About a year ago I went to a specialist about my acid reflux. I didn’t know it was acid reflux at the time… and who decided to call it reflux anyway? What a disgusting name. No one wants to admit they have reflux… its like telling someone you have explosive diarrhea, or burning vomit burps. These are secret things.
Reflux. Pooping. Peeing when you sneeze.
No one wants to know.
(If you’re squeamish about the reflux, feel free to stop reading here and skip to the motivational message at the bottom of the page, I won’t judge you.)
I explained to the Internalist, who was at least 105 years old, about my discomfort when I ate or drank or breathed and he chuckled at me, which is something I loathe. Don’t chuckle at me, Venerable Health Specialist. I have come to you seeking solace. I’m really upset about my gorge. I am not an hysterical woman. I am a woman with a burning esophagus. A woman who has birthed four children the size of raccoons, and who knows the meaning of the word discomfort.
“Go get undressed and we’ll get this taken care of,” he chuckled. Cadaverously.
I waved my hands in the general area of my throat, not understanding the naked-under-a- paper-johnny-shirt requirement, but I have always been an obedient child and so I complied. He offered me pills while he palpitated my feet.
“You just need the right medication,” he said.
“The problem is up here,” I beckoned to him as he examined my kneecaps.
He asked me how many units of alcohol I consume per day, politely skipping my nether regions and digging his arthritic fist into my spleen.
“One,” I smiled, pleased with myself for being honest and feeling we were now making progress toward the source of my angst.
“One glass of wine a day shouldn’t be a problem,” he said to my spleen.
“Oh,” I giggled. “I thought one unit was, like… one bottle… haha, you know, like, how many bottles of wine do I drink a day… ha…ha…”
He didn’t giggle. Or smile. He asked me to get dressed. Not once did he look down my throat, not once did he ask me about my health history, my diet, my exercise habits. He did not appreciate my jokes. I felt decidedly disinclined to like or trust him.
And he offered me more pills.
I know there are wonderful, essential medications on the planet that are necessary for many people to lead productive lives due to the debilitating effects of various chronic health issues. I am just one woman, and I have always been weird when it comes to medication. I couldn’t stand to take birth control pills when I was young… I just felt morally opposed to the entire concept, and the Pill made me weepy and bloated and miserable… but…I had my first child at nineteen, so I may not qualify as the voice of reason.*
I refused his magnanimous offer of pills… to which he replied:
“Oh, you’re one of those women.”
…followed by more chuckling, which made me wish I could summon my mysterious brethren of “those women” and we could collectively strangle him… and I gathered my clothing and my dignity and climbed on my high horse and rode the hell outta Dodge feeling entirely certain that 105 is far too old to still be palpitating women’s feet in the name of gastrointestinal science.
In my outrage, I researched. Revenge research. I changed my diet. I drank more water. I began to investigate exercise programs that didn’t terrify me. It was like rage-healing. The doctor pissed me off so much I decided to get healthy. That’ll show him!
And I started to feel better.
Not overnight, and I still feel the burn if I eat too much, or too quickly. Eggs are a problem. They stick in my craw like swallowing silly putty. But I’m not medicated. I am managing my health, and being proactive about making changes that both keep me away from pharmaceuticals and out of the hands of chuckling Internalists.
I suppose I should go thank him, but he’d probably hold out the johnny-shirt again and you never know how one of “those” women will react to the johnny-shirt.
What is the motivational message, for those of you who skipped the rambling bits? Be proactive with your health. Choose nutrition and exercise and relaxation methods that make sense to you, that motivate you and that energize you. Oh, and don’t be afraid to use words like reflux. You’d be surprised how many people will totally get what you’re talking about!
*Disclaimer: I in no way advocate ignoring the medical advice offered by doctors and practitioners. I do believe, however, that sometimes we turn to medication before we explore the source of the problem and begin to make solid, sustainable, healthy changes in our lives that will improve our overall health and well-being. I am advocating a healthy lifestyle, not as an alternative to medications, but as a solid foundation for a stronger body and mind.