Hello. Ruhr's the name.
I've been lurking for a while, reading other people's experiences, and I think it's time to join the community and introduce myself. I'll summarise with bullet points first before going into long descriptions.
Stats: 44 year old male, 5'6", about 150#, sedentary and not active. Occasional consumer of alcoholic beverages.
* shortness of breath (dyspnea)
* occasional irregular heartbeat during bad bouts of dyspnea?
* lump in my throat feeling
* triggers coughing, or burping to resolve the feeling (also for dyspnea)
* occasional heartburn
* pale stools
History: I've been diagnosed with GERD before, back around 2005 or so. I was treated with PPIs. Those issues gradually subsided, only to return first slightly around 2010-2011, and definitely in the second half of 2012 I can say I started not feeling like "myself".
* 20 mg Prilosec once daily. GI has put me on that for now.
* 10 mg Ambien nightly, which I'm trying to wean myself off. I've been taking for Ambien a few years now, progressively more and more each week (from a few times a week, until now nightly).
* 0.5 mg Ativan as needed, which I have been fairly good lately taking only as needed, instead of 0.5 mg almost daily a few months ago.
* 1 g Lovaza twice daily for cholesterol/triglicerides
* Gaviscon antacid tablets as needed when heartburn strikes
* Gelusil antacid/antigas tablets as needed when heartburn and/or gas comes
* 325 mg aspirin, as needed, if I get crazy and think I'm having a heart attack
Test history (within 8 months):
* Endoscopy normal, with a little gastritis, though nothing notable about esophagus
* Echo/stress test of the heart: fairly normal with no sign of ischemia
* Coronary calcium CT scan: Score of 0 (yay!)
* Pulmonary function test: normal. Pulmonologist says lungs are clear, by listening and viewing CTs
Upcoming tests/dr. visits:
* 24 hour esophageal pH test (re-diagnose GERD? LPR?)
* CT of chest and neck
* Basic metabolic panel blood test
This year since around February 2013 feeling dyspnea or shortness of breath even at rest. Unexpected feelings of having to gasp for air. I never feel like this when I first wake up in the morning, though it starts to set on while the day progresses. It can last through the day and into the evening. Or temporarily get better, and return in the evening. These are usually mild though when it's really bad, it seems like my heart beats slightly fast and sometimes skips a beat. I sometimes experience the globus pharyngis or lump in my throat feeling. These symptoms trigger coughing (always dry), or if I can, burping which makes me feel better. Sometimes I do get actual heartburn, which is usually relieved by an antacid, such as Gelusil or Gaviscon. Finally, when the bouts of dyspnea get really bad, anxiety is triggered, where I feel like I'm having a mini panic attack. I take an Ativan when it's real bad. There is an overall tiredness and fatigue, and lack of wanting to do anything active. During bad episodes, my stool seems to turn a pale yellowish colour, or slightly green, not a healthy rich dark brown.
It's getting bad where I experience some sort of shortness of breath, at least six days out of the week. There are more fair or bad days than there are good days. It's starting to affect my quality of life. I intentionally stay home and not go to dances or other activities if I have bouts of fatigue or dyspnea. I don't go out to socialise with friends/drink any more. If I do drink, I'll have a nice beer or wine at home (2 drinks max--I've really cut down). I intentionally did not make a flight in April because I was having a bad few weeks and did not want to travel; I rescheduled in June and luckily could fly, though didn't feel 100% during the trip. I have trips coming up and I'm afraid I would cancel those trips if I keep feeling like this.
I'm in between GIs right now: rotating staff. The former GI put me on 20 mg Prilosec, though it doesn't seem to be doing much. I'm getting a 24 hr pH test on Monday.
Dyspnea was bad this week so I went back to my Primary Care Physician. He shrugged, said go to an ENT. Take some neck and CT scans. Get a blood test ("basic metabolic panel").
My own theories, after reading up on some Healing Well posts, is that I might not have GERD, but some sort of LPR. The globus matches it. I rarely get actual heartburn--it happens--though most of the time it's more a feeling of dyspnea, with some burping that comes along with it where I feel much better after burping. I dunno. I guess the 24 pH test will shed some light on that. I don't know what's going on with the shortness of breath, and the heartbeat skipping sometimes though. Maybe some sort of reflux is causing the shortness of breath? Maybe anxiety? I'm not usually anxious--except when the dyspnea is really bad, or if I have a really bad case of heartburn! (Which came first, the chicken or the egg?)
I don't want to feel like this any more. Every day I think about my dyspnea, or my gas/reflux, and I hardly feel "normal" any more. I'm just wondering, what to do, what to do?
I hope I can connect with you guys out there and figure out what's going on. Also share my experiences with others if that is going to help.
Thanks for reading.