Leaning In · Life

The Gift

’twas nine days before Christmas
and my throat was so sore
my muscles so achy
I couldn’t ignore

So I drove to a walk-in
and waited a bit
before being ushered to
a new place to sit

With my butt on blue vinyl
and my foot on the step
I told the provider
“I need a rapid-strep”

Looking over her glasses
she tried to assess
this hoarse bossy patient —
should she say yes?

“I’ve no time to be sick,”
I tried to explain.
“A script for penicillin
and I’ll be on my way.”

A swab of my throat
a twenty minute wait
a knock on the door
then came the update —

No strep.

Dang. It was not the news I was hoping for. Not that anyone hopes for strep throat, but it’s a known quantity and a relatively easy fix.

“I could check for flu,” she said, but I declined. I doubted it was flu. I had no fever and I wasn’t feeling that bad. Just a sore throat and achy joints.

But the sore throat got progressively worse. Over the next few days I couldn’t swallow without pain. My children watched while I grimaced to swallow the Advil that brought some level of relief but I had to take twice my normal dose and repeat it every 4 hours.

I stopped eating. Well, mostly. Yogurt slid down with minimal pain. If I cut the thing I wanted to eat into tiny bits and chewed them a gazillion times, I could swallow, but it would take a good half hour to eat a single piece of toast with peanut butter on it.

Christmas loomed on the horizon. I really didn’t have time to be sick.

“Just make it go away,” I prayed. Surely God understood how inconvenient this was. I longed to wake up in the morning and swallow painlessly. But it didn’t happen.

I made an appointment, this time to see a doctor.

“Do you have a primary care provider?” the scheduler asked.

“No, I haven’t for a few years,” I told her. The older I get, the less I like to go to the doctor.

“Would you like to see a male or female provider?” she asked.

“I really don’t care. Just put me in with the next available,” I said.

She set up an appointment for the Thursday before Christmas with a new female provider.

When I met Dr. Cerna, I immediately liked her. She was pleasant and thorough. She listened well. She respected my concerns. Then she gave my problem a name: Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease.  She drew a little picture of it for me on the back of a piece of paper.

“I’m not a very good artist,” she said apologetically, but I could recognize the esophagus, the stomach, and the duodenum. Then she added little arrows showing the direction things should be going and more little arrows that showed the direction things were going.

Finally, she sent me on my way with a follow-up appointment scheduled, information about Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease which included dos and don’ts, and a prescription.

So here I am, one week later, and I can swallow again. I can eat without pain. In fact, I feel pretty darn good.

AND — I’m ready for 2018 with some new eating guidelines.

  • Small meals.
  • Small bites.
  • Chew well
  • No rushed eating

I’m going to keep a food diary, to hold me accountable, and to see which foods affect me negatively.

Over Christmas, when I failed to eat properly, my body reminded me. GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease) feels almost like a gift, forcing me to slow down, allowing me to gain control over an area of my life that I have often felt is beyond my control.

Sometimes gifts come in the most unexpected packages and arrive in the most unexpected ways. The quick fix isn’t always the best thing. Good things don’t always feel cozy.

My “theme” for 2017 had been “Leaning In.” I didn’t post every day, one of the goals I set for myself — but I did pursue relationships and I tried to train myself to find the beauty in things.

So finishing the year with GERD felt like a final exam. Lean in. Embrace this thing. Find the beauty in it.

I can’t wait for 2018.


10 thoughts on “The Gift

  1. I literally have been suffering with GERD for years. I have a rare disease and my esophagus is greatly affected….and I had weight loss surgery 2 months ago and the GERD is worse. I get it and pray you find relief soon!

    1. I am so sorry that you’ve had this struggle. What have you found that works to control the GERD? Do you have trouble swallowing too?

  2. I have a dear friend who says often ‘find the value in the way things are’ … sometimes that is easier said than done! I am so sorry you have had this to contend with along with everything else and I really do wish you so much strength in finding a way through to a shinier less painful 2018

    1. Oh, dear. I hope I didn’t sound like I was having a pity-party. In so many ways, I’m truly thankful for GERD. I’ve begun to think of it as a personal trainer that lives within (in fact, I named her Gertrude, easier to remember than GERD). When I eat things I shouldn’t, she reminds me, in a not-so-gentle way — hence the food diary, so I begin to document exactly what those things are. And since I’d rather change my lifestyle than permanently stay on medication, I’m willing to do that. I love a good challenge.

      1. You absolutely did not sound self-pitying, far from it. Here’s to working with Gertrude (what a wonderful name that is) and here’s to the power of challenge 🙂

  3. And you may have found a new general practitioner! My OB finally told me that he would not see me again because I didn’t need him and to find a GP. It took me several years and several tries with docs I wasn’t impressed with. Now I have someone and it feels really good that he knows me and is checking for abnormalities that may signal problems that we can fix before they get too bad.

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