Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Getting to know my arch-enemy

I used to hate the New York Yankees. Perhaps I should correct myself: I still hate the New York Yankees. However, my hatred of the Bronx Bombers seemed more acute growing up as a young "seam-head" when the Yanks and the Indians were in the same division. Now, I snicker whenever they and their $200 million payroll fall short of the playoffs. I find, though, that my hatred is much more focused on that which has torn my career apart at the seams, so to speak. I'm referring to acid-reflux.

I visited a new doctor last month. During April and May, I had been experiencing a severe amount of burning in my mouth and throat. After seeing my regular E-N-T, he (again) prescribed a rugged prescription of diet modification. Really, though, his prescription amounted to a mandate to cut out beer for 3-4 months. I had been fairly religious about eliminating the other sins of the digestive tract, such as coffee (relegated to the Sunday morning paper), salsa (can't remember the last Mexican restaurant I'd been to), red wine (oh, how I miss an oak-y cabernet sauvignon!), chocolate (ok, there's an occasional piece of Heggy's from time to time!), and citrus. But my E-N-T is convinced that my comsumption of the occasional malted barley libation is the culprit. However, I was unconvinced. In fact, after almost 2 months of a beer-free lifestyle, I was about ready to head to the bluffs north of St. Louis and jump into the Mississippi. And, to be honest, I was a bit worried that something else might be lurking between both ends of my esophageal sphincters. So, that anxiety precipitated my contacting this new doctor of gastroenterology.

I watch a good deal of those Sunday morning political programs and it always amazes me that George Stephanopoulos can toss the same question at both Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Lindsey Graham and get two of the most divergent responses imaginable. Going to multiple health practitioners can sometimes yield the same feeling. Dr. Dahm is absolutely hard-core when it comes to diet modification. And this fundamentalist approach confused me, since I still drop 80 mgs. of Zegerid daily and still have this burning in my throat. I'm equally mystified by the fact my reflux is really more "non-acid-relfux"-related, so there shouldn't be any "burning", per se. So I was anxious to see Dr. Greenspan.

Turns out, he's a big beer fan! And after reeling off (quite proudly I might add) all of the things that I had eliminated from my diet, he says to me, "We have to tell patients not to have coffee and chocolate and all that other stuff, but I don't think it helps with LPR at all. You should sleep with the head of your bed elevated, and take 4 of these(Reglan) per day and see me in a month. Oh, have you had that Belgian beer Piraat?" No, I'm thinking to myself, your health practitioner-colleage ordered me not to have any beer. Are you kidding?

So, I see him tomorrow. The burning is gone. And so is my abstention from beer. He told me to have an occasional bottle. Of course, everyone has their own definition of "occasional". But, like Schumer and Graham, who has the right answer? What are the long-term affects of LPR? And what are the long-term effects of all of these prescriptions? Nobody seems to know. It seems like everyone is popping something for reflux, and the same with depresssion. I'm much more concerned about the short-term, and my arch-enemy's effect on me doing my job. How many thousands of times will I clear my throat today, and if I have this one Weyerbacher 12 Anniversary Ale, will it start a chain-reaction of volcanic proportions inside my esophageal tract?

Schumer vs Graham. Dahm vs. Greenspan. Geez, who knows. I do know that I still hate the Yankees. Now, give me my Zegerid, and where's my bottle opener?

-30-

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