my GP switched me to Niaspan.

Anyways, this is where my GERD and acid reflux comes into play.

It all began when my doctor switched my cholesterol medicine, not sure if that really had anything to do with it or it was just timing. A few days after Christmas '10 I woke up in the middle of the night with an intense pain behind my sternum. I could literally feel the acid slowly creeping up my throat. I was scared to death, considering I'm an emetophobic - which doesn't really help during all this.

I was hit with a huge urge to go to the bathroom, and must had sat on the toilet for what seemed like hours. I downed Alka-Seltzer, chewed on Tums - I took anything I could think of just to get rid of the pain that I was in. I think I woke up around 1-1:30, and by 4 AM I was so exhausted I crawled back into bed and went to sleep.

The next few days were peaceful, and I figured it must have been something I ate. New Years eve came, and I was feeling fine until about 7 or 8 at night. I was at a party and left early because I was feeling horrible. I rang in the New Year in my bathroom, drinking Alka-Seltzer instead of champagne.

From then on I get the same symptoms every week. Burping, diarrhea, pain under my ribs, the bad taste in my mouth, the acidic feeling churning in my stomach - ugh. Laying down only makes things worse, and lately I go downstairs and watch TV, sitting up because I feel like if I lay down I'll choke. I have trouble swallowing and anxiety attacks and insomnia on top of that.

It never lets up - and if anything my symptoms have become more frequent and more intense. I thought at first it was my gallbladder, and it may indeed be - but I changed my mind when I read that high cholesterol doesn't cause gallstones.

This is starting to take over my life. I've taken so many antacids and pepto's and such that I've given myself a B-12 defficiency.

I've tried just about every acid-reducer out there. I've tried drinking tea before bed, gingerale is the one thing that seems to soothe my nerves during a flare.The only thing I can say to describe it: This sucks. I'm really at a loss. I used to be so vibrant and full of energy - now it takes everything just to get out of bed. I can barely go anywhere without worrying if I'll have a flare-up. I haven't hung out with friends in so long.

I'm down to eating things that are only green, steering clear of anything that might hurt my stomach - but even lettuce and juice are starting to feel like they're ripping me open from the inside out.

I'm a mess, and in the Fall I'll be going off to college - this cannot continue.
I don't know what to do anymore. I want to feel 100% again.

Is this happening to anyone else? I just feel so alone.

Thanks again for all your help,
socialghosts

Post Edited (socialghosts) : 4/9/2011 12:25:50 AM (GMT-6)


dencha
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7188
   Posted 4/9/2011 8:03 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Socialghost,
Welcome to Healing Well! You're definitely in the right place. I'm glad you've joined us. There's a great group of members here, and they'll give you support and information.

I assume you've been to a GI specialist with this. If you haven't, that would be your first step. You need to get some testing done to see what's going on. You need to get a barium swallow, 24 hour PH monitor, manometry, and endoscopy. They all sound terrible, but after what you've gone through, you won't have a problem getting through them. The toughest one is manometry, but I've had it twice, and it's very manageable. It's mind over matter, and not that big a deal.

It sure sounds like your LES is open, allowing the acid to reflux into your esophagus. You really need to get this dealt with before going off to college. I'm no GI doc, but at your age, with those problems, you might be a good candidate for a Nissen Fundoplication surgery.

One thing that can help you right away, is to elevate the head of your bed about 7-8 inches. That way, gravity can help keep the acid in your stomach, even if the LES is open. You can use bed risers, or cement blocks, etc. I use the bed risers you can buy at the store under the legs of the bed at the head. You can make it higher by adding a couple 4X6 boards under the risers. That's something I'd recommend you do right away.

There are lots sites online where you can find information about GERD diets. Here's one:
www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/pdfs/gerd_diet.pdf

Best wishes! I hope you feel better soon!
Denise

bittersweet603
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 93
   Posted 4/9/2011 8:46 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Socialghosts, I am new here too..and want to tell you that you are not alone in the least bit. Nearly everything you described could have came straight out of my mouth about myself. The only difference is I'm 26 in 31 days ( we're Taurus sisters too I guess!).  I was born jaundiced and lost weight in the hospital and was very sick. I grew up with lots of health problems, severe ear infections to the point on my left ear rupturing 3 times and losing some hearing in it. I also have fibromyalgia, anxiety and emetophobia like yourself (which is part of my anxiety). Of course I also have GERD and have had it for about 14 or so years with my stomach issues only getting worse as I've gotten older. I get what I've deamed "flair ups" over the years that wax and wane, my symptoms are severe reflux, nausea, burning and churning in my stomach with pain on the right side under my ribs and bouts of diarrhea after long bouts of consipation. I too have spent many nights where I should be out having fun, held up in my bathroom or bedroom downing pepto and whatnot curled up in a ball with my heating pad. I've now come to know through my 3rd endoscopy that I have Gastritis and erosive esophagitis. It's burned my throat something terrible and I am scheduled for a Nissen the day before my birthday (happy birthday to me!). I'm assuming the gastritis is something Ive had that has come and gone throughout the years and has caused the burning and nausea and weight loss..no one knows where it's coming from though besides one theory being my gallbladder over acting, which is also coming out during my LNF surgery.
 
I'm curious what kind of tests you've had done so far? You are so young and you need to have this figured out as soon as you can..because I know probably better then most how many years this can take away from you. I encourage you to PM me if you ever need someone to talk to that understands. In the meantime I hope you are doing okay.

socialghosts
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 4/9/2011 11:27 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi dencha and Bittersweet603!
Thank you so much for your support. I probably shluld have put this in with my first post, but I have yet to see a GI. I've had several blood tests, and my GP has done several 'physical' exams. She perscribed me a combination of generic PPI's and this week I'm going back for a check-up, so I think we'll schedule something with a GI. There's one right in the complex, so I could probably see them that day. Anyway, the proton pump inhibitors haven't really been working. I've been taking them for 2 months. All they seem to do is give me a raging headache. So on top of my chest feeling like it's on fire, and an awful stomachache - it feels like someone is shoving my skull into a pressure chamber.

Ugh, I feel like I'm complaining - I'm sorry. Whatever this is just consumes my life, I just want to go out and have fun, eat the foods I like in moderation, and maybe have the occasional heartburn. I'm about to be 18 but I feel like I'm turning 60.

When I do go to the doctor, do you guys have any ideas for what I should ask/talk to my doctor or the GI about? I mean besides describe my symptoms and be like 'what the heck is this!!!!'

bittersweet603
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 93
   Posted 4/10/2011 8:59 AM (GMT -6)   
Youre making the right steps, you definitely need to see that GI Dr and they will hopefully start you in the right direction with some rule out testing. PPI's did not work for me either, they actually caused me to have stomach pain that was so bad it'd wake me up at night. They had me do an upper Endoscopy first thing..I think my first one was around 19 years old, they may have you have multiple things done at once. Then I did the PH test and manometry..a barium swallow is also good to have done to show where your reflux is coming from and where your stomach is sitting. You are young and there is hope, you just need to remember we all go through these things...to come out stronger and wiser in the end! Take care and keep us updated.

dencha
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7188
   Posted 4/10/2011 12:25 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi socialghost,
Bittersweet is right...you need to get to a GI doc and they need to run some tests. You definitely need help with this, and it should not be interfering with your social life the way it does. When you go, remind the GI doc that you're going to college in the fall. There's no way that you should be going off with problems like these. Try to get an appointment ASAP with a good GI specialist.

I'm very glad you found this site...many people here have gone through just what you're dealing with, and can understand and offer support and ideas.

Hopefully you can get an appointment and testing soon, so you have the whole summer to get things straightened around.

Best of luck!
Denise

dencha
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7188
   Posted 4/10/2011 12:28 PM (GMT -6)   
PS...
It would be good if you started keeping a journal of what is happening, so you can share details with your doc. If you write down your symptoms and their severity and frequency, that will help your doc to know where to start. The more detail you can provide, the better. Be sure to include the headache side effect of the PPI you're taking.
Good luck!
Denise

socialghosts
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 4/14/2011 6:18 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi guys! I just wanted to give you a little update on my condition.

My whole spring break I was feeling pretty bad. General lack of energy, upset stomach after eating anything at all, etc. Sunday night I felt horrible. I had one of my flare-ups, and I got maybe 2 hours of sleep. It was impossible for me to lie down. Monday I went to school anyway, despite everything that had happened the night before. I figured I'd feel better as the day went on.

Wrong.

If anything I felt worse. More than ever, I had this extreme pain on my right side - under my ribs. Driving home from school I felt like dying. When I finally made it home, I curled up in a fetal position on our living room chair. My mom got home and freaked out, finally convincing me to go to the E.R (after I cried for about 20 minutes - I really hate the Emergency Room, haha).

When I got there, my pain was about a 7 or 8 on a scale from 1-10. It was awful. I wanted to sob, but crying only made it worse. The nurse told me to stop drinking water, and then gave me a G.I cocktail - which immediately got rid of the burning I had been feeling in my chest. They warned me about the taste, but I honestly didn't think it was that bad. Kinda fruity haha. Anyways, the pain under my ribcage was full throtle. The E.R physician ordered me an ultrasound - and after an hour or so my questions had finally been answered.

****** I have 8 gallstones that they could see, and a fair amount of sludge in my gallbladder!

This Friday is my senior prom, otherwise I probably would've had my gallbladder removed on Wednesday - so I'm scheduled for next Thursday - 4/21. I met with the surgeon yesterday, and he said my best bet was to remove my gallbladder all together. He said that he could use a laser to break the stones up, but with the amount of sludge in there as well - he said there's about a 98% chance that they'd return. Besides, my symptoms will only get worse.

He also said that he thinks the heartburn I've been having sounds a lot like GERD - but it may also be the sludge from my gallbladder leaking out into body. I'm eventually going to have to have an endoscopy after my surgery, where they'll be able to see if I have an ulcer or a thin stomach lining.

I've been taking Augmentin because my white blood cell count was a little high, and my gallbladder was inflammed. I think it's been upsetting my stomach because I haven't had a normal bowel movement in several days. Gross I know, sorry for the TMI. Just wondering if it was maybe a side-effect from the antibiotic, or maybe the G.I cocktail? Or maybe just my bad gallbladder all together.

Anyway - I hope you guys are in good health!
Thank you so much for the advice/kind words!

p.s: I've been keeping a food diary, even though I haven't been eating a lot. Mostly liquids like Jell-O and gingerale. I think it'll help especially after my surgery, since I'll have to be on a low-fat diet.

socialghosts
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 4/14/2011 6:21 PM (GMT -6)   
p.s.s: I forgot to say that the E.R doctor also suggested I take Prilosec to help with my heartburn/GERD like symptoms.

dencha
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7188
   Posted 4/14/2011 7:34 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Socialghost,
I'm so glad they've found what's going on with you. Hey, you never know...once you get that gallbladder out, things might straighten themselves out.

Augmentin is a drug I DEFINITELY can't tolerate. It KILLS my stomach, and I actually ended up hospitalized after it flared my GERD which ended up creating some bad asthma. I know many can take it, but my doctor and I have a running joke about it. He's always threatening to prescribe it!

Good luck with the surgery. You'll have to let us know all about it!
Enjoy your Senior Prom!
Denise

socialghosts
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 4/25/2011 7:10 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi guys, just wanted to give you guys an update.

4/21 I had my cholecystectomy, in otherwords I had my gallbladder taken out. I had the lap surgery so I have 4 small incisions and I got to come home the day of my surgery.

All I can say is that I wish I had my gallbladder back. I've felt nothing but worse since I came home from the hospital. Sometimes I hate posting on here, only because I feel like I'm complaining so much. Something I don't do a lot of.

Thursday I felt okay, just a little woozy from the anesthesia. My mom plopped me down on the couch, and I took my pain medicine (Percocets every 4-6 hours as needed, and Ketorolac every 6 hours as needed) and drank tons of fluids. Alternating between water and gingerale. I ate some crackers and Jell-o because I was afraid the pain medicine would make me sick. I had no appetite whatsoever.

Friday was okay, pretty much a continuation of Thursday - except I started a low-grade fever. By Saturday it had reached 101, and fluctuated between 99 and 100 from then on. I felt downright awful on Saturday. It was by far my worst day. My fever made me feel so uncomfortable, but at least Iwasn't in any pain.

Now, it's the 5th day and I still feel awful. I had the worst night's sleep last night, tossing and turning (which isn't that great when you just had abdominal surgery). I ended up in the bathroom with diarrhea, similar to a gallbladder attack. It was awful. This morning I woke up to stomach cramp and abdominal pain, and wound up in the bathroom for a little bit less than an hour.

Ugh. All of this is just making me miserable.
I've read the horror stories online, and I'm afraid that I'm never going to get better. I'm afraid that this nausea is never going to go away, or that I'm just going to have to live with a chronic stomach ache for the rest of my life. This just sucks. People told me I'd have 'instant relief', and that I'd feel so much better. Uh - no. I feel like I'm 65 again not 17.

dencha
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7188
   Posted 4/25/2011 10:38 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi socialghost,
Hey, you just had major surgery...just because it was laproscopic doesn't mean that you'll not have any after-effects. Just be sure to keep your surgeon in the loop regarding your symptoms and fever.

You are 17, which is in your favor for sure. I can tell you that those who've had the surgery who are telling you they had immediate relief probably were having an attack at the time they had the surgery. Your situation is different. You were having some symptoms, but not an accute attack. Give yourself some time and things will get better.

Don't read all those crazy posts...you are not those people. I have many friends who had the surgery and are very happy they had it done. Of course, this close to the surgery you're going to be in pain and feel horrible. Give yourself time to recover.

Relax, and don't struggle against your recovery. Let it take the lead. Think positive thoughts...don't dwell on your fears. You can do this!

Take care and stick around here...you'll get lots of support!
Denise

couchtater
Elite Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 14475
   Posted 4/25/2011 12:20 PM (GMT -6)   
try some chicken or beef broth, pudding, all fruit bars from Edy's, ensure, or boost

Ask for some anti-nausea medicine for the nausea from the doctor.

rest and don't try to be a super hero
Joy

bittersweet603
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 93
   Posted 4/26/2011 4:36 PM (GMT -6)   
Socialghost- I agree with the others, your body is trying to adjust to the change with surgery. I believe any pain pills make most people sick so that could be causing you the nausea. Definitely ask for nausea meds. Also a lot of people experience diarrhea after having their gb out, the bile your liver produces is now directed in a different way and can upset your bowels. Please be patient and take it easy. I hope everything gets better soon. Also keep your diet soft and bland, try not to eat things that are hard to digest.
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