Monday, October 30, 2023

A New Doctor

 ​I actually for the first time ever was a bit excited and ready to go to the doctor.   Yes, I hate to go to the doctor!  But I was looking forward to it and ready.

I was trying out a new doctor.  Technically, I was trying out a nurse practitioner.   The office was quite laid back with everyone wearing shorts and jeans.   Was that because it was Friday?  Was it in deference to the upcoming holiday?  Or was that the normal dress code.  I’m unsure.  But who cares what people are wearing, I’m there for the knowledge in their heads.   The NP was a bit older than I, and she had pink hair.  Once again, a Halloween thing or a normal thing? Not sure.

This office was also appalled that I had been told by a previous doctor, to ignore the acid reflux since it was a ‘silent’ and none severe case.  We have adjusted my meds to a ‘long term’ medication.   However, the NP is very aware that I do not plan on being on meds all my life…and that my goal is to manage this naturally and she is behind that goal   I knew that meds were going to be a thing for the near future so I didn’t fuss.    I know we have to figure out exactly what is happening and need it under control in the meantime.

She has ordered a barium swallow test of some sort (I have it on my paperwork in the other room) to start to try to figure out exactly what is happening.  What is causing my cough and throat clearing after I eat.  (And of course whatever that is ultimately caused the flare up that landed me in the ER).  That test may solve that mystery.  However, she predicts that it will simply be the guidance needed for the follow up tests that will be ordered by the gastroenterologist that she is recommending that I visit.  The other reason for the referral is the fact that she wants me to see a specialist since this acid reflux has been left unchecked and we need to see if it has caused any damage.  

We talked about my cholesterol (it was slightly high at 215), my blood pressure (always high at the doctor, but always normal at home checks) and   we talked about the calcium spot on my lung (that was discovered when I had X-rays  after my accident on the bike a few years back.). Unlike my previous doctor, she scoured the paperwork and information provided by that urgent care facility and radiologist and she picked up on a wee little line about some degeneration of my spine and added that to my clinical notes.  We talked about my weight and how I feel as if I am beating my head against the wall in a futile effort to lose weight.     All of these things will be addressed in the future.  When I brought up my weight (she was not the one that brought it up…I did) she readily admitted that most of my issues would be eradicated with weight loss.   I know that historically when I drop the weight my cholesterol drops, my blood pressure regulated, my arthritic knees feel better.   And weight loss would also help this acid reflux thing.

I just had chest X-rays at the hospital the other week so the spot on the lung is a simple thing of comparing the X-rays to make sure the spot didn’t grow (which would indicate some unchecked infection in my body). So that will be an easy check once she has my records and X-rays from both places.

However, we are not working on my weight together right now.  Of course she wants me to continue trying.  But at this time our one and only focus through doctor visits is the acid reflux/GERD.  Mainly because of the long term damage it can be doing to my body.   She doesn’t want to introduce any new meds or greatly different routines to my body at this time…not until we get a handle on the reflux.

She did recommend adding fish oil..for the cholesterol…to try to combat it naturally.  She also recommended that along with my daily protonix pill for the acid reflux that I add in an allergy pill.  (Zyrtec, Allegra, Claritin) since my acid reflux really doesn’t seem to be all day..and only after meals…certain meals.  She said my acid reflux may be caused by an allergy.  

So I am heading down a path of tests to solve the mysteries.  Medicated for the time being, but with the blessing of the doctor heading toward a more natural solution!

Weight loss….I’m still going full steam ahead with trying to lose weight.   I restarted my exercise today!   

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Flux

​It has been a while, I apologize. It hasn’t been because I’ve been ill. It hasn’t been because of anything bad. It simply is just life

After my trip to the ER I spent quite a bit of time reading and researching acid reflux, and GERD I knew that I wanted to try to manage this as naturally as possible, right now I am on rather high doses of medication for acid reflux and the flare up of GERD but I don’t want that to be my forever.  I want to manage  ‘The Flux’ as I call it in a natural way. 

One of the first things I did was to pull out the old pen and paper. I started writing down everything I ate, and then I also started writing down exactly how I felt afterwards , did I feel bloated, did I have indigestion, did I have acid reflux cough?  Through this, I have been able to start to identify foods that set me off.  Unfortunately, acidic foods like Italian are really bad for me and I love my Italian.  Yes, even with the medication these foods are still causing the acid reflux. I will be talking to the doctor about that!

Immediately upon coming home from the ER I knew that my weight had to be taken care.   Obesity is a risk factor for having flareups of GERD and acid reflux in general.  The first couple days were pretty easy to watch my food intake  because there was no interest in food. I was still feeling rough. I would eat a half a banana and feel bloated, so it was very easy for me to curb how much I ate.  As time passed it became more difficult as I am now wanting more food and different foods and snacks. However, I have managed to keep my calories in line every day.

I am very cognizant of what I’m eating, and how I’m eating. One of the things that they recommended was to eat slow.  It is recommended to put your fork down between each bite. I realized through working to incorporate this practice that I shovel food into my mouth quickly. I actually put my next bite into my mouth before I actually swallow the previous bite. I am making a conscious effort to slow down and swallow before I eat the next bite.  I’ve also realize that I’m really not hungry as often as I think!   It is mental!  Smaller portions make my mind spin as I am sure that I will be hungry with so little food.  But time and time again I eat and I find that I’m actually quite ok and not left hungry at all!   I’m learning more about my body and my eating habits!

It’s a learning process….and I have a long way to go!

I’ve seen the scale drop down…and then jump up.  It’s like the scale has a kind of its own!  I’m currently fly staying off of the scale.  Friday.  That is the day that I am allowing myself to check!  Simply by calories eaten, I should show a nice loss!

Friday is the big day.  I have an appointment with a new medical practice for my family doctor needs.  I am actually seeing a nurse practitioner.  She has great reviews as someone that listens and takes her time.  So I am hopeful!  I have my laundry list of things to talk about.  First and foremost, the flux and the GERD.  I need to know the immediate treatment plan this period where I am working on management techniques.   But I have a few things that I discussed with my family doctor that were brushed aside when I mentioned them.  (Which had made me start to look for a new doctor even before the ‘ohh it’s just acid reflux…nothing to be concerned about’ debacle.).  For once, I’m actually looking forward to seeing a doctor.  I’m a girl on a mission.

Through the last few weeks I haven’t exercised.  Honestly the first week to week and a half I felt bad.  But information I received was conflicting.  Some say curtail exercise during a GERD flare up and some said ‘light exercise’.  So I am playing it cautious and waiting for the ok from the doctor.  If I get the ok…I’m kicking that into high gear!

I honestly feel as if this GERD attack was just the unfortunate result of ‘the perfect storm’.   We had been on vacation.  I ate spicy Mexican food a few times.  Pizza a few times.  We even ate greasy fast food!  I drank soda every day.  I had lots of chocolate.  I mean, I ticked off so many boxes on the list of possible triggers that it was ridiculous!   And the vacation came to a close and the stress of ‘real life crashed down upon me’….why yes, stress is a trigger.    I am not banking on the ‘once in a lifestime storm’.  My goal is to fix myself!!

I’ll end with the dog.  Zoey is doing well…we wear her out on the weekends!  (She sleeps while I’m at work…so she isn’t as whipped on week days!). 

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Dramatic End to Vacation

​All good things must come to an end…and vacation is one of them.  We had a fabulous vacation.  It was much needed.   It was productive.  It was too short.  And sadly, it ended on a bad note.


In my last post I shared the news (and before pictures) that we were on a staycation and that we were going to be spending a bulk of our time painting our barn with some outdoor hikes thrown in for good measure.    As the aforementioned post indicated, we were off to a good start with painting and a day at a lake in the Micheaux State Forest.  

I am happy to say that the painting is done!  (Well it is done as far as we planned to be done).   The shed looks so nice all freshly painted!

We look like we care now!!! 

We also did get up to Cowans Gap (a PA state park).  It was crazy seeing it with the water in the lake let down (basically the lake with no water).  Just for reference…we had been up there in February with Zoey when she was about 4 months old.  (Why the pictures never made it to a post back then is beyond me).  Here is what the lake SHOULD look like.  

But the water has been let down in order for them to work on the dam and to reclaim the sand from the beach.  It looks so different (sorry no pictures from the same spot as Zoey still wouldn’t go across the grate bridge at the dam and while we carried her the last visit she was only 40 pounds). But you can see the difference with these pictures!

What a difference!  We had a good time though!   And we wore Zoey out!  

The vacation time went way too fast and before we knew it we were heading into our last day of vacation!  It was the last day when things turned around!

Drama and Pain

The last morning we were awaken by a sick dog.   Yeah, nothing like being awoke from a blowout…oh my, the smell!   It happened once or twice more…and you could tell it hit and she just didn’t have the time to alert us that she needed to go out.  She was miserable.   I felt so bad.  But as the day progressed she seemed to perk up and by mo day she seemed back to normal.   But due to that I spent my morning scrubbing out her crate…and the cleaning some carpets.  (The joys of having a pet).  I didn’t eat breakfast because I honestly just forgot in the craziness.  

I was in the shower when I first felt the pain.  It was high in my stomach.  Just under my breast…dead center.   The first time it was just an ache that swept over me.   When it happened my only thought was ‘dude I need to sit down’.   I rushed through my shower and sat down.  And relaxed.  It passed pretty quickly and I went on with my day.  I don’t remember it hitting me badly again during the early part of the day.   I was still feeling good, and took the time to make salads for my week and I put together a tray of lasagna for our dinner on Monday night. And I even finished a bit of painting on the shed (the hardware).  Little twinges of discomfort hit me but nothing too bad.  However as the day progressed the twinges of discomfort started coming at more regular intervals.  I even felt a bit nauseous.  I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything all day and thought that must be hungry (a foreign concept for me…and one that always throws me for a  loop when I feel a true hunger pang.  I have had issues of this in the past, where I am actually hungry but THINK I’m sick because I interpret the hunger pains as sickness.). By the time dinner rolled around I was feeling bad.   But I forced myself to eat…still convinced that it was hunger pains.   Food didn’t exactly make it better but it didn’t seem to make it worse.    I did however tell Jason, ‘I just don’t feel right’.

I went to bed, reluctantly because I was dreading going back to work!  I remember waking up and before I even got out of bed thinking , oh thank heavens, the pain is gone’.   But I was mistaken.  I started to move around and voila, the pain was back.  This time I was sure it was stress.   Vacation had been relatively stress free…and going back to work and back to real life brought it all crashing back.  Makes sense right?  I was sure that’s why I was feeling pain in my upper abdominal area….notice I was refusing to think any higher to heart!  After all, that had happened to me before where I had chest pains and it turned out to be stress (and apparently all tests at that time pointed at me being healthy as a horse).   I ignored the pain and went to work.

At work, I just wanted to lay my head down on my desk and cry as the pains intensified and washed over me.  It came in waves.  I’d have a bit of time where it was just a dull ache…but then it would hit and I would just curl up (literally) as the pain rocked through me. I was in tears more than once.  Taking the dog out was pure madness…I was feeling horrible.  The mere thought of food or drink made me want to hurl.   So nothing passed my lips…which only added to how miserable and weak  I was feeling I’m sure.   

By 1:00 pm I was at my wits end. I never call off sick! But I did.  I slept the afternoon away (discovering if I laid on my side the pain almost totally disappeared).  But when the pain came back it hit with a force if I moved from that one position even if it was to recline on my back.   The dog was a mess….she just wanted to lay on me and take care of me…but 100 pounds on top of someone that is wracked with pain wasn’t a good thing.

I started to get concerned…could this be my heart?  After all, I have had two people from my school years have heart issues.  I didn’t do anything….not until Jason came home.  (I honestly didn’t want to drive I felt that badly and off kilter).   He took me to the ER.  (I knew urgent care would say ‘possible heart’ and ship me to the er anyway).    Immediately upon arrival they did an ekg. (Literally; before I even got a room,  they did an EKG).  When the doctor saw me the first words out of his mouth were ‘your EKG looked good’.  Which of course is not definitive….but a good first sign.  They drew blood to test my enzyme levels. (Apparently when you have a heart attack your body produces proteins/enzymes).  So we did that process.  My enzyme levels that would indicate a heart attack remained incredibly low.  Thank heavens.  So we were eventually able to rule out heart as the cause of my issues. And then we went on to other things.

The end result?   GERD.   Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.   It makes sense.  A few years back I had talked to my doctor about the fact that most times I ate I would have a wet sounding phlegmy cough…never quite coughing anything up.  I would cough once or twice and then I would be ok.    My family doctor advised that it was acid reflux but that it was nothing to be concerned with…since it was just a small annoying cough once or twice after eating.     When the doctor at the ER mentioned it, both jason and I at the same time were like ‘our family doctor mentioned acid reflux’. And I told the ER doctor what she had said and that she wasn’t concerned and said it was under control.   The doctor gave a rueful chuckle and said ‘apparently it wasn’t under control since you are laying here in my ER’.   They gave me a couple IV’s with various acid reflux meds and they sent me home with 3 prescriptions for heavy hitting doses of medications (stuff I can normally get OTC but higher doses apparently to get me past this flare up).

It’s now the next morning and both Jason and I called out sick since we were in the ER late.  Plus I have to get my meds from the pharmacy before the IV meds wear off.    

What did I learn during my ER visit

1.  It’s time for a new family doctor.   We have been talking about it for the last few months.  We have not been happy with the family doctor we have. She has ignored some complaints and issues that I have taken to her.   And this is the final straw.   She could have at least given me the risks of this ‘silent acid reflux’ issue and let me decide on how to proceed versus just brushing it aside.

2.  Don’t play with chest pains.  I should have admitted it much earlier and either called an ambulance or someone to drive me.  (Jason preached this point to me…as he was freaked out that I waited for so many hours after I admitted to myself that it was chest pains.)

3.  GERD is usually managed via medication.   Hopefully the higher doses won’t be necessary long term and I can rely on OTC versions as needed.  But it will be a learning process….and I will have to pay a lot more attention to what foods cause the acid reflux reactions.  It will be difficult because I’m the cough is now just part of who I am that I barely pay any attention to it.  (For example, I just ate some toast, first food in more than 24 hours.  I can’t remember if I did the throat clearing cough or not…..).  This will involve tracking my food…which I need for weight loss anyway and just adding that e xtra note about the cough and any heartburn/chest pain).   Hopefully I can manage this simply by knowing what foods trigger this and taking a dose of medication proactively versus taking a daily preventative medication (s).

4.  While doing my research on GERD I saw that there are some lifestyle changes that can help ease the symptoms.  They include things like the above mentioned finding and avoiding trigger foods.  It also includes avoiding alcohol and smoking.  No problem since I rarely drink and I never smoke.   Avoiding carbonated beverages will be a bit more of a challenge…but luckily I TYPICALLY don’t drink a lot…maybe one can a day. They recommend eating smaller meals throughout the day.  Not a problem on that one either…but it will make me turn away from the ‘one meal a day’ intermittent fasting method that I’ve been toying with trying.   Chocolate, spicy foods, fatty foods…foods high in acid…are all possible triggers.  So it’s recommended to limit those.     Like really, I was on vacation and drank a ton of carbonated beverages, ate fatty foods, and chocolate and the night before this happened a spicy Mexican meal. The night before was pizza.   Every food was full of things that is possible triggers.    So yes, watch my food intake.  But the BIGGEST lifestyle change to help ease the symptom is to lose weight and maintain the loss.

5.  Water water water!  Water helps dilute the acid in the esophagus and it is neutral so helps balance the PH levels that are out of whack.  Not drinking water let’s the acid run free.  I’ve been lacking with water lately.  

So yeah, full circle back to weight loss.  After I got the ‘heart looks ok’ report jason ran home to take care of the dog before coming back to the hospital and we texted a few times while he was with the dog. (The dog is ok for 5-6 hours during the day…but with her upset belly we didn’t want to push it that long..and luckily the hospital is only 5 minutes or so from our house.).   The weight loss thing can be summed up by sharing his text with you.

So there you have it.   No more BS.   I NEED a lifestyle change.   Early stages of GERD are bad enough.   But stage four..precancerous and cancer.   Not cool!   No more BS, it’s time!

Monday, October 02, 2023

Vacation Mode

It is Monday and I am happy to say that I am on vacation all week long!   I have been dreaming about our time off for weeks!  It is a staycation…we aren’t going anywhere.  But we do have a few things planned!  

The Shed

Last year for our vacation we opted to stay home to tear down a lean-to addition on our shed and rebuild it.  It was a a busy week as we tore it down and rebuilt.  We had a fire going in our fire pit going the whole vacation and the old shed was burned one piece at a time that week.  The week ended and the shed was still incomplete.  Slowly it got completed…kinda (very slowly since Jason got injured shortly after vacation…you can read about that here.   Luckily Jason’s dad helped us with getting it done!).     The shed has been in a state of being under roof but the new section was still bare wood and the old section was painted who knows when and it was obviously in need of fresh paint).  So when we decided that a go away vacation was not in the financial cards for us this year we decided to paint that shed!  Here is some pics of before we painted.  

 The pics make it look small.   It’s not huge but bigger than it looks. The leanto (bottom picture) is 20x10.  The main part is 25x12.  With an overhang in the front. The area under the over hang is an additional 25x12   (Jason says it would be prefect for an alpaca…hahahah)

It is Monday and we have now completed two full days of painting.  It looks so good!   We chose green…and it will be trimmed in white. (Stay tuned for completed pictures)

After painting all day today, I’m so tired!

Fun staycation stuff

Our vacation is not all work though!   We are trying and hoping to do a work day and then a relax fun day.  Back and forth.  So we worked on the shed on Saturday and on Sunday we headed to Micheaux State Forest (PA state forest) and did a bit of hiking.   It was actually shorter than normal. Zoey still gets a bit overexcited with new things and we haven’t been hiking much.  So we are keeping our hikes shorter while we ‘break her in.  But it was still awesome to get out!

It wore Zoey our!  She slept so hard when we got home….with her nose by HER sock.   (Our theory is that if we give her old socks that she won’t go after our good ones!)


We have some more short outdoor/hiking trips planned this week.  Tomorrow should be Cowans Gap…at least that’s the plan.  (We have a few other things to do also…more errand type stuff).   Apparently they have drained the lake…and we are nosey and want to see it without water!   It should be interesting.  The last time we took Zoey there she was too afraid to walk over the bridge that had a grate  versus a solid bridge deck.  At that time she weighed about 40 pounds and I carried her over the bridge.  She is over 100 pounds now….now sure how carrying her would work!  Hahaha


Tomorrow will be our second year wedding anniversary.   Yes, two years ago we went on vacation and got married.   Fun fun!!  (Your can read about it here. And that includes a link to my outlive video about it!).  We decided to do our annual wedding/anniversary cake again.  But decided to keep it within the confines of our weekend sweet treat  and have our cake on the weekend before our anniversary.   So we have been enjoying our anniversary cake.

Vacation will be over too soon….but I am ready to get myself back on track with getting healthy.  I have to focus on my health….I’m not getting younger!!!