Living Successfully with GERD
For those of you lucky enough not to know what GERD is; it stands for Gastroesophageal reflux disease or simply acid reflux. This is just another word for Nightmare. It can be as minor as a little inconvenience after your favorite pasta meal that was loaded with spices and tomato sauce or it can be full blown with pain in your stomach and your esophagus feeling as if someone poured acid down it. I’ve had both.
How It Began …
In the beginning, I thought that I had been cured when my doctor put me on a 3 month regime with “the purple pill.” I slept with the head of my bed higher than the foot. I stopped eating after 6pm each night and it did indeed subside with no return—I thought.
In the meantime, I worked at a job where I had a lot of flexibility and a lot of work. However, the work did not create a lot of stress. So, things were fine. When things started to change on my job, I left and found another that also didn’t create a lot of stress but was hard work. No problem, the GERD was completely dormant and I could enjoy eating whatever I wanted: spaghetti, chocolate ice cream, French fries, and cola drinks. This lasted even after I decided to be a stay-at-home grandmamma for a while.
All that changed when I returned to federal government service. Even during the four months of training, I begin to notice differences in how my stomach was feeling. However, I continued to eat whatever I wanted and taking aspirin constantly for migraine headaches. This latter practice was almost my permanent undoing!
Choose Your Doctor Wisely …
I returned to a different doctor who did not believe in surgery—just taking large amounts of medication. My job became more stressful and the dosage of medication became greater. My headaches were increasing as well. It became impossible to enjoy a good night’s sleep and my ability to function became impaired. It was only after I found myself in the emergency room at Baptist Memorial Hospital that I realized things were crucial.
The hospital doctors discovered that I was bleeding internally and I had to have two blood transfusions because of the severe loss of blood. I could not sit up without feeling extremely tired and my children feared the worse. The combination of GERD and aspirin had finally taken toll.
After spending a week in the hospital and three weeks of recovery; I was advised to take early retirement. This was a hard choice but a necessary one. I had to accept my life with GERD. I return to the same doctor with the same prescription but with a suggestion to change my lifestyle. The doctors in the hospital told me I could never take another aspirin as long as I lived. However, my doctor said that I shouldn’t stop unless he said so. I used my own judgment and discontinued the aspirin regime. The BC powders that I took were very habit forming and I later discovered that they had a rebound effect. Yes, they would relieve the headache pain but they would also create a need to keep using them. I experienced withdrawal symptoms and it was horrific.
A Change Was Definitely Needed …
It was not smoking (I never learned) or drinking alcohol (didn’t do that either) that led to my GERD condition. It was a hiatal hernia and STRESS. Six letters that have a tremendous affect on life. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the stress to return. Having to deal with the federal government retirement board was another nightmare. It took them almost nine months to settle my claim and in the meantime I almost lost both my house and car.
This is when I desired natural methods of dealing with GERD. I discovered that medication that hinders the stomach from creating acid also has side effects that cause other problems. When medication suppresses the creation of acid—the body will try harder to compensate by constantly creating more acid. If there is not enough acid in the stomach the food will just sit there and rot. Think about that—food rotting in your gut. This can have undesirable consequences.
In my search for natural cures, I found people who claimed success without the side effects of medication. These individuals were not going to just give away that information. They wanted money for it. I decided that they were no better than the pharmaceutical companies they criticized for making billions of dollars doing the same thing. I was determined to discover help on my own.
Know Yourself …
First; it is important to identify the things that trigger an attack of GERD or heartburn. It is also important to understand your body and how it handles the digestion of food. When there is not a balance of acid and alkaline in your stomach the results will be either too much acid or too much alkaline.
It is also important to understand what types of food need acid in order to digest and what foods need alkaline. Alkaline will naturally neutralize acid. Learn how to do your own research to make this discovery. Meats, especially beef, require acid to break down and they also take longer to digest in your stomach. Fruits on the other hand are much easier to digest and therefore should not be combined with meats. Fruits make excellent snacks and should be eaten alone.
Google to discover what works best for you. A GERD diet may not seems appetizing in the beginning, but it can save you a lifetime of discomfort. I have found that apple cider vinegar is great because in your stomach it becomes alkaline. Here are some vegetables that don’t create a lot of acid:
Green Beans and
If you don’t think you can resist red meat just make sure it is very lean and grill it, broil it, or bake it. Reconsider eating fried foods. Fat takes longer to digest and it can really cause problems. Chicken and fish are great alternatives and you can create wonderful meals around them.
Final Word …
Try your pasta without tomato sauce. The important thing to remember is to keep a diary of what works for you and what causes problems. If you smoke, it’s a good time to stop. If you are taking medication—make sure to have it monitored by your doctor and notice any changes in your body. Exercise is important as well as getting a good night’s sleep. Living with GERD can be a challenge. If you use common sense it will be one that you will win!
How do you put out the fire ...
If you suffer from GERD or Heartburn; how do you deal with it?
© 2014 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS