Monday, June 6, 2011

Please Don't Pass the Salsa...

The last few months have been insanely busy. Going back to school with two kids was quite a shock. Then two months ago after drinking a Kombucha, my throat closed up. I had just read Sloane Miller's new book Allergic Girl and while I was reading it, I kept on thinking "Wow--well there is one problem I don't have" because we don't have any IgE allergies in our family. Our throats don't close up and we don't need an EpiPen--we just can't eat gluten.

Which is why I was quite surprised when my throat closed up on the way to the library while drinking a Kombucha a few weeks later. I tossed my glass bottle of Brooklyn Kombucha in a garbage can on the corner and headed to a deli for some Benedryl. The antihistamine seemed to work a little and I stuffed the extra hot pink pills in my wallet for a rainy day. Then a week later my throat closed up AGAIN--but I hadn't drunk a Kombucha. And the Benedryl didn't have any effect. In the middle of the night one evening when it happened again, I headed to the ER because it was late and I was worried about falling asleep with my throat swollen. The ER told me it had been so long (since the throat closing had started after dinner) that I wasn't going to die and there was nothing they could do for me except recommend a CT scan to make sure an object wasn't stuck in my throat. (Another wonderful mainstream medical moment for me.) Finally, in math class before my third exam after eating a Kind Bar, I felt the same tightening of my throat and inability to breath. After my exam I called an allergist to rule out allergies.

The funny thing was, despite my symptoms no one seemed to be in any rush to examine me. Two weeks later I went in for allergy testing. They did a breath test to check my breathing and rows of allergens on my arms which revealed I wasn't allergic to anything. Minutes later, the allergist grabbed Dr. Aviv, an ENT who did a scope and determined I had laryngopharyngeal reflux and vocal cord dysfunction. My windpipe was snapping shut when I was inhaling and preventing normal airflow. To me it felt like I was suffocating. And I was. According to my sister who has a similar problem, the doctor told her in some studies 90% of the population has reflux at some point in their lives so this isn't a rare and unusual condition. Although the vocal cord disorder, which I have never heard of might be an unusual presentation. Often vocal cord disorder presents as asthma but an inhaler has no effect.

Dr. Aviv recommended a book called "Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook and Cure", a speech pathologist and Prilosec for six weeks. He also gave me some articles he had written on this disorder.

I don't know what triggered my reflux and vocal cord dysfunction but I do know that all the food I was eating was on the "do not eat" list. Almonds, Cocoa, Lemon, Vinegar, Kombucha (caffeine and carbonation,) Salsa, Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers. The last 20 years I have been guzzling hot sauce. And I was completely fine until I wasn't. They are ruling out H-Pylori--a bacteria which also causes ulcers. Of course, there is no better way to learn about reflux than to live with it. Theory is one thing--reality is another.

I started with a week of a low acid diet, and when that didn't work I took everyone's advice and took a week of Prilosec. For a bunch of reasons, I have switched from Prilosec to Manuka Honey.

I still don't have the energy for a full post about everything I have learned over the last few months--my mind is spinning and I am unable to write without spicy condiments. But I wanted to let everyone know that I am fine--just gluten free and salsa free for the time being. Please don't pass the hot sauce.

More later on Reflux and Manuca Honey.

3 comments:

Benbarton1 said...

Wow, super sorry to hear about this. Good luck ironing it all out and hang in there!

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Cindy said...

Oh my goodness! That sounds very scary, and I hope you'll be feeling better soon.

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Cannon and Kassie said...

Crazy! I'm glad that you figured it out but that stinks that you have to further restrict your diet. I hope it helps it not to happen again xo

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