Saturday, November 10, 2007

fix me

I'm broken again. Finally got a chance to go see Dr. O, my ENT (fabulous, I recommend him to everyone.) As usual, he listens to what I have to say, does a thorough examination, and then explains what's happening, and what to do about it.

I have a couple of things going on. First of all, my turbinates are causing my chronic head congestion and post-nasal drip. Using Nasonex is helping some, but it's a stopgap, and I still end up with that weird feeling of pressure inside my ears, a lot. Not to mention the never-ending post-nasal drip. I'm scheduled for turbinate reduction surgery in mid-December; he'll fix my deviated septum while he's in there.

The second issue is my chronic sore throat and trouble swallowing. I thought that these were two separate things, the first caused by the damned post-nasal drip, the second a result of post-surgical scarring.

Nope, and nope. I wrote about this once before: what do I know?; just over two years ago. It's amazing how easy it is to forget stuff. The sore throat problem has little to do with the PND, although it may be exacerbating it. Both problems are caused by acid reflux; my esophagus is so irritated that it has become swollen and inflamed, which of course makes it harder to swallow.

I've been taking Prilosec for a couple of years now; somewhere along the line the dose was doubled. I never really thought about the fact that it wasn't working until Dr. O pointed it out -- I'm managing so many poorly functioning physical systems that the acid stomach wasn't even registering. But as soon as the doctor said "reflux," I realized that the acid problem has been pretty awful, and I can't say for how long. For example, I feel queasy if my stomach is empty, particularly in the morning. All of the other reflux symptoms are there in spades, as well. How could I just ignore them for so long?

You know: busy, life, all that.

Dr. O suggested I change the way I'm taking the meds, switching me from one in the morning & one in the evening to both pills, a half hour before dinner, to give me more acid-reducing power overnight when production really cranks up.

Since that didn't help, I called Dr. G, my gastroenterologist, and basically said: "Help!" I'm seeing him Monday, in the meantime, his conveyed through his nurse that I'm to take 2 tablespoons of Mylanta every four hours. (Ick) It's helping, though. But I don't want to take it before I go to bed, because that's when I take my iron, and I'm pretty sure the calcium and magnesium will screw up the iron absorption. I think I'll take a ranitidine tonight, because already I can feel the burning in there, and it's not going to get better on its own.

Perversely, I'm hoping I have a hiatal hernia, or some physical defect that can be fixed (please please please), even if it means going under the knife again. I can't stand having these dysfunctional systems that are sort-of, kind-of treated via medication. It sucks, and I take too many pills as it is.

Today in the teacher's lounge, at lunch, when I shook my noon supplements out of their box, two teachers gasped: Is that every day? Yes, I joked -- better living through chemistry. Then the 10-second run-down on what everything is ("These two are for my arthritis, this is calcium I need to take because of my thyroid thing, this is Vit D to help the calcium metabolise properly, these are digestive enzymes...) Even so, I do a passable imitation of a healthy person.

Back to fixing me... I'm also scheduled for another video stroboscopy, wherein they film what's going on in the throat. I'm curious to see how it looks. I'm thinking Dr. G will schedule something to fix me. I'm miserable, and we've already met our health insurance deductibles for the year. Now would be a good time to get going on making me better.

[Inevitably: what am I doing that's causing all this? Don't know, don't even know if that's a valid question. Aftermath of the surgery is one aspect of it, but how big a factor, I can't say. More likely it's just genetic; I'm still hoping it's something that can be fixed instead of managed.

1 comment:

nina said...

Protonix. You'll thank me for it.

Decades ago I said to my doctor (when he suggested I switch from Zantac to the purple pill) -- is this a forever thing? He said "yes."

Since then, prilosec (the purple pill) has lost its strength and I have to resort to stronger stuff.

But, it's not an endless spiral downward. One pill a day (protonix) and a reasonable attention to diet have basically put the Reflux question to rest.

Meds can be a good thing.