Hi all, an update on my condition in case it is useful to others:
As I mentioned earlier, I had constant 24/7 pain and unpleasantness for months, despite being on twice daily PPIs. For much of the time, it literally hurt to walk, presumably because the vibrations from my foot moved up to my hypersensitive esophagus. For an entire month I had to whisper because talking was too painful.
Well, I'm now happy to report that I've basically been symptom free and medication free for the last 6 months. It's hard to tell what made me better, but here are some observations. Obviously this won't work for everyone, as I don't think this was a traditional cases of GERD:
- PPIs did nothing. I'm confident about this because (a) my symptoms got worse over the first 6 weeks I was on them and (b) I later ran a 4-part block experiment (2 weeks on, 2 weeks off, 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off) and recorded my symptoms each day. There was no difference in symptoms between the "on" and "off" weeks. If anything, my symptoms were worse during the "on" weeks.
- A few months into the pain, I decided to start some light weightlifting. Like clockwork, my esophageal symptoms always went away for 30 minutes after lifting. This had never happened before, as I had constant pain. Over the subsequent weeks and months, my symptoms began to improve. While it's hard to say whether weightlifting helped over the long run, I am very confident that it made the pain go away over the 30 minutes following each session.
- Shot in the dark, but I thought I'd give Palmitoylethanolamide a try. I've done a lot of research into this and posted my comments here. While there's a good chance that it's useless, it may be worth trying. FWIW, I started to feel better after I started taking it, and the research is fairly mixed. One thing is clear though: It's safe, with essentially no recorded side effects.
- Candies, especially Ricola, tended to help immediately. I know this sounds ridiculous, especially for pain of this magnitude. And to be fair, candy wouldn't do much when the pain was at its worst. Nevertheless, there was always a noticeable and immediate improvement after I ate each candy. And the time in which I started eating candies more frequently correlated with when I began to start feeling better over the long term.
- Eating more frequently, with snacks throughout the day balanced by smaller main meals. Moving to this type of diet correlated with me starting to feel better over the long term (although as mentioned above I also made a lot of other changes around this time).
I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions.